Addressing Posture Problems
When I observe orchestra programs in schools, poor posture ranks as one of
the biggest problems I see in students. If posture is poor, the student
will usually have problems with the rest of their technique. How can we
convince students to play with proper posture?
In the beginning months, I think it is very important for teachers, students,
and parents to focus on playing a musical instrument as primarily a physical
skill (like swinging a baseball bat, only much more complex), and make the
secondary focus the "sound" aspects of playing an instrument. Too
often, beginning students (and their parents) want the instant gratification
of learning a song. They pay no attention to the important information the
teacher provides to them regarding technique, concerned only with "how
do I play this song?" Once proper technique is established, the learning
of songs will progress much more rapidly, and will sound better! If we could
approach the learning of an instrument as an athletic endeavor rather than
as a "creative" endeavor, perhaps we can get beginning students and
their parents to buy in to the idea that playing an instrument has a lot in
common with learning other physical skills, like riding a bike or throwing
a ball. Professional sports are highly valued in American culture. I often
compare the playing of a musical instrument to playing a sport. We discuss
throwing a football, hitting a baseball or tennis ball, kicking a soccer ball.
Fundamental to all of these activities is a lengthened and balanced posture.
I think it is safe to say that playing a stringed instrument is at least as
complicated, if not more so, than throwing or kicking or hitting a ball. No
athlete would ever expect to hit a home run with their legs crossed while slouching,
so how could someone ever expect to play a complicated piece of music on an
instrument with poor posture?