Plastic Reeds: facts and myths

Reeds are both a blessing and a curse. Have you ever purchased a new box of reeds and gone through the entire box not liking the sound of any of them? This has been a regular occurrence in the last year or so of my playing. I have finally achieved a tone quality I am proud of and sometimes my reeds get in the way of creating that sound.If you’ve ever been in the same situation I have found myself in, there are two options for you. The first being making your own reeds. Now this can be very expensive to buy all the tools to take the process easier, but cheaper in the long run because reeds will no longer be $3 a piece, but more like 80 cents a piece!!!! Making reeds can be a lengthy topic and I have already started on a how to make your own reeds post, but right now I’d like you to consider option number two: The Plastic Reed.

plastic reed fact and myth

Fact or Myth?

Now most people have some concerns when it comes to plastic reeds because of some myths floating around the clarinet world about them so let’s get those out-of-the-way first.

“Plastic reeds are more expensive”

Fact. Plastic Reeds are more expensive than cane reeds. I got my Légère Classic reed for $17 dollars and can play on it for about 6 months. Where I paid $28 for a box of Vandorean V12 cane reeds that lasted about the same amount of time.They last longer than cane reeds because the plastic is much harder to crack than the cane is.

“Plastic reeds last forever”

Myth. Plastic reeds like most things have an expiration date. Of course like a cane reed precautions can be made to elongate the life of the reed. If you rotate 3 plastic reeds, you can get them all to last about a year. The tip of the plastic reed does weaken and wrinkle after excessive playing so be sure to take care of your reeds and break them in properly.

“Plastic reeds don’t chip”

Myth. They are made of plastic: they aren’t invincible. Over the last two years I have only had one plastic reed chip the way cane reeds do but in the reeds defense it got hit really hard by an ecstatic flute player at a football game.

“Plastic Reeds run thinner than the traditional cane reeds”

Fact. I normally play on a Vandorean V12 reed with a 3.5 strength and when I purchased my first Légère Classic reed with a 3.5 strength I notices immediately that the reed was weaker than my cane reeds. So I moved up to the 3.75 and felt much more comfortable playing.

“Plastic reeds produce a bad tone”

Myth. I am very proud of my tone on both my cane reeds and my plastic reeds and I don’t know anyone that can listen to me and tell me which reed I’m playing on.

Using a Plastic Reed

There are many occasions to use a plastic reed like marching band, teaching private lessons, and practice, but I would not play a plastic reed at an audition or a concert.

Marching Band

Plastic reeds are less resistant and allow you to produce a much louder and clearer sound that can be heard off the field better. Plastic reeds also don’t adjust to temperature or humidity changes, therefore they are perfect for playing outdoors.

Teaching Private Lessons

While teaching private lessons you can easily go 15 minutes without playing your clarinet. but in 15 mins, your reed will have completely dried out and have a wrinkled tip from drying on your mouth piece. With a plastic reed, you don’t have to wet it. You can pick up your instrument and start playing right away. Therefore you don’t waste anytime in your lessons wetting your own reed and the lesson can be more focused on your students playing.

While I love playing on plastic reeds, I have not and do not recommend making a complete switch to plastic reeds. Cane is the traditional reed material and will be used as long as the clarinet is. While cane may be unpredictable and annoying at times, it works and it works well. If you have any questions about plastic reeds or my set up please leave a comment!!

 

6 Best Apps for Musicians

Today’s technology is constantly changing and growing and to keep up to date everyone, even musicians, must learn to use it to our advantage. There are thousands of different music apps and computer programs designed for and by musicians. These are just a few of my favorite apps that I use on my iPad for practice and teaching lessons.

6 best music apps, reedit

Tonal Energy(iOS/ Android $3.99)

I use this music app everyday as a tuner, a metronome, and a recording device. I love having everything in one place. Perfect for every instrument, the tuner can listen to you and tune you to both a concert pitch and your instrument pitch with the use of a green smiley face, or it can play a sustained pitch for you to match. The metronome gives you easy access to 60+ different meters!! You can even set up a sequenced met for pieces with multiple different meters and tempo changes. But my all time favorite feature of the Tonal Energy app is the audio/ video recording feature. You can record yourself playing and then play it back at any speed you want to listed to your self and really isolate you’re playing.

Fingering Charts Pro(iOS $2.99)

6 best music apps, reedit, fingerings, clarinet fingerings, fingering charts

Fingerings are crucial to playing any instrument. You may assume you and your students should know all your fingerings, but not all instruments respond the same to each fingering. Fingering Charts Pro is perfect for finding alternate fingering to make harder passages easier and help you find the perfect fingering for your instruments intonation. This music app has fingering charts for 21 different instruments that are easy to navigate and understand.

 

Smart Music(iPad FREE)

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Smart Music is the perfect application for private lessons and classes. With both an iPad app and a computer program, Smart Music is easy to access for all students with access to the internet. Smart Music allows teachers to create classes, enroll students, and assign students playing assessments and enforce practice sessions. There are thousands of different method books and solos with accompaniments . With its own metronome, fingering charts, tuner, and immediate assessments, this is the perfect practice tool for young musicians.

Chromatik(iOS/ Android FREE)

6 best music apps, reedit, chromatik

Chromatik is a fun app to play around with. It has various music from different genres including classical, jazz, rock, pop, musicals, and popular movies for every instrument. You can highlight, take notes, record, and even play along with the music video on Vevo! This app is perfect for finding quick fun music that everyone knows and loves.

Garage Band(iOS $4.99)

6 best music apps, reedit, garage band, garageband

As electric backing tracks are becoming more popular, Garage Band is becoming more popular. If you are a musician interested in composing or playing with an original backing track, garage band is the perfect app for you. With the ability to record vocals, play the key board and other stimulated instruments, you can create your own music to play along with. Some popular bands first albums were made with garage band tools.

Scanner Pro (iOS/ Android $3.99)

This might be the most helpful app. Making hundreds of copies of music all day everyday, can be very tiring, but its even worse when some one needs music they don’t have.  Scanner Pro makes it easy to take a PDF scan of music right from your phone so you can email it to anyone in just seconds. I have done this many times for my private lessons.

Now I know some of these music apps cost money, but it is so worth it. I have tried lots of different apps but these are my all time favorites that I have found to be the most effective.

Interview with Eric Salazar

I am very late to getting this posted, but got very caught up with the end of the school year. But it is summer now so I will try my hardest to get caught up again. This last year I had the opportunity to interview clarinetist Eric Salazar. Eric is a clarinet soloist, chamber musician in the ensemble, Forward Motion, and a composer. He is a member of the International Clarinet Association and a BuzzReed committee member. Eric has been featured on the Clarineat podcast were he discussed his use of social media in expanding his career and how he became the second most followed clarinetist on social media.

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Solo and Composing Career

Eric released his own album in 2016. This live recorded album features recordings of Salazar’s original compositions combining traditional musicians with electronic tracks and can be heard on iTunes, Spotify, Sound Cloud. This new form of music is often categorized under the indie-classical genre. Eric Salazar often introduces improvisation into his own works as improvise is the first step towards composing.

 

Forward Motion

Eric performs with his chamber ensemble, Forward Motion. Forward motion is a relatively new ensemble based in Indianapolis. Keeping up with the indie-classical genre, Forward Motion brings this new art form to the public of Indianapolis.

eric salazar, forward motion, clarinet, reedit, ensemble
Forward Motion Ensemble

 

BuzzReed

Eric Salazar is a committee member and the graphic artist for the International Clarinet Associations new venture, BuzzReed.  BuzzReed was established to bring information about “pedagogy,  equipment, culture, literature, and history” to a younger audience. BuzzReed can be found on the International Clarinet Website and in The Clarinet Journal.

Career

Eric Salazar runs a private studio and is an arts administrator. But he didn’t start out that way. Salazar said that at the beginning he “Knew how to play, but didn’t really know how to have a career in music.” I believe that the best way to pursue a career in music is to be in a constant search for performance opportunities and find what makes your playing unique. Eric Salazar did just that.  His combination of instrumental and electronic music made him unique.

Q & A

I would love to learn more from Eric Salazar about careers in music. If you have any questions you would like to ask him please leave a comment or shoot me an email so that  we can feature him again.