A Teacher told me to change to Van Doren…….ULP

Dear Sherman,
A teacher recommend me to change brand from Rico to Vandorem, same strength (3). I bought a box of Vandorem but I CANT PLAY! It doesn’t sound right, to much air, horrible… Any tips?
Other question in the same topic: what to do with new reeds? Leave them in water? Saliva? What? Any tips?
Hello Martin:
Thank you for your question concerning Van Doren reeds. Teachers usually recommend a change from reeds such as ordinary Rico or La Voz to Van Doren in order to create a change in sound and a change in the way the student listens.
This procedure used to be regular with all students.
However one should understand that the recommendation is a change to a reed with more substance in the center (called “heart”) which causes more resistance and usually helps to create a more dense , or a rounder tone, also assisting in playing in the high register.
But, nowadays there are many other reeds available which give more strength and are more consistent than are Van Dorens, even including some kinds of Rico reeds, the thicker blank “Concert Reeds” or a similar name, Gonzalez, which are always more consistent, and several others as well.

One thing to remember, a Van Doren usually never plays right “out of the box”, so-to-speak, but requires preparation and trying and retrying while the reed changes according to the soaking and drying you give it.

Alway start with just a few, never all ten. Two or three to start. Wet them thoroughly and place them on a glass so that they may dry.

Different players do different things. If you look under reeds on this site, you will find many articles which I have written that have given advice on trying and working with reeds. I suggest looking at as many as you can stand.
It is a pain, and it is much easier to just take any soft reed and make some type of sound; unfortunately you will not be able to play much at all, especially if you improve your embouchure, which is what this reed business is all about.

Good luck.

sincerely, Sherman


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