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How to Play the Guitar with Good Posture

July, 2018

Maintaining healthy posture during the activities you are passionate about is SO important. Good form will allow your body to partake in your favorite activities pain-free now and into the future. It often gives the additional benefit of performing better (because of a steadier hand, improved blood flow,...or just increased comfort and relaxation). We've seen a lot of musicians have to stop playing their instrument due to pain, and able to return to playing after learning the Gokhale Method.

A few months ago, I noticed that Nolan was playing guitar with a tucked pelvis and neck forward and I snapped this photo:


Forward head position puts strain on the neck muscles and threatens the cervical discs, ligaments, and nerves.

 

He asked how to play with good posture, so I put him in a stacksitting position and had him hold the guitar so it was slightly tilted towards him. He was able to keep his J-spine and have his neck in a much better alignment:


Sitting well and keeping the neck in good alignment makes playing for long periods of time more comfortable.

 

Esther’s note:

I like how Nolan and Monisha recognize the value of posture improvements without getting overly preoccupied with perfection. Incremental improvements is the best way to make bigger improvements anyway — insisting on perfection overnight comes with its own set of problems. Go, younger generation!!

There’s been a lot of nice music around our home lately. Here is a bonus photo of Nolan singing along to guitar played by a Foundations Course alumnus at our recent South Bay alumni potluck!

 

Here’s one more, in which Nolan is sporting a nice J-spine by using a pillow as a sitting wedge:

 

Nolan’s brothers Bryce and Conner have come to join my household for the summer, while also interning with our company. The Walsh brothers love to play music together as can be seen in the short clips below. We in the family and in the company are excited about the musical evenings and events ahead of us this summer! We’ll also be working on each other’s posture.

 

 

Do you play music? Have you found comfortable and healthy ways to play your instrument?

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Comments

It looks like they are using some kind of stand on their leg to prop up the guitar.  If so, where can you find one?

Yes, would be interested in finding out what the cradle is for the leg.

 

Is this what they are using?  http://www.riverpointdesign.com/afgs/

Hi, the support in the pictures is called the A-frame. I've used that for years. The downside is it uses suction cups which can get a bit dirty and need to be cleaned with rubbing alcohol from time to time. But the suction cups aren't that strong and they can come off at some inopportune times, like in the middle of a piece of music! Currently I am using the Sagework Umbra which uses magnets and there's no chance of it coming off since the magnets are so strong. Here's a great comparison of all the guitar supports available: https://www.stringsbymail.com/pages/best-guitar-support-guide-44.html   Using a guitar support is critical to maintaining a stacked spine while playing and sitting. It takes some getting used to but your spine will thank you later for it.

Another option for the classical guitarist is the traditional adjustable footstool. It means that the left foot is higher than the right, but I haven't found that it causes me any back discomfort.

On pages 15-16 of Sharon Isbin's Classical Guitar Answer Book, she discusses the pros and cons of the footstool and the guitar support. Her conclusion is that the guitar is more firmly positioned with less effort using a footstool. However, many good players now use guitar supports, so the choice may depend partly on the individual.

For ideal positioning among classical guitarists, teachers here have recommended I look at Xueifei Yang --- you can find videos on YouTube. The jazz player Joe Pass has excellent position standing using a strap, though there's the risk of stress on your neck or shoulder.

Tha guitar also makes a difference. I have to limit the time I spend playing a large dreadnought, such as is seen in the pictures above, because my right shoulder begins to hurt.