While my tendency in practicing is to overdo things, for years my “system” of reed making was defined by avoidance. I really didn’t know how to make a reed. So, knowing that I had very little chance of success, I just didn’t make them (incidentally, this is my current approach to cooking). I played on a succession of reeds that I prayed wouldn’t give out, until I finally reached a point at which I embarrassed myself more than I was willing to accept. This was not sustainable.
I decided that I would work on reeds every day, even if I only had a few minutes. On especially busy days, I might ream out a single blank and call it quits. But I figured, even that one action would set me up ever-so-slightly better for the next day. It didn’t change my life overnight—with reeds, few things do. But as time went on, I came to realize that, for the first time, I didn’t feel like I was constantly scrounging, constantly worrying about when my one reed would finally die on me.
Since then, my needs, both in quantity and quality of reeds, have increased, as has my ability to make them. I’ve arrived at a system, roughly outlined in the infographic below (click to enlarge). Is it the right system for everyone? Of course not. But it works for me, and it represents important lessons that took me way too long to figure out.