A Good Reed Soaking is What You Need

January 20, 2010 on 10:04 am by Michael Grey | In Humour, News, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on A Good Reed Soaking is What You Need

My first email of the day was a seriously laugh-out-loud experience. I mean LOL in the real sense. Not just the sort of thing we all do when we often send a sort of nondescript note or text and add “LOL”: “I backed out of the driveway today and nearly hit the neighbour’s cat LOL”. Well, I’m sure you wouldn’t write that, but I know you get my gist.

The message I got was a friend`s report of her band practice last night. My friend – who will remain anonymous to protect her happy band social life – is a very experienced and accomplished piper. She lives in Canada’s far north. In fact, I wonder at this moment if her band is the most northerly pipe band in the world? I digress.

At last night’s band practice the piper next to her turned and said, “I only soaked my reed for an hour, and, is it ever good!”.

Soaking a reed for any length of time will make it anything but good (for a non-piper reading this you’ll now understand the “LOL”). Water is the reed’s enemy. It brings instability and dullness to pitch. Water generally ruins a reed; it shortens its productive life. Tip of the day: soak a reed for an hour if you seek crappy sound.
Mr Reed
Yes, reeds require moisture to produce bright, vibrant, engaging sounds. That moisture should only ever come from breath. Play a new reed in the pipe for 20 minutes and you’ll find that natural moisture postively transforms the sound produced by a reed. Living in a dry centrally-heated house I can empathize with a piper`s temptation to throw some water a dry reed`s way. But never soak it. Save that for your feet – or your head after a late night.

And a final funny from the same band practice; it sort of speaks to perspective and the importance of attending band practices so the whole team knows what you can and will contribute. In my friend`s words: “…the (new-ish) bass drummer asked me if I wanted a music stand for our ‘Scotland the Brave’ set. I think I need to attend more practices…”

Off to Glasgow (and Dublin) this evening. Celtic Connections calls.


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