Posture is something that can easily cause problems without you even noticing. Very often, and particularly for some of the tuition I have received, posture isn’t always something that is concentrated on and given the correct focus right from the very beginning.
Poor posture when sitting down in an ensemble can lead to breathing problems, difficulty with variation in dynamics (particularly extremely soft and extremely loud), projection of sound and also cause injury. Also, if everybody in the ensemble is sat properly it can make the group look so much more professional!
Very often, when standing up, posture is better. Without delving into Alexander Technique (a very specialist field which teaches you about how your body moves, works and operates and how you can achieve equilibrium in balance), there are a few things that will prove to be exceptionally useful when you are playing.
- When standing up or sitting down it is really important to make sure that you are able to breathe fully. Always remember that a good tone and quality of sound will come from good breath support and control.
- Imagine you are falling upwards. Try to imagine that somebody is pulling you up by a string from the top of your head and allow your spine to extend.
- Sit forward on your chair making sure that your back is not touching the back of the chair.
- Make sure your feet are flat on the floor. (If you always feel the need to tap your foot, the best thing to get into the habit of doing is to tap your toe inside your shoe rather than having your foot moving up and down!)
- Always avoid crossing your legs as this stops the diaphragm working properly, crossing your legs at the ankles or wrapping your feet around the legs of the chair. It can create a great deal of instability and if the chair tips forward there will be nothing to stop you falling flat onto your face.
- Allow you elbows to move out so that you are not restricting the movement of your rib cage. (The rib cage will expand outwards as you breathe in)
- Hold the instrument up and try to keep the head in a position where you are not squashing or compressing your neck. Make sure that you adjust the music stand so that you can see the conductor, the music and can sit comfortably. Usually it will need to be a little higher than you think, but not so high that you completely obscure yourself from any audience or other band members!
- Make sure you sit down first, set up the stand and then put the instrument to you. Always make sure that you bring the instrument to your good posture rather than adjusting your posture to fit the instrument that you play.
Your posture should allow you to make a good contact between your embouchure and brass instrument, as well as breathing freely and in an unhindered way.