Read the Ergonomics Overview first.
The body's centre position is the basic position to which the musician always returns. In the centre position, the spine maintains its natural curves. Spinal curves vary between individuals; in the centre position, the backs and hips of different people may look different.
In order to find the correct posture, trumpeters should first examine the position of their pelvis. The pelvis should be in the centre position so that the muscles supporting the pelvis and the spine can work freely (the ischia point directly downwards in a seated position).
The thoracic spine should also be in the centre position to ensure the mobility of the rib cage and correct breathing. When the thoracic spine is in the centre position, the breastbone is in a vertical position and the back extensors are engaged but not tense. During inhaling, the rib cage can expand freely in all directions, including sideways and backwards. The rib cage/thoracic spine and the pelvis should be aligned when viewed from the side. If the thoracic spine tilts backwards in relation to the pelvis, rib cage and diaphragm movement is affected and the musician's breathing suffers.
The centre position of the head and neck can be found by first moving the head back and forward, then leaving it in the centre position where there is free movement between the skull and the cervical spine. The position of the neck, head and jaw joints has an effect on the control of neck muscles, jaw muscles and throat muscles. The head and the neck should be in the centre position to facilitate good support for the head from the deep neck muscles. These support muscles enable the superficial muscles to relax. If the head pushes forward (often as a result of a faulty position in the lower spine), it increases tension in the neck muscles, jaw muscles and superficial neck muscles, which can affect the playing technique.
A correct position of the thoracic spine and the rib cage enables optimal muscular support for the shoulder blades. The shoulder blades should be in a vertical position against the ribs, encouraging a natural position of the shoulders. If the shoulder blade tilts forward and/or wings off of the ribs, the shoulder blade support muscles cannot function correctly, affecting the mobility of the rib cage.
The three-dimensional movement of the shoulder blade can be difficult to perceive, and the musician may require professional help during shoulder blade exercises.
For trumpeters, a typical faulty position involves tilting the thoracic spine and the upper torso in relation with the pelvis. As a result of the backward tilt, the thoracic spine curves and the head pushes forward, affecting the musician's breathing and the sound quality.
A backward-tilted posture can be made worse by poor muscular support of the shoulder blade (a curved thoracic spine - a common symptom of the backward-tilt - affects the shoulder blade muscles). The shoulder blades should be in a vertical position against the ribs, with the bottom corner rotating outwards. If the shoulder blade tilts forward, the upper thoracic aperture !! (the area between the shoulder blade, collarbone and spine, where the nerves leading to the hand run) and the shoulder joint can become compressed. Furthermore, a faulty position in the spine and shoulder blades significantly increases the strain in the neck and shoulder area, the shoulder joint and upper limbs. In order to correct the position, trumpeters often need exercises to improve their spinal mobility.
Pushing the head and the neck forward is relatively common among brass musicians. The pelvis and the lumbar spine have some effect on the position. If the pelvis tilts posterior, the head pushes forward. For some musicians, pushing the head forward is pure habit. Concentrating on bringing the instrument to the lips (rather than taking the lips to the instrument) helps to maintain the neck and the head in the centre position. Mirrors are useful in eliminating incorrect movement.