Posture question

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by thedbassist, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. thedbassist

    thedbassist Guest

    Sep 10, 2006
    I was just watching an Alexander technique video about bending without strain: and it brought up a question about my posture. I normally never bend my knees when I go into the upper register of the bass, but it seems like that would be a more ergonomic thing to do after seeing this video. When you bend your knees it lets you support the weight of your trunk and seems to alleviate lower back pressure.

    Is this a standard thing to do? Btw, I play with a laborie endpin and I was taught to not bend my knees when moving into the upper register.
     
  2. So long as you don't keep your knees locked, I don't think you'll have to consciously bend them... just leave them unlocked and the right thing will happen.
     
  3. hey check out feldenkrais... I highly recommend trying this out even over alexander technique.
     
  4. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    It does.
    When I was an Alexander student, I had a lesson with Evangeline Benedetti, a cellist with the NY Philharmonic. One of the first things she did was have me bow one long note. Then she put me in the Alexander "monkey" position, by hinging at the hip, knee and ankle, and had me bow the same note. The improvement in sound was significant.
    The teacher in the video, Eileen Troberman, is highly regarded in the AT world. One of her students is Mark Dresser.

    Then how were you taught to lower yourself?
     
  5. thedbassist

    thedbassist Guest

    Sep 10, 2006
    Well, I think I misspoke. I was taught to bend from my waist and wasn't taught to have my knees bent so I never understood that concept until now. My back feels a lot better now, there's almost no tension. After asking my teacher he basically confirmed what you said. Thanks for the advice.
     
  6. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Never bend at the waist. Never. It is damaging to the spine.
     
  7. Nathan Parker

    Nathan Parker

    Oct 10, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Where should the bending come from? This has got me quite curious, as I have been experiencing some back pain after longer gigs recently.
     
  8. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Don't bend. Hinge, at the hips, knees, and ankles.
    Fold like a carpenter's collapsible ruler.
    At the hipsocket, the torso stays straight as it tilts forward while the butt moves back, while the knee moves slightly forward and the ankle releases the shin.
    Look at the video linked to the original post.
     
  9. Nathan Parker

    Nathan Parker

    Oct 10, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks man, that is good stuff. I will be sure to try it out.
     
  10. stefaniw80401

    stefaniw80401 Supporting Member

    May 18, 2004
    Evergreen, Colorado
    How should stooled bass players "bend" to reach the upper registers? I have my left foot up on the lowest rung.

    My teacher has her stools' legs cut such that the stool is canted forward a bit, and she puts her left foot on a yoga block, rather than the stool rung.

    -Mark
     
  11. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Keeping the back straight and the neck free, you tilt forward by rotating the hip socket around the head of the femur, just as if you were standing.
    Your teacher has a good idea.
    It has been my observation that even in the best orchestra bass sections, I see more bad use of the spine by sitters than by standers.
     
  12. Knut Guettler, Bass Professor at Norwegian School of Music, had stools made of tubular steel with round tops and thick foam cushions angled forward at about five degrees. He sat with his foot up on a rung. Different fixed heights for different sized students. The stools were very comfortable.

    DP
     
  13. Dave Speranza

    Dave Speranza Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Aside from paying close attention to everything Don Higdon says, you could look into getting a book called "What Every Musician Needs To Know About The Body" by Barbara Conable.

    For some people, the information in that book will be enough and they won't need AT lessons.

    I bring it up because one great thing I learned from it is not to bend at the waist. There is no such anatomical thing as a waist, and there is certainly not a JOINT there! We can only bend (hinge) at joints. Can you imagine the pain of trying to rotate from somewhere other than a joint?!?
     
  14. mrmann

    mrmann Guest

    Feb 8, 2009
    Tromsö, Norway
    I am a sitter, and I have to agree with Don that it is easy to get bad habits while sitting. A stool tilted forwards is a must, and I am personally not a fan of rotating stools or chairs; it can result in you turning your body around the bass, typically for easier G string access with the bow. This could be a personal preference, though. I also like having a back rest which ideally would be situated where it actually touches your back; that way it sort of hinders you from twisting your upper body in weird ways.
    Not at all a fan of bar or drum stools. That's what made me go to a physiotherapist when I was 17. I wasn't even practising a lot back then!! That being said, of course some people get through life without a problem without seemingly doing anything right (wasn't it the world's fastest 100 year old who, when asked if he had made any special preparations for the race, said "yes, this morning I had two glasses of vodka instead of one"?) so no pointed fingers here. Posture-related problems is something most players will face sometime, though, and the sooner you get things right, the better.