This practice tip couldn’t be any simpler and I can’t stress enough how vitally important it is: If you simply improve your posture (the way you sit or stand while holding the guitar) all of your skills will dramatically improve. Read more >>
When you practice your instrument work on becoming aware of what your entire body is doing- not just your hands and arms. From time to time be sure to check in with your head, neck shoulders, lower back, even your legs and feet. Building proper posture takes time, so like everything else, take it slow and work on getting better one day at a time.
The goal is to make sure that you aren’t carrying around any unnecessary tension in your muscles. The neck and shoulders are notorious for this. Make sure your shoulders are in the relaxed, down position. Make sure your neck is long and balanced (not leaning over). Make sure your abs and back are lifting your ribcage up and away from your hips, keeping your lower spine straight.
If you play seated, check that the chair you are sitting on is one that allows you to sit up straight. It makes no sense to practice sitting cross-legged on a couch with a hunched spine. You would never perform this way. If you practice hunched over looking at sheet music laying flat on the chair next to you, try putting the music on a proper stand so you can refer to it comfortably.
Bad posture will negatively impact your practice in many ways. You will become tired more quickly. Physical discomfort will make more advanced fretboard fingerings seem more difficult than they really are. Even a mild tension in your back or shoulders will drain your ability to concentrate and you need every ounce of concentration to be the best musician you can be.
The bottom line:
If you are a beginner, make a special effort to check that the playing posture you are adopting is one that will be conducive to good technique further down the road. If you are an intermediate player and you haven’t really considered you posture, you need to check to make sure you haven’t picked up any bad habits regarding posture. If you are unsure of what constitutes the best playing posture, a good guitar instructor will definitely help you out. If you live in the Miami / Coral Gables area, come by the Gables Guitar Studio. We’ll set you straight!