As a young clarinetist, I often sturggled to find a reed that would peak at just the right moment, whether that was for an audition, a performance, or even a reheasal. 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.