3.8 Clarinet and Oboe Ergonomics

Clarinet and Oboe

For reed instruments, the quality of the reed itself is highly significant in terms of the strain placed on lip muscles and other muscles in the cheeks and back, as well as the muscles of the rest of the body. A reed that demands a great deal of pressure can, as such, generate an increase in muscle tension throughout the body.

If the right thumb is weighed down on its outer edge, then it may be advisable to adjust the thumb rest, so that more of the weight can be taken by the hand, thus causing less strain on the muscles.

Another option is to relieve strain with a broad, non-restrictive strap around the neck.

The angle between the body and the instrument can affect the position of the neck, with one extreme being if the instrument is played with the head pressed forwards, and the other when the head is angled somewhat downwards.

Bass clarinet

Regarding the bass clarinet, it is important for the neck of the instrument to be adapted to the player’s own torso and neck dimensions.

The left hand should move flexibly around the various keys. The optimal placement of the thumb of the right hand is under the thumb rest in order to avoid overstraining, i.e. take the weight as far in on the thumb as possible. It is also good for the right hand to be able to use a support on the floor or around the neck.