GREAT POSTURE RULES: Don’t Lean Over Too Much!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that many students (and pros!) lean over too much when playing the clarinet (or saxophone!). Of course, it is very true that each person has their own unique way of relating to the clarinet based on their own particular body shape, embouchure, etc. Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that leaning over too much while performing can, at least somewhat, hinder good technique and music making generally.

So, I make a point in the my clarinet teaching to be sure that my students don’t lean over too much. I say to them, “Have the clarinet come to you – don’t go to the clarinet.” This is often said  in the very first lesson, whether beginner, high school, college, or professional looking for a few pointers. It almost always helps to fix problems: embouchure, breathing, head position, hand/arm position, etc. (Click HERE to see a video where I work on this with a student in a master class at Florida State University.)

Watch for an upcoming post on the related issue of “head position/weight,” as it will be an extension of this topic.

ClarinetMike says, “Great posture on the clarinet totally rules! Don’t lean over too much and have the clarinet come to you!”

NOTE: The above photo is attributed to Saffron Blaze, via and is found at Wikimedia Commons HERE.

NOTE: The above is a slight revision of previous post.

About ClarinetMike

American clarinetist MICHAEL DEAN performs and teaches internationally and across the USA to consistent praise such as "world-class clarinetist and pedagogue," "consummate performer," "inspirational," "outstanding teacher," "super," "brilliant performer," and "one of the best clinicians I have ever seen." His career is headlined by appearances at Carnegie Hall, ClarinetFest, NACWPI, Eastman School of Music, and Royal Northern College of Music with recent recitals and master classes in Canada, Italy, Spain, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, and Texas. In July, he will again return to Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at the international Orfeo Music Festival 2019. He is featured on 5 commercial CD's and on New Media, such as YouTube. He is currently preparing another new clarinet CD, Postcards from Silver Lake. Dr. Dean has given more than 500 clinics, master classes and performances at high schools, universities, conferences and other venues. For 11 years he was a clarinetist with the Paducah Symphony and he's also performed with the Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35. His articles appear in journals such as Southwestern Musician, WINDPLAYER, NACWPI Journal and The Bandmasters' Review. As "ClarinetMike," he writes for his widely-viewed ClarinetMike Blog, the Internet’s #1 clarinet blog read in 150 countries on 6 continents: After a successful 25 years of teaching clarinet at the university level, he relocated to his native Texas due to family concerns. He is a past president and former National Board officer of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI). Dr. Michael Dean studied clarinet performance at Texas Tech University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Texas at Austin and University of Texas at Arlington. His teachers include Robert Walzel, Phil Aaholm, Carol Jessup, Jess Youngblood, and Bob Ackerman. His web page,, features video of his teaching and performing as well as information on his CD's and other publications. He is a BG France Performing Artist.
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14 Responses to GREAT POSTURE RULES: Don’t Lean Over Too Much!

  1. gentrymusic says:


    Can you talk about double-lip posture at some point? The relationship between horn to knees and neck position. My chiropractor and I are best friends at this point. :/

    • ClarinetMike says:

      HI. Great to hear from you. I don’t use double lip embouchure. Do you use a neck strap?

      • gentrymusic says:

        If I am playing something slow and lyrical, I use a neck strap. However, most of my playing is done with the bell resting between my knees. I have a long torso and have to hunch slightly to reach my knees.

        I will keep experimenting, but I was just curious if you knew anything about it. Thanks!

  2. Jim Armstrong says:

    Hi Mike,
    I’m an old timer and not that great a player, but I enjoy playing very much! I was just wondering, is it me or does it seem that clarinet players of today seem to swing the instrument all over while playing? It’s like they are leading a band. Drives me crazy…can’t watch them no matter how well they play. Just my thoughts.

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