This ebook, An Alexander Technique Approach to Clarinet Technique, is published on this website in a PDF format. It is very detailed and practical, and it will give you the physical tools you need to take the limits off of your ability to create the accurate clarinet technique you want without sacrificing your body.
This ebook is also for sale on all AMAZON websites in a KINDLE format.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A. (MOVEMENT THERAPY)
The shoulder girdle floats on top of a ribcage, and the shoulder girdle and ribcage are in constant flow and movement, if you allow your torso to be free as you breathe and play the instrument. If you don’t want to strain your shoulders and arms, you want to allow this freedom in the arms and torso and shoulders to be a constant in your playing. When you play a wind instrument you are always controlling your breath. In other words, you control your breath, but you don’t want to hold it with excess torso tension.
A fearless breathing pattern is when the diaphragm contracts downward and expands the whole torso backward, sideways, downward and slightly upward. The descending diaphragm pushes the ribcage out and up and the intestines downward and back and forward. So, the whole torso expands in all directions on the inhale. The inhale is a muscular contraction of the diaphragm that moves the ribcage forward, up, sideways, and backward. For this to happen effortlessly, the external musculature surrounding the ribcage needs to release to allow expansion, rather than actively expanding itself.
On the exhale the diaphragm releases and rises upward into a dome, and the ribcage lowers and moves inwards, and the abdominal musculature moves toward the back. On the inhale the spine gathers, and on the exhale the spine lengthens. (This awareness that the torso wants to lengthen on the exhale is crucial, so you don’t collapse the torso when you exhale.)
Breathing effortlessly and fearlessly is about the whole torso being released, so that the diaphragm can contract and expand with ease. When you have this much control over your breathing as a clarinetist, then you have the most air to work with, and you have dynamic postural support and control over your exhale, as your back lengthens, as you exhale into your instrument (play it).
The shoulders sit on top of this constantly expanding and contracting and rising and lowering structure, and when you are fully upright, this does not interfere with the accuracy of the arms and fingers, if you trust your body and your mind. Accuracy is a function of trust, not of immobilizing the body. There is never any reason to immobilize the shoulders when playing the clarinet. When the arms are brought up to play, allow the head to lead a lengthening neck and spine, and the shoulder girdle to float on this structure that consists of ribs attached to the spine and sternum.
The shoulder girdle, which is the collar bones and shoulder blades and their musculature, should be allowed to float on top of the torso like an inner tube in a pool. You never ever need to interfere with the freedom of the shoulder blades to stabilize the shoulder girdle. The shoulder blades follow the arms into movement, and the freer the shoulder blades, the freer the arms feel, which frees up the hands and fingers to move easily and accurately.
When the arms are raised to play the clarinet, you are not increasing the actual weight on the shoulder girdle, even though you are activating shoulder and back muscles to support the arms in a different place. This can be done without tensing the shoulders and hunkering down into the torso to play.