Avoiding Reed Rage

Making reeds is hard. You can spend hours and hours working on reeds, only to have every one of them crack, lose a corner, chirp, not vibrate, or just not become a playable reed. The whole day’s work was all for naught. Then what?

I’ve thrown some pretty mighty reed tantrums, especially while I was first learning. I’ve yelled and screamed in frustration, threw bad reeds against the wall, and in general acted like a toddler. But after all that, the reeds still didn’t work. And generally, I’d spend the next hour or two wasting time trying to cool down – eating junk food, watching a dumb show on TV, anything to get my mind off of the reeds.

So, how can we avoid falling into a pit of despair?

A lot of it comes down to not becoming emotionally attached to our reeds. It’s easy to do, especially when you spend so much time making them. But if we can distance ourselves a little bit, it can go a long way. Here are some strategies to help.

1 – Using a timer

One good way I’ve found to avoid getting attached to reeds is by setting a timer for 20 minutes. No matter how much or how little work I did to a reed in those 20 minutes, I put it away as soon as the timer goes off. That helps me avoid spending too much time on any single reed, and I don’t have enough time with it to get attached. It also helps with making reeds over several days in different stages, which will be discussed in an upcoming article.

2 – When the reeds are good, don’t let up

We all go through periods where it seems like we’ve got it all figured out. Don’t get too comfortable! That feeling doesn’t last forever. If you’re on a hot streak, keep making reeds. Make as many as you can, because you may need those reeds to help you through an upcoming reed rut.

3 – Make reeds with friends

Get some friends together for a reed party. Turn on Netflix, play some tunes on the stereo, and spend a few hours hanging out and making reeds. You’ll find that you’re a lot less likely to kick that music stand across the room if your friends are there. Plus, they may have an answer to the problems you’re having.

4 – Identify when you’ve made a mistake, and switch to a different reed

Many of my biggest reed tantrums came after I saw a small mistake in a reed and decided I would keep working on it. Yes, depending on what the mistake is, you might be able to work around it and solve the issue. But more often, that mistake will keep haunting you as you do more and more work on the reed, and it may never be resolved. We’re better off if we pull out a new reed to work on and avoid making the mistake in the first place.

5 – Make more reeds

This is kind of the answer to everything, and it’s a no-brainer. The more reeds you have to work on, the less attached you’ll be to any single reed, and the less damaging it is when a reed doesn’t turn out.

You may already be doing many of these things to help avoid reed tantrums. If not, I hope these help!

How do you avoid getting too attached to your reeds?