The Inner Landscape

New Reeds

It’s 4:49 p.m. Do you know where your children are?

Mine are practicing. At the same time. One is playing the clarinet (upstairs) while the other is playing the piano (downstairs). I know from experience that the clarinetist focuses so intently that he does not hear his sister at all. She once played on her practice xylophone in the adjoining bedroom while he rehearsed in our upstairs den, and he never knew it.

The Molly Dog also thinks this is a fine time for singing "Wroo Wroo!!"

Today we bought new reeds for the clarinet. The reeds make a difference, as Lisa Simpson once tried to explain. I guess there is a break-in period, and I must admit that as much as I admire Snowman’s effort and musicality, he’s not sounding his best this afternoon. (Don’t tell him I said that; he likes the one new reed he has tried.) He is preparing for two concerts and one big audition, and we have the pleasure of hearing his music for many hours after school and in the evening. We hear Schubert and Mozart and "My hat is has three corners," but please don’t ask me for the real title of the last piece. We hear scales, and scales, and more scales. Tomorrow night he plays with the combined orchestras of City By the Sea’s high schools; in two weeks the youth ensembles at the University of Southern Vacationland have their spring concert; and the following week he jets off for an audition at Land O’ Lakes Arts Academy.

The new reed, just as the possible new situation, require time to be considered. The clarinetist changes the reed simply by playing it, and those who know how make adjustments with sandpaper or a reed knife.

Sometimes I feel like the reed when I am learning to live with new circumstances, polished by the sandpaper of reality, cut by the reed knife of loss.

It’s 5:16. The clarinetist lays down his horn and hunts up his musician’s black suit and bow tie for tomorrow night. The pianist, after a break, resumes her Mozart. The dogs have an after-dinner treat and go outside. Time to get the macaroni and cheese out of the oven; further polishing of the mother must wait.

14 thoughts on “New Reeds”

  1. When my husband gets new reeds for his clarinet he is one of those “saw it down” types. He plays 3 or 4 riffs, pulls the reed out, files it with the emery board, rinse, wash, repeat. Quite frankly, there are times that I am sick of being treated the same way that he treats his reeds.

  2. I played clarinet through grammer school, middle school and high school including bass clarinet for part of high school. Now, all these years later as it sits in its case, I remember well the breaking in reed time, but back in those days I never heard of anything like shaving or using emery boards for filing reeds…LOL, for all I played I guess I really wasn’t a true musician…perhaps that the difference between liking something and loving something!

  3. I learned this evening that Snowman employs something called a reed cutter, as well as the sandpaper. And his next goal? A chisel. I would really prefer to avoid a metaphorical chisel, if at all possible.

  4. our puppies would join in the chorus… they are very musical too. They moan in unison – or whelp … and their wimpers are the most lovely sound I’ve heard in years …
    needless to say I’m not makingmuch progress with my assignments right now 🙂

  5. The love and pride you have for your children just oozes out in your words. I love that about you.

  6. oh, I remember those reed-fixing days.
    I have to say, I’m happy not to be the fixer anymore–the frustration!
    But you really hit the nail on the head with the business about being the reed sometimes…wow.

  7. My dog was never enamoured of my flute or even my tenor sax the one summer I tried it out. Neither my brother’s French horn nor my sister’s cello caught his attention, nor did anyone playing the piano.
    But my oh my how he loved to sing with my bagpipes! He would knock at the closed bedroom door, because he was certain that he must be as close as possible to serenade me while I practiced.
    Granted, this was the same dog that chewed grape bubblegum and fished the yogurt cartons out of the trash to clean them out, and insisted that the only time to run away from home was during the once-a-winter blizzard.

  8. I love this.
    I played a trumpet. So did my brother. The other one played a trombone. I always felt sorry for my parents. They are loud instruments but they don’t squeak like a new reed, do they?!

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