Last week during my vacation, I thought I’d try one of the Pete Fountain clarinet reeds, a 3.5 strength, which I’d played on before. Of course, I’d been playing on a 2.0 strength reed (one of my Chinese Ebay purchases), and so imagine my surprise when I put it on my blue mouthpiece I’d been enjoying and could hardly play! Maybe I’d lost my chops, I thought. I tried another 3.5 reed and while it was less stiff than the Pete Fountain, I still had difficulties. These are things I just hadn’t encountered before, and I worried that I was losing it.

Then, I tried my Debut mouthpiece, the one I’d been playing on for a while. Lo and behold, the reed played better. Still stiff, still difficult to play, but easier. And I realized the cut and style of the mouthpiece matters depending on reed strength. Now, I keep my pretty blue mouth piece for my ebay purchases and then try to play at least once a week on the other mouthpiece and a stiffer reed.

I’m finding this fascinating since I am mostly self-taught and I didn’t receive any education in this while playing in middle grade band. I’m thinking I need to start making a journal, keep track of these things. Only, I’ll need to find out if there’s any precedent for it. We’ll see.

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