Posture ?

Posture ?

A recent post by Newty has got me thinking. This may not apply to other instruments but sure does to my banjo playing. Do any fellow banjoists feel the need at sessions to sit on an appropriately sized stool/chair ? I certainly do to feel comfortable and perform at my best.

Is this a psychological or physical thing ? If this has been discussed before I apologise. Banjo threads seem to irritate some folks. πŸ™‚

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Posture applies to all instruments without exception, including singing. Get the posture wrong and sooner or later you’re going to get physical problems, which can spill over into the psychological.

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Really? I saw some of best flute or whistle players play in very awkward postures. They are lovely people with a distinct sense of humour.

Jody Moran, a great banjo player and lilter/singer from West Yorkshire, has a great posture and a very relaxed style of playing. He always sit still with his back straight and does’t move any part of his body except his fingers while playing banjo. I’ve met many people who know him in several parts of Ireland and England, and they always talk about his posture. Now that he teaches in Milltown, some of you must know him.

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I can relate to that strath. At a sesh on Thursday I was imediately reminded of the uncomfortable wooden chairs we have to sit on every time we go to that pub. To get technical, the seat slopes slightly forward which means that my legs do too. This in turn makes the banjo feel like its constantly falling away from me and never relaxed. The height of my sofa at home seems to push the banjo snuggly into my body and there it stays. Any other chair elsewhere allways feels not quite right which does affect your concentration sometimes.

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Having problems with my lower back anyway, I’m very careful about how and where I sit. I always use the banjo shoulder strap for comfort and balance. A hard, standard height, armless chair is essential; with a a cushion for my decrepid old posterior, if available.
So, yes, it’s physical; but if I feel comfortable, I’m psychologically fit to play!

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Glad to hear it’s just not me !

Oldstrings:I’ve never tried a strap before, you reckon it’s a help ?

I’ve just bought a portable/carry in seat for sessions that match the one at home. You’ll see me coming ! πŸ™‚

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A few years ago at a music camp, I sang a song accompanying myself on guitar. Afterwards, the camp nurse waylaid me and said I was bending over too much (I was standing up as I played). I realized that this not only would affect my back — although it’s not like I do a lot of performing — but my singing, so I’ve tried to be more conscientious about my posture since then.

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I always need to have my feet in contact with the ground - I think that’s where I get my music from. I find it very hard to play sitting on a high stool - I’d rather stand. But I also find it hard to play if I am sitting too low, with my legs at an acute angle to my body. Sitting on the ground, forget it - I don’t know how Ravi Shankar does it.

Posture was never my strong point. No matter how many times I try to sit up straight, I always end up hunched over my mandolin with my nose in the soundhole. If I’m playing guitar, I hug it and rest my head on the side. I am relatively new to the fiddle (about 2 years) and still haven’t mastered holding it properly - something I should have done before I even put bow to string. I am starting to get twinges in my neck, so I should really get it sorted now.

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Sorry, forgot to mention - I am not Murfbox, I am Spoon.

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??? Murfbox - Spoon ???

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Both John Carty and Gerry O’Connor are admant that a player have good posture. To that list you can add mandolinists Roland White and Carlos Aonzo. The reasons include consistency of tone and pick angle (the neck should be at aprox 45 degrees to the ground), security, and safety.

A banjo can weigh in at up to 15 lb (around 7 Kg.) or even more. This means that it might slide off of your lap if you are leaning forward or that you will regret it later if you play standing up. Several of the well known banjo players that I have interviewed recommend using a strap whenever you play to both distrubute the weight and to maintain the same relationship of your body to the banjo.

If you vary the angle of the neck, you are varying the attack of the pick and the pick angle. This leads not only to poor tone, but also to inconsistent technique. As a result you will not be able to play the quick ornamentations that you worked so hard to master.

If you look at the instructions give by teachers for most other instruments, you will see an emphasis on posture. There are a variety of reasons for this, breath control, bow arm control, pick control, but they all have the "control" aspect in common. The old banjo texts from the ’20s and ’30s all talk about proper posture for the same reasons that they talk about right and left hand technique, it promotes efficiency and consistency, the hallmarks of a good technique.

Good posture can help promote other things such as self-esteem and health, but those are secondary reasons. More on my take on this subject at http://www.banjosessions.com/aug05/righthand.html

Of course you can play an instrument and look like Quasimodo in the process, but you will probably be better off with better posture.

Mike Keyes
http/www.banjosessions.com

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I have a four legged stool that I had made for my son somewhere maybe about 25 years ago when he was learning Suzuki violin. Its just the right height for using at the computer and for playing fiddle. Nothing to interfere with the bow arm. Although sometimes I sit on the padded arm of the sofa, at about the same height (the sofa is too low and awkward for playing in comfort).

Also play fiddle standing up, but found at certain places in the tune (depending on the tune, I think where I want to accentuate it), there is this tendency to go prancing off round the house. My kitchen/lounge is open plan, and the prancing unconsciously becomes part of the tune, which isn’t good. Stop tapping the beat and start dancing. Weird! This very well could contribute to ingrounded fluctuations in timing I am working at trying to get rid of by playing with op’s MP3’s, CD’s and beat tracks on Audacity. Mak’in my own session/ accompaniment.

Is it posture? Yep! Twinges only come from too much computer typing, and, I found to my cost last week, from folding and labelling 400+ newsletters, toting rocks and bricks to landscape the garden, and pulling out star pickets.

Tug-o-war is a recent annual avoidance.

What’s the goss on Murfbox and Spoon?

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Strathfoyle, Mike Keyes has probably said it all, but my feeling is if I have the strap (and the best is just good enough) adjusted properly, then the weight and balance will always be the same, and all I have to do then is sit (or stand) comfortably.

So Spoon is getting it on with Murfbox. It’s none of our business.

sts - I would do anything to get waylaid by the camp nurse. Any advice?

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Just to add to the irritant factor: as a piano accordion player I feel like Goldilocks when I turn up at gigs - the first chair is to big, and the next on is too small…

My low tech solution to this is to take a thick woolen blanket to gigs and just fold it to whatever thickness makes the chair the right height.

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Thanks oldstrings and Mike Keyes for all the sound advice.

Offtrack OS : I was in Nanaimo four years ago.Never got a tune unfortunately. You got many sessions going on ?

Good luck and many thanks again !

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Stand easy, folks - No panic !
Spoon is staying with me for a few days and using my computer.
Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible πŸ™‚

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Good posture for most things, including playing musical instruments, imho boils down to standing/sitting up straight, head up, and avoid twisting or bending the torso unnecessarily, and relaxation of course.

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>sts - I would do anything to get waylaid by the camp nurse. Any advice?

I’ll have you know it was all very professional. And purely clinical.

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Who is this camp nurse ? Never met her yet!

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How do you know the camp nurse was a "her" ? πŸ˜‰

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I’m not sure if this thread has degenerated into an old vaudeville routine or a facsimile of a night down the pub. But it’s definitely degenerated.
To which I say, Viva la degeneracion!

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