Dr. Julie Detweiler Shares Her Reed Break-In Method for Clarinetists

Date Posted: April 19, 2022

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Artist-Clinician Julie Detweiler shares her reed rotation method. View the 5-step process below:

As a young clarinetist, I often struggled to find a reed that would peak at just the right moment, whether that was for an audition, a performance, or even a rehearsal. I often blamed the reed, but then I had a teacher that showed me a better way. Here's how I rotate my reeds:

Day One: Start with 5-6 Reeds

First I dip all the reeds in water and play for 30 seconds. I label the back of the reed with the date. I also put slashes on the bottom of the reed to indicate how many times I've played the reed.

Day Two: Play For a Little Longer for About 1 Minute

I like to use the same process and go through each reed, playing for slightly longer than the first day.

Day Three: I Play the Reeds for 5 Minutes

This process gets slightly longer and I'm starting to get a good sense for the reeds.

Fourth Day: Play Reeds for 10 Minutes

Here I gradually increase the time on each reed.

Fifth Day: play Reeds for 20 Minutes

After this, I feel like my reeds are settling in. I also find it's really important to rotate my reeds for each session. Ex: playing in a rehearsal where I often use a couple of reeds to use.

After the reeds get older and I can tell it's time, I throw them away.

*For High School clarinetists looking to get the hang of this, Julie suggests students start two new reeds ever week. For her, it's every Monday.

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