Posture affects all aspects of playing the clarinet. It will influence your breathing, angle, hand position, embouchure and general comfort level as you play.
There is no absolute "correct" posture as everyone is different, but there are ways to achieve balance in the way you sit or stand.
Click here for clarinet-specific posture tips
Click here for University of Colorado professor Daniel Silver's wall drill
The Alexander Technique
Recently I began work in the Alexander Technique, a method often used by dancers, actors and musicians to improve ease and freedom of movement, balance, support, flexibility and coordination. It is often described as "psychophysical re-education", as it helps you to let go of bad habits that create tension.
The Alexander Technique follows two Laws of Human Movement.
1. Habitual tensing of the muscles of the neck results in a predictable and inevitable tensing of the whole body. Release out of the tensing in the whole must begin with release in the muscles in the neck.
Conable, Barbara. How to Learn the Alexander Technique: A Manual for Students. Portland: Andover Press, 1995. p. 2
Front and side view of the neck muscles. Notice that the neck muscles extend all the way down to the collarbone. (Conable 3)
2. In movement, when it's free, the head leads and the body follows. More particularly, the head leads and the spine follows in sequence (Conable 2)
Downward pull occurs when the neck muscles tighten, distorting the bone-to-bone relationship in the rest of the skeletal system. It is also known as slumping
In downward pull, the whole body through the head, thorax, pelvis and ankle goes back and down. This puts unnecessary pressure on your body, adding excess tension and making it harder to breathe.
In a balanced posture there is an overall feeling of "upness". With the body following the head, everything goes forward and up.
Click here for more details on the Alexander Technique
How does this relate to clarinet?
1. Playing the clarinet involves complex movements. Improving how your whole body moves by freeing your neck and reducing downward pull will improve all movement used in your playing.
2. Movement in playing the clarinet is often repetitive, and misuse of your body in repetitive motions easily leads to pain and injury. Be nice to yourself!
3. Breathing improves dramatically when you free you neck and reduce downward pull. A balanced and supported body breathes better.