3 Tips to Elevate Your Clarinet and Saxophone Reed Game

with Brandyn Taylor

Date Posted: October 28, 2020

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I’m a saxophonist from Atlanta, GA and the saxophone professor at Georgia State University and Reinhardt University. I visit many schools around the state to do classes as a Vandoren Artist-Clinician and a question that comes up often from directors and students alike is, “how do you care for your reeds?”

My personal journey with reed care started when I was in high school and studying with a fabulous saxophonist, Gene Dunn. He opened my eyes to the benefits of spending time on this topic!

I learned tons of additional methods and tricks for reed care and reed adjusting from studying at the Brevard Music Center with Professor Joe Lulloff, Georgia State with Dr. Jan Baker, and at the Frederick L Hemke saxophone institute with Dr. Frederick Hemke and the amazing faculty there.

I’d like to share with you today my big three tips for elevating your reed game.

1. Mindset

Number one is a mindset: Understand and even embrace that every reed is different because it is made from organic material.

Knowing this will help you to tailor your reed selection for a performance to the character of the music you are trying to express.

2. Plan with Multiple Reeds

Have many reeds that you rotate through, and keep track of which is which by marking them with a date, number, or letter rating. Do what works for you!

I wait to mark a reed until it has had time to break in, and then I place it in a numbered spot from 1-12 depending on how well it is doing. I think of it like sports power rankings!

Eventually my no. 1 reed will fall out of the top spot but you’ll extend your no.1 reed’s life big time by rotating through a different reed for every practice session, and identifying your best reeds and saving them for performance or audition time.

3. Storage

Have a GREAT reed case. It’s an investment you won’t regret.

My favorite is this Vandoren Hygro Case because it regulates the humidity so that my reeds don’t end up moldy, and it doesn’t allow my reeds to dry out completely and warp. This is SO important for me living in the southeast because the range from high humidity heat outside to dry cold AC inside can easily ruin a good reed day.

I could go on and on, but that’s all for now. Best wishes to you all!

Brandyn Taylor Circle

About Brandyn Taylor

Atlanta-based saxophonist, Brandyn Taylor, is Adjunct Professor of Saxophone at Georgia State University and Reinhardt University. In addition to mentoring a thriving private studio of students from across the metropolitan region, he is the saxophone instructor for the Atlanta Music Academy and the Principal Saxophonist of the 116th United States Army Band. He is in demand as a clinician at schools throughout the state.

He has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Ballet, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Saxophone Quartet, Bent Frequency, Terminus Ensemble, and Chamber Cartel. In his work as an Atlanta freelancer, he has performed with Grammy Award winners Patti LaBelle, Maxwell, and Brandon Bush. Brandyn has been featured on various NPR programs broadcasted across the north and southeast including "Atlanta Music Scene", "In a Mellow Tone", and MIT's "Not Brahms and Liszt". He made his Nashville recording debut in the summer of 2014 with the band RYE. Former students have been awarded top prizes/chairs in competitions across the southeast and earned full-ride scholarships to study music at prestigious universities.

Brandyn holds degrees in music performance from Columbus State University and Georgia State University. His primary teacher was Dr. Jan Berry Baker, with additional studies from Dr. Frederick Hemke, Joseph Lulloff, and Mace Hibbard. Brandyn is a Vandoren Artist-Clinician and a Conn-Selmer Performing Artist.

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