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Cautiously Optimistic

Could It Be? Yes It Could.

We’re happy to report that absolutely no one at Charles Double Reed Company has become sick with Covid. We all wear our masks, clean our hands, and continue to be smart about our health and the health of others. It’s not easy, but it’s been worth it.

A few of us have gotten our first (or only) vaccine shots and we’ve become cautiously optimistic about the future of live music performance.

We all knew that some day music would be played live in front of people again, but until these last few months, the future was not bright enough to bother wearing shades.

The future is looking brighter for sure, and some of us are already performing in limited settings, for limited audiences.

“Could it be? Yes, it could,
Something’s coming, something good, if I can wait.
Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is,
But it is gonna be great!”

We’re excited to explore our new normal together and it’s gonna to be great!

Here’s to hoping and to making it happen!

Brian Charles

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To perform and collaborate is a gift

We rely on ears and hearts to make sense of what we do as musicians. It seems as though we’re on the brink of connecting with ears and hearts once again, doesn’t it?

Vaccinations are ramping up. Restrictions, while still not healthy to drop, are going to be further relaxed in the coming months.

Maybe concerts halls will reopen soon? Maybe rehearsals without barriers, masks, and fear will begin again?

As musicians first, here at Charles Double Reeds, we hope for the best and quickest return to music making with friends and colleagues. The future is looking brighter than it has for a year. What a strange and fraught time we’ve lived through.

Our fond and overarching desire is for all of us to feel safe, content, and musically free once again.

I sincerely hope that you’re feeling this little sprite of happiness and comfort in your lives too.

And, as always, we appreciate your support and your business as we lift our metaphorical heads up from the undergrowth, and begin again to create beauty in the world.

With hope,


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Music Is My Life

Did you fall in love with oboe or bassoon as I did? I’ve been playing since I was in junior high school. It was and is who I am: a person; a musician; a double reed player.
I am a performing musician – playing is in my blood.
As a young conservatory musician, I worked a day job part-time, as most of us do at that point in our lives. I lucked into working at a double reed store in NYC. More luck – the owner retired and I got to continue the store. I moved it all to my little apartment in Brooklyn. I discovered that teaching and supplying and supporting double reed playing was also my way in this world. And that’s how Charles Double Reed Company began.

Brian Charles
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Three Things To Try Out Now

Create A Goal
Set A Due Date
Complete One Goal At A Time
For every day you don’t practice, 2 days of practice are needed to return to where you left off.
Months in “solitary confinement”, without gigs, and without rehearsals. Yuck. Maybe I could settle for not backsliding. Nah. Gigs are coming, this weird “new normal” will change yet again, and I want to be ready to make music outside my practice room.
If you’re anything like me, you’re not enjoying solitary music making as much. You ran out of excerpts, went long on long tones, and now you know all the pentatonic scale patterns. The mish-mash of this gets old.
The way I stay sane:
I create a goal – let’s say learning how to double tongue.
I make a reasonable guess how long it will take me to get good enough that I would let someone else hear me double tongue. Let’s say three weeks. Okay, get started . . .
But WAIT! I could learn to circular breath. Or, I could get solid on The Swan of Tuonela, or Rite of Spring. Or – or – or – STOP.
One goal at a time. Concentrate your work on that one goal. If it takes less time than you thought, don’t be surprised. If it takes a lot longer, don’t stop. Keep at your goal.
While you are doing this whole “goal oriented” thing, you’re creating a directed path for your musical energy. I promise – it will keep you excited, learning, challenged.
What a feeling to come to rehearsal with fresh energy plus a deepened sense of your own ability.
If you want it, strive for it, earn it, enjoy it.
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Clean your bassoon: 5 pro methods you can do at home (with photos).

Bassoons accumulate dirt and finger oils. It’s a given, considering how much we play them, and where we go with them. The wood of your bassoon  is protected with one of a variety of products. Common finishes include (but are not limited to) shellac, varnish, lacquer, polyurethane, and mineral oil. For those who want to know more about these finishes, here’s a pretty good overview. Most of these can be cleaned easily, and we show you how in this post. 

An example of a glossy finish on the left and a matte finish on the right

Cleaning your own bassoon yields great benefits: saves you money, prolongs the life of your bassoon, keeps your bassoon functioning at its best, plus it’s easier than you think. Here are a few methods we recommend that you can do yourself.

If the finish on the bassoon is fully intact, and the finish is glossy or shiny (not light hand rubbed French polish) we do what Fox Products recommends – we use Lemon Pledge! Any variation of this product will do, of course.

A small spritz on a paper towel, and light rubbing/application will remove dirt and leave a beautiful shine (and reasonably nice odor). For the hard to get to parts, use a standard q-tip and take your time. It’s a slow process to get it right without leaving too much cleaner behind. Remove all traces of Pledge, as droplets left behind can become a dust attractant. You might consider doing this once every year or two or even sooner if you notice a significant buildup of dirt.

An example of a bassoon with a French Polish finish

If the finish is not shiny, it might have a “French polish” which uses an oil-based material and leaves a subtle matte finish. We recommend rubbing this kind of surface with a soft, clean cloth. That is usually ample. You can polish it now and then with a specialty wax or even with a tiny bit of furniture cream. Sticky marks can be removed with a small cloth soaked in warm, slightly soapy water and then fully wrung out.

A finish which shows crackling.

If the finish is crackled, there are unprotected wood areas, or it just seems delicate, we use a soft dry, cloth with little or no lint shedding. A paper towel can sometimes work well. If you get excessive amounts of wax, water or other substances on the raw wood, it won’t kill the bassoon, but it makes it harder for the repair tech to fix that area, and might raise the grain of the wood slightly, which could cause further damage around the edge of the exposed area. If there is exposed wood, we recommend bringing your bassoon to a repair technician before you apply any cleaning agent other than a dry cloth.

The area around the ring key shows finish loss.

Dirt from your fingers can leave built up yuckiness near the finger holes, especially on the wing joint. To clean this, first try a dry cloth and rub the buildup, trying not to spread the dirt around. If that doesn’t do the job, a slightly dampened q-tip can sometimes work. If none of these work, an old world solution is to touch a clean q-tip to your tongue (brush your teeth first) and use that slightly dampened q-tip to do the work. The pH value of saliva is slightly acidic, which varies between pH 5.75 and 7.05. It works very well in some situations.

Sometimes you’ll see key oil build up around the posts. Wherever metal rubs on metal, it may appear as dark colored oil in very minute amounts. The dark colored oil is an indication that the oil is doing its job floating away dirt and debris that builds up. Use a dry q-tip to wipe away the excess oil from the metalwork. You don’t have to leave the bassoon immaculate. Just remove enough so that you can’t easily reach more of it and relax. Take care not to rub the key oil into the wood as much as possible. It won’t hurt anything in the short term, but it does become an attractant for dust and dirt and can make cleaning the wood more time consuming. When you next get your bassoon worked on, ask the repair tech to clean the rods and posts and apply new oil. If you have sufficient experience, you can also clean and apply key oil yourself.

Use a Q-tip to get under and around areas you can’t reach with your fingers or a cloth.

If you care to share your experiences with us, we’re very interested in how this works out for you.