Perfect Your Posture

Posture could be the easiest and quickest way to improve your playing, no matter the instrument. Posture and playing position are also the most common sources of discomfort among musicians and can lead to aches, pains, and even injuries. So, it’s important to perfect your posture.

The easiest way to check your playing posture is to practice in front of the mirror. Be on the look out for slouching or leaning towards one side. These habits are often so subtle that you may not even know you are doing it. Beyond looking in the mirror, ask a teacher or professional player to look at your playing position and posture and to point out any ways it can be improved.

Here are some quick posture tips:

Guitar—Avoid slouching and think of the instrument connecting with your body in five places: the chest, left thigh, right thigh, right forearm (for right-handed guitar), and left hand. The seat of your chair should fall in the middle of your knees and you should sit upright on the edge of the chair. If possible, you should elevate your left foot with a stool and rest the guitar on the elevated thigh or use an “A” frame attachment to elevate the guitar so you can keep both feet flat on the floor.

Piano—Sit with your back straight and upright. Leaning a little forward is fine, so long as your back remains straight. Your neck should be upright and try to move your eyes rather than bobbing your head around as you play. Feet should rest on the pedals, or with the tip of your food touching the front of the pedals, and legs should form a 90 to 120-degree angle. Elbows should not press into your sides, but should stay fixed above your hips. Arms and palms should be horizontal to the keys with fingers making a 45-degree angle to the palms. Try not to be stiff—the position should be relaxed and comfortable.

Wind instruments—Good posture, whether standing or sitting, is paramount to producing a good tone on a wind instrument. Slouching causes the lungs, diaphragm, and intercostal muscles to function poorly. Standing players should never lean to one side. Their backs should be straight, while trying not to tense chest and abdominal muscles, which reduces lung capacity. Seated players should sit towards the front of the seat with their spine upright and both feet flat on the floor. A seat wedge can be used to help keep the spine straight with an appropriate forward tilt on the hips.

Drums—Whether playing on a drum set or a single drum, improper positioning can lead to fatigue, inconsistent sound, poor timing, and even injury. A snare or pad should be belly button height and arms should form an “L” shape or 90-degree angle and sticks should be able to lie in a comfortable inverted V shape on the pad. If seated, your stool should be positioned so that your thighs slope slightly downward and knees make an angle of 90 to 110 degrees. The back should be straight and drummers should avoid leaning to one side. Although shoulders should be rolled back be sure they are not tense or unnaturally raised.

Think of singing as playing an instrument with your entire body, starting with the chin, which should be parallel to the floor. Your shoulders should be held back and down and your chest held high, with the weight of the body slightly forward. The abdomen should be flat and firm, in an expandable position and hands should be relaxed and still at the sides. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart with one foot slightly in front of the other and knees loose (not locked) to stay relaxed and balanced.

Interested in more music reading? Check out our friends at Musicians Unite!

Cherie Yurco is a former editor at Making Music and has worked as a freelance editor and writer for over 20 years.

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