Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
Stan
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Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:53 pm

Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by Stan » Mon Apr 02, 2018 12:09 pm

I have searched but haven't found this specific subject and I hope I have posted this question in the right category.

I am a total novice when it comes to classical guitar. When I practice I find myself tensing up and it hampers my technique and focus. I sit in a chair of the correct height and use of foot stool. I have adjusted the foot stool to different heights but I still find the muscles in my shoulders and neck getting extremely tense. It may or may not be due to my posture but I think it is more mental. I have not yet developed the muscle memory in my right hand to play without concentrating on the correct technique. I am working on correct finger and thumb placement with my left hand. I have ordered a leg brace to see if that will help. This tensing up is not really destroying my practice time, but it is hampering me. I am hoping that this is just a phase due to my unfamiliarity with the new technique in my left and right hands and posture. I have played steel string acoustics for years and I don't tense up when playing with them. I haven't located a teacher yet but I hope to this month and I imagine he/she will be able to help me but in the meantime, any thoughts, suggestions or advice is welcomed. Thanks.
The steam that blows the whistle never turns the wheel.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Mon Apr 02, 2018 1:48 pm

Yes, a good tutor is required here. Meanwhile, if you are able to post a short video (or still pics) of yourself it might be possible to offer a few thoughts. If this is possible do make sure you are in your usual posture.
And even before that, try to check on your head-neck angle. If you are craning over to see, this is about the most common cause of the problem.
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AndreiKrylov

Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by AndreiKrylov » Mon Apr 02, 2018 1:58 pm

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Last edited by AndreiKrylov on Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Scott Phillips
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Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by Scott Phillips » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:10 am

Did you play your steel strings standing up with a strap? You also might have a teacher help you select a guitar support. I've had much less tension in my neck and back since using one.

Stan
Posts: 56
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Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by Stan » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:53 pm

Laudiesdad69 wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:10 am
Did you play your steel strings standing up with a strap? You also might have a teacher help you select a guitar support. I've had much less tension in my neck and back since using one.
I played sitting mostly with the neck horizontal to the floor so I am totally changing the way I hold my guitar. I think part of my problem is that I am tensing up when concentrating on proper left hand position. I always played with my thumb wrapped around the neck. I also am FAT and the guitar slips off my leg, ha ha. I have a foot stool but I have ordered a guitar leg brace and I'll see if that helps when it's delivered. I have gotten the names of four people who teach specifically classical guitar and when one of them agrees to teach me, I am very hopeful that will help.

But speaking of straps, my guitar doesn't have an end pin and I really don't want one installed unless I have too. I think a saw some sort of strap online somewhere that supported the guitar by hooking onto the sound hole and passing under the guitar if that makes any sense. I am a total new comer to classical guitar. Thanks for taking the time to advise me.
The steam that blows the whistle never turns the wheel.

Scott Phillips
Posts: 2761
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:16 pm

Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by Scott Phillips » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:01 pm

i can’t blame you for not wanting to but an end pin, or button on your guitar as it would totally de-value the instrument for a serious classical guitarist. My daughter’s Ramirez I bought used, and somebody installed a K&K pickup in it. I wanted a real CG with electronics and no cutaway, and this guitar was discounted because of the modification, and because of that I got it at a discounted price. I find I can’t play it with a strap though. So it’s the guitar support for me

Scott Phillips
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:16 pm

Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by Scott Phillips » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:03 pm

Stan wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:53 pm
Laudiesdad69 wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:10 am
Did you play your steel strings standing up with a strap? You also might have a teacher help you select a guitar support. I've had much less tension in my neck and back since using one.
I played sitting mostly with the neck horizontal to the floor so I am totally changing the way I hold my guitar. I think part of my problem is that I am tensing up when concentrating on proper left hand position. I always played with my thumb wrapped around the neck. I also am FAT and the guitar slips off my leg, ha ha. I have a foot stool but I have ordered a guitar leg brace and I'll see if that helps when it's delivered. I have gotten the names of four people who teach specifically classical guitar and when one of them agrees to teach me, I am very hopeful that will help.

But speaking of straps, my guitar doesn't have an end pin and I really don't want one installed unless I have too. I think a saw some sort of strap online somewhere that supported the guitar by hooking onto the sound hole and passing under the guitar if that makes any sense. I am a total new comer to classical guitar. Thanks for taking the time to advise me.
Oh, I forgot to mention that the ergo play Torster has a tilt adjustment to fit MY fat belly. If you are over six feet tall, it works well.

Stan
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:53 pm

Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by Stan » Tue Apr 10, 2018 5:17 pm

The brace I ordered a while back is a Tenuto Pro. I am tall (6'4"). I hope it works out for me.
The steam that blows the whistle never turns the wheel.

AndreiKrylov

Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by AndreiKrylov » Tue Apr 10, 2018 5:32 pm

.

Stan
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:53 pm

Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by Stan » Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:13 pm

I found this and it has a lot of information that applies to things I am doing wrong. I have just skimmed over it, and plan to study it later.

https://classicalguitarshed.com/how-to-hold-a-guitar/
The steam that blows the whistle never turns the wheel.

AndreiKrylov

Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by AndreiKrylov » Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:16 pm

Stan wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:13 pm
I found this and it has a lot of information that applies to things I am doing wrong. I have just skimmed over it, and plan to study it later.

https://classicalguitarshed.com/how-to-hold-a-guitar/
blind leading blind..

good luck...!

Stan
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:53 pm

Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by Stan » Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:27 pm

AndreiKrylov wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:16 pm
Stan wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:13 pm
I found this and it has a lot of information that applies to things I am doing wrong. I have just skimmed over it, and plan to study it later.

https://classicalguitarshed.com/how-to-hold-a-guitar/
blind leading blind..

good luck...!

Ha ha. Guilty as charged. I am about as ignorant on classical guitar as anybody that has ever been on this site, so I defininatly quality as blind.
The steam that blows the whistle never turns the wheel.

AndreiKrylov

Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by AndreiKrylov » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:42 pm

Stan wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:27 pm
AndreiKrylov wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:16 pm
Stan wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:13 pm
I found this and it has a lot of information that applies to things I am doing wrong. I have just skimmed over it, and plan to study it later.

https://classicalguitarshed.com/how-to-hold-a-guitar/
blind leading blind..

good luck...!

Ha ha. Guilty as charged. I am about as ignorant on classical guitar as anybody that has ever been on this site, so I defininatly quality as blind.
well..
you can play guitar sitting, sure.
but you asked about "Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing"
- this and other back etc problems comes usually because of non ergonomic sitting position.
sitting with guitar is hard on one's back.. by definition
but others gave you advice like that: "button on your guitar as it would totally de-value the instrument for a serious classical guitarist" - and this is not just ignorant, but insulting...
that is why I wrote about blind...

Stan
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:53 pm

Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by Stan » Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:38 am

AndreiKrylov wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:42 pm
Stan wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:27 pm
AndreiKrylov wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:16 pm

blind leading blind..

good luck...!

Ha ha. Guilty as charged. I am about as ignorant on classical guitar as anybody that has ever been on this site, so I defininatly quality as blind.
well..
you can play guitar sitting, sure.
but you asked about "Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing"
- this and other back etc problems comes usually because of non ergonomic sitting position.
sitting with guitar is hard on one's back.. by definition
but others gave you advice like that: "button on your guitar as it would totally de-value the instrument for a serious classical guitarist" - and this is not just ignorant, but insulting...
that is why I wrote about blind...
I thank you for your advice and taking the time to try and help me. I wasn't kidding about my lack of knowledge about classical guitar. Although I have played (not seriously) steel string acoustic guitar for many years, classical guitar is completely different from my point of view. To play classical guitar correctly it's almost like a whole new instrument. It is MUCH more involved than I thought. Plus I do not read notation and that is a whole other facet of learning. But I am committed and determined to learn. Heck, I can barely play cowboy chords with my thumb in the right position. It's like starting all over again but I LOVE it. I will try a strap and try practicing standing and sitting with a strap. I have two classical guitars now, a Yamaha G50 that does have and endpin and the G.V. Rubio Estudio that I just bought without one. I am not ruling out having an endpin installed. I guess it's just such a nice guitar that I am hesitant to change it. But the point is not how the guitar looks at all, it's about me learning. So if that will help me I'll do it. I have ordered a Tenuto brace to see if that helps. I still think that a large part of my tensing up is because I am so focused on playing slowly and using proper technique on my left and my right hand. This is a whole new experience for me and I am really enjoying the challenge. I'll never be a master at classical guitar but I will enjoy learning and improving. I live about an hour from a university with a good school of music and the professor in charge of guitar has recommended four of his current or former students who can instruct me and I am going to contact them next week and see if I can determine which one is willing to take on a 63 year old with a lot of bad habits to unlearn. I am very appreciative of your advice. Thanks again for taking the time to respond and advise me.
The steam that blows the whistle never turns the wheel.

AndreiKrylov

Re: Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing

Post by AndreiKrylov » Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:21 am

Stan wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:38 am
AndreiKrylov wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:42 pm
Stan wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:27 pm



Ha ha. Guilty as charged. I am about as ignorant on classical guitar as anybody that has ever been on this site, so I defininatly quality as blind.
well..
you can play guitar sitting, sure.
but you asked about "Neck and shoulder muscle tension when practicing"
- this and other back etc problems comes usually because of non ergonomic sitting position.
sitting with guitar is hard on one's back.. by definition
but others gave you advice like that: "button on your guitar as it would totally de-value the instrument for a serious classical guitarist" - and this is not just ignorant, but insulting...
that is why I wrote about blind...
I thank you for your advice and taking the time to try and help me. I wasn't kidding about my lack of knowledge about classical guitar. Although I have played (not seriously) steel string acoustic guitar for many years, classical guitar is completely different from my point of view. To play classical guitar correctly it's almost like a whole new instrument. It is MUCH more involved than I thought. Plus I do not read notation and that is a whole other facet of learning. But I am committed and determined to learn. Heck, I can barely play cowboy chords with my thumb in the right position. It's like starting all over again but I LOVE it. I will try a strap and try practicing standing and sitting with a strap. I have two classical guitars now, a Yamaha G50 that does have and endpin and the G.V. Rubio Estudio that I just bought without one. I am not ruling out having an endpin installed. I guess it's just such a nice guitar that I am hesitant to change it. But the point is not how the guitar looks at all, it's about me learning. So if that will help me I'll do it. I have ordered a Tenuto brace to see if that helps. I still think that a large part of my tensing up is because I am so focused on playing slowly and using proper technique on my left and my right hand. This is a whole new experience for me and I am really enjoying the challenge. I'll never be a master at classical guitar but I will enjoy learning and improving. I live about an hour from a university with a good school of music and the professor in charge of guitar has recommended four of his current or former students who can instruct me and I am going to contact them next week and see if I can determine which one is willing to take on a 63 year old with a lot of bad habits to unlearn. I am very appreciative of your advice. Thanks again for taking the time to respond and advise me.
Thanks for your nice answer!
As I wrote - for sure you can play sitting in standard position.
Standing or using a strap is just a possible option to try if you have pain or other feeling of discomfort etc.
It helped me - because I simply had such a pain in my back that I could not play in standard position anymore...I played sitting for long time... 25 years maybe, for 4-6-8 hours every day...
so for me was no other option rather than using strap...
But it is not remedy for all situations.. it may help you ...or may not...
But it is as normal and convenient to play with strap - as playing in standard position sitting, except it is easier for back and gives possibility to me to play for hours without losing concentration.
And I was able to do immense amount off music work, recording, composing while standing with guitar... But what works for one may not work for other...
I hope that these students will help you!
Good luck with your guitar journey!

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