Any reputable guide to playing the saxophone or similar instruments will mention the importance of posture, but this topic is often passed over as general introduction, rather than an essential part of daily reflection in practice, rehearsal and performance.
Given Qigong’s repeated emphasis on posture and body-awareness, as part of physical and emotional resilience training, we might compare and contrast advice in these two arenas.
Firstly, before picking up the saxophone, study the featured image above, then practise these Four Qigong Exercises, noting the importance of correct breathing, a major related topic we’ll return to in the next blog of this series. Don’t expect to master these exercises, just familiarise yourself with them, for now.
Next, consider John Harle’s advice on posture in his recent and highly-acclaimed book The Saxophone (Faber Music 2017) pp.20-21:
‘Playing the saxophone requires your body to be alert and flexible.’
Before picking up the saxophone …
‘Imagine a triangle with the highest point at the top of your head (at the back) with two lower points at the bony ends of the shoulders. Make [this triangle] as big as possible, without straining upwards or downwards.’
Harle refers to this as the ‘Dynamic Triangle’.
‘Your shoulders [should] come down to a natural position of rest, your neck naturally lengthens and you head moves up and forward. Your back has straightened without feeling restricted or held.’
Now pick up the saxophone and follow Harle’s further advice:
You will need to practise and reflect upon these two approaches to posture (Qigong and Harle) to understand what helpful compatibilities present themselves. For example, is Harle’s instruction to move your weight forward when standing helped or hindered by Qigong and Tai Chi’s slightly bent knees?
‘Find your feet!’
In both cases, the development of body-awareness and relaxation is essential, which will take time, care and concentration.
Your feedback is welcome.