Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tim Price Bloggin' For D' Addario Woodwinds- Dealing with reeds.

DEALING WITH REEDS..... Reed quality is important when playing and is important in its interaction with the mouthpiece. Along with breath support and embouchure, it is responsible for pitch control and the quality of the sound produced. The fibers running through the length of a reed create the high partials in a sound. If there are excessive fibers, they may contribute to an edgy sound, or poor quality of sound. So, the pith between the fibers slightly dampens the high partials, but if excessively pithy, the sound may be somewhat "fuzzy." Many other factors contribute to the quality of sound produced by a reed, including the maturity of the cane. This is indicated by the color of the reed. Cane is seasoned for two to three years after it is cut and must have reached maturity, but not entered its natural state of decay. The amount of seasoning of the cane and the shape and dimensions of the reed also contribute to the quality of sound. Choosing a good reed takes practice and experience. Comparing the grain of your favorites reeds against ones that don't play as well, and looking for differences, is a good start. When purchasing reeds, check that the color of the reed is a golden yellow color. Look for obvious flaws in the reed such as chips or splits on the tip. Hold the reed up to the light and look for a reasonably well-defined heart. The grain should be relatively even throughout. Every four to six weeks, replenish your supply of new reeds. One approach that most can afford is to buy one or two boxes every month. Get in the habit of doing this; make it a regular routine. Date the boxes when you receive them; then store them. Use your oldest reeds first; your newest reeds go to the back of your personal supply. Never again will you have to order reeds in a panic, only to discover your supplier is out of stock. Select and prepare new reeds regularly. Many players look for a good reed only when they desperately need one. Then, panic happens. The result: you won't find one. A better approach is to be in the routine of regularly trying and adjusting new reeds. Keep six to eight working reeds on hand. Routinely eliminate those that no longer play well; add in new ones that are acceptable to you. Do this even if you have no performances scheduled--you want to be in the habit of maintaining a supply of good reeds. Once every week or so, eliminate the poorest reed, and add a new one that seems to have potential. Note: "eliminate" does not necessarily mean "throw away." You can deselect a reed from your current group of six to eight preferred reeds, and store it for later re-evaluation. It may play better in six months, when the season--and humidity--changes. Rotate the reeds you play on. You will lose some of the flexibility of embouchure so necessary to successfully performing on a variety of reeds. Rotate your reeds in the course of a day's practice; practice on two or three reeds instead of just one. Find a reed's best playing position on the mouthpiece. Each reed has an ideal position on the mouthpiece. Sometimes, a slight change in the positioning of a reed on the mouthpiece can have a dramatic effect on how it responds.Also try moving the tip of the reed slightly to the left, or right; this subtle angling of position can offset an imbalance in the reed and cause it to become significantly more responsive. Storing your reeds. A storage container should do more than simply protect the reed from damage. A good storage system will minimize reed warpage by reducing variations in humidity, allowing little or no exposure to outside air. Thus, make certain the reed container has good closure. To eliminate mold, some containers have salt and/or carbon granules present. The storage device should also minimize potential warpage by allowing the air inside the reed case to contact both the top and bottom surfaces of the reed. Air naturally contacts the top surface of the reed, but what about the bottom? In many reed cases, this is accomplished through use of a grooved surface, upon which the reed rests. Thus, both the top and bottom of the reed is in contact with air, promoting a uniform drying process. If only the top surface (i.e., the vamp) of the reed contacts the air, it dries at a different rate than the bottom surface, and the reed warps. Rejuvenating an older reed. Well-used reeds can possess a build-up of material which clogs the pores and fibers of the reed. This adversely affect reed performance. Reeds in this condition can be soaked in hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes to cleanse them. Ray Pizzi turned me on to using POLYDENT. The denture cleaner- and it works like a charm. You'll know it's working: the foaming process is easy to see. Don't expect miracles here; the reed will not be restored to a "like-new" condition. However, you can expect a few more days of reliable use after this treatment. Always make small adjustments. Always remember: when you adjust a reed's dimensions, you are working with extremely small tolerances. Adjustments affect thickness, contour, and balance. Thickness: removal of a seemingly small amount of cane may actually represent ten, twenty, or thirty percent of its total thickness, depending upon where you are working. Therefore, changes that seem quite small are actually quite signficant. Contour: remember that your adjustment always affects the shape of the reed in two ways: the taper of the reed from the shoulder to the tip, and the convex curve of the reed from side to side. These shapes should be smooth, and free of any sudden "dips." Even the smallest break in either curve can have a negative effect. Therefore, always work with the idea in mind to preserve these two shapes. Balance: a reed is out of balance if a point on one side of the vamp is higher or lower than the corresponding point on the opposite side. You may well have to remove some cane to bring a reed into balance. However, if a reed is already balanced, the removal of cane from one side may necessitate the same adjustment on the other side. Keep a light touch. No pressure, just the weight of the knife; just the weight of the hand if using sandpaper or reed rush. Never press. The material removed should resemble dust. Think twice before you scrape...once cane is removed, it cannot be restored. A great book to find is Kalman Oppermans book on adjusting reeds. Get the bottom of the reed truly flat. If the bottom of the reed is warped, it will not create a true seal against the various elements of the mouthpiece, and the reed will not respond properly. To see if a reed is warped, wet the reed and lay it on a piece of glass. Gently tap one shoulder of the reed. Does it rock back and forth? If so, the bottom is warped. To reduce or eliminate the warpage, lightly sand the bottom of the reed on a file, or on sandpaper placed on a piece of glass (or plexiglass). Here's one reliable technique: wet your index, middle, and fourth fingers--this helps to hold the reed--and place them gently on the bark and vamp. Sand in a circular pattern, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise. Use three or four clockwise motions, followed by three or four counter-clockwise motions. This use of this circular technique is important, because if the reed is sanded only in one direction (say, using a repeating back and forth motion) there is a tendency to sand unevenly by creating additional pressure with the fingers at the end of the stroke. Important: Do not press. If you press, the result can be that you will actually exaggerate the warpage. While sanding, keep the reed tip off the file or sandpaper; the thinness of the tip prohibits this type of sanding. Sand only for a brief time, and then test for warpage again by laying the reed on the glass and trying to "rock" it by touching one side. With some reeds, you cannot totally eliminate warpage. A balanced reed tip will vibrate fully, and thus realize its potential to produce sound. Here, the concept we work with is that the reed, in and of itself, produces no sound. It works in conjunction with a mouthpiece--your individual mouthpiece--to produce that sound. Therefore, the reed should be balanced through the use of a playing test. Set the reed on the mouthpiece; for convenience, you can hold it in place with your left thumb. Turn the clarinet to the side, so your lower lip closes the right side of the reed; then blow an "open G." The sound you hear is created by the left tip of the reed. Then, reverse the process: turn the clarinet so that your lower lip damps the left side of the reed. When you blow, you are hearing the right tip. Compare the sounds. Is one vibrant, the other stuffy? If so, lightly scrape the stuffy side, from the tip itself back about a quarter inch. Repeat the process. Continue this cycle until you get a good match (in clarity of sound) when you listen to each individual side of the reed's tip. Take your time...remove the tiniest amount of cane (remember, only "dust"), and then try it again. Your patience will pay off. Try not be overly concerned with reproducing reeds to meet the exact dimensions of a model reed. This concept, while sound in theory, can yield disappointing results if relied upon too heavily. When adjusting reeds, remember: every reed plays differently, regardless of our best efforts at perfect duplication. Even if we use one of the many measuring, cutting, or grinding and sanding devices currently available, these devices can only attempt to reproduce a reed's dimensions. They cannot respond to the density of an individual piece of cane. The density of the cane has a direct effect on its ability to vibrate. Thus, two reeds of identical dimensions may play very differently from one another. This is one of the reasons why reeds from the same box can vary so much. When making fine adjustments, focus on achieving a smooth blend of the reed's two basic contours--the taper from shoulder to tip, and the convex curve from side to side--as opposed to trying to reproduce a set of specific dimensions. Look at the reed. Does it appear to have a high spot? If so, try to blend that spot into the overall contour. The elimination of a high spot can dramatically affect the reed's performance.Try the reed first. If it plays, don't do anything to it! If the reed gods of chance and good fortune hand you a fine reed, my advice is to play it! Don't change it--just add it to your selection of six to eight preferred reeds, and spend the extra time practicing. Any reed work has to be practiced to experience improvement. Devote about twenty minutes a day to it; gradually, you will achieve results. And, you will still have time to get all your practicing done. Reeds are deceptive; the feel of a reed often differs from the sound of a reed. Make sure you are listening to the reed, as well as feeling its responsiveness. Do your reed work at the end of your practice session, rather than at the beginning. Remember: your main focus is to practice the music. Work on one or two reeds only, after your day's practicing has been completed. Spend the majority of your "shed time" practicing the instrument, as opposed to working on reeds. Last but not least..some old school ideas here. Many players advocate a carefully laid out routine involving a cycle of wetting and drying the reeds prior to extended playing. Those players who recommend such programs most assuredly find them successful. For many years I followed such a routine, but no longer do so. I find that having six to eight reeds on hand, and rotating them--playing two or three in the course of a practice session--is, in and of itself, an effective "break-in" routine for my newer reeds. My experience tells me this: there is no "best" brand of reed. Reed Geek, Knife...use what you personally prefer. Where to adjust for specific results? I wish there was a formula, but there isn't...at least, I haven't found one that seems to work consistently. Keep in mind. Buy new reeds routinely. Work on them regularly. Keep a set of six to eight reeds available. Rotate the reeds you play on, using two or three during a practice session. Add a new reed to the rotation every week or ten days, and eliminate the poorest one. Find the reed's best playing position on the mouthpiece. Store your reeds in a container which minimizes warp-age. If needed, give an older reed a boost by cleaning it with hydrogen peroxide. Make small adjustments. Keep a light touch. Focus primarily on the two fundamental adjustments: make the bottom flat, and balance the tip. Devote the majority of your time to practicing ; work on reeds only about twenty minutes a day. It's what you do with those twenty minutes that can make all the difference. THANKS- Tim Price

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tim Price Bloggin' For D'Addario Woodwinds- Music belongs in the Public Schools!

.....Music should be central to the school curriculum because it improves children's health and wellbeing, concludes a study released today.Learning to play an instrument has a clear impact on improving intelligence.Music exerts a powerful impact on our lives and is as important for a well-rounded education as reading, writing.Fact!Learning to play an instrument has demonstrable effects on intelligence and, when children play music together, teaches them about cooperation and working together.Music helps concentration, aids relaxation and can influence moods and emotions, her study found. It can calm or arouse and help to overcome anger, despair and other powerful emotions.Instruments and playing them have been been found to help young children with language development and can aid physical coordination. Think about it- the results are in front of us for decades. Ask any professional player from Ernie Watts to Gary Burton and Arnie Krackowsky.How has music education changed my mood? Knowledge follows,inspiration and reality appear, with the best motivation being that of my soul. Because? I am prepared educationally as a person and musician. In many dimensions-from the early ages onward. My discipline as a professional musician and educator was cultivated through practice starting in public schools. I have been captured completely by the breath of life and I am humbled by the education presented to me through my life. ......Aside from the social benefits, students in high school music programs have higher test scores and cognitive development. A U.S. Department of Education study found that those who reported consistent involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12.Nothard to believe is it, and the results are always fun. This observation holds regardless of students' socioeconomic status.Additionally, students who learn to play an instrument develop a greater language capacity and a greater ability to learn a new language. In another context, it is invaluable to gain a wider perspective on cultural history by being exposed to centuries of our rich cultural heritage. In my life I traveled the world and still do- it all started in 8th grade band claas in Reading, Pa.I had a fantastic band teacher- Mr. Fidler. ~~~ WORDS FROM LINDA TO LIVE BY ; "In the United States, we spend millions of dollars on sports because it promotes teamwork, discipline, and the experience of learning to make great progress in small increments. Learning to play music does all this and more." - Linda Ronstadt.......from the mouth and life of a true artist as well. ......READ THIS AND LISTEN ; http://www.gracenotescharity.org/2/post/2012/7/why-music-education-belongs-in-public-schools.html ..."After all we ask our kids to read Shakespeare, why don't we still teach Mozart? It's the classics we aspire to not the comic book level learning that we want for our students." Samuel Hope, executive director of the National Association of Schools and Music, says that the five ways we communicate and organize thought is first in letters and words, which is our language. The second is numbers and symbols which is mathematics.Children still have the thirst for performing and teaching each other music, they show it in their ipods and other electronic devices that they carry or possess. So keeping music classes in schools seems more important than ever. Do we want superheros to inspire our children or real heros of history like Mozart and Bach? I think the answer is more simple than we think. The arts feed on each other and develop self esteem and confidence. It is also known for the development of social interaction, small and large motor skills. For instance, children can learn as a group and dancing or playing an instrument helps develop social and motor skills alike.These budget cuts are taking the opportunities to learn through different mediums right of our childrens hands. Besides not being able to teach them how to work together, like in a large group such as a music class, they don't learn simple tasks like taking turns, listening for their cue to participate and the respect of personal property, like instruments.They are missing out on developing crucial social skills. These are ALL important to their overall development. Often music classes involve such things as clapping of hands, stomping of feet, basic dancing and singing at the top of your lungs; who wouldn't have fun doing that? Some studies have shown that developmentally or physically challenged children have responded very positively to music programs and that breathing and speech disabilities improved over time. For example, using these skills in therapy, it helps to develop breathing and hand mouth coordination.Get my point? MUSIC BELONGS IN EVERY CHILD'S EDUCATION....Let's never loose that in any way. Thank you- Tim Price Also- please listen to a youtube I did in 2009...about education for Rico. Read the blog...then listen to our D'Addario Woodwinds channel... Music belongs in the Public Schools! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VmT6kOmTjk Tim Price on Continuing Support of Your School's Music Prog Thank you. . . .

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tim Price Bloggin' For D'Addario Woodwinds- Lunch For Your Ears.

It has been my contention that the most valuable viewpoints come from those who do. Thus, it’s logical to assume that any saxist who is surviving in this field, and doing it with success, is doing something right. The energies we all put into our craft; The years of apprenticeship and life-struggle, and the never ending open tuition to the school of hard knocks is always balanced by the intense commitment to the horn, and the pure love of playing it. The music always has an infinite history and fertility, inexhaustible vitality, and at the same time, a seductive power of temptation - which inspires all of us who play – and offers the open-ended invitation to create as much as we can. The results, the waiting, the practicing at all hours, the talking of the music and constant study gives the music a breath of spirit, endless in motion and evolution. This will always be a source of awe and wonder to the fan or player. The legacy of the sax is a never ending landscape, at all times finite and infinite, both temporal and spiritual. The following observations, experience, gossip and serious reflection are an effort to bring you all closer to the vast dimensions of sax history, stars, life and times via the generous reminiscences of these artists. The following artists bring a similar devotion to what the horn and it’s history is about, but all create a different picture via personal viewpoints in experiences, achievements and success. The actions and concepts that lie behind these stories will give inspiration as well as insights into a never ending life’s work and study. I wish to acknowledge the philosophies and insights of the saxists interviewed. you see, dear reader, many pros take different roads, but the basic roots are the same! This becomes more vivid as you read the interviews, and it’s why I included this section. This provides a wealth of advice and viewpoints. Enjoy all of it, and choose what works for you and apply it, and take heed to the hard-learned words of these one of a kind saxists. In closing this section, let me say, keep a hard edge on your playing, look forward to the heat and fervor of the expansiveness of the never ending saxophone. And above all, strive for tone. Go find CD's,youtube and hear these players ASAP- Ernie Krivda,Sam Phipps, MIKE HASHIM,Sam Morrison, Fred Lipsius, Don Wilkerson, Eric Kloss,early Wilton Felder, Tony Coe,Mike Smith,Rudolph Johnson, Tineke Postma, Hans Dulfer,Arnie Krackowsky,Ed Xiques, Kenny Berger, Peter Loeb....there's more too. Check these ; Albert Wing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6V5JZGynBg Loren Pickford http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6CrUi4iuN0 Miles Donahue https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_jMjW9TdQw Morris Atchison http://www.allmusic.com/album/refine...r-mw0000364403 Eric Kloss https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JreHntGF3Vc Joe Romano https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfIPXMwo5_U Frank Lowe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygpqd1BKQw0 Kenny Hing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxuRHarzwEY Bert Wilson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGbLsYIxj2I Vince Wallace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_3xlfxrlSo John Handy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guduVt3Xfe0 Tony Coe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xcwkk2LG1c For now- this will give you some lunch for your ears. Keep listening...Survive and remember that your main purpose IS playing music. TIM PRICE