Posture and hold any instrument correctly

The way you hold an instrument may not seem important at first, but in the long time it may affect how tired you end, your posture and your ability to play correctly. If after a day of playing you feel like your back hurts and your hands are numb, it may be because of posture.

This article is aimed at beginners since professionals are not professionals if they cant hold their instrument correctly, it’s also a very simple topic, playing should be easy, that means no pain at the end of the sessions.

In general

For every instrument you need to have in mind 3 things:

  • Posture
  • Carrying the weight
  • Placing your lips / fingers correctly

Posture can be sitting down or standing up, if you can sit, get a chair that lets you lean back, adjust the armrest or remove them, adjust the height of the chair and if it’s possible if the chair is ergonomic, even better.

If you are standing up consider having instrument holders to place them there if you aren’t going to play for a while. Using straps if possible can help redistribute the weight and getting marching band variants of the instruments if you plan to move helps too.

Brass Instruments

The instruments that make up the brass instrument family include but not limited to bugle, cimbasso, cornet, euphonium, flugelhorn, french horn, mellophone, trumpet, trombone, tuba, sousaphone, and ophicleide. 

If you are playing brass, placing your lips correctly so you can buzz properly is the most important thing. 

Brass instruments are heavy because of their material (brass), they also need to be placed on the lips to play, so you need to carry them, you can do this with 1 hand and play the valves with the other.

If you can choose a marching instrument, you can carry them on your shoulder making bigger instruments like the tuba easier. If you’re sitting on a chair having armrests can help too, just make sure they are high enough for you to not lean forward while you do it.

String Instruments

The strings instruments include but not limited to cello, fiddle, violin, viola, bass, guitar, banjo, harp, ukulele, and guitarron. 

If you’re playing keyboard and strings, placing your fingers correctly so you can play properly is the most important thing. 

If you want to play a string instrument standing up like a guitar, you need to have a strap and not only that but the strap needs to be adjusted for you to reach the guitar strings perfectly with your hand.

As you play strings you’ll find that a lot of people lean forward when they play, especially for complex songs, is that bad posture? You can lean forward if you want, but keep your back straight (not curved), same thing for the shoulders, if your back starts to hurt after a while, you’re doing it wrong.

Woodwind Instruments

The woodwind instruments include but are not limited to bagpipes, bansuri, harmonica, oboe, ocarina, pan pipes, piccolo, recorder flute, and saxophone. 

If you’re playing woodwind, placing your lips correctly so you can blow properly is the most important thing.

Woodwinds have many similarities with brass, but they weigh less and need to be held differently. The transverse flute (western concert flute) is held on the side of your head, the recorder in front and the saxophone in front and slightly down.

As you may notice by now, posture is the same for all instruments, since it depends on the person, not the instrument, the problem here lies in not getting tired while you hold your instrument, so remember to put down your instrument when you’re not playing and even stretching in those moments.

Woodwinds and brass also have straps, distributing the weight between not only your arms but your back too can help a lot, especially if you have a correct posture already.

Keyboard Instruments

The keyboard instruments are pianos, organs, accordions, keyboards, synthesizers among others.

If you’re playing keyboard and strings, placing your fingers correctly so you can play properly is the most important thing. 

Here leaning forward is not necessary, a lot of pianos come with chairs that don’t let you sit back, you want to think of a keyboard instrument, the same way you’ll think of a computer keyboard.

You should be looking slightly down, having your arms resting (not tensed, not raised) and your feet firmly on the ground. 

For different types of keyboard instruments like the melodica or keytar, thinking about them like a woodwind may help, and for accordions thinking of them like brass can help too.


As you can see most instruments are designed to be held a certain way, and there are options for different types of people, but overall a good posture, not be tensed up, distributing the weight of the instrument and using accessories like straps are all you need.

Luis Gerardo

Musician as a hobby for +6 years, documenting every instrument in simple words for this website.

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