Relaxation while performing

Hi Sherman,

I think it’s wonderful to have the Clarinet Corner as a source of helpful information for young avid clarinetists like myself. However, I’ve just been wondering, are there are useful tricks to help relax before you play? I’ve always been astounded at how relaxed Karl Leister looks when he plays in some of the Berlin Philharmonic video broadcasts on youtube. I’ve experienced this type of relaxation very rarely and have noticed how nicely I sound. I would like to cultivate this sort of relaxation so I can play like that all the time! I just don’t know where to start…I’ve read in “The art of practicing” by Madeline Bruser to do stretches and deep breathing. I have a good embouchure, posture and equipment, but I just don’t feel relaxed physically. I think it could be because I don’t take as many little breaks as I should…. Thank you for your time.

Hi O:
Thank you for your comments concerning the Clarinet Corner and for your letter.
Relaxing while performing has actually two or three aspects.
One is the performance and looking relaxed, not moving unusually, keeping facial expressions regular and not attracting attention to your playing except for the music itself. This can be achieved while at the very same time, you may be experiencing great difficulties, which may never be imparted to those who are watching and listening to you perform. Your job is to perform the music, through the vessel, the clarinet you have chosen to play and to not draw attention to yourself, only the music.
You must first achieve the appearance of being in control of the music.
Second, is the actual feeling and sounding relaxed while you play and that may come a long time from appearance to really feeling relaxed and able to do anything you have chosen to do while you play. I have found that this comes only after having performed many many times in different curcumstances. The unexpected always happens when you play and you must never show the unexpected through your playing.
As you learn how to appear in control the actual feeling of relaxation begins to come, and with some, it remains a real difficulty,however to repeat, first you act and look and try to play as if you are very much in control, and then after many repetitions and experiences, you learn to actually be relaxed when you play. Experience is the best teacher, rehearsing very carefully prior to performance so you know what to expect.
I always go through my playing deciding where possible trouble spots may lie and make sure that I am prepared for any eventuality and they always happen, but you are so prepared you just do it, do it well, and it looks and sounds relaxed. the greates compliment I have ever had occurs when the comment is: you sound as if the music is coming directly through you and that the instrument only happens to be there.

Hope this helps.

best for the holidays.



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