Niall O'Riordan

Flute Soloist  


Posture: Building a Complete Perspective part 2

Posted on September 14, 2012 at 10:00 AM

The Self-Image

‘Each one of us speaks, moves, thinks and feels in a different way, each according to the self-image of himself that he has built up over the years. In order to change your mode of action we must change the image of ourselves that we carry within us.’ – Moshe Feldenkrais


Our self-image governs our every action and of course this includes playing the flute. The act of playing the flute isn’t merely governed by your talent or skill. There are many factors involved and the self-image the one that governs everything. Our self image consists of four components that are involved in every action: movement, sensation, feeling and thought. These are all interconnected.


As we develop our environment contributes largely to the self-image of ourselves we have built up over the years .When we teach we are responsible for creating an environment for our students. The environment we create as teachers should be a place that nurtures a healthy confident self-image. We are responsible for how large proportion of student musical self-image develops. When dealing with posture it is important to note we are addressing the self image.


When dealing with tension in the body there is a belief in the self-image that is contributing to the tension. This could be ‘I can't do this’ ‘I'm not good enough’ or something to that effect. Let us consider the four components involved in every action. In this situation, we have restricted movement because of tension, negative thinking, perhaps reduce ability to sense themselves fully and perhaps negative feelings associated with this situation.


Watch your Language

Be very careful with ‘you are...’ statements. I'm very mindful in lessons when I teach students not to use these statements, they can particularly contribute to reinforcing an already existing negative self-image.


For example, if a student looks tense, saying to them ‘you’re very tense’ will do no good at all. You are only reinforcing a negative. There could be loads of factors at play here. In that particular moment the student could be feeling particularly good about how they are, they might appear to look tense but at that moment they might sense themselves in a way that feels good. They very well could be very tense in that moment. The bottom line is you don't know. A better way to approach this would be asking how they are they feeling, asking ‘I notice........, does this seem accurate to you’ and lastly, offering options to the student. Sometimes bringing a student attention to particular part of the body is enough for them to reorganise how they are using themselves.

To Sum Up


If you notice a student becoming tense, enquire with questions rather than using ‘you are ....’ statements


  • Ask how they are feeling in that moment
  • Ask them the pay attention to that particular part of their body and notice what is happening
  • Ask about what they are thinking
  • Direct their learning so they can find their own solutions


In order to help your students you must help them develop a healthy self-image. This can only be achieved by creating an environment that supports this. As teachers we must see beyond student’s restrictions and always believe in their potential. In other words, you must look beyond the self-image student presents to you.

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1 Comment

Reply MusicProf
3:08 AM on July 19, 2013 
Bravo! Posture and body image is incredibly important for music students. A good straight posture relieves tension, increases stamina and expands the lungs. The body aline machine has been a godsend for in terms of helping to maintain proper bio-mechanics.