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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fundamentals Start With Natural Posture

The fundamentals of playing well begin with the best natural posture possible. Posture is the way in which the body is held for a particular activity. Good posture is crucial to other areas in addition to the playing of a musical instrument. If you were to enter "posture" as a Google search term, you will immediately see that there are many links that promise to explain how good posture will improve your general health. I believe that good posture also affects our mental and emotional state as well. Let me explain why.

For the moment, sit in a chair and close your eyes. Imagine what it feels like to be incredibly sad. Notice how your body responds to this thought. I'm guessing that you lowered your head forward, your face muscles loosened and slid forward, your torso sagged into itself and forward, your shoulders slumped and drooped forward, and you felt your upper body take on additional heavy weight. This is how sad, depressed, and unconfident people generally carry themselves, and probably a reason why they feel so heavy and burdened.

Now try the flip side. Instead of feeling sad, imagine that your are the happiest you have ever been. Notice how your eyes "brightened," your facial cheeks lifted upwards, your shoulders pulled up and back, your torso lifted up out of the rib cage, and you sat up straighter. You feel so much lighter. While you are in this position, notice if there are areas that could be better balanced and centered. Is your heavy head resting perfectly balanced on the spinal column? Are your shoulders really up and back? Is your torso lifted out of the rib cage? Are your hips tilted in a way that spills your guts forward, or are they tilted upward a little to keep your energy level contained and comfortable? These are all important considerations.

I am a huge fan of Cesar Milan and his "Dog Whisperer" show on the National Geographic Channel (showing on Friday nights). As a teacher I have found Cesar's observations regarding posture and the use of energy to be particularly helpful. As teachers we are more than just the person who teaches the student how to play the violin. I believe that teachers have a higher obligation to help the student to discover themselves and learn the best way to improve and teach themselves, for ultimately the final goal is to teach the student to be his or her own teacher.

I will spend the next week or so discussing posture, and I look forward to hearing from my readers about posture issues, problems, suggestions, and insights. There are several of you who have experienced specialized workshops related to posture. Please share your insights.

4 comments:

  1. I liken the violin to running-or vice versa-open your chest, breathe in...this helps with posture as well as breathing.

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  2. To Sparkle Anne: chest up, hips forward, you are so right!

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  3. My physical therapist tells me :

    1. "Bow up" By bow she is referring to my chest as if it were the bow of a ship.

    2. "Shoulder blades in your back shirt pockets". She tells me to imagine I have shirt pockets sewn to the back of my shirt, and to imagine tucking my shoulder blades into them.

    2. And "French Riviera". She has me imagine I'm in a bikini (a difficult mental image, I must say) standing on the French Riviera.

    These posture suggestions were to help alleviate tension in my neck. My my physical therapist didn't realize was that it would deepen my tone. Somehow the shoulder blade/pocket image has really helped.

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  4. I have a tough time picturing myself on the Lido as well. I like your 3 suggestions very much!

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