I encouraged some of my students to enter the Annual Student Research Day Competition at Tennessee Tech earlier this year. I try to remind all music students about the importance of exploring untapped opportunities and unconventional channel to showcase our works. This event has been traditionally a playground for science and engineering students, and no music majors have entered in the past as far as I know.
Fortunately, a duo of my students decided to take up on the idea, and came up with a topic: "Relating Humidity to Reed Cane Thickness and Sound Quality." For a period of few weeks, they preserved reeds on various controlled humidity level in my studio and tested them with various measurements and playing response. To me, it was a unique way to approach this important aspect of clarinet playing and present it in a clear and objective manner. Their final poster was put up again over 100 highly competitive entrants, and I am proud to report that they were selected as the undergraduate winners of the College of Education Prize. As a participating judge (although I did not judge my own students' work), I could attest the outstanding quality of the work by my students.