Oboe Reeds

Reed making is a constant process, and oboists must keep a stockpile of reeds in various stages of completion in order to be an effective performer and instructor.


Once a batch of tube cane is acquired the processing begins, which is a multi-day event that includes many hours of work. Splitting a quarter pound of cane takes about 30 minutes, cutting takes another 30 minutes, planing takes 45 minutes, gouging takes hours, including a couple hours just to soak the cane (it is difficult to keep track because of the repetitive movements and the time required; I usually watch movies since I am in one place for so long), and shaping takes about 45 minutes for twenty pieces (plus time to soak the cane).

A quarter pound of tube cane yields about 100 pieces of usable cane, so overall shaping takes 3 hours and 45 minutes. That totals roughly six hours of processing time, not including gouging. A rough estimate would be 12-15 hours total to get from tube cane to gouged and shaped cane. The wrapping and shaving process is done in batches and is a constant process. A quarter pound of cane lasted me the year of 2017. 

The equipment needed to process cane is specialized and pricey, and my equipment purchases are being funded in part by Chapman Cultural Center, its donors, the County and City of Spartanburg and the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC. 

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Where will I show up next? 

©2017 by Kelsey Leahy

Want to help get me there?

Donations accepted but not expected. 

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This website was funded in part by Chapman Cultural Center, its donors, the County and City of Spartanburg and the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC.