Synthetic Reed??

Absolutley! - if you find the right reed. They are great for marching band, quick switches such as from Eb to Bb clarinet in the middle of a concert, or just as a practice reed when you don't have time to spend finding a great reed. But all synthetic reeds are not created equal. Choose carefully and find what works best for you.


I recently tried the Legere European Signature reed for the first time. (Thanks for the tip, Mary Alice Druhan!) I played a whole concert on it, and it was awesome! I’ll also continue to use cane reeds, but this was a great go-to.


Legere makes a “Signature” reed, and a “European Signature”. (They also make one called "Classic", but I'm not a fan.) The SIGNATURE and EUROPEAN SIGNATURE are quite different. I tried both, and the EUROPEAN SIGNATURE worked best for me. The European is slightly wider, has a shorter vamp (so more focused), and a thinner tip (better response and articulation.) I used the same strength that I normally use in a Vandoren V12 and D’Addario Reserve Classic. They worked well on Vandoren M13, M15, and 5RV mouthpieces, as well as my Clark Fobes Cicero model. If students are a bit flat or the sound "spreads", they come in 1/4 strengths, so you might try going from say 3 to 3.25. Please NEVER allow students to play on a too-soft reed (synthetic or cane) because that just encourages a wimpy embouchure.


Unfortunately, the cost ($30) doesn't allow for much experimentation, but if your budget allows, buy 2 or 3 in varying strengths for your students to try. I'd try 3, 3.25, & 3.5. They're plastic...you can wash them - CAREFULLY... or spray with something like Mi-T-Mist, so students can share and try before they buy. Legere also allows exchanges, but it takes forever.


One final note: The boxes of the European Signature and the Signature look exactly the same except for a label stuck on the back, so check the back of the box before you buy.


Marilyn Mattei is the author of For Clarinets Only - A Method for Beginning Class Instruction.

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