Notes for Students

How to get the best and the most from your Kool Reeds

Kool reeds are made with great care from organically-grown Arundo Donax and will perform very well over a long period if some simple rules are followed. Firstly, have your teacher or a professional bassoon player test your bassoon to make sure it is in good playing condition. If the instrument is out has of adjustment and has pads that are not airtight no reed will work properly. Secondly, make sure your crook (bocal) is in good condition, is clean inside, no splits or cracks and is perfectly round on the tip. When your bassoon and crook are in good order and you have the right strength reeds you are ready to go.

Before playing, dip the blade of your reed in water up to the first wire, take it out, shake off excess water and wait 1 or 2 minutes before playing. Prolonged soaking is not necessary. When playing don't squeeze (bite) too hard on the reed but breathe deeply and blow a lot of air through the reed to control pitch and tone and project the sound.

If the reed feels too hard to play, is difficult to control and tires your lip rapidly the reed tip is probably too open. Close the tip a very small amount by squeezing very gently on the top and bottom of the first wire (the one nearest your lips) with a pair of medium size pliers.

If the tip of the reed is too close, it will be impossible to get enough air through the reed to make a clear sound and play loudly enough especially in the low register. If this is so, squeeze the first wire very gently on the sides to open the tip a very small amount.

Caution: never squeeze the reed wires when the reed is dry as it could split. After playing, blow strongly through the round end (the butt) of the reed and carefully wipe the blades on your hand between the thumb and first finger to remove as much moisture as possible before putting the reed away in a reed case.

Whether you put your reed in a reed case or a plastic vial, the reed will go mouldy on the inside and outside in a very short time unless you remove the reed when you arrive home and let the air in your room circulate through the reed over night to dry it out completely. This will ensure the best sound and the longest life for your Kool reeds. Any mould on the reed will cause it to rot quite quickly and can cause throat infections.

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