ClarinetFest® 2023 in Review
ClarinetFest® 2023 Day 3
Wellness Class – Sulliman Stability Training for Clarinetists
By Kelsey Paquin
Dr. Meghan Merciers, Interim Assistant Dean for the School of the Arts at University of North Alabama, presented a workshop on Sulliman Stability Training as part of the International Clarinet Association’s Health and Wellness initiative. Dr. Merciers is a Certified Arts Educator (Instrumental Music) through the Performing Arts Medicine Association and the American College of Sports Medicine.
Dr. Merciers worked closely with Dr. Jason Sulliman, kinesiologist and Associate Professor of Music (Trombone) at Troy University, to present his Stability Training method for clarinetists. On his website, Dr. Sulliman describes the program as a “highly specific and individualized exercise regimen for serious wind players that focuses on neuromuscular and musculoskeletal control of the facial muscles that form and maintain the embouchure.” Dr. Merciers began by discussing her experience with facial instability resulting in an air leak after having her wisdom teeth removed. She then spoke about the different muscles that are used to play the clarinet, reaching further than those typically discussed in traditional pedagogy.
Dr. Merciers then discussed the process of working through the program. Dr. Sulliman prescribes specific exercises each day that address distinct muscles in the embouchure, providing a tailored approach to gaining strength and control of specific embouchure-related muscles of the face. With each session, she notes inconsistencies in sound production and muscle control. This information is sent to Dr. Sulliman via email; he maintains detailed records, allowing him to adjust the bespoke course.
Dr. Merciers guided the audience through a series of example exercises. The first exercise explored free buzzing, a practice common to all brass players. Each of the following exercises added resistance, first using only the mouthpiece, then the mouthpiece and barrel, and finally the entire clarinet. Along the way, she asked the audience for their observations, encouraging them to reflect on any inconsistencies.
The presentation was informative and engaging, and left the audience intrigued and enthusiastic.
Further information on Sulliman Stability Training can be found at https://www.jasonsulliman.