Kinesiology of the Clarinet

Kinesiology as it relates to the clarinet involves every aspect of practice and performance. By definition kinesiology is the science dealing with the interrelationship of the physiological processes and anatomy of the human body with respect to movement. Movement of the fingers in relation to the fingers and the key’s on the clarinet involves constant attention to the height of the fingers in relation to the keys and the flexibility needed to make the connections with a sense of interconnectedness. Legato and Sostenuto fingerings become perhaps the most difficult part of playing the clarinet with the open holes and the keyed notes.
Finger flexibility is important, especially in dealing with the left thumb and it’s relation to the register key and the thumb f, what I consider the backbone of the clarinet itself. The throat tones are in this range as are the 12th leaps which with lack of control in this particular spot, can lead to total chaos and reek havoc on the clarinetist.
Technical exercises for this very delicate movement involve getting used to leaps themselves and a constant visual on what the fingers are actually doing. Positioning the fingers with an imaginary straight line down the horn, is the first way I begin my practice sessions, keeping an eye on the raising and lowering of the fingers in a very economical way. If the fingers get the least bit out of position, there is confusion between the thinking mind and the feeling fingers that leads to sloppy fingers and wildly flippant scales and arpeggios.
As I mentioned before, the left thumb sits as a key fulcrum point on the instrument itself and the manipulation of that digit can make or break the clarinetist. Talk about frustrations, well there are ways to deal with this without getting frustrated.
Step one for me is to take the horn out of my mouth and finger the notes, paying particular visual attention to the knuckle joint of the thumb and how it is moving and is it hitting the appropriate area each time I move it. The use of the knuckle is very important at this point. Make sure it is bending and not stiff. Stiffness of this one knuckle can lead to the thumb itself having to pull too far away from the horn and lead to squeaks and squawks and also pulls the other fingers out of position on the front of the instrument, hence, instant befuddled fingers and mind.
Constant analyzation is essential to any artistry.
Back to the practice room now and the Russianoff Clarinet Method, Volume 1 and more finger stability work.
Mr. Marcellus and Dr. Jim Gholson really pushed accuracy in fingers. Jim taught various rhythms and muscle memory with attention to where the fingers were lifting and landing. The arch of the hands coming to the keys was developed at this stage. When Marcellus put the finishing touches on me, as he called it, he went back to Baermann 3, the scales and all the various intricacies associated with learning them correctly. That is what I go to today to rein in the inaccuracy of the finger motions and redevelop a firm foundation on which to build on again.

About ukitena

“My purpose is to empower students and avid artistic connoisseurs to think for themselves. I will empower students and avid artistic connoisseurs to think for themselves through my performing, teaching, speaking and jovial actions. I will empower creativity in daily life and living and give the artistic connoisseur the feeling it is ok to be creative and push boundaries in their lives and way of living.”


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  2. Pingback: Kinesiology of the Clarinet | JKROQ

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