Note: This post was originally published on my other site, Gig-Ready Jazz Bassist.
Sometimes, the best way to figure out what to do on jazz bass is to learn what not to do… To begin this monthly series, I’m examining bad posture – which leads to ineffective technique and increases risk of injury.
What is it?
- “Dumping” weight into one side of the body – forcing the back and shoulders to jut out or forward
- Collapsing the chest, often resting parts of the body on the bass
- Keeping the spine, shoulders, and/or neck tilted at an angle – creating asymmetrical alignment
Why does it happen?
- We get too focused on the mechanics of playing and don’t take time to examine our posture before practice or performance
- We’re unaware of the “dominant” side of our bodies (the right for most folks) and our tendency to adopt bad posture to accommodate the discrepancy in strength between the two sides
- Many of us spend large chunks of the day hunched over a computer and lack the muscular strength to support good posture
How do I fix it?
- Study yoga or other system of movement (I learned good posture from hot yoga classes – but if that’s too boogie for you, you can get a DVD, watch a YouTube video, or even just practice balancing on one leg at a time to force you to get into good alignment)
- Take time before each practice session or performance to check your weight distribution, feet, ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, and neck to make sure you have good posture and alignment
- Make lifestyle changes – avoiding slouching at the computer, taking walks, stretching, wearing comfortable shoes, etc. – to encourage better posture
Whether you sit or stand, examine your playing posture in a mirror. Which areas need to be corrected? What could you do to implement these changes? While it takes some initial discipline, focus, and mindfulness, eventually you will be able to automatically adjust your posture during playing.