Even without the support of a teacher’s presence, it is important for students to maintain both healthy posture and correct hand positioning in their home practice set-up. All musicians should sit or stand with a lengthened, relaxed back. Imagine being pulled upwards by an invisible string attached to the top of your head. Can you relax into this position after the string is cut? Let your shoulders fall away from your ears and take a couple of deep breaths before introducing your instrument.
At this point, I would like highlight some healthy positioning tips specifically for my guitar students:
- Sit at the edge of your chair with your right foot flat on the ground
- The footstool should be adjusted so that the head of the guitar aligns with your eyes
- The top back of the instrument should rest against the center of your chest (“heart to heart”/ “star to heart”)
- Resist the urge to turn the guitar to see the strings. The soundhole faces forward just like your belly button faces forward!
- Your right arm should touch the edge of the guitar about 2 inches below the elbow
- Your right wrist should be in line with the forearm and hover in a relaxed arch (not too high!)
- Left hand thumb stays on the sticker on the back of the neck
- Left hand wrist is in line with forearm
- Left hand fingers are curved ( they should look like little rainbows)
- Use just the tips of the left hand fingers to press the strings into the fretboard
Not everyone will look exactly the same when they play guitar. We’re all different after all! But following these tips will help students play with greater physical ease and extend their music-making fun for a long time to come.