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This Online Lesson is (c) , Ryan Fraser. All right reserved. NO COMMERCIAL DISTRIBUTION.
For the average beginner, posture is in many ways the most crucial and essential task to master. Everything that you do on the saxophone - including breathing is related to posture.
When you were younger, (not so long ago for many of us, I know!) if you had a little brother or sister, you were probably mean and cruel like I was. One of my favourite tricks was to walk behind my younger sister in the summertime with the water hose turned on, but bent in half to keep the water from shooting out. Once I was within point blank range - poof! I'd let the hose go, and nail her in the back of the head with all that water pressure. (You should have seen the look on our faces when dad got the power washer. But that's another story. Don't worry though, she got her revenge . . .!)
My childhood antics aside, I'd like you to think for a moment on the importance of having a clear, clean passageway from your lungs to your instrument. You see, if you were to imagine your throat and lungs as the hose, you'd quickly see how important it is NOT to crink up that passageway - you won't get any air out of your lungs if the "hose" of your throat is blocked off.
Try this as you stare at your computer monitor: Look down into your left armpit. Admire the view. Then, I want you to take the biggest breath you possibly can through your mouth. Now, sit up straight with your best posture that your mom always used to (and likely still does!) bug you about. Take another breath through your mouth. Notice something? Not only are you more likely to take in more air with good posture, but you also do it a) much more quitely and b) much more easily. This is RULE #2 in action - don't waste any more energy than you absolutely have to while playing an instrument. Wouldn't you rather be lazy and sit up straight?
Posture has all sort of other ramifications as well. If you have good posture, your muscles are relaxed and ready to be used in an efficient manor. Don't believe it? Just try holding your favourite slouching position for more than a couple of minutes, see you how feel. Once you get back from taking a pain killer, and getting a massage, we'll continue. . .
More than anything else, however, it just looks plain old awkward to watch a performer slouching into some wierdo position. Music is as much a visual art as it is an acoustic art. As Billy Crystal likes to say, you have to *look marvelous!*. Slouching just doesn't cut it. If that doesn't make it worth your while, I'd suggest that you read all about one persons battle with Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI). You only have one body - so you had better take care good care of it!