I stopped playing these about 2 weeks ago; I used them exclusively on the ROK Tour and they decided to check out early. OR SO I THOUGHT.
Turns out, with a few different rules to follow than reeds in their prime, old reeds (that you thought were spent) can give you a few decent practice sessions, meaning you don't have to wear out your performance reeds before a concert. So hang onto those oldies just a little longer and put them to work!
1. Make sure you've got a reed that is TRULY old.
- You started breaking it in at least 6 weeks ago. (For this revival experiment, I also worked on an old reed dated February 1st.)
- It has seen some serious battle, as in extensive practice sessions and multiple performances. In other words, it has vibrated a LOT.
- You have sensed the crotchetiness in the sound (it's my blog, I can invent words if i want to) and stopped playing on it for at least 1 week (but you haven't thrown it into your reed bucket yet! Good for you!).
2. Once you've decided to play on an old reed, soak it for a REALLY long time.
3. Re-break it in gently.
This is a great time to play some long tones! Start in the easy low register on an unresistant note like E-natural. Set a metronome at 60 beats-per-minute (or just watch the second-hand on a wall clock) and hold the note for 8 beats. The sound may take some coaxing; don't lose hope if it doesn't speak right away! Continue descending chromatically with your long tones, so play Eb next, then D, etc. If the tone is a bit fuzzy at first, it should start to clear up and find its center by the time you get all the way down to low E, and as an added bonus you've also just played a great warm up!
Don't be afraid to experiment with a little more air than you're used to, I've found that old reeds can be much more sturdy and stand up to a bit more blowing than more sensitive newer reeds.
Close the pores again if you need to by rubbing gently with a spoon or a pen (or even just your finger for a quick fix), and ease into the upper register by playing the same long tone exercise described above, this time starting on B-natural and ascending chromatically up to C above the staff.