I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
Evangelos Skropidas

Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by Evangelos Skropidas » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:21 pm

Andrei if there is a way to strap a classical guitar without drilling holes, I will try it. If I have to drill though, there is no chance, as it was always difficult for me to play standing.

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by AndreiKrylov » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:23 pm

Evangelos Skropidas wrote:Andrei if there is a way to strap a classical guitar without drilling holes, I will try it. If I have to drill though, there is no chance, as it was always difficult for me to play standing.
If it is difficult and inconvenient for you to play standing even after you did it for a while then you should play in most ergonomic possible position sitting.
I asked luthiers to drill in my 3 luthier' made instruments. It is instruments for my work. This is the most convenient and productive way to work for me.
I did not buy guitars with the purpose to keep them and then to sell later for more money therefore for me personally my health , convenience, productivity and concentration have lot more value than resale price of the guitar.
But I understand and respect motivation of other guitarists regarding this subject and not asking anybody to use my way to do it.
I just shared what is best for me.
It could be good for some and not good for others for sure.
But it would be nice if classical guitarist who play in standing position would not be viewed as somebody doing something odd and wrong, but as somebody playing classical guitar in another accepted and standard and ergonomically more beneficial position.
I'd better speak by music...Please listen Andrei Krylov at Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Prime etc. Thanks!

JohnPierce

Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by JohnPierce » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:44 pm

Evangelos Skropidas wrote:Andrei if there is a way to strap a classical guitar without drilling holes, I will try it. If I have to drill though, there is no chance, as it was always difficult for me to play standing.
Depending on the finish, suction cups work as described by several people here. Also, dogonjon described a sort of "harness" he made that performs the same function. I've forgotten what thread that was in, but there's a picture of him using it on his website. It's not a great photograph, but it's clear enough to discern the principals.

gkproliberty

Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by gkproliberty » Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:00 am

AndreiKrylov wrote:
Similar to some people who could smoke and yet live to 100 years, or work with asbestos and do not develop cancer etc.
But majority of guitarists who spent thousands and thousands of hours playing in sitting position develop different problems and back pain as they aging...
Well put.

I am also a doublebass player. If you think guitar is bad, try bass: most players stand, some sit. Sitting is considered rather wimpy, by many. Yet those players who stand often end up with back injuries. Gary Karr has a system (leaning forward, into the bass) which works for him, but not for me. Yet I digress.

Much of this discussion sounds too theoretical.
Pain and discomfort is not theoretical: it is to be avoided.

We can only reach our best performance when there is ergonomic balance - relaxation provides not only prevention of repetitive stress, but prepares the body for the widest range of musical expression.

I have tried many, many different sitting positions and have spent years experimenting with commercial products and around a dozen of my own inventions, from arm-rests, to knee pads, to chair mounted, clamp-on support pedestals, to strap configurations, to footstools, etc.

Each time I think I have found the perfect solution, after a few weeks, or a few months of playing, I begin to notice some problems.

For what it is worth, my current playing setup involves three appliances, plus a lot of body posture awareness:

1. Ergoplay Professional, set at minimum elevation:

+ Ergoplay rests over my RIGHT knee, with the guitar tucked in tightly to the base of my thigh, with my torso leaning forward, pushing the top bout into my right forearm.
+ I Position the guitar so that my line of downward sight (perpendicular to the neck) is at the 4th or 5th fret and my line of horizontal (eye-level, leftward facing) sight is a little above the 4th string tuning mechanism.
+ From a birdseye view, I sit with my crotch at the left corner of a chair, so that my body can face directly forward toward the front of the stage, while the neck of my guitar makes about a 45 degree diagonal angle to the stage, yet my left arm is usually very relaxed, with elbow hanging downward, with gravity.

2. Footstool, set at minimum (1st notch) elevation

+ The only reason for the footstool is to provide just a bit of extra height to the thigh, to prevent any feeling of wandering, or slippage of the Ergoplay, on the right thigh.

3. Classical guitar hook/strap - the kind that a plastic hook wraps around the lower bout of the guitar and hooks onto the edge of the soundhole.

+ This is my trade secret.
+ With the strap in place, I am now able to lean my chest forward, against the upper bout of the guitar, which, being the center of lateral balance, provides great stability, while the strap tethers the guitar, in opposition to the resting weight of my right forearm, at the lower bout.

This is crucial: my right arm can always relax completely, since its resting weight is counter-balanced by the strap / tether, on the left side.

4. Micro-movement

+ This is a very important subject which, I think, is well-understood probably here, and certainly in any forum that deals with repetitive stress.

My current configuration provides very strong stability around a fluid axis: i.e., the slightly forward leaning vertical axis from where the Ergoplay rests at my thigh and where my upper right chest area rests against the upper bout of the guitar - this is the axis of lateral rotation, which is easily moveable.

No matter how perfect a playing setup may be, music involves movement, thus, unless there is counterbalancing movement of the body, in response to movement of the hands, stress will develop, and also, related compromise of relaxation and dynamic, expressive musical capabilities.

So, my goal is to become more and more aware of how my entire body needs to move, to counter-balance each and every hand or finger motion.
But, these micro-movements revolve around a consistent axis of rotation, which is a constant, and mechanically stable, point of reference.

That is my two cents for today.
Who knows? Maybe tomorrow I will ditch the current setup for something even better.

dory
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Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by dory » Sun Jun 15, 2014 10:20 pm

We all have different bodies. I agree that some people can use the footstool for a lifetime without problems. John Williams looks and walks like his back is in great shape (he also looks realy young for his age) somhe may be lucky. I also know some very good local players whose performimg career has been interrupted by back pain. It may be less, IMO that the proper position prevents foot stool injuries than that people with really good back structure can sustain long careers without injury or disablibg back pain. I do like the idea of playing standing up, but that is not for everyone either. You neef among other things, good foot structure. I have abnormally high arches and can walk long distances but cannot stand for long periods of time. My husband has flat feet and also cannot stand for long periods.

We have been watching youtubes of Paco de Lucia and suddenly became aware of how natural and comfortable some of the flamenco players look. No footstools, ergoplays. Dynarettes or pieces of rubber shelf liner. I am also betting that they have less back injuries, although they may be prone to other problems like varicose veins, which I have heard can be caused by sitting with legs crossed for too long as they age. I have always believed that we need to elevate the neck of our guitars to get left hand control, but I would give a lot to use my left hand as gracefully and skillfully as Paco de Lucia. In fact I have been thinking of starting a new thread to ask if anyone knows when and why classical and flamenco players diverged so radically in posture, or if they always sat differently. I am really curious now.
Dory

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Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by hesson11 » Mon Jun 16, 2014 2:14 am

gkproliberty wrote:AndreiKrylov wrote:
3. Classical guitar hook/strap - the kind that a plastic hook wraps around the lower bout of the guitar and hooks onto the edge of the soundhole.

+ This is my trade secret.
+ With the strap in place, I am now able to lean my chest forward, against the upper bout of the guitar, which, being the center of lateral balance, provides great stability, while the strap tethers the guitar, in opposition to the resting weight of my right forearm, at the lower bout.

This is crucial: my right arm can always relax completely, since its resting weight is counter-balanced by the strap / tether, on the left side.
Seeing this, I wonder if you (or others) might enjoy trying the strap sold by Luthier Music in NYC. In addition to the hook that attaches to the treble side of the soundhole, it has another that attaches to the bass side of the soundhole. For me, it offers much better stability than the single-hook design. I don't use it much because I mostly play sitting down, but I was very impressed by its ingenuity and its performance. If you Google "Luthier Music guitar strap," you should have no trouble finding it.
-Bob

sparrowhawk
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Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by sparrowhawk » Sun Jun 29, 2014 4:43 pm

I have tried the luthier strap and it works really well. Those who are interested in standing while playing can try using the luthier strap as there will be no holes in their guitar! Personally, if standing while playing helps to be pain free I woudn't care about the holes in my guitar! Which is why I had beautiful rosewood strap buttons fitted to my very expensive luthier made guitar. I think I'm with Andrei on this topic. It is often about classical guitarists perceptions about which playing positions are appropriate. The bottom line is comfort, sitting is fine if it suits the individual and standing should be just as fine if that suits.

ChristianK
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Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by ChristianK » Tue Aug 05, 2014 6:52 pm

The Luthier Strap is interesting, I didn't know such a product existed. But based on the design I'd worry that the strap would scratch a soundboard with french polish. If not, then definitely a worthwhile device to allow standing.

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Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by sparrowhawk » Tue Aug 12, 2014 3:37 am

I have a student who is very tall, over six foot. He is still a teenager and already feels pain in his back when playing guitar for more than about half an hour. We have experimented with chair height etc, tried a large dynarrette cushion (it's not big enough, he still needs a footstool). Eventually he tried the luthier strap, which totally works for him, he plays standing up and reports no pain in his back, feels more freedom and (surprisingly) more security.
I think we all need to to look for solutions which work for each individual.

William Gregg
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Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by William Gregg » Tue Jan 13, 2015 12:41 am

This is exactly the kind of discussion I was looking for when I joined Delcamp! Some very interesting and intelligent replies. Now my two cents. I have my students use a footstool in the "classical" position because it gets them playing well faster than in other positions. However I often play in the cross legged posture, even in concerts. As the students become proficient I show them the other possibilities for holding the guitar, and the advantages and disadvantages of each posture. Every one's physique is different, so I think refined and delicate technique is more important than posture. BTW, I am an older player, have small hands and moderately severe arthritis in both hands. I play several instruments, and I credit the light touch of classical guitar technique with enabling me to continue playing at my age.

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Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by glassynails » Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:17 pm

I play cross-legged most of the time. I know it's not "proper", but it's the truth. I realize also that it's not the most efficient posture for hand movement and freedom.
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Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by benessa » Mon Jan 26, 2015 2:10 am

Much of what makes the footstool both comfortable and useful has to do with having a chair of the right height and proper slope for your body. You need to feel comfortable sitting at the edge of the chair, but not sliding off, and the legs not too angled either way (not too high to stress the back, not too low, with the chair cutting off circulation).
I used to play with the guitar support, but I felt too removed from the instrument. I like the footstool because my body cradles the instrument, yet I can move freely.
I like the idea of standing, but I've rarely done it. I think with smaller, lighter instruments especially, I would enjoy playing and performing standing up.
BTW, there's a harpsichordist, Elaine Comparone, who often plays standing up (there's a video of her on Utube playing Scarlatti) and it looks pretty fabulous!
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Hans B.

Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by Hans B. » Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:03 pm

Hi,
I found some very helpful thoughts about posture (and more) in the book of Ethan Kind "An Alexander Technique Approach to classical guitar".
I experimented quite a lot to find the position theat fits me best, and presently I am using a big dynarette not on my left, but on my right lap, without a footstool. My left arm and hand are more in front of my body than in the classical position, which gives me much more power and control in my left hand. I find this position very relaxing and natural.
There is already a threat about Alexander Technique anywhere else.

NikFlow

Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by NikFlow » Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:14 am

I'm a beginner player. I have been playing classical guitar for two years, then I stopped playing and for three last months I am playing it again. Recently i've had to change my posture from classical to flamenco-like "left leg over right leg".
Every time i'm using a foot stool I feel pain in my left hand. There is pain at my ring and little fingers and higher in my arm (i think pain is on the line where nerve is lying). I had problems with it before and no one could help me.
Now I feel almost comfortable sitting "leg over leg" and playing modern "metal" electric guitar (with my nails). It has fretboard with small width. When i play this way there is mostly no pain.
Don't know how to solve this.

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alfonso
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Re: I'm never really totally in a " -classical" - posture

Post by alfonso » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:14 am

I suppose in the end it doesn't matter if you play the guitar lying prostate on the floor. The important thing is that the angle of the guitar neck is such that there is as little unnecessary tension the left hand wrist and forearm as possible. Generally, once this is achieved the right hand position will also be fairly close to being in a optimal position as well.
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