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November 2008

Six Steps to Perfect Posture

by Valerie Green

When I take a new student, especially an adult, but also a young student who has been learning the violin in school, I start them out with Six Steps to Perfect Posture. This exercise is guaranteed to make a new student look at me askance, but if he's willing to practice this, I know that he'll succeed in my studio. A very young student probably won't need this, especially if it's the very first lesson. In that case, a simple "zip, step, sniff, bouncy knees" will suffice. Kids are so loose and flexible before they get older and filled with angst. :-)

The purpose of the Six Steps is to use your breath to put your body in a comfortable position. Some steps will feel very uncomfortable when you are just starting.

The Rules:
  1. All breaths must be very deep and very quick. Do not force them, though. Just as deep as you can.
  2. Think of your breath rushing into you, right into the spot I'm asking you to breathe into.
  3. Breathing through the mouth and breathing through the nose are very different. Please do the one that I ask for on each step.
Breathing Points for Steps 1 and 2:
  1. Put your index finger in the hollow of your neck and then move it down, just out of the hollow. This is your chest point.
  2. Put your finger on your tailbone. There, or just above it, is your "sit" point.
Six Steps to Perfect Posture:
  1. Tap several times on your chest point. Picture a shiny medal on that point: you are really proud of that medal! Take a quick, deep breath through your nose right into that point and shoot it towards the ceiling.
  2. Keep that breath in and your chest point up! Now, breathe in again, through your nose, and shoot the breath into your "sit" point. Let your knees swing forward so you do feel like you're sitting a little bit. You should feel uncomfortably full of air.
  3. Keeping the same posture, let your head drop down in front, chin towards chest, while you let all your breath out through your mouth.
  4. Take a quick, deep breath through your mouth as you shoot your shoulders to the ceiling. This is the "I don't know" pose. :-) Leave your shoulders there for a few seconds, before you...
  5. Throw your shoulders down, as you sharply exhale through your mouth.
  6. Bounce your knees.
Once you get the hang of this, practice it so that each step takes about 1 second. You will need to repeat this 3 to 5 times as a warmup to get the best effect. Words I use when leading my students in this exercise:

"Sniff and chest"

"Sniff and sit"



"Throw them down"

"Bouncy Knees"

© Copyright 2008 Valerie Green. Violin Alchemist taught herself to play the violin again after being paralyzed by MS. She now teaches people of all ages how to play the violin with graceful ease. Find her online at