3 Ergonomic advice for specific instruments

This chapter forms a basis for discussion and reflection on minimising physical stress.

Opinions are welcomed. (This chapter is currently being revised.)

Ergonomic advice for all of the wind instrumentalists:

In order for the shoulders and arms to be able to handle the weight of the instrument, begin by working through the exercises for playing when standing and sitting (8.1 and 8.2, respectively) so that the shoulder-blade muscles offer good stability and produce a sense of ease in the arms. Make sure that the shoulders and shoulder blades are in a symmetrical position with each other. When you have found a good position for your torso, shoulders and cervical spine, it is important to bring the instrument to the lips, not the opposite, i.e. do not move your head towards the instrument. This will avoid increased curvature of the cervical spine, muscle tension around the larynx, and stress on the discs in the cervical spine. If possible, try to balance the weight of the instrument on both hands/arms, and you can also use the assistance of a strap or similar. Next, relax your upper body in order to let your breathing and airflow function well. All kinds of exercises in order to achieve this are allowed, everything from moving the arms and legs in order to stimulate your breathing and heart rate, to more gentle movements, such as yoga. The objective is to allow the diaphragm to function dynamically, so that there is no resistance in the breathing musculature. For this, a stable upper body is required, where the vertebral column rests securely on the pelvis.

When you go to pick up your instrument, feel the support of your pelvic floor. If this is difficult to find, then try, for example, to make a “twooooo” sound, and let air flow at the same time. Try to relax the abdominal muscles and notice what happens in the pelvic floor. Walk around in the room and let air flow in and out. It should be like one long circular motion, without end.