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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000033.txt from 2001/05

Subj: Re: [kl] Air leaking out of my nose
Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 05:18:32 -0400

Robyn says:
>I have a problem that is a little bit unusual. I have a solo that I have
performed twice over the last couple of months. I can play it all the way
through (it's 8 pages long) at least twice in a practice session without any
problem. However, when I go to perform it, I can only get through the first
2/3 of it before air leaks out of my nose, causing me to lose all air
pressure behind the mouthpiece.<

Robyn -

Some people have trouble sealing off their sinuses. However, a physical
problem like that would be present all the time. You say you can play the
piece fine in the practice room, so the problem in performance has to be
something else.

What are you doing in performance that you aren't doing in the practice room?
-- Is your performance reed harder than the ones you practice on?
-- Do you practice sitting down and perform standing?
-- Are you holding the instrument at a different angle?
-- Do you feel more physical tension in performance? (Check the muscles
across the top of your shoulders.)
-- If you're lifting the back of your tongue higher than usual, that will
increase the pressure in your throat and tend to tire out the blocking-off
muscles that close off your nose. Have someone (preferably your teacher)
watch you in performance and see if your face gets redder than usual, which
will indicate higher air pressure.

Many cases of performance "nerves" are caused by increased muscular tension.
Very often, this tension starts from a specific spot or muscle and is "fed"
from there. Is there any place in your head or neck that feels tighter in
performance? Do you tighten the muscles on the sides of your neck? Lock
your jaw? Wrinkle your nose? Furrow your brow? Wiggle your ears?

Tension can arise anywhere. Do you hunch your shoulders when you perform?
Are you practically standing on one foot? (That's one of my problems.) Do
you curl your toes? Do you tighten your buttocks?

You may find yourself blowing harder in performance, to be heard over the
accompaniment or to be heard at the back of the hall. If so, some breathing
exercises will help. Start the breath as low in your abdomen as possible and
fill up from the bottom. You shouldn't consciously raise your chest. It
should rise by itself at the end of your inhale. Then relax and let the air
flow out by its own weight. Then take a little more mouthpiece, use a little
less embouchure pressure and let the instrument play itself. A reed 1/2
strength softer will help.

All this takes a while to learn and is as much a change in attitude as a
learned skill. It sounds like you may be trying to force the instrument to
do your will. It needs to be your partner.

Well, a little more than my 2 cents. Let's say 10 cents.

Best regards.

Ken Shaw

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