Fact #1: On August 2nd, 2013, I wrapped up two weeks of what I may in hindsight refer to as the gigs that broke me.
Two band camps in a row. Easy-peasy, right? I mean, I marched 4 years of high school band, majored in music in college and worked at least one band camp each summer of my degree. I’ve played Mahler & Shostakovich symphonies and walked away unscathed! I’m basically the Dread Pirate Roberts in my immunity to ear damage by now!
It's important to observe that my faulty overconfidence in this matter is brought on by the fact that I’ve never actually done anything dangerous or health-threatening in my life. My daily conversation with myself is apparently as follows:
Me: “What did you do today, Kevy?”
Me: “Well, I ate a ton of healthy locally grown food, didn't smoke or drink hard liquor, walked to and from work, when I did need to drive I drove slowly while carefully obeying all traffic laws, didn’t go out late at night by myself and had healthy, non-dramatic social relations with my roommates and acquaintances. Also, no bricks were thrown at my head."
Me: “Hm, if my calculations are correct, it seems like nothing bad will ever happen to you. You can look forward to a life free of health scares since your tranquil existence protects you from dangerous uncontrollable elements such as tornadoes, grenades, and the plague.”
With this conversation being the the source of my inner joviality, I packed my bags and ran along to 14 consecutive days of loud music with no earplugs.
Fast forward and we arrive at just in time for...
Fact #2: 5 days of uninterrupted 'humming' in my ears. This is an actual thing and it's called Tinnitus. Jackpot.
When I play, I hear a sub-tone underneath each pitch and I'm perceiving many notes as flatter than they actually are. This morning I woke up in the dark and upon standing up, felt like I had no balance whatsoever and had to grab hold of my bed to steady myself. This feeling continued in the shower and all the way to work.
Realization: I legitimately damaged my inner ear to the degree that it's affecting my balance and my ability to perceive correctly the music that I play. Not a great, I-can-take-over-the-world feeling. In fact I'm actually feeling very scared and vulnerable. It sucks. My master plan to start the rumor that I'm a badass is temporarily thwarted.
AVOID THIS FEELING, don't take for granted one of your senses and WEAR EARPLUGS.
Here's a silver lining though, when I put a reed in my mouth to soak today I noticed that my fingers smelled like cheese. And I thought, "My fingers have never smelled like cheese before...what if my other senses are now heightened due to my lack of hearing? Like Daredevil!"
Then I remembered that I had actually dug into a fresh ball of mozzarella the day before.
Oops. But, there's nothing like a fresh surge of optimism to get you off your cantankerous high horse and back to work. Sub-tones or not, this instrument isn't gonna practice itself.
Blogging about reeds? I must be MAD!
.Here are some tools and tips of the clarinet and reed trade for younger players to supplement the musical education received from band directors and music teachers. I've tailored these methods (used by professional clarinet players!) to be accessible and user-friendly for the beginner to intermediate clarinet reed-hater.