"We are conditioned to think that making music is a license for using our bodies in strange and uncomfortable ways, and for holding these posture for hours, days, and years on end. We don't like to question or change our habits, for fear of losing our artistic powers. But these strenuous postures do not serve the best interests of either ourselves or the music. Good posture allows the limbs and breathing muscles to be free and flexible. . .
In an effort to sit or stand up straight, some musicians go to an extreme and arch their backs, throwing their shoulders back. This posture over-tightens the lower back, making it an ineffective source of support and putting constant strain on a few muscles.
In a more natural spinal alignment, the muscles in the torso don't have to work hard. The bones, together with the connective tissue, take on the load of the body and support you against the force of gravity."
~The Art of Practicing by Madeline Bruser
As a teacher and performer I never want to stop learning. Reading great books on practicing and other areas of music has been very rewarding and enjoyable. I figure if I study Science, Math, Literature, History, and even how to fix things, then why not learn for teachers and professionals in my field? You know what I mean?
I think I know some things about posture and its importance, but Bruser has definitely helped. I want the best posture possible because that is how the body is empowered to perform well, but as Bruser points out we need to be careful that we are not counterproductive. This is a point on which the Suzuki method agrees, since the emphasis is on learning things well in small steps so that they become effortless.
As you work on your posture, make sure your body is comfortable and that tension is released whenever you feel it. One way to work on posture plus comfort in the body is to stop playing for a few seconds when you feel too much tension somewhere. Stretch the tense area and massage it, then play that part of the piece again. Another way to practice staying relaxed is to play something you know well with your eyes closed. As you are singing or playing the piece, start noticing your head, relax it, then go down to your neck, relax your neck. Keep going down the body relaxing each part so that your whole body is tense-free. It takes time and concentration, but the pay-off is great!
What have you been learning about posture? What has helped you to keep a good posture and stay relaxed?