Playing a musical instrument sometimes requires unnatural positioning of our bodies to play well. But, to the extent we can, musicians should try to keep their fingers, arms, jaws, and torsos in neutral positions when practicing, rehearsing, and performing.

In a neutral position, your joints won’t be hyper-extended.  You’ll be able to use just the minimum amount of muscle pressure needed to manipulate your instrument.

When playing music, make your motions feel as natural as possible.  Think about how you move your body when you’re not playing your instrument and compare that to what you do while playing.

For instance, if you were picking up a pencil, would you tilt your head to the side, clamp your jaw, or raise your shoulder?  Going through these extra motions when performing is unnecessary–and can cause physical problems over time, especially if you’re not aware of them.

If you carefully watch the contortions, motions, and facial expressions of musicians, it’s actually pretty comical:

guitarist_left_hand

 pianist_handsoboist_faceviolinist_arm

 

 

Try to picture each of these musicians putting themselves into these positions without being connected to an instrument.  It’s unnatural!

Plus, these positions can be dangerous.  If you’re not careful, you could injure yourself.  At the very least, muscle memory can set in, making these tension-filled positions habitual.  The trick is to figure out how to play well with the absolute minimum of tension throughout your body.

This is an area that takes constant vigilance.  Always monitor yourself, carefully looking for areas of stress in your body.  You may not feel you’re doing anything damaging to your body while you play.  However, the effect over time can be profound.

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