Clarinet Posture

When you're concentrating on playing the clarinet, posture is easy to forget about. Here are some tips on playing posture for sitting and standing. 

More detailed clarinet posture guidelines based on the Alexander Technique 

University of Colorado clarinet professor Daniel Silver's wall drill 

Characteristics of a Balanced Clarinet Posture


1.  Relax your neck. Your head should feel forward and up.

2. Pay attention to your jaw. Does it feel clenched or tight? A good way to reduce jaw tension is to place your tongue against the back of your front teeth.

3. Your head should feel balanced between your shoulders.

4. Tell yourself to relax your shoulders, or to stop tensing them. Both phrases point to the same result, but different people respond better to one or the other. You can also lift your shoulders up as high as they'll go and then drop them.

5. Your upper body should follow the forward and up feel of your head but without leaning forward too much. When we get nervous or are playing something difficult, it is tempting to lean forward and hunch the shoulders, creating a cave-like shape in the chest.

Way too much shoulder tension! 

6. It is common to either flex your knees too much or hyper-extend them (locked, with the knees forced back). This is a byproduct of downward pull and poor neck position. Work toward a happy medium between flexed and hyper-extended. The knees should feel balanced and soft.

7. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel. Use the whole bottom of your foot to distribute your weight instead of grabbing the floor with the sides of your feet. 


1. Your upper body should feel the same as it does when you're standing.

2. Some chairs are designed to promote good posture when you sit all the way back in them. Unfortunately, many chairs are not designed with this in mind and sitting all the way back in them will cause slumping. Be aware of this, and if your chair is not posture-friendly it might be better to sit away from the back.

3. Feel your sit bones, which are literally the two bones under the flesh of your rear that you are meant to sit on. It might feel strange if you haven't paid attention to them before but they will give you balance and stability.

4. As with standing, keep the feet should width apart and parallel. Legs should be perpendicular to the floor from your knees down. 

With the clarinet 

Because the clarinet goes right in front of us, it's easy to forget about the position of our arms. 

Placing your arms too close to your body will create excess tension and strange wrist angles for your hand position. 

Also be aware of your elbows and that they don't have to be too far away from your body. 

Arms not too far in or out 

The angle of the clarinet is another thing to be mindful of. Everyone's ideal angle will be a little bit different based on the mouthpiece, kind of clarinet and whether you have an overbite or an underbite.

It may take some experimenting with angles to determine what feels and sounds the best for you. However, here are some extremes to avoid. 

Here my angle is too far in. Because of this, I have a lot of tension in my shoulders, too.

Here my angle is too far out. When I was taking this picture, I was tensing up the back of my neck a lot. 

For me, this is an ideal angle. My arms are a good distance away from my body, and I don't have to tense up my neck to accommodate my clarinet.