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.”