I spend a fair portion of lesson time with young students reminding them to sit tall. We actually go through a set of specific checks to make sure they’re in good “musician position.” About 30 seconds later they’ve usually lost it; the signal to get them realigned is me saying “ding.”
They used to make us practice posture in school. In 3rd grade, if we finished assignments, we could get up and walk at the back of the room with a book on our head. We had competitions to see who could walk the longest without using our hands to keep the book from falling. Recently, I resurrected that exercise for students struggling with slumpy posture, and then had them play exercises on the piano while still balancing the book. I couldn’t believe the smiles – and the results!
Technology seems to be converting us all into hunchbacks. People in offices are slumped over computers, kids are slumped over iPads, when I walk through campus kids are slumped over their smartphones. Good posture is as important for good health and good first impressions as it is for piano technique. It strengthens core muscles, protects our backs, necks, hips and knees from problems and allows us to breathe deeply and get energized. In short, it feels better!
Even if students don’t end up at Carnegie Hall, if (in the years to come) they develop good posture and avoid health difficulties caused by poor posture, it will make all of those Dings worthwhile!