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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000163.txt from 1999/06

From: Jack Kissinger <kissingerjn@-----.EDU>
Subj: [kl] Standing and sitting
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 18:14:57 -0400

Alan.Woodcock@-----.net wrote:

> Does anybody use the techniques of Hara or Tai Chi when giving a standing
> performance?
>
> ... I gave a solo with our local
> orchestra recently and tried to apply appropriate principles: feet rooted
> in the ground, head suspended by a thread, centre of gravity concentrated
> below the navel.
>
> I found I was very comfortable. Afterwards several people commented
> positively on my posture. (Of course, perhaps this was a ploy to avoid
> commenting on my playing... )
>
> It would be most interesting if any Japanese or Chinese members of this
> list had any opinions on this subject.
>
> (I know there are people who say you should not stand, but let us take
> their arguments as read; that is not my question.)

I have two comments on the thread that has developed from this post:

1. (As is often the case ;^) ), it has little to do with the original
question and, in fact, (as is also often the case) the person who asked the
question hasn't received much of an answer. (FWIW, Alan, I do not practice
these techniques because I don't know them. They make sense to me, however.
My (and my daughter's) blissful ignorance (of Tai Chi, at least) may go away,
however, because my wife became certified last week as an instructor of Tai Chi
Chih and she has a history of experimenting on her family whether we like it or
not. ;^) )

2. As I see it, the whole basis of the current argument is a straw ... er
person. Alan wrote, "I know there are people who say you should not stand
..." Here, I have to agree with Neil and Tony. I don't know who these people
are or where this assertion comes from. Kevin Fay says he prefers to sit but
he does not argue that every clarinetist always should. It is simply his
personal preference. I have seen list members state that they prefer to sit
and consider it equally appropriate to standing but I have yet to see any
argument in the current or past thread that gives reasons (let alone good
reasons) why, in general, no clarinetist should ever stand in performance. So,
Alan, please identify the people to whom you refer.

There was a thread on this topic fairly recently but my recollection is (OK,
I'm too lazy to look it up) that it started with a question concerning whether
clarinetists should stand, or whether it' s OK sit, or something of that
nature). Someone else discussed the impact on sound of having the bell closer
to the floor or muffled by one's body (sitting) vs. farther from the floor
(standing). Someone (maybe a few people) stated a belief that standing was
better. Perhaps they even gave reasons. One or more double-lippers observed
that standing was extremely painful/difficult when one uses a double-lip
embouchure. Then several people gave examples of outstanding clarinetists they
had observed sitting. (If memory serves, however, most of the examples cited
were players who play double-lip, or who were rather elderly when observed, or
both. Roger's example of Robert Spring would appear an exception to this
generalization unless Robert plays double lip. He probably had his reasons.)
While a number of people indicated a personal preference for sitting and cited
examples to argue that it was acceptable practice and, perhaps necessary in
some cases for physical reasons, NO ONE that I can remember ever stated, as a
general principal, that it is better to sit in recital or solo performance than
to stand or that, in general, performers should never stand.

When I am a member of an audience, I would like to see the soloist separated
from the tutti because I generally want to focus my attention on the soloist.
(Even if sitting, would Gigliotti or Marcellus have stayed back in his section
to perform the Mozart concerto?) For me, standing accomplishes this better
than sitting. (Especially for folks like me who ususally sit in the cheap
seats.) It puts the soloist on the same footing (ugh!) as the conductor. It
focuses attention on the soloist rather than the pianist. (But if the two are
equal partners in the piece, then perhaps the clarinetist should sit.)

Most violinists stand. Itzak Perlman sits -- for physical reasons. Cellists
sit -- for physical reasons. Many clarinetists stand. Some sit. But if you
look at the GREAT ones who have sat, my guess is that you will find a physical
reason -- double-lip, age, physical disability (temporary or permanent) and so
on. What I think most general audiences expect of a big-time professional when
performing as a soloist (no, I haven't taken a scientific survey) and the
guideline that makes sense to me is: "If you can stand without adversely
affecting your performance (or if standing will improve your performance), you
should stand. If standing makes it likely that your performance will suffer,
then sit." (BTW, I think the same guideline applies to playing from memory.)
Standing/playing from memory gives a (little?) better show. But the music
should never suffer!

My $.02,
Jack Kissinger
St. Louis

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