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Straight Talk, from New York City Guitar School

December 5, 2013 - Music and Health

Hey Joe Guitar Good posture Position at instrument

NYC guitar school teachers will give you a heads-up on sitting pretty

Remember when your mom used to tell you to sit straight? We hope you listened to her because good posture – the body’s alignment in relation to the force of gravity – is very important.

Maybe you’ve never thought about it, but gravity overstresses your muscles, joints, and ligaments. If you constantly slouch or stoop, chances are you’ll end up with chronic aches and pains. But correct posture will distribute the force of gravity evenly throughout your body, preventing soreness and other discomfort.

You might be wondering why in the world we are talking about posture in a music blog. Just sit straight and read on!

Yes, mother knows best!

Whatever instrument you play, regardless of whether it’s small and light like the harmonica or big like the upright bass, certain muscles of your body will be working overtime because of the repetitive motion required for playing.

Repetitive stress injuries like tendonitis, bursitis, as well as back, neck and shoulder pain could strike a musician just as they sometimes happen to athletes. But yes, you can prepare your body to resist these pesky and painful inconveniences.

We don’t mean to sound like your mother, but this merits repeating: correct body posture and movement – called “body mechanics” – while holding your instrument is very important for any musician. It will not only prevent physical discomfort but a poor performance as well!

Fit as a fiddle

If you play your instrument sitting down, remember to sit with a tall, straight back near the front of the chair, with your feet flat on the floor – your center of gravity should be on your feet and “sit bones,” rather than on your back or neck.

What if you play standing up? Your body must be balanced, with the weight evenly distributed between the two feet, which should be placed in a V position, not too close or too far apart.

And, it goes without saying that you should stand tall and not slouch, stoop or bend, so you can hold and position your instrument properly.

Whip yourself into shape

Clearly, we can’t teach you all about proper posture and weight distribution right here and now (but our Manhattan music lessons instructors who come to your home or office, will!)

Just to give you some practical ideas, these tips will help you “ache-proof” your body so you can handle your instrument like a pro:

Stretch before playing. These exercises will help you become more flexible and “fluid.” Strengthen your wrists, hands and arms, since they are essential “tools” while you play. Simple exercises like squeezing a tennis ball or lifting a dumbbell will be useful. Building up the core strength of your diaphragm trunk muscles is very important, especially if you play a woodwind or brass instrument.

These are just several of many exercises that will, if practiced regularly, improve your posture – in music and in life.

But even the best exercises will not prevent soreness if you don’t know how to hold your instrument correctly, so ask your Manhattan music lessons teacher to show you. He or she will be happy to come to your NYC home (Brooklyn and Riverdale in the Bronx included) and …set you straight!

Photo by Enrique Pellejer
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