Group Reed Forming Classes

I like my students to start making reeds as soon as possible. I find that most don’t really take to it right away, but once in a while a student will fall in love with reed making. I currently have a ninth grade student who makes all of her own reeds. I rarely have to help her with them. I can’t take credit for it. I can only take credit for introducing her to reed making at an early age.

During the fall—after marching band season is over but before Thanksgiving—I host a Reed Party. I schedule it for 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. My students are excited about it because I have been talking it up since September. I also let them invite any other bassoon friends they have from their schools, youth orchestras, All-state, etc. This usually results in a group of ten students. (It also can result in new students!) I like to have one experienced reed maker for every three newbies. That way the veteran can help with putting on wires and I don’t have to teach each student individually.

A few weeks before each reed class, I contact various double reed shops and ask them to send catalogs and any promotional items they have. I have had great success with this! Here is a photo of some of my recent acquisitions:

Compliments of Charles Double Reed, Miller Marketing, RDG Woodwinds, Forrests Music, and Hodge Products

Compliments of Charles Double Reed, Miller Marketing, RDG Woodwinds, Forrests Music, and Hodge Products

I give out the catalogs and a supply list at the beginning of the reed party. Then I spend about 20 minutes explaining what all the different reed tools are called. If there are some items that I don’t personally own (e.g. a profiler), we look at them in the catalogs. Students are always late, so this little 20 minute talk gives the stragglers time to show up.

Here is how I set up for a smaller group (6-8 students)

Here is how I set up for a smaller group (6-8 students)

Once the students are familiar with the tools, we dive right in! I have them make reeds from GSP cane. For the last few years I have been using Charles Student GSP cane. I like this cane for two big reasons: it plays the minute you cut the tip & it’s cheap. It doesn’t make my very favorite reeds, but it suits the purpose very well.

I take the students through each step of the forming process, checking each student’s work after each step. (Do not let a student try to make more than one reed. I had some tricksters try this last year and it slowed us WAY down.) Once the reeds are formed, I have them write their initials on the reeds and place them on my drying rack for two weeks. After the reeds have dried, I either finish the reeds with students individually in their lessons, or I host another group Reed (finishing) Party! See this post for how I run my reed finishing classes.

I’ll usually teach another reed class in the spring. Or sometimes I teach individual lessons on reed making to interested students. Even if a student only makes a reed once a year from grades 7-12, that is still a pretty good foundation for college.

3 thoughts on “Group Reed Forming Classes

  1. This is a cool idea! What tools do you actually have them working with during this class? Since it’s GSP cane, do you do much with files/knives?

  2. This is amazing. I really wish I would have had this experience before I came to college. I had my teacher make me a few reeds, but it definitely still is not the same as me making them myself and knowing what I like.

  3. Starting reed making while in high school would have been a really big leg up for me before college. My teachers didn’t really explain to me what they did to my reeds when they would adjust them. I recently showed some high school students some things about making reeds and I was surprised at how much they enjoyed it. Earlier the better!

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