Clarinet, Clarinet Reeds, Recital Prep, Teaching

Tips For Better Performances

No one can take away our musicality. Reeds may fail. Technical slip-ups are common. We might trip. Distractions are everywhere! 

But musicality is internal. So focus on musicality. No one can mess with musicality. Pour over and study harmony. Practice shaping every phrase. Be concerned with beauty and artistry.


1) preparation – Be thorough and wise in preparation. Leave no stone unturned.

2) air leak – Just don’t.

3) excessive bell motion – Keep bell motion to a minimum. Too much leads to distortion in sound and pitch.

4) stage presence – Even if it’s an act, be confident. It helps us play with more conviction.

5) warm up onstage – Keep warmups soft and slow – not loud, fast, and high.

6) good rhythm – ‘Nuff said.

7) realistic self talk – Be accepting of performance and of self in the moment. Repeat TRUTHS. “I’m doing the best I can. My desire is to share music with the audience rather than playing perfectly. Excellence in artistry is my goal. I’m trusting in the work I have done and am letting go of the rest. I’m focused on excellence, not perfection. I’m focused on serving the music, not me.”

8) caffeine and sugar consumption – Limit stimulants, especially beginning three days prior to performance.

9) what we listen to while waiting to perform – Choose inspiring or calming music.

10) sleep/water consumption/healthy eating/exercise.


1) good reed prep – Have different types of reeds on hand that are well broken-in to allow for more options. Reeds must be worked daily.

2) technical playing – Prepare well by utilizing practice patterns, intelligent slow practice, and by recording often.

3) nervousness – Try the Box Breath for five minutes before practice every day. Repeat before performance. (But not while onstage-this might lead to passing out!) Studies show that accepting nerves, rather than fighting them, may also reduce anxiety. Reframe the word ‘nerves’ into the word ‘excitement’. Be sure to incorporate mock performances into any preparation.


1) reeds in the moment – Diligent students will have several reeds ready to go. But ultimately we must work with what we have – the show must go on.

2) what others think – Focus instead on excellence, artistry and process. Play for your audience, not critics.

Practice intelligently, perform often, and on the day of the audition, play with peace and joy!


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