Instrument Elements and Pieces
Reeds are used to produce sound from the clarinet, saxophone, oboe and bassoon. The clarinet and saxophones have a “single reed”; oboes and bassoons have a “double reed.” The single reed is made from one sliver of cane and held in place on the instrument’s mouthpiece by a metal band and the reed vibrates against the mouthpiece. The double reed is made of two slivers of cane with a base that slots into the instrument. The two cane slivers vibrate against each other when the player blows on their ends.
Before and during performances reeds have to be kept moist. Reeds will not last forever and after a few uses they may split and the player will have to replace it with a new reed. Reeds can be purchased in boxes of 3 for approximately $10.00 or a box of 10 for $27.00. Oboe and bassoon players typically make their own reeds with raw cane and carry with them their own miniature tool kit that cost approximately $10.00. Most band directors will sell reeds at cost for school instruments.
A band director will explain details on reeds for certain instruments, but here are some pointers. Ultimately, reeds last according to how well they are taken care of. Each instrument, with a reed, should have at least three; one reed for everyday use, one that has been “broken in” and a third new reed just in case. For the clarinet and saxophones (single reeds), the average life span for a reed is about month. For the oboe and bassoon (double reeds), the average life span for a reed can last in a range from a few months to a year. They vary according to players care.
Saxophone & Clarinet Reed
The brass instruments pitch depends on the length of the tube and valves can alter the pitch. Trumpets, cornets and tubas use a piston type valve and French horns and some tubas use a rotary valve. Pitch which is how high or low the notes are depends on how fast the lips vibrate and the length of the tube.
The trombone has a U shaped tube which slides up and down and alters the length of the instrument so different pitches can sound. Mutes are used to soften and change the sound of brass instruments and are shaped like a cone and placed inside the bell of the instruments. The French horn uses a players hand as their mute.
Brass instruments have a water key which is also called a "spit valve". However it lets out condensation not spit. Condensation builds up when a player breathes warm air down a cold metal tube.
If your child wants to enter marching band you will need a flip folio and a lyre~ (liar) . The flip folio looks like a small spiral notebook and holds the marching music sheets in clear plastice covers. The lyre is an attachment that holds the flip folio to the marching band instrument in most cases and rubber bands are helpful holding the lyre to the instrument. They are called lyre because they look like the lyre which was a simple harp. Bring your instrument with you to a music store when you buy one to be sure it fits your instrument.