I'm a professor, am I full of ****? I never felt that way about any of my sax teachers. Kind of a ****** blanket generalization that most professors are full of ****. Oh well, ****.
Tenor ..1973 Selmer Mark VI #211xxx .... RPC .115B ...Selmer 2-screw Lig ... Red Java's #2.5
Alto ...Yanagisawa A991 #320XXX....RPC .090B ...Selmer 2-screw lig .... Red Java's 2.5
Sop.... Yamaha 475 .... Morgan Vintage 6...... Rico H lig .... Marca 2.5, RJS 2M
Or, like many people, he might just think that everyone should play on reeds harder than 2 1/2, which is a crock of ****. Players should use the strength of reed appropriate to getting the best sound for them. Sometimes using a harder reed will get a better sound, but can be a shortcut that is not good, because it's often the easy way out, when it would be better to work at getting your air support strong enough to get a good sound on a softer reed, which may well mean you have more versatility, especially in the lower register. It's not easy, but it pays off in the end IMO.
A professor who insists on harder reeds just because they think harder reeds are better for everyone is not a good professor.
Interesting... Getting a better variety of opinions now. What do you mean by getting better air support with a softer reed? Sort of... blowing through the buzzyness and learn to control? Could you start moving up in strengths, build the support, then come back down?
there are some reasons, good or not so good, to push hard reeds:
a. for early college students, as a tool to learn ethos: what it is to work to conform to a standard set by a teacher, a studio, a tradition. Classically, you interpret the music, but first, you serve it. Any undergrad curriculum in music is more about how to be correct than how to sound good now, or in a term, or in a year.
b. to build a big, brute force air column. It can be refined later, along with the tone and articulation. Indeed, the various classical schools have adopted a pop or thunk articulation to some degree because that's what works best with hard reeds.
c. because if you have the big air column and a well polished overtone series, hard reeds are just more reliable for a steady tone in the altissimo.
d. because generally, across most types of sax and classical mpc, harder reeds encourage the darkest, least metallic tone quality possible.
Jazz = a man with a $5,000 horn driving a $500 car to a $50 gig.
Conn, Buescher & Martin Saxes - Selmer & Conn Clarinets - Woodwind, Morgan, Link & Brilhart Mouthpieces - Alexander Reeds
it is true that some players get harder reeds and work on them to the point where they are softer than just putting on a strengh below so it's good to evaluate rather than just think about a strength in number. In jazz alot of players are just putting on jazz selects w/a medium strengh-soaking them preliminary or not even that and just playing them till they die. I tend to play a reed for too long in order to avoid buying more-but as Jerry Bergonzi points out in one of the videos you should switch to a fresh reed regularly. But because of the prices of reeds -you may not be able to do this and may want to start out with a harder strengh and play the reed as long as possible. Just be aware of when the reed is too soft. Sometimes you may not want to retire a reed that is too soft because it responds well when it probably should be retired...PS not everything in this video will apply for classical- but the last part talks about rotating your reeds.
Plus one on Pete's comments about softer reeds. IMO there is a reed shape and strength that works best with the mpce/embouchure combination.
The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
I'd hesitate to call a 3 hard by any stretch of the imagination, especially tenor.
The real question is, if her and the professor bump heads like this, is this a good choice of studio?
There are many other small factors to consider here. What mouthpiece is she playing? Is the facing good? Table flat? Does she flatten the reed table before playing them? I find that polishing the table of my reeds and storing them appropriately will save most of a box and make them sound more "true".
Soprano: Selmer Series II • Vandoren S27 + V12 3.5
Alto: Selmer Series II • Vandoren AL3 + Traditional 3.0 • Jody Jazz HR* 6M + JAVA Red 3.0
Tenor: Barone Vintage • Selmer S90 170 + V12 3.0 • Otto Link NY 7 + JAVA Red 2.5
Baritone: Selmer Series II • Selmer S80 C** + Traditional 3.5 • Otto Link HR 5* + Traditional 2.5
"Respect the air."
I usually recommend a #3 reed to my students after they've been playing for a year or so (4C or C* mouthpieces). If they want to go harder it's up to them.
I have one student who studies alto with me but plays tenor in the school band, when he started tenor they gave him a #3 reed right away.
He had problems with the low register so I suggested he try a #2½ (which is what he was playing on alto) but he stuck with the #3 and he adapted. He now plays #3's on alto too and he's been playing for less than a year. So one can adapt after a while.
I had a clarinet student who even though she had been playing for several years before studying with me, was still on #2 Rico reeds. Her tone was pretty weak and thin. I told her to get a #2½. She got some Vandoren's thinking that the strengths were the same so she found them hard to play at first (2½ Vandoren = 3 Rico) but she quickly adapted and her tone improved.
Sometimes students need to be pushed a little. I'm not advocating to always go to harder reeds but a medium strength reed on a medium closed mouthpiece is pretty standard.
" M'enfin ! " ....Gaston Lagaffe
My guess is the professor suggested the #3 reed because she was having trouble with the 2.5 and she's using a pretty closed mpc. It's worth a try. Most likely she is biting too hard and not using proper air support or something like that.
I generally like harder reeds 3.5 fibracell on alto Mouthpice cafe espresso, 3.5 fibracell on tenor Ponzol SS 110 and 4 Fibracell on bari Quantum 12. Imagine my surprise when I tried my new curvy with a Barone 7 with a 2.5 Vandoren and realised I have to go down a strength to a 2 [Hope I don't have to go lower than that] I may feel inadequate !!!
So it does show me that reed strength is not a matter of rule but more a matter of mouthpiece and sound concept.
197? Conn 11M Bari, Gemeinhardt 3SSB Flute, Conn 6D French Horn
Flatiron 1N Mandolin, Trinity College Bouzouki, 1929 Bacon & Day Style C Tenor Banjo
Bodhran, bones, numerous whistles, etc.