Since oboe reeds are made on organic material which is heavily manipulated and placed under tremendous pressure, (hello La Scala..) their lifespan can be rather short. On average, an oboe reed will play for eight hours, though some reeds last quite a bit longer. Here are some ways to ensure you are able to get the most life from your reed possible:
Rotate your reeds
Store them correctly
Prepare your reeds to play thoughtfully
Prevent buildup on your reeds
Clean the gunk out of older reeds
The suggestions above are good way to ensure you are getting the most from each reed you play on, but should never cause you to rely on older/worn out reeds when it is simply time for a fresh reed. Future posts will provide insights on how to "freshen up" an older reed through scraping if you are a student who is making reeds along with more specific reed making guides and information!
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I am an oboist and reed maker.