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Pawo

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Mar. 15 2010
 

Sitting position help 

Hi all

A little help or encouragment regarding sitting position if anyone doesn't mind.
I'm seeing all flamenco players almost without exception sitting in the crossed legged position with guitar over right leg. Is this absolutely necessary to play flamenco? I find the position very uncomfortable...feel very twisted in my torso and also the angle of my left wrist seems akward. The position I feel most relaxed in is a modified classical position where the guitar's shoulder is resting on my left thigh (as opposed to the guitars waist) and so this is how I normally practice.

I've heard that the crossed legged position gives you more 'feel' for the music because you bring the guitar towards your body....more gutsy maybe... and I can feel that myself to a certain degree...until things get too uncomfortable. I admit it also looks better from an audience perspective...ie relaxed and casual. But because I find it so difficult I'm not yet convinced enough to endeavour in practising that way...or should I work more at it?
Would appreciate any input...finding response to previous posts very helpful. Great resource is this forum

Cheers
Dave S
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 3:10:17
 
michel

Posts: 315
Joined: Apr. 14 2008
From: france

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

hi
have you already tried a low stool? it works well and it's healthier for the back, you just can sit normally and you don't need a foot stool. crossed leg is an asymetrical position and i don't know if it is very good, especially when practicing for hours.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 3:27:38
 
Pawo

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Mar. 15 2010
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to michel

...if the cross legged position is asymetrical and bad for the torso over an extended period of time then why do most flamenco players seem to use this method? There must be a good reason more than just looking 'cool' as it were! I'm really trying to find out if there's something about this method that I'm missing, which, if is case, then I'll persevere trying.

Re. sitting on a low stool, I assume you mean when holding the guitar in the classical position? I'll have a go and see how it feels

Thanks Michel for you help

Would very much like to hear what anyone else thinks?

Cheers
DS
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 3:43:35
 
Elie

Posts: 1837
Joined: Apr. 10 2010
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

I don't believe that the crossed legged position will give you more feel of the music that's just not logical, but I believe that the crossed legged position is better for flamenco different techniques like *Alzapua* for ex, because the guitar position will be horizontal to your hands making the thumb move easier than the classical position or any other position .
good luck

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 3:46:42
 
Pawo

 

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RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Elie

Great...that's helpful to know about the alzapua...one technique that I find will require much practice ...so when you say horizontal you mean the guitar more upright rather than the bottom edge tilted away from the body as in the classical position...this is making sense now. Would rasgueo also benefit from this? I notice that the bottom of the guitar is often tilted into the body.

By more 'feel' for the music what I meant was that this person was saying that having the guitar closer to your body, rather than 'out there' as in classical, the sound of the guitar is closer and you feel it in your body more...and I suppose there's something immediate and gutsy about this which is good for flamenco playing....I now seem to be convincing myself that this method is better!

Thanks D E D
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 4:01:54
 
flybynight

 

Posts: 121
Joined: Aug. 14 2009
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

I don't think there is a "perfect" position which combines keeping your spine straight, shoulders level, pelvis level, and keeping yourself as untwisted as possible, to maintain circulation.

Having had lots of problems with this, and lots of chiropractor treatment, then alexander technique to correct my neck/shoulder problems, all I would suggest is:

- learn a few different positions, then alternate then after every 10 mins of practice

- don't sit more than 20 mins without going for a walk, stretching. (having a break improves your practice time anyway, as it gives your brain and muscles a chance to relax)

- set up a video camera right in front of you, with an output into a tv, and have the tv right in front of you at head height. Then when you play, instead of looking down and to the left (which really does your neck in..), look directly ahead at the tv and learn to practice that way.

- learn techniques to shut down your muscles. After Alexander Technique, I can completely shut down my muscles when lying down, 1 minute each side. So even though you tense up your muscles (and bend your spine and neck) when playing, it's possible to quickly undo the muscle tension, so the distorted postion doesn't become 'muscle memory', and stay in the distorted position.

For all players out there, stand in front of the mirror, and see if your right shoulder is higher than the other one ? Muscles learn bad posture as "normal behaviour" if you put them in that position for often and long enough. Then you distort your spine, compress mucles and nerves, and kick off a horrible cycle of other muscles compensating, spasms, nerve and spinal/disc damage.

Oh, and have a search around this site for "sitting position" and "playing position".
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 4:56:35
 
Pawo

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Mar. 15 2010
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to flybynight

Lots to think about there...many thanks

I remember many years ago...about 30 years ago in fact I had a one off lesson with Gene Smith ( I think that we her name) who I believe was a student of Alexander. At the time I was studying classical guitar and I remember her asking me to just pick up the guitar and sit down...not to play anything...just sit in posture. She immediately said that I'll never be able to play a sonata well with that tension in my body ...I hadn't even begun to play! I only wish I had taken more note of what I learnt that day. 35 years of playing and developing bad habits is gone a take a while to change that's for sure...but I guess it's never too late to try...in fact I'm more determined than ever now I'm more aware of things.

Regards
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 5:28:52
 
Arash

Posts: 4462
Joined: Aug. 9 2006
From: Iran (living in Germany)

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

There is no best sitting position for everyone.

I have seen so many positions from different guitarists, and all of them were good guitarists.

Paco de Lucia Position, Gitano Position (Both feet on Ground), Manolo Salucar (foot stool, right leg), Sabicas (foot stool, left leg), Traditional Position, etc. etc.......

It also depends on your anatomy.

Also alternating is a very good advice.

I mean, you don't even sit and watch TV for an hour with the same fixed position. You always change to stay comfortable.

Anyway, some positions just don't look cool nowadays imo

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 5:29:36
 
tantrum

 

Posts: 31
Joined: Nov. 4 2009
From: Switzerland

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

Great question Pawo - I'd wondered myself about that.

For some reason I can't sit - even without a guitar - with my right leg crossed, which seems the most prevalent position. Something in the groin muscles or nearby bones going wrong there...

My teacher hasn't really commented on my position at all. I'm just a beginner, so maybe some comments will come later or maybe I'm OK as is. For me, the gitano position (both feet on ground) feels natural and I haven't discovered its limitations for playing yet.

In most other positions, my arms feel in the wrong place or something feels strained.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 5:40:00
 
Pawo

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Mar. 15 2010
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Arash

Just curious....you mentioned that Sabicas used a foot stool with left leg, the 'classical' position. Ever heard of any players using that position nowadays?

Good point about TV...move around to keep relaxed...that makes a lot of sense to
me....

Cheers
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 5:44:03
 
Pawo

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Mar. 15 2010
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to tantrum

I find the 'Gitano' method where you have both feet on ground is awkward for my fretting hand. Because with this method the fretting hand tends to be lower and you then have to bend your wrist too much to get a good position with your fingers and this causes tension in my wrist. I still find the modified classical position all round the most relaxing for extended playing.

I also bought an a frame ergonomic thingy which allows you to have both feet on the floor and guitar on either leg...haven't practiced much with it yet though....
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 5:52:19
 
Ramon Amira

 

Posts: 1025
Joined: Oct. 14 2009
From: New York City

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

quote:

Just curious....you mentioned that Sabicas used a foot stool with left leg, the 'classical' position. Ever heard of any players using that position nowadays?


Actually, Sabicas didn't use the traditional classical position. He used a position that is exactly halfway between the traditional classical position and the traditional flamenco position, which is sitting upright with both feet flat on the floor, and the lower bout resting on the right thigh. Sabicas (incidentally, in his early years he used the traditional flamenco position) Sabicas used a footstool for his left foot, and rested the upper bout on his left thigh, and the lower bout on his right thigh. I personally think this is an excellent position, providing support all around, and bringing the hands to the guitar in good position.



Manuel Cano used this same position.



Of today's players, Pepe Romero uses this identical position.



_____________________________

Classical and flamenco guitars from Spain Ramon Amira Guitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 7:02:39
 
Pawo

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Mar. 15 2010
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Ramon Amira

Thanks so much for these videos...this is the exact playing position I am using and find the most comfortable with...knowing that such great players have done likewise is very encouraging.
But I still think I'll try more with the modern PDL cross legged method as someone mentioned that it helps for alzapua and other techniques. And to be able to shift between the two methods would be helpful especially if you have to play somewhere and have forgotten your footstool...

Thanks again

Dave
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 7:24:37
 
Leendert

Posts: 153
Joined: May 27 2010
From: WI, USA

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

Wow!...that Solea by Mr. Cano is awesome!!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 12:28:17
 
NormanKliman

Posts: 1143
Joined: Sep. 1 2007
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

I may be stating the obvious, but it's also very important to use the right kind of chair. What works best for me is a small chair, with short legs and a small backrest. The legs have to be short enough so that when I stand next to the chair my knees are higher than the top of the seat. That way, my legs will bend at an acute angle when I sit, which pushes my back into the backrest and keeps the guitar leaning into me. Also, the backrest has to be short enough to be able to arch back and extend shoulders over the top of the backrest. It's not like I ever play in that position, but a high backrest makes it impossible to stretch like that, and it gets uncomfortable quickly.

I agree with what the others have said about changing playing position. My advice is to alternate between crossed legs and traditional (lower bout on right thigh, guitar neck at approximately 45º) and leave the footstools, pseudo-classical positions, etc. for the tuxedo concert guys. When playing in traditional position, it helps to grip the guitar under your right arm.

Getting a bit off topic, it's interesting to observe the points of support that are keeping the guitar in position. Sometimes it's a real balancing act. In the past, I've found that I was having problems with certain falsetas because the music required moving my left hand to another part of the fretboard, and when I'd lift all my left-hand fingers from the neck for an instant (including thumb), the guitar would be pushed out of position by the right hand and arm. It's the kind of thing that can go by in the blink of an eye if you're playing at a fast pace, and it may not even be obvious when playing slowly.

EDIT: There's actually another position that nobody ever mentions. With one foot on a chair, like La Paquera and Parrilla. ¡Ole!

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Be here now.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 12:29:50
 
Pawo

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Mar. 15 2010
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to NormanKliman

Many thanks Norman for your input and everyone else. It's been a real help

At the end of the day I think I will play the way I feel comfortable with but also experiment with the different advice that's been offered....may even try a method I say a guy do in a Tapas bar in Granada...he played holding the guitar behind his back!

Cheers
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 13:07:50
 
akatune

 

Posts: 188
Joined: Mar. 28 2008
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

I use an A-frame when pacticing. It really hels. But when performing, or just playing for myself I cross the right le over the left. The A-Frame is essential for me.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 14:05:15
 
Pawo

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Mar. 15 2010
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to akatune

Yes, I got myself an A frame...not used it much but it I find does help keep good relaxed posture for back and shoulders

Just curious about why you don't use it when performing but only practice?

Out of interest I did a search for playing position a there's a big thread a few years back that's very interesting...it seems many people use the traditional position to some degree and switch back and forth to other cross legged positions
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 14:21:35
 
jonc

 

Posts: 33
Joined: Oct. 24 2008
From: New England, USia

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

I've managed to avoid injury this year by using the gitano support device and both feet on the floor. The guitar leans back slightly and, with the right low chair it rests comfortably against my chest, pretty much centered.
My primary concern when adjusting to this position concerned where my right arm rested against the guitar (about halfway down the forearm, rather than at the elbow). If anything though, it seems to have encouraged my wrist to naturally take on a more ideal angle, and although at some point I may add some other support for this very thing, for now I can't say that I've experienced any negative effects.
I think that what may be most important is a focus on releasing tension throughout the body, regardless of the preferred playing posture.
Sorry I'm not able to share a photo presently ... hopefully I'll have a few from a nice little gig I've lined up tomorrow night at the local cafe showing off the (mostly paco songs) I've been practicing like mad over =]
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 14:22:59
 
Pawo

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Mar. 15 2010
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to jonc

Low chair is something I've not tried...my ergoplay support I find slips off the thigh a bit and so, of course, a low chair would change angle of legs and help keep the support in place....low chairs are not easy to find...an adjustable piano stall may be the answer...
Hope your gig goes well

Cheers
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 14:38:08
 
akatune

 

Posts: 188
Joined: Mar. 28 2008
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

I use the A-Frame for practice, because I play for approximately 2 hours.

But I just feel like I play better with the cross-legged approach. Maybe it's just more natural. Also, the A-Frame looks goofy when performing.

I also play cross-legged when I just want to grab the guitar and play.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 14:46:59
 
Ramon Amira

 

Posts: 1025
Joined: Oct. 14 2009
From: New York City

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

quote:


EDIT: There's actually another position that nobody ever mentions. With one foot on a chair, like La Paquera and Parrilla. ¡Ole!


Manitas de Plata frequently played with one foot up on a chair.

_____________________________

Classical and flamenco guitars from Spain Ramon Amira Guitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2010 18:57:54
 
XXX

Posts: 4400
Joined: Apr. 14 2005
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

I played in the PDL position many years until i got problems with my left knee (for a righthanded player it would be the right one). This sitting position caused a muscular dysbalance in my left leg, the "sides" becoming more stiff and around the knee muscles decreased. Now I usually play with both feet on the ground now, without "raising" the guitar. So just the PDL position without crossing the leg.

Maybe the best advice if you have health problems, regardless of sitting position, is to do some sports/excersizes which will balance out the disadvantages that ANY sitting position has (asymmetric legs/shoulders/back). I have also experienced that my whole left body side became weaker than the right.

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Фламенко
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2010 0:17:17
 
Pawo

 

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RE: Sitting position help (in reply to XXX

Now this is interesting...I've woken up this morning with a bad pull in the muscles down the left side of my neck...this has happened before ( I'm right handed player). This is going to force me to not look down at my fretting hand when playing for a while...which is something someone advised earlier in the thread. Maybe the muscles in that area have tensed too much when playing....
You know, I think that Balance is the key here....changing playing positions more....as someone said earlier like when you watch TV for an hour or so you normally shift positions on the sofa to keep comfortable.

There's a lot too work on here....
It seems to be that if you're not careful with all these mechanical issues of making music then the body will get in the way, so to speak, of what the mind wants to do...that is to express the music
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2010 1:11:23
 
XXX

Posts: 4400
Joined: Apr. 14 2005
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

quote:

ORIGINAL: Pawo
It seems to be that if you're not careful with all these mechanical issues of making music then the body will get in the way, so to speak, of what the mind wants to do...that is to express the music


It is actually YOU getting in the way of your body. Guitarplaying is a very unnatural sitting position, and if you dont have the muscular basis to compensate this (some have), you will get problems. But its not that hard, just do some 5-15 minutes excersizes before and/or after playing and you wont notice any problems. If you already have problems you may need to see a doctor/therapist.

_____________________________

Фламенко
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2010 2:24:14
 
Pawo

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Mar. 15 2010
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to XXX

quote:

It is actually YOU getting in the way of your body


Thanks for reminding me....of course, to a greater or lesser degree it's the body that follows the mind....so this leads to issues with mental approach to practice. I think with me it's impatience that leads to tension. I first picked up a guitar 35 years ago or more and only now am I getting serious about playing, and I suppose cos time's running out, so to speak, there's a slight desperation that kicks in in the mind about getting to the level of playing you want to in your life. And this leads to over emphasis on goals rather than 'being with' and paying attention to the process of practising...

Now this is getting a bit serious
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2010 2:43:45
 
akatune

 

Posts: 188
Joined: Mar. 28 2008
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

I have the neck problem, too. When i don't pay attention to my posture, I roll my right shoulder forward.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2010 3:19:23
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 3324
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

quote:

I got myself an A frame


what is this?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2010 13:32:11
 
gato

Posts: 322
Joined: Jun. 9 2007
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

I use a list of sitting positions according to the technique I am going to try to achieve, how I feel, the height of the chair, or the nature of the playing circumstance, in terms of the seriousness of the situation, or as casual.....

We are all different and genetically predisposed to a different sense of comfort, which really is a matter of discipline and physical ability.

Try not to fight what is right for you because of something somebody said or what someone who is famous will do. Do it YOUR best way, and try to accomodate the situation which is really a matter of traditional additude. If you are practicing try to get as much time and technique out of the way you sit and hold the guitar.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2010 15:37:44
 
dpalfstad

Posts: 26
Joined: Jan. 10 2010
 

RE: Sitting position help (in reply to Pawo

quote:

what is this?


mark indigo,
I had to look it up, but I think that this is what they are referring to.
http://www.melbay.com/product.asp?ProductID=94390AX



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