Bassoon Reed Care
It is important to take care of your reeds properly. You have invested too much money for your child's reeds for them not to be properly cared for. It is really quite easy, yet not something that is taught by the schools.
Care of your reeds:
Before using the reed, it should be soaked in a soaker cup. Just a minute for oboe reeds. Bassoon reeds should be entirely soaked for several minutes. The time it takes to assemble the instrument is adequate.
Why can't a reed just get wet by putting it in my mouth?
If you just wet the reed by putting it in your mouth you will only get the outer surface of the reed wet. Double reeds have four surfaces, top, bottom, and the two insides. If the reed is not adequately wet it will hesitate, honk or not play at all. The acids in your mouth break down food. There is no distinction between bamboo cane and any other food. The less contact with the saliva, the longer the reed will last.
When not using your reed, place it in your reed case. The reed case should have ventilation to allow the reeds to breathe. If not, they can easily develop black or red mold. At night your reed case should be left open outside of the instrument case to dry. Be sure not to forget to put them back into your case.
The case should be out of the reach of curious siblings or pets.
Extra cleaning during COVID-19 for both bassoons & oboes
Please remember that your instrument and reeds are high-touch items and should be handled with care. Best practice would dictate that you should wash your hands before and after playing your instrument. It is always good practice to wipe down your instrument after each use. Do not use any products that contain bleach.
CHANGES IN CLEANING DURING COVID
Since it has been found that COVID is transmitted through aerosols, it is possible the virus could get on your reed. I suggest following one of the modified cleaning options whenever you play in a group.
Bassoon Reed Cleaning:
MODIFIED FOR COVID:
Isopropyl alcohol 70% - soak the entire reed for at least 1 minute in undiluted alcohol. Rinse in water and allow to dry completely before returning to your reed case.
Hydrogen peroxide - soak the entire reed for 5 minutes in undiluted peroxide. Rinse in water and allow to dry completely before returning to your reed case. Make sure your peroxide is fairly new, as it loses its effectiveness after a few months.
Ethyl alcohol 75.5% - adults supervision! Isopropyl alcohol has been very difficult to get during the pandemic. Another equally effective cleaning solution is ethyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol is the kind of alcohol present in all alcoholic beverages. Vodka is an effective disinfectant, but to be a high enough alcohol it needs to be 140 proof. Everclear is available in 151 proof. Other kinds of liquor have sugar and can cause mold growth. Soak the entire reed for at least 1 minute in undiluted alcohol. Rinse in water and allow to dry completely before returning to your reed case.
Non Covid Cleaning:
Every two weeks, soak your entire reed in a solution of 1/2 water, 1/2 hydrogen peroxide and a splash of mouthwash or mint alcohol. Put the solution in your soaker cup and allow the reeds to soak until any bubbling from the reed tube stops. Remove the reed and use your brush to clean out the tube. Clean any debris off of the reed blades and rinse in clean water. Let your reeds dry and then store your reeds in your reed case.
Oboe Reed Cleaning:
COVID Reed Cleaning
(follow bassoon procedure)
Non Covid Cleaning:
Every two weeks, rinse your reed in cool water and clean the inside of the staple with your brush, rinse and let dry thoroughly before replacing in your reed case.
NEVER EVER DRINK YOUR REED WATER!!!
Your reed can develop mold inside that you cannot see. When you soak it, the debris gets into the water. Drinking it puts that mold into your body. Don't do it. I had a student hospitalized a few years ago for not heeding this warning. He had a serious systemic fungal infection. Use clean water each and every time you play! It is not worth the risk.
Donna Foley Double Reed Studio
Why can't I just keep the reed in the shipping tube or case?
The shipping tube or case does not allow the reed to dry, even if there are holes punched in it. The cotton or pad will absorb bacteria and does not protect the tip from damage. If they are placed back into the tube wet they will mold, see picture.