air escape through throat


I am looking for some advice about my breathing.

i am having problems with tension in the throat, when i play my epiglotis is giving way causing the air to come out of my nose. is this a common problem? – are there any excercises you know of that could help?

i would be very grateful for any advice

London, UK.

Hi and thanks for your interesting and evocative question.

You may have to define what you call tension in the throat. That is the problem with the written word; it means different things to each of us, while just watching and listening to a few notes can define everything.

But there are generally two different ways of holding or thinking about the position of the throat when playing the clarinet: One is the position closely simulating the syllable “e”, the other , “ah”, and then there are all the positions in between these two which are used by most clarinetists at different times when they play.

There have been studies actually photogra[hing the inside of a players mouth while he or she plays, but none that I know of with the clarinet, only with trumpet. The range of closure was truly amazing as I recall the lecture, fully dependent upon the particular passage, the kind of music, many many conditions govern the popsition, rather the changing position of the throat when playing the clarinet.

I myself have frequently allowed breath escape from my nose when playing or when breathing, with no ill effects as far as I know. And occasionally on recording I can hear these sounds, though I hope others do not.

So, I am reluctant to say you are doing anything wrong , simply because the throat and breathing are so very flexible and consist of literally hundreds of variables.

I know wonderful players who emit all kinds of noises, some of which I would call hideous, however this is not to say they are musically bad.

THAT is the question.

Now, think about what I have tried to say and wrote more, if you wish, if more.
good luck


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