Having appropriate body alignment during performances can lead to better posture all the time.
Being in a marching band is physically demanding, but three things require more effort and concentration than most people think—how to sit, stand and walk. These three actions are so entirely common that most people pay little to no attention to their posture. Performers have a leg up since body alignment while performing can lead to better posture all the time.
When practicing during concert season, musicians might find themselves sitting back in their chairs with rounded shoulders; however, this position leads to decreased air supply.
Musicians, like everyone else, should sit with their feet flat on the floor. Knees should be pointed straight out in front and directly over their ankles. The hips and back should be away from the back of the chair. The spine should be stacked up, so that the shoulders are directly above the hips. The shoulder blades should be squeezed slightly together. The neck should be in line with the spine, and the chin should be parallel to the floor.
The reason that people need to stretch after sitting for long periods of time is because the hips are compressed, and the quadriceps—the front of the thighs— are firing and open, and the hamstrings are compressed. Too much sitting contributes to why most Americans have overdeveloped quadriceps and underdeveloped hamstrings.
When standing while playing a solo or prior to a performance, toes should be pointed forward. The ankles and knees should be in line with each other, and the knees should be pointed forward as well. The hips should be in line with the knees and shoulders. When the body is viewed from the side, the hips should be slightly tucked forward, so the tailbone is not pointed out and back, but down. The abdominals should be engaged in order to support the back.
As when sitting, the shoulder blades should be squeezed slightly together and pointed directly out to the sides of the body. The neck, once again, should be in line with the spine, and the chin should be parallel to the ground.
When walking, musicians forget what they learn on the field about marching and walk like day-to-day pedestrians. The problem with this fact is that most people walk improperly.
The most important thing to remember about walking correctly is that the toes and knees should be pointed forward. If you have ever seen someone walk with his/her toes pointed out to the sides, it can actually indicate weak knees—the ligaments in the knees are not strong enough to keep the toes pointed forward.
Once again, the tailbone should be tucked in and down, and the shoulder blades should be squeezed slightly together. The neck should be in line with the rest of the spine, and the chin should be parallel to the ground.
Remembering these simple things can make your marching and concert seasons smoother and your body healthier.
About the Author
After dancing since the age of 3, Haley Greenwald-Gonella thought it was time to try a new art. In elementary school, she began playing the flute and was in the marching band in middle school and for the first two years of high school. She also played the bassoon during concert season. Dance drew Haley back while in high school.
She graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with degrees in dance and English. She recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a master’s degree in Specialized Journalism (The Arts).
Haley is also a certified registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. She draws upon her dance and yoga training when it comes to all things fitness and the arts.