Hello faithful readers of ponyreviews! I was in Tokyo for a few days and was very fortunate to visit Yamaha Ginza. There I tried the two premiere models of Yamaha’s B-flat clarinets: the SE-bored Artist model, and the Custom-bored Ideal G model. Little bit of a background: the SE bores are Yamaha’s take on the “French-inspired” bores, and the “Custom” bores are more “German-inspired.” I have to say this is kind of a crude generalization of clarinet sounds and designs, but perhaps the best way to understand what I am (or Yamaha is) trying to get at is to listen to recordings of many French players and many German players. Also of course if you can, try these instruments for yourself. Instead of trying to describe my feelings about the Artist and the Ideal G in words, I decided to simply add a rather “raw” footage of my playing each instrument for the very first time. The first clarinet (with the Silver emblem) I try is the Artist model (b-flat). Few seconds into it I mess around with the thumb-activated low e/f correction mechanism. I have never actually tried these mechanisms before but was really excited and fascinated. The second clarinet in the video of course is the Ideal G (also b-flat). This one didn’t have a thumb pitch correction mechanism. I was kind of rushed to make this video so please ignore (as much as you can) any playing flaws (there are many…). The clarinets were both in perfect adjustments and any flaws were due to my own shortcomings. Thanks for reading/ watching and let me know what you think of each model (on here, on YouTube, or on Facebook, whatever is most convenient for you)!
When you hire a musician whether it’s for playing your wedding, teaching your children, recording your piece, etc., there are things to keep in mind. Some of these seem small but they can make the experience much richer and rewarding for both parties.
If you are on a tight budget, be upfront about it. This way, there is a smaller chance of misunderstanding later on either end. Explain the gig in good depth of details, and include the total pay amount. The musician will either take it or not. If you are wary of having to ask a ton of musicians, there is a simple solution- ask the musicians for other recommendations in case they are not available. They will most-likely help you out. Don’t ask for their rate and then try to bring it down. You are not buying a t-shirt at a flee market, you are buying someone’s service and their time and resources to prepare and to be there. The music industry is a very competitive one, and the odds are they are already offering you the best deal possible.
Payment (part 2)
Be on time with your payment. The best thing to do is prepare a check or cash for the musicians at the gig to be given upon their arrival. This way you don’t forget to pay them and remember when it’s too late.
Again, be very specific about what you need from them from the get-go. Do not expect extra material/ time from the person you are hiring, especially for free. If you have specific material you want to be performed, e-mail the music or the titles as early as possible. Do not expect a flawless performance of a Ligeti concerto the morning after the night you e-mail the PDFs to the musicians/ contractor. No matter how easy or sight-readable you think the music is, send it early!
This part seems to slip a lot of people’s mind. Make sure you tailor your hiring to the size and the location of the venue. If you are hiring a woodwind quintet, don’t do it outside (if you can help it) or in front of an AC unit- oboes and clarinets are notorious for cracking under rapid change in humidity/ temperature. If you are hiring a jazz combo for a corporate fundraiser event, make sure there is plenty of space between the musicians and the people dancing. Musicians do not like it when their music stands get knocked over by people who don’t even realize what they did was not cool. For teaching, make sure the room is spacious and is not a storage unit. Make sure it’s sound-proofed.
Try to leave the gig to just being that gig. Do not talk of future gigs. Keep things professional and pleasant but try not to interact way too much. If you appreciate their service, shoot them an e-mail the following day. Musicians value their time and sanity highly. This is not the only gig where they have to be surrounded by many people who are interested in chatting them up in various lengths.
Family/ Friends/ Students
And lastly, if you hire someone to do a professional task, you must pay them professional rates. Do not expect to pay lower rates for any reason. If you really deserve a discount in universe’s eyes, the people being hired will let you know. But for the love of God do not ask for a discount. Be a good person.
A pivotal part in the growth of a musician comes from practicing and the way in which they practice. However important practicing is, it is meaningless unless it is purposeful and methodical (efficient, involves process, and yields results). I want to quickly touch on some topics today that I learn over and over.
The pleasure of music is debatable. No one piece of music (or one aspect of music) moves every single person on earth or in exactly the same way. Pleasure of music can come from the aspects of intellectual, visceral, physical, social, and so on. If a musician is like an actor, then would it not be in the best of the musician’s interest to learn as many roles or styles as possible to successfully serve their role in the context? Certain Hollywood actors are criticized for playing the same character in every movie they star in, and many consider them as sell-outs, or failures. If a musician finds a nice sound and functional articulations for playing in a Beethoven Symphony, it does not necessarily mean these things would or should transfer in all other types of music. Just as a person learning a new language cannot learn to speak fluently only through books and theories, a musician must listen (viscerally and critically/consciously) to the style of music they play. This helps them gain the necessary tools/ vocabulary to convincingly execute their art, especially in the formative years.
Every serious musician has gone or will go through phases of mindless practicing where they wishfully equate the number of practice hours to the quality of practicing being done. If practicing is not done consciously or thought-out beforehand, it can often be more harmful than no practicing. A fully-alert and un-intrupted hour practice session can be more productive and successful than a mindless practice session that spans 8 hours and consists of Facebook, e-mails, repeated mistakes, snacks, alcohol, socialization, and other distractions that yields no clear result. Regardless of how busy your schedule is, write out a list of specific things you want to get done that day. You will be surprised at how good and eager you are at crossing off the things from your list.
Tailoring your practice to your daily needs and time availability should be an art itself. Do not give up on practicing because you do not have 3 hours available that day because you’re traveling all day. Think of other ways you can practice without your instrument- studying scores, reading about artists/ composers, listening to music, trying to sing the piece/ lick you are learning from memory, resting, or even doing a routine maintenance on your instrument- all of these can contribute to turning your next musical experience a better one, and even help you become a better musician. Having fewer hours in a day to practice will help you be more focused in the few minutes you do have to yourself and encourage you to become methodical (which hopefully you will transfer to your longer practice sessions).
Almost a year ago, I got my new b-flat clarinet (Schwenk und Seggelke M1000B). This clarinet is pitched lower than my previous R13 b-flat clarinet, so it prompted me to get a higher pitched mouthpiece. After having my clarinet adjusted a bit at Buffet by the master technician Melanie Wong, I went down to D’Addario, in hopes of finding a mouthpiece that is more suitably pitched for my clarinet. There I was greeted warmly by Tom Kmiecik, Artist Relations of D’Addario. He was in a meeting with a client but welcomed me in anyway, and gave me a bunch of mouthpieces to try. Not only that, he gave me a few reeds to try with the mouthpieces. I was very impressed with the consistency of their products. Anyway, fast forward a few months, and I contacted Tom out of the blue to see if they have any bass clarinet mouthpieces in development (they had been working on a bunch of saxophone mouthpieces). He said not at the moment, but they were close to introducing their bass clarinet reeds. Fast forward a couple more months, Tom sent me a few boxes of reeds to try! Finally last night, I got to try the D’Addario Reserve Bass Clarinet Reeds (3.0), in a concert hall (Winspear Centre, where the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra plays).
The setting was wind ensemble, and the program was not too forgiving for the bass clarinet. My most normal set up is Vandoren B50 coupled with Vandoren V12 3. However, most V12 3s are too hard for me (and most 2.5s are too soft for me). Keep in mind, the B50 is Vandoren’s most open facing mouthpiece (quite resistant). I found the D’Addario Reserve Bass Clarinet Reeds fell somewhere between the 2.5 and 3 Vandoren V12 bass clarinet reeds. At first I was a little shocked by how freely the Reserve reed played, but after a couple of minutes I got used to the feel and was able to effortlessly control my new set up. Silent entrances were made much easier, and blending and tuning were much more definitive and therefore also much easier (to hear and adjust). I played on one reed for the entire soundcheck (I had forgotten that I was playing on this new set up, which is a good sign). To provide more context for the bass clarinet’s role in the wind ensemble (if you are unfamiliar) the bass clarinet often doubles the first bassoon parts, the tutti clarinet parts, and also often the low brass. I need to be able to switch quickly from having light and almost percussive bassoon-y sound to producing very full and carrying low brass sound to intoxicatingly play my solos in that uniquely warm bass clarinet voice. The Reserve reed was able to do these things very well, especially blending with the bassoon.
My experience with the D’Addario reeds so far is that the reeds are very consistent out of the box, however they do not normally tend to last nearly as long as Vandoren reeds. If I played in a major orchestra, I think I would probably play the new D’Addario reeds because they are so practical (aside from sounding great) and consistent. However I felt these reeds were not as beefy and resistant as the Vandoren reeds (which are not actually bad things for me, personally) that I felt as if these reeds wear out fairly quickly, like the other D’Addario reeds I have tried in the past. Vandoren reeds I feel sound kind of stiff in the beginning, then sound good, then sound GREAT, and then die. I find Reserve reeds sound really great from the beginning, and then start dying. Different reeds for different occasions, I suppose.
I like the new D’Addario bass clarinet reeds a lot. I think in the future I might also try the 3.5s. At this point I would probably use these reeds for professional auditions, but probably not for daily practicing,
Thank you Tom Kmiecik and D’Addario for your kindness and generosity!
What is a White Master reed?
Vandoren’s White Master reeds were designed to be played on German clarinet mouthpieces, although I have met few people in my life who play with these reeds on their French clarinet mouthpiece. I have never owned a German mouthpiece (since I play on French-system clarinets), however I did try these reeds on a few French clarinet mouthpieces. These reeds are much narrower and shorter than regular French b-flat clarinet reeds, so naturally one would imagine they would play better on smaller and shorter (lay) mouthpieces. Not surprisingly, my B40 (shorter lay) saw more success with these reeds than my M30D mouthpiece.
The strengths don’t translate directly. 3.5 WM reeds are MUCH too hard, whereas 2.5 White Master reeds work quite well (still more back pressure than most 3.5 reeds of other types). They work pretty well on most b-flat clarinet mouthpieces I have, however they do not work so well in the upper registers on my main (M30D) mouthpiece, probably due to its longer lay.
Can I Use Them?
Yes, in fact I have switched my e-flat clarinet reeds to the White Master 2.5 reeds. The tip and the sides fit so much better on any of my e-flat clarinet mouthpieces than any of my e-flat reeds do (most e-flat clarinet reeds don’t really fit most e-flat mouthpieces at the tip, on the sides). You might think, that can’t be- why would Vandoren do that with their e-flat clarinet reeds? I have no idea why. In any event, these reeds are much stronger (in the best way) than than most e-flat clarinet reeds, even at a whole strength lower.
The sounds is beefy which seems to come from the very dense cane that is used to make WM reeds. Spine is strong yet flexible, articulation is optimized when done with more air and push of the tongue (which is so much more comfortable than the walking-on-eggshells-like feeling of playing e-flat clarinet reeds on e-flat clarinet mouthpieces), projection is good (does not thin out like regular e-flat clarinet reeds do),
Well for one, obviously, the unfortunate name of the reeds must be updated. These reeds are still nowhere as popular in North America as other Vandoren reeds are, so they are much more expensive (about 10 dollars more).
However, I would still buy these over regular e-flat clarinet reeds, to play on my e-flat clarinet set up.
Yes. Use them on e-flat clarinet mouthpieces. Don’t forget to go a whole strength lower. Despite their higher price, I do believe these last longer than most “normal” French style reeds due to their very dense and resilient cane.
*My current e-flat clarinet mouthpiece set up is Vandoren M30 (e-flat) + Vandoren 2.5 White Master.
Sean Perrin is a clarinetist based in Calgary, Alberta (Canada), which is also where I grew up from 2002. In Calgary, Perrin is known as a skilled educator, clarinetist, and of course, the owner of Clarineat, a podcast that deals with “everything that is neat about the clarinet.”
Perrin released his first CD, entitled Dreamsongs, almost a year ago in May of 2016. Dreamsongs is an all-cover album, consisted of some of the most iconic pieces of music by the American composer Philip Glass and the legendary pianist Chick Corea. All pieces are tastefully arranged for various instrumentations including the clarinet, the marimba, and the vibraphone by Perrin himself. Perrin is also a skilled percussionist himself and shows off his lyrical playing on the album on both the clarinet and the marimba (Truman Sleeps).
In this otherwise somewhat minimalist album, Perrin successfully explores the many personalities of the clarinet. Perrin’s playing is expressive and personal. Along with the grounded and flowing sounds of the marimba played by Rob Maciak, another powerhouse musician from Calgary, Perrin’s clarinet sounds very much alive, curious, and vulnerable. Throughout listening to Dreamsongs I kept visualizing a chick that had just hatched and is discovering the world around it.
Every track flows beautifully from one to the next and is beautifully recorded, mixed, mastered, by Spencer Cheyene, and produced by Tyler Hornby.
Sean Perrin, Clarinet and Marimba
Rob Maciak, Marimba and Vibraphone
Spencer Cheyne, Engineering, mixing, and mastering
Tyler Hornby, Producer
Clarineat, Amazon, Spotify, etc.
I have been blogging only for a few months now, and I have a small but a loyal following, most notably from USA, Canada, Japan, and the Netherlands. I wanted to share a series of quick thoughts about blogging.
At some point I decided that I will write a blog every week. In the beginning, I wanted to write one everyday. I had so much to say, but somehow these days it is a lot harder for me to write. I feel more pressure to deliver an amazing blog post now that I for sure have an audience. It is not easy to try and update a post every Monday, but it creates a (small) routine in my super scattered freelance life and I like it.
My contents have varied. However, I try to stick with what I know and what I am passionate about.
In real life, I can be quiet, I can be very out-going, I can be very cynical, sarcastic, spacey, and so on. In the beginning, I thought it would be cool to be as real as I can be in my writing and try to let some of these traits seep into my writing. But as I have written before, writing is writing, and it is not the same as other forms of communication. I shared my early posts with my closest friends and they ripped me apart to shreds. And I am very grateful. In writing, it is the best of your interest to get to the point. If people wanted to read a book, they would have read a book. If people wanted to enjoy a nice rant, they would probably have watched one of their subscribed channels on YouTube. Knowing what my blog is to people has helped me shape at times what I will write about.
I originally decided to start writing here because I really wanted to get better at writing and also to gain some kind of professional leverage. Obviously I was very ambitious. Like many people in the arts I think I suffer from a (mild) case of the snowflake millennial syndrome. To even think that my writing is of anyone’s interest in this crowded planet is very presumptuous to say the least. In any event, I have really enjoyed writing every post so far. It hasn’t always been easy, but I am proud that I have written over 20 posts now.
If you have topics on your mind that you wish I would discuss, please comment below or message me. Thank you so much reading.
I am not the universe’s authority of the professional e-mail guidelines, but I do write and receive e-mails everyday, and to say the least, some e-mails are definitely more effective than others in the professional sense. In this blog I will examine some badly written e-mails and how suggest how they can be better.
There is a very good chance that I am one of the very few people who get bothered by seeing e-mails being signed off with this specific salutation. I think it bothers me because: 1. Extremely few people actually say this in real life in North America. 2. Honestly I don’t get bothered by this if the correspondence is friendly and fun. However if it is a professional e-mail especially with people whom I have never worked with before, it seems presumptuous of our professional relationship which is yet to be established, and also seems to install an uncomfortable hierarchy. When I see “Cheers,” I read, “I am aware that this is a business e-mail but I am cool with us being cool about it even though this is about business and that is just the cool kind of person that I am, dude.” I understand this comes from a good place, but being professional is okay, and often preferred by many in professional settings. There is a time and a place for everything.
Instead of “Cheers,” I think “Sincerely,” “Thank you,” “Best,” can be tasteful depending on the context. If you don’t like any of these alternatives, just your name is fine.
To contradict what I said about “extremely few people actually say(ing) this in real life,” one must realize writing is definitely not the same as talking. Even the most natural story-authors do not talk in real life in the same way as they express speech in their own writing. I never speak in real life in the way I write my blogs. It is important to first realize that speech and writing are not the same. Then one must understand all of the possibilities of what their words can mean to others. I believe “…” is often used to negate the possibility of sounding (passive) aggressive and cold. This thinking is understandable especially if the correspondence is done between two people that have never actually interacted in real life and may never will. Perhaps a rare “…” is okay, but I am definitely turned off by many of these in one e-mail, or worse, every e-mail.
Please take the time to read over your e-mail, put the sentences in order to form coherent thought in your writing.
I get these mainly from people who are in charge of gigs or events of sorts, when they really want to drill certain pieces of information into your skimming and lazy brains. I am definitely guilty of being on the both sides of the scenario. However, please be creative and come with some alternatives. Trust that your readers will read your e-mail all the way through and obtain the essential information. In fact, I will talk about an effective alternative to this method of writing a memorable e-mail in the next part.
e-mails that are too long and definitely need to be shortened, however they do contain some very important details so they just end up being very long because the author feels that that is the best way. The author is very busy and feels strongly about the points they are trying to deliver to their reader so the length is justified.
Yes, I know sometimes e-mails have to be long. But they can always be shortened. And often, they have to be shortened in order to be read and processed 100%. Again, it is a good idea to proof-read and delete all the words that your writing can do without. Yes, conversely, sometimes you can end up sounding like a cold asshole. Sometimes you do need to add some convincing words here and there to make your tone not so robotic or vile.
Again, avoid stream of consciousness in your writing if you can. Try to be as objective as possible (not too emotional). Some things can be saved for real life conversations.
In the end, all the things I wrote about has its time and place. But like most things, they have to be done tastefully and they shine in moderate/ controlled doses.
For a few years now I have had the wonderful opportunity to guide students through their development as clarinetists. I have worked with students from 6 to mid 60s, and the issues that arise are almost always the same.
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The clarinet is a wind instrument. It requires an optimum volume of air with an optimum level of velocity to vibrate the reed, the mouthpiece, the rest of the instrument, and the players themselves. If the player does not feel like they are an extension of their instrument, or conversely if they are feeling uncomfortable with their instrument, this should be addressed. The instrument should be sealing, the reed must be strong enough to support the incoming air, and the air should be plenty, for the whole system to work properly, from the lowest register to the highest range of the clarinet. One must not just fill their close proximity with their sound but the entire room or space they are in with good, resonant sound, not with a simply loud sound.
Rhythm should be present in not just in the brain of the student who is counting 1-2-3-4 silently, but also in the way of their inhaling and exhaling, and in their finger movements. For instance, if you come in on beat 1, you should breathe on beat 4 and breathe in until you immediately turn the air around for your entrance on beat 1.
I am a bit torn on the teaching of “legato fingers,” because especially to younger students I think it can actually do more harm than good. The idea of legato fingers is to not to pop your fingers down on the tone holes and the keys to avoid creating percussive sounds and thereby ruining long lyrical phrases. Yes, of course one should not slap the fingers down, but the fingers have to be in the rhythmic context of the music being played. I emphasize the two motions: lift & squeeze. Your fingers are always either lifting or coming down. If one gets caught in the middle of those actions the hands can often get “tangled” or confused, and the student may make mistakes. Being conscious of lift/ down has been very helpful for many of my students.
The problem of legato fingers is that while the intentions are good and the ideology is especially effective for advanced students, it can create tension. “Don’t slap your fingers,” “Don’t bite,” “Don’t squeak,”…etc. these “Don’ts” I find can create tension and set students up for failure. If you are a teacher and you do this, may I recommend using the alternatives “Feel the notes with your fingers,” “There must be rhythm in your fingers,” “Blow more air,” “Use a new reed.”
Tension can come from various things. It can come from the person not having strong enough back/ arms to support their instrument and compensating with smaller muscles in their hands. This can develop into tendonitis and carpal tunnel. I would say before you try Alexander Technique and other body mapping techniques, if you are going to invest a lot of time into learning and practicing your instrument, make sure body is in shape. Start with 20 push ups a day. If you are already injured, I strongly recommend taking the time off the instrument for about two weeks or more to fully recover before doing push ups and eventually getting back on the instrument.
Tension can also come from having too hard a of a reed (usually results in one or both shoulders going up during playing and cramping), the instrument not sealing somewhere, or having too soft of a reed.
The truth is that there must be some kind of resistance somewhere in the set up, for the musician to feel comfortable to engage their large quantity of air properly. For instance if the reed is too soft, the musician will subconsciously feel the low headroom and try to compensate or create some kind of resistance by biting too much (results in squeaking or choking especially higher ranges of the clarinet) in order to be able to blow air. Every student has their ideal reed strength, but usually from middle school and on, 2.5 is too soft. I would recommend 3- 3.5 in middle school. And 3.5-4 in high school. Of course exceptions exist.
If the reed is too soft, especially in the high ranges of the clarinet is starts getting very flat and eventually the reed closes up, producing no sound at all. Or it will produce squeaks or “chirp.” If the reed is too hard, the pitch tendency is to be higher. So it is the clarinetists’ duty and responsibility to play on a good reed that works for each individual so they can blend and tune better in ensemble. Also I find often also that if the reed is too soft, students play with little air to avoid producing bad, spread, sound, in doing so, their intonation is not stable, and also others around cannot hear them well enough to even try and tune and blend.
The typical Bundy, Vito, and Yamaha brands usually seen in public schools are generally fine. I have seen many no name and “brand name” Chinese models that are unbelievably affordable and made of unbelievably bad material. These might be tempting when you come encounter them on eBay. While they may be fine in the beginning, if the student practices regularly (and often times even if they don’t) the instrument will go out of adjustment and start breaking usually within three weeks. Then your options are either bringing it to a repair technician, ignoring the problem and trucking through, or getting a new instrument. None of these are ideal (repair technicians dread working on bad instruments). My advice is to get a proper instrument from the beginning. I have written a blog about beginning/ intermediate instruments, so check it out:
Voicing/ Air (reprise)
If you have a good, functioning instrument, good reed-mouthpiece-ligature set up, and a healthy body, and yet you are struggling still to produce good sound especially in the higher territories of the clarinet, investigate your voicing. Voicing is basically the aperture of your tongue and your throat through which the air comes out from your body. The air can be slow (say “haw-” without vibrating your voice box as if you are trying to create condensation on your glasses to clean them). The air can be also fast (hiss “hee-” as if you are a cat). Another way of thinking about it is picturing a garden hose, the water is on, the water is coming out of the end of the hose, chug chug chug.. then you pinch the area near the end of the hose to make the water spray much stronger and shoot much farther.
The type of air you want to use vary in various degrees on the style of music one is playing, the sound they are going for, the type of set up one is using. However, generally speaking, especially when first learning the clarinet, one must aim for high velocity in the air (highly pressurized, cold air), which is produced by the smaller aperture of the arch/ back of the tongue and the throat. In order to this, the back of the tongue must be high. The saxophone is different in this aspect, maybe I will cover that in a future blog.
The most important steps in learning how to voice are listening to great players, having clear concepts/ goals in desired sound, and constantly adjusting by listening and experimenting privately and in the context of ensemble. And of course, you need a good teacher to help you in your journey.
Mastering a craft is a lifelong process and the clarinet is no exception. One must be very patient and curious. However it is extremely important to remember all of this labour of love is to create music. One must be very much interested in music in order to be a successful musician/ clarinetist, for the long haul, anyway. That is not to say playing the clarinet is not a pleasurable activity, but to simply say after all of our experimenting and education, our playing should serve the music in convincing ways. As a former student who struggled with the types of teaching methods of “Because I said so,” but benefitted from “This why and this is how you do this,” I strongly believe in teaching methods that not only yield results but can be taught to students in completely purposeful, convincing, and memorable ways.
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If you have traveled with your instrument and played in different regions, you may have noticed the differences in the feeling of your set up. “Clarinetists are at the mercy of their reeds,” but I believe we clarinetists can acknowledge this, take proper measures, and master those curve balls.
instrument case/ cover
others (screw drivers, nail clippers, extra swab etc.)
instrument case/ cover
Instrument cases are hardly a new topic in my blog posts, but I believe they play a crucial part in keeping your instrument in a safe and predictable shape. When it comes to cases, I look for size and suspension. Size matters for many reasons (scroll down to other blogs for the info.), and suspension of means better ventilation for the joints and less movement and hitting of the keys against the inside of the case. If you are wondering what cases I mean by this, I am referring to the cases made by Lomax, Bonna, and (sometimes) Manning.
Instrument cover I believe is a topic that I have not covered yet. You can get one of any size easily on the internet, at an electronic store (for camera bags), or mountaineering equipment store. I am simply referring to those thin plastic covers that go over the case and tighten with a string. Usually the sizes are adjustable with these strings so if you are ordering one of these covers from online and worried about getting the correct size for your case, probably safest to get the bigger sizes. I use mine for my instrument cases and my regular backpack to protect my stuff from rain/ snow/ wind/ scratches/ dirt/ etc..
This I believe is the most important part of this blog post. When you are traveling to regions of different climates from your homebase, your reeds will most likely change. They might soften, or they might harden. The change might not happen on the first day, but might happen on the second day. Before I travel to different regions to play, I am equipped with reeds that are broken in and ready to play comfortably at my home base, reeds that are a bit more stiff, and reeds that are a bit softer, and reeds of various strengths that are also unopened and will be broken in at my travel destination. You might think this is a lot of preparation, and you are right- it is. It costs a lot of money and organization to have various reeds going at different stages, but when it comes to performances you will be surprised to find how few reeds will have survived the traveling and previous playing. I learned my lesson when I traveled once from one end of the continent to the other to play an orchestra audition, and all of my reeds (broken in and comfortably playing at my home base) were ALL too soft. You can imagine how well that audition went.
From what I gather, aside from reed break-in process, humidity, temperature, and sunlight level, the altitude of the region also plays factor. I have not yet successfully come to definite conclusions that map out the exact correlations but maybe that is not such a bad thing, because perhaps it is best to be flexible and prepared for all outcomes than simply idealistic.
Anything can happen on the road, and it will be easy on your conscience to be prepared when something not so ideal happens. I have noticed that on the trip I am on now, one of my bass clarinet screws are constantly coming loose (probably since it was previously adjusted by a technician in a region of a very different climate). This has never happened to me back home. But either way, I am glad I have my screw driver to put the thing back to its place. I am glad I brought an extra swab, because my silk swab has ripped to shreds by getting caught somewhere, some time. Frustrating, but I’m glad I am prepared.
I did forget to pack a nail clipper, so I had to buy one. This is also kind of frustrating because at our home we have now accumulated about five nail clippers. Hopefully next time I will remember.
Protein bars are also good to pack, especially if you are like me and get dangerously hangry or depressed by hunger. They will probably be pricey to buy on the road (god forbid you buy one at an airport), and you can save money by buying a small box (or a large box if you are really into protein bars). If you happen to get leftovers, you can always eat them later since they don’t really go bad very quickly.
I am aware not everyone has the same style and needs in traveling. However it is best of anyone’s interest to learn their own and master them to save money and grief. “Best remedy to ________ is prevention.”