D.Werner Oboe Blog “Knowledge Applied”

This is an English translation of a post from May 14, 2019 by David Werner in his Oboe Blog.

Knowledge Applied Original post May 14, 2019. Click here to read the original blog post in German

 

 

A little while back I introduced you to Kreedo Academy. Although I have sharpened my own knives already for many years now, I found new ideas in the comprehensive online course.

So, now I have given my reed knife a new finish. Now it radiates with a new shine and is sharper than it ever was.

Ever since my very first reed I have owned the same reed scraping knife. I have had it since my earliest years of lessons at the music school with my first oboe teacher. It has a very slightly hollow ground shape on both sides and over time has acquired some rust.

The hollow ground shape makes sharpening this knife somewhat demanding since one can’t directly sharpen it. This knife is made by the manufacturer with a curved sharpening stone with a diameter no one at home can reproduce.

My first reed knife: slightly hollow ground, on the sharp edge there is a micro bevel and there is some corrosion.

Mein erstes Schabemesser: leichter Hohlschliff, am Grat ist ein Mikroschliff hinzugefügt und etwas Flugrost

My first reed knife: slightly hollow ground, the edge has a micro bevel and a bit of rust.

Nevertheless, one can of course sharpen one’s own hollow ground knife. This is best done by making a micro bevel. By doing this, the edge is given a slightly steeper angle, and this causes it to be sharp.

With time this [micro bevel] has become quite large on my knife. In addition, the knife has become thinner in the middle compared to the ends at the tip and at the handle.

At Kreedo Academy I learned that this is relatively easy to remedy since one can make a slightly hollow ground knife into a beveled knife.

 

A diamond plate removes much more material than a sharpening stone.

 

In order to remove the somewhat large micro bevel, one needs a diamond plate. A sharpening stone will not function for this because it is much too fine. The goal is to remove relatively large amounts of material in order to get an even edge.

By placing the knife flat on the plate, the hollow ground knife gradually changes into a beveled knife. This will make future sharpening much easier. As an added bonus, the rusty spots also disappear slowly. It is possible to help the rust removal a little if necessary, with some sand paper.

The knife clearly show the gradual transformation from double hollow ground to beveled

The micro bevel gradually disappears

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharpening with a Japanese water stone

Because the sharpening process on the diamond plate is very coarse, it is important to follow up with a much finer sharpening stone. I used a Japanese water stone. Naturally, I started by using the 1000 grit stone and then later the 6000 grit stone.

 

 

 

Slowly the reed knife begins to shine

In the next step I cleaned the edge with a leather strap so that I would achieve an even sharpness. This way I can avoid catches in the reed while scraping. For some quick maintenance during scraping I use the leather. The more often one does this, the longer one can put off needing to return to the sharpening stone.

 

Compared to before, my reed knife is significantly sharper and looks better maintained. The matte stripe in the center betrays its history as a hollow ground knife. This will gradually disappear more and more with each new sharpening. The advantage of the beveled nature of the knife is simpler sharpening since it no longer has a micro bevel.

You can learn the exact procedure for dealing with the various sharpening tools at Kreedo Academy. In addition, you will be introduced to different types of reed knives and sharpening possibilities. The online course is so comprehensive that in end you know everything about sharpening knives.

To get to know it better, I definitely recommend trying the free tutorial!

And now if you decide to go for the complete access, you can choose between a monthly, yearly or a lifetime subscription. Each of these variants includes a 7-day free trial with access to all content.

Photos: David Werner

English translation: Jeanine Krause

 

 

 

D.Werner Oboe Blog “KREEDO ACADEMY”

This is an English translation of a post from Feb 26, 2019 by David Werner in his Oboe Blog.

Click here to read the original blog post in German

 

KREEDO ACADEMY Original Post Feb 26, 2019

 

The digital age is all the rage. Youtube and co. have become our constant companions and not only merely for entertainment. Through E-learning, education is available always and everywhere.

Kreedo Shop launched Kreedo Academy, a platform of knowledge for all things pertaining to reed making. Tailor made to individual needs; one finds thought a vast number of videos in online courses and the chance to expand knowledge. Comfortably from home or from on the road, the workshops are available for everyone.

Kreedo Academy’s first project is dedicated to knife sharpening. A topic that speaks not only to oboist but also to bassoonists. The determining factors for a good reed are working and well maintained tools.

The pilot project “The Knife Sharpening Companion” shows not only how to sharpen different types of knives, it also takes on the topics of different kinds of knives and how to work with various kinds of sharpening tools.

Christel and Jürgen Krebs have enlisted the cooperation of the experience oboist, Jeanine Krause for this project. Together they introduce the materials and the types of knives and discuss the advantages and disadvantages on camera. They consciously chose English in order to reach a world-wide audience. The clear vocabulary and video transcripts make it accessible and understandable even to those with more limited fluency in the English language.

Der Kurs ist gut strukturiert und über das Menü lassen sich die Themen einzeln anwählen.

The course is well-structured and the menu makes it easy to navigate between topics.

It is easy to for the user to navigate through the chapters thereby learning about the various types of knives and how and when to use them. Also, there is sharp and there is sharp: for various reed making stages one needs different kinds of sharpness and here one learns where and when to use which kind of sharpness. The descriptions of all the terms and concepts is always accompanied by pictures and graphics and printable worksheets support the learning process.

Jeder Messertyp hat mehrere Videos mit jedem Schärfutensil. Man findet somit seine eigene Kombination.

Each type of knife has many videos with each sharpening tool. This way you find your own combination.

Each type of knife has Kreedo Academy exercises and instructions. All available sharpening tools are dealt with and this makes the Knife Sharpening Companion unbelievably comprehensive. The scope of the information (approximately 10 hours of video material) belies a staggering amount of work that went into this very detailed online course.

With occasional humor and with videos that have an interview character, Christel, Jürgen and Jeanine create a pleasant learning atmosphere and avoid frontal instruction.

With a free offer you can gain an impression of Kreedo Academy and learn the first few exercises for sharpening of your knife.

The price for the complete course is €247 +19% VAT (€293,38). There are regular offers with which one can get good discounts. There are also several payment methods available, some of which also offer a discount.

UPDATE: Kreedo has added a new payment method. You can choose between a monthy, yearly or lifetime subscription. And by the way, each method includes a 7 day free trial with access to the entire content.

English translation: Jeanine Krause

 

 

Oboe Blogger David Werner puts Kreedo Academy to the Test

Oboe blogger, David Werner has a passion for oboes and reeds and keeps himself and his readers informed of all things pertinent to oboists on his expansive and aesthetically pleasing website, OboeBlog.de.

He made Kreedo Academy and our first large-scale online resource the subject of his blogging. He wrote two articles and in the second he put our Knife Sharpening Companion to the test by diving in and using it to work one of his own knives, detailing his journey in word and image.

Was he successful in sharpening his knife? Find out by visiting his blog. We’ve also included an English translation in the “News” section of our Reed Room here at Kreedo Academy.

KREEDO ACADEMY Original Post in German Feb 26, 2019

Click here to read the article in English translation

Knowledge Applied Original post in German May 14, 2019

Click here to read the article in English translation

 

David Werner is principal oboist in the Anhalt Philharmonic in Dessau Germany. He is also a published author of a beautiful book on reed making, Der Weg zum Guten Oboenrohr. Buy your copy in German here. Keep an eye out because an English translation is in the works!

DER WEG ZUM GUTEN OBOENROHR

 

 

 

 

The Rite of Spring will Not Fail to Slay You

Do you want to know what existential FEELS like? Any bassoonist about to walk out onto the stage to play the huge solo at the beginning of  Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring can tell you. Just listen to the first few seconds of the video above.

The London Symphony Orchestra captures the impact of music, particularly the Rite of Spring palpably in this second video. Hornist, Jonathan Lipton declares (00:28), “The colors and the way he [Stravinsky] writes for all the instruments will not fail to slay you.

Is playing the oboe or bassoon a matter of life and death? I’m not actually here to discuss this at this time. But it is important to understand that for the artist, it FEELS existential. And not just for the professionals. I have the honor to coach adult amateurs. These are some of the bravest, most willingly vulnerable people I know. I have watched them walk out onto stage and just writing this sends shivers up my spine as I think of the courage they muster to step out there and present themselves.

Photo: Jeanine Krause, Nov 2018

So, what business am I in? I am in the business of saying: I see you. I know it FEELS existential. I know your work and your message are valuable. I know you rely on your reeds to connect you to your art, your message, your audience, your expression. I know you are extremely good at making reeds. I know that our collective reed making solutions are much more vast than the solutions any one person can discover in their lifetime.

I know you do NOT want to be thinking about your reeds WHILE YOU ARE PLAYING. Certainly nobody in the audience wants to be thinking about your reeds. That means your reeds need to work seamlessly, reliably, flexibly, predictably, supportively.I know what you are feeling right before that first exposed and tender note.

I know what it feels like to nail a passage, executing it EXACTLY how you imagined it in your mind the moment before. I know what this means to you. And I know what it does to a listener who is open to hear your message. I know it can change your life and his. Because there are times when the listener experiences your music as existential. If you are truly invested, your music FEELS like a matter of life and death.

 

*Image: Detail from the ceiling fresco Heilige Dreifaltigkeit (Holy Trinity) painted in 1723 by Johann Heinrich Ritter (ca.1685-1751). Stadtkirche, Waltershausen, Germany

Internal Profiled Gouging: Scraping the Reed from the INSIDE — Visuals for Podcast 7

 

In Podcast Nr. 7, Jürgen and I talk about a special kind of gouging which can be described as profiling but on the INSIDE of the cane. As shown in this picture above. This is a back-lit photo of a piece of cane for Baroque oboe (diameter ca 15m). In this picture, the bark is completely in tact.

This is a historical method of reed making. You can find an excellent picture of the tools on the website of Instrument maker, Leslie Ross.  For a very well-written guide, visit the website of Jennifer Harris. Here she references historical sources Etienne Ozzi Novelle methode de bassoon 1787  and Carl Almenräder’s Kunst des Fagottblasens 1842 and includes easy to follow instructions for DIY reed making. She includes a wonderful English translation of the Almendäder in her PDF “Reed making according to historical methods.”

Oboists please note, we are using the sources from our bassoon colleagues. The bassoonists captured more clearly this technique in their sources and our colleagues like Ms. Harris and Ms. Ross are using these techniques to great advantage in their playing, teaching and instrument making. More on the advantages of profiled gouging later or check out this PDF “Notes on internally scraped reeds” by Leslie Ross.

As Ms. Harris describes the historical way to do profiled gouging is with a scraper and some fine sand paper or horsetail.

 

Chiarugi Hand Scraper

Jürgen used what he calls his “cheat”* method by preparing a gouging machine with duct tape as shown here. Please note that he leaves the center of the gouging bed free. This serves two purposes. Firstly, he leaves the holes free so that the vacuum action is left intact and secondly, it protects the thick center of the cane, thereby preserving it’s integrity and stability when finishing.

 

Jürgen took already gouged cane (modern oboe cane gouged to ca 58 micrometers at the center and Baroque oboe cane gouged to ca 70 micrometers at the thickest part in the center).

Here are the measurements he used in his experiments:

Modern oboe cane

Cane diameter: 10,5 mm

Standard gouge: 0.58 mm at center, 0.42 mm at sides

Profiled gouge: 0.50 mm at center, 0.30 mm at sides

Finished reed: 0.12 mm at tip center, 0.8-0.10 mm at sides (this measurement remains constant, whether he builds a reed with the usual scraping method on the bark side of the cane or with the addition of the profiled gouging on the inside prior to tying.)

Baroque oboe cane

Cane diameter ca 15 mm

Standard gouge: ca 0.70 mm

Profiled gouge: 0.53 mm at center, under 0.30 mm at sides
Finished reed: 0.12-0.15 mm at center of tip , 0.8-0.10 mm at sides of tip

 

Why use this method? When comparing the characteristic of a reed made in the standard way with a reed with this sort of profiled gouging on the inside, the differences are fascinating. First of all, it can be quite shocking when the finished reeds dry out. The opening may be very misshapen. They require a lot of soaking but resume their good form.

They are freer and for this reason lend themselves very well to cross-fingerings, half-hole and forked fingerings. For a more detailed description of the differences is sound quality, be sure to listen to the podcast Episode No. 7: Internal Profiled Gouging in the podcast area of the Reed Room here at Kreedo Academy.

 

 

*Although Jürgen jokingly refers to his adapted gouging machine method for internal profiled gouging as a “cheat”, both Leslie Ross and Jennifer Harris lauded this method as legitimate.

Leslie Ross wrote:

I have to admit, that I too ‘cheat’ and rig up my gouger with pieces of tape to achieve the tapered inner profile in the center of the cane. This is something that I always let prospective tool buyers know … that if they already gouge their own cane they might want to try this first. Apart from being quicker and more reliable thicknesses (without having to measure all the time), it leaves a smoother surface than scraping does. The scraping tools and all are handy for touch ups, or when wanting to try a very slight inner profile. I also have this info sheet with some more notes available (though here too I’ve made some adjustments!)

Jennifer wrote:

….there is no “right” or “wrong” about historical reed-making, just different ways to get to a similar result, and even that was dependent on where you were when and with whom…. I wouldn’t necessarily use a gouging machine, but as soon as that appeared on the market in the mid 19th Century it was the iPhone of reed-making that everyone wanted to have but couldn’t afford… And some just didn’t want to own a mobile phone and were sooooo old-fashioned…

And there you have it: the most important thing is that your reeds enable your intense musical expression. You get to determine your means for reaching that end!

 

COMING SOON! The Knife Sharpening Companion

We are very proud to announce that Kreedo Academy will launch its first comprehensive product in the beginning of 2019. 

We are so excited to share this after a year of building and preparing and testing. The Knife Sharpening Companion is a guide to knives, sharpening tools and their selection and care.

When we founded Kreedo Academy at the beginning of 2018 with our mission to develop a clearinghouse for double reed players worldwide by providing connections, tools, materials, concepts and resources for reed making, we needed to decide where to start. The natural answer became obvious to us very quickly.

Skillful reed making begins with a sharp knife!

Follow this link to watch a short video detailing the Knife Sharpening Companion.

Join us in our first large-scale endeavor!

Reed Hibernation

I maintain the faith that every experience brings some sort of blessing. In this moment, my cheeks are hot and my ears have closed somehow with that narrow noisiness. It is my old fear of incompetence but I don’t recognize it yet. The blessing in this situation is yet hidden, completely illusive for me. I cross my fingers, figuratively speaking, as I open my reed case. It is a very old and stylish, leather bound converted cigarette case, one of those really thin ones, the kind you can’t find anywhere anymore.

Please! I pray silently, let there be a playable oboe d’amore reed in here!

After all these years, if there is a Reed God, she is accustomed to my petitions.

The concert is in one week and the envelope with my music lies ignored and unopened under piles of other music on my stand where I put it two or more weeks ago. A wave of discomfort washes over me as I thumb through the contents of the envelope.

This is not a second oboe part, like I expected. It is an oboe d’amore part. I do not own the right kind of oboe d’amore for performing the music of Frank Martin!

It is too late to back out of this project.

I’ve been in this business long enough. I apply a well-trained discipline to take hold of my thoughts before they get a grip on me. If they turn into panic, my young son will flee into the wardrobe to wait among the winter things, praying for the door to Narnia to open while my wild-eyed terror flare-ups and subsides.

I manage to keep out of blaming and shaming which would run along these lines:

Blame: What sort of pathetic excuse for an orchestra manager would neglect to mention that I need such a rare thing as an oboe d’amore?

Shame: What sort of pathetic excuse of a professional musician waits until a week before the show to open the mail? *

Offloading or extending my malcontent (fear? anger? disgust?) would merely rob my energy which I prefer to redirect towards problem solving. Orchestra managers do not need this kind of additional grief and neither do I!

In my sleek reed case there are a number of hot pink reeds that look vaguely familiar and seem to be in various stages of played-in and played-out. Next to these I notice something. I’m creative enough to stop and consider what I see. Is the reed God listening to me and answering my plea?

Demonstrating a certain trust, I make a decision to devote valuable minutes to the ugly duckling I found in the reed box. There is probably some scientific basis to my hope that this reed will serve me well.

Arundo donax, our reed cane lives and grows and flourishes. It is vital. Harvesting, splitting, gouging and shaping work along with the nature of the wood. In these steps we merely pare it down. We are not requiring a transformation. When, however, we fold the cane and bind it to the tube, we exert force onto the fiber and the cane must take on a new and (for the cane) unnatural form. It is no wonder that a freshly wrapped and scraped reed needs time to be played in. It has to settle and adapt in its new form and function.

This is the reason why we learn to wrap our blanks, thin the tips a bit and then leave them to rest for a week, a month, or a year before we scrape and finish them.

My concert is in a week!

The ugly duckling in my reed case is wrapped in a tender shade of baby pink. (Not my color but that is a topic for another day.) It has slept here for how long? A year? Or two? I so rarely play oboe d’amore in modern pitch that I don’t keep a reed log for these reeds. Whenever it was, I wrapped the reed, thinned the tip and clipped it open and sent it into hibernation, basically still a blank. It has dried out completely and looks misshapen. The opening is a wide, yawning oval shape which is rather alarming. Nevertheless, I never once for a moment considered tossing it. Instead I think with warm joy of a lesson with my teacher. I had the privilege to study with one of Marcel Tabuteau’s students, Rhadamas Angelucci during my freshman year at St. Olaf College. I fall into reminiscing about that day more than 25 years ago when I showed up to a lesson and he asked me to open my reed box in order to perform reed inventory. He found an ugly duckling and looked it over skeptically but soaked it up anyway. It worked really well! He died after my first year of studying with him. For some reason his childlike delight that day over the swan we soaked stays with me so many years later.

Almost as if the Reed God (if she exists) is guiding my hand, I think of Mr. Angelucci and soak up the pink reed, scrape the tip, remove the bark and press it gently but firmly between my fingers to encourage the right opening at the tip.

Dear little reed, you carry the promise of stability and reliability. The oboe d’amore I have borrowed has “personality” (a euphemism). Please, let us work together as a team, to draw out and awaken the beauty of this music! [yes, I talk to my reeds…it’s a plant. Everyone knows plants like being talked to.]

With a very clear concept of the sound I want to make, I put the reed onto the bocal and into the instrument. There is truly something lovely about the oboe of love. Remarkably, the silkiness and warmth that flow out of the oboe match what I have in my imagination. I am surprised at the certainty I feel: this reed is offering me the flexibility I need to express the eloquent nuances of Frank Martin’s “ El la vie l’importe.”

Lola da Mour

If I had been more thorough in my preparation for the project, I would have respectfully declined this engagement to play oboe d’amore. As it is, I am now sitting in the orchestra, gloriously nestled between the organ, the oboe and the harp. The massive yet delicate choir stands behind me and the radiant strings are before me, while the colors of Martin’s work bathe the hall richly. I send a contented, joyful smile over to the orchestra manager who is sitting at the harpsichord. His eyes smile back. The sweet sound of the oboe d’amore complete the sound palate so wonderfully and satisfyingly.

I have found the blessing of this experience.

*Blame: I looked through the old emails. The orchestra manager did, in fact, do everything correctly and mentioned the oboe d’amore. The sentence was so hidden among other information that I could easily forgive myself for overlooking it.
 Shame: Regarding my feelings of shame for waiting until the last minute to prepare: I will return to this topic another time.

 

 

 

 

Granada, Spain: Jeanine meets new IDRS President Eric Stomberg

With a backdrop of breathtaking Andalusian flair, complete with Flamenco, Spanish hospitality and warm summer nights, the 2018 IDRS Convention took place in the shadow of the dramatic Alhambra palace in Granada Spain.

While in Granada, I had the great pleasure to meet the new president of IDRS, Eric Stomberg after our Spanish hosts led us in a successful bid for a Guinness Book World Record.* The oboe band open air extravaganza commenced mercifully at 11 at night, meaning temperatures were still warm but not debilitating. The hour had the distinct disadvantage that the tapas bars were closed by the time we had packed away our reeds and instruments, ready to celebrate our victory. The Orquesta Ciudad de Granada (Granada City Orchestra) Cellist, American, Kathleen Balfe graciously invited me and Eric to the rooftop terrace of her home. In addition to Granada’s splendor and a full moon, we enjoyed excellent food, drink and lively conversation.

IDRS Granada 2018

Eric has long been actively involved in IDRS and has stepped up to the post of president in January 2018. He’s witty and intelligent and seems to have a sharp sense of business combined with that invaluable skill, empathy. He would probably be a great success in the world of the free market except that it is so clear that at heart he is a musician, a teacher and a passionate administrator through and through.

IDRS is in good hands with Eric Stomberg!

Be sure to visit the new and vastly improved IDRS website!

Kreedo Academy is an IDRS BUSINESS DONOR

*largest oboe band! 511 dobles cañas (100 corno ingles, 168 fagot, 10 contrafagot y 222 oboe)

Forget the reed!

You know you have a good reed when you waste no mental or emotional energy on it.

I am visited by a wave of inner worry as my colleague pulls out his reed box and opens it. I swallowed as I saw the 24 identical reeds wrapped in the same red thread, all lined up, tidy and looking perfectly respectable and playable. Fortunately, I have a beautifully crafted wooden box with inlay: a gift from friends. My strategy is to let the loveliness of my reed box distract from its contents. In it I have 12 reeds. Each looks different. They are wrapped in yellow, multicolored pastel, burgundy, navy blue. Each has a number scrawled on it (at least I log and keep track of my reeds!). They are different shapes and sizes, some looking a little worse for the wear with Teflon or wire. One or two play beautifully. Strangely, the one that looks pretty raggedy is the one I’m going to grab when the rehearsal begins in a moment.

There are a lot of rules regarding reed making.

  • Make reeds in batches (Jürgen recommends batches of 90! This thought makes me feel queasy.)
  • Make reeds when you have reeds. (Don’t wait until you need reeds to make them.)
  • Have 3 – 6 concert-ready reeds at any given moment.

Absolutely! For any self-respecting professional, these are valuable guidelines for success.

I’m single. I’m a mother. I spend hours sitting in rehearsals or on trains getting to them. I will not mention the number of hours I spend dancing tango, which trust me, is non-negotiable and necessary for my mental health. As double reed players go, I am relatively relaxed about reeds.

It’s a physical, mathematical fact:  You see, you can only play one reed at a time. Sure, it makes sense to have plenty of backup reeds. But folks, you can only play ONE reed in an instrument at any given moment.

All you need is ONE good reed.

So, I keep my reed box to myself and look wistfully and perhaps somewhat enviously at my colleague’s line up of matching red soldiers. (Reed Envy?)

I used to have reed boxes filled like this. That was before I was a mother, before I started my own business, before I was single, before I realized that health is holistic.

The rehearsal begins, and I forget my reed altogether as we breathe and unfold the music together.