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 Way too tense
Author: Penny 
Date:   1999-07-14 20:58

I've tried so many different things to try and relax while I play, but nothing seems to help at all. While I was at camp I would get so tense that my muscles ached. The biggest problem is my wrist. After 10 or 20 minutes of rehearsal it hurts to play. I've got a lot to deal with and that load will only get bigger so I definitely need to find some way to relax. I don't want to injure myself because of this. If anyone has any advice it will be greatly appreciate. Oh yeah and I'm curious if anyone has gone or is going to Ban Leadership Training Camp by Vivace Productions. Thanks a million.

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 RE: Way too tense
Author: STuart 
Date:   1999-07-14 23:36

The 2 books that help me chill were The Inner Game of Tennis and Free Play. Oh yeah also the Tao de Ching. Some people try meditating too.

Have you ever sat around and caualy relaxed with your instrument? I had to learn that this year. I share a room with a guitarist and all he does is sit around with it, playing and talking at the same time. People say Pablo Casals was always warmed up and felt totaly natural with his instument.

Maybe you could try playing to relax. It's easy to get caught up with "practicing" and forget why your in it in the first place.

and well....there's always stretching exercises, too.

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 RE: Way too tense
Author: Greg 
Date:   1999-07-14 23:49

If it's your right wrist bothering you, it might be partly due to supporting the instrument. You might try a neckstrap which they make for clarinets these days. If you're tense from gripping the instrument too firmly, you'll have to make conscious effort to stop, much as I did when I my dentist told me I had to stop grinding my teeth.
Good Luck

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 RE: Way too tense
Author: Kimberly 
Date:   1999-07-15 03:05

I like Stuart's ideas. I also sometimes warm-up, practice passages, or just play anything laying flat on my back. This helps with other problems too. It helps with breathing, hand relaxation, body relaxation, posture, etc. Try it some time. Also if your wrists are having fatigue, you need to learn some warm-up exercises for them, or in the long run you will have lots of trouble.

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 RE: Way too tense
Author: Omar 
Date:   1999-07-15 11:57

Here are two scenarios you might be familiar with. You're practising for a recital or exam, daily. You make progress but it's slow and hard won.
2) You're out of practice and pick up the clarinet for fun. You play better, for that one instance, than you did when you were struggling to learn a piece. This happens to me, and the only thing I can put it down to is a mental freeness. Like Stuart I think - for me - it's to do with remembering why I play anyway. Secondly, yoga stretches sometimes help me - Surya namaste is good for loosening up. Finally, my problems usually start with an apprehension about a difficult passage - this makes my breathing speed up and get short - this affects a whole chain of events that lead back to tension. The way I break the cycle is to calmly and slowly repeat the passage until I get it right. But you probably know all that.

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 RE: Way too tense
Author: Katherine Pincock 
Date:   1999-07-15 18:39

Good suggestions from everybody, but I think I can add something, because I have the same problems. You should check whether or not it's actually your wrist and arm that's the problem. My problems all relate to my shoulder, neck, and finally down to two muscles on my sides. The tough part is getting the source of the problem, but once you've got that, the rest seems to unlock quite nicely. You might want to try massage therapy--it made a really big difference for me, and if a doctor prescribes it, health plans will often cover it. Hope this helps!

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 RE: Way too tense
Author: paul 
Date:   1999-07-15 19:29

It's amazing how well a good massage feels, for about 2 hours afterwards. Then, it hurts for about 6 hours. So, be careful with deep massages. Also, the idea of relaxation drills and a neck strap together to relieve the stress off your hand/wrist/arm will go a long way. Some folks play their soprano clarinets supported on their knees while seated. It's a good temporary trick to help relieve muscle stress, especially in the right hand. Work up difficult passages slowly up to full speed, one measure at a time. Last, take time to take a break, especially with intense practice. You are working tired muscles very hard, so give them and give yourself a break.

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 RE: Way too tense
Author: Daniel 
Date:   1999-07-16 04:31

My flute teacher is very big on the relaxation and breathing techniques. There's lots of stuff she's taught me and most of it too complex to explain over the computer... but it's helped me relax and rethin my posture and position. Make sure you keep your sholders relaxed. A neckstrap helps. Keep your shoulder blades back. That seems to correct my hand position some (i have fairly long arms). When you inhale, fill your whole chest... not just filling your stomach. She basically says that if you fill your stomach instead of your chest, then the air has to travel that much farther and endurance is cut back. It's okay to push up with your diaphram, but you want your chest to xpand up raising your sternum, instead of out like a balloon. You need to let the air just flow out instead of pushing it out. If you're having to push, you're tensing up. And tensing up causes lots of problems... obviously...
wish there was a better way to convey all this.. heh..
She also has me use the Breath Builder. Very effective in many areas...

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 RE: Way too tense
Author: Frank 
Date:   1999-07-17 05:58

I find myself getting tense from time to time. I keep checking my body posture, switch the pressure [mentally] from one hand or arm to the other, play moving around the room, resting the clarinet on something when seated, etc. In short, I keep aware enough to know when I am beginning to tense up. It is possible you are developing some small habits which add to the tension. See if you are and adjust accordingly.

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