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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: AZNpiano] #2778169
11/04/18 06:03 PM
11/04/18 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

The correct solution for folks who are tall and have long legs--raise the piano! Insert some slab of wood under each wheel and raise the piano by the necessary height.


^^This.

I don't think keyboard height is consistent across pianos, is it? It might be possible to find a piano with the keyboard at the right height.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2778184
11/04/18 06:27 PM
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Sometimes you have to play whatever piano the venue has available.

I'm sure teachers have adjustable benches and probably extender pedals for small students, but do any actually adjust the piano height?


gotta go practice
Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: malkin] #2778186
11/04/18 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
I don't think keyboard height is consistent across pianos, is it? It might be possible to find a piano with the keyboard at the right height.

Well, it's about 28 inches, plus or minus one inch. Grand pianos tend to be even higher than that because of the things people stuff under the wheels to prevent scratching the floor. Or if the grand piano is placed on a dolly, that will make the grand even higher.

This is why traditional piano benches are too low for grand pianos. Most people are sitting so low, they don't even realize it.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: AZNpiano] #2778187
11/04/18 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Her biggest problem is that she's sitting a good two inches too low. She has the body type that's "long limbs, short spine" so she needs to sit relatively high at the piano. On the reverse, if you are "short limbs, long spine" then you need to sit lower.


I'm not sure she's sitting. She's in constant motion. It looks to me like that is a compensation that works well for her, as opposed to adjusting the piano to some perfect posture. It might not work for many. It requires balance and posture at many angles.

One of my children had a teacher that insisted they sing while perfectly still and upright, that it was impossible to sing correctly while moving. Well, lots of people seem to do it well (also some play piano and sing).


gotta go practice
Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: TimR] #2778193
11/04/18 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Sometimes you have to play whatever piano the venue has available.

Most of the venues have such awful pianos, piano height is the least of my concerns.

Originally Posted by TimR
I'm sure teachers have adjustable benches and probably extender pedals for small students, but do any actually adjust the piano height?

Remember, you only need to raise the piano height if the player has VERY long legs. I have very long legs, so I raised my pianos about a half inch so I can move my legs more comfortably. And my legs do fit under most pianos of standard height. There are only two or three times where I was playing at a piano that's so low, I had to compromise my posture.

You also have to realize that, with upright pianos, the pedals are a tiny bit closer to the player, so that "legs under the piano" is not such an issue.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2778393
11/05/18 01:01 PM
11/05/18 01:01 PM
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I don't think there's one "correct" posture for everyone. I play best (and with the least tension) when I'm sitting somewhat far from the keyboard, with my bench at its highest setting. (I wish Jansen benches went higher!) I don't usually lean into the piano - I sit up as straight as my spine will allow. Everybody's bodies are a little different, and the teacher is responsible for helping each student find their own correct posture.


Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko", Baldwin Upright, Yamaha P-255
Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: AZNpiano] #2778575
11/05/18 09:43 PM
11/05/18 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

That's a very bad example. First off, she's wearing high heels. .


Actually high heels -- but not that high -- would be a good thing. Alas, the look just isn't me, so I use a block of 2x6 under my heel to get the pedals into the comfortable part of my range of motion.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: JohnSprung] #2778616
11/06/18 03:02 AM
11/06/18 03:02 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

Garner is sitting very naturally and is relaxed, so he's fine. But we need to remember that he is playing in a particular style so we don't know what would happen if he had to play this or that Chopin Etude or something else requiring a slight adjustment.

Gould's whole body is contorted, so this is very bad. You can sit in a horribly uncomfortable, tense way and still play incredibly well, as he proves. But with that kind of posture expect pain. Unfortunately it is likely that any attempt to fix his bad habits would have ruined his playing, and he was not about to make any change that would have required time to get used to those changes.

There is a range of positions for height and distance, and over time each player will (hopefully) find the best one, usually with help.

The most important thing is an adjustable bench/chair/stool. Remember also that if what you are sitting on is too high and not adjustable, you're stuck, so you will bend over to adjust the height, horrible for posture. If you are too low you can usually use pillows or something to raise where you are sitting. As a child the bench was too low, so I put something on the bench to raise the height and then put a pillow over that.

Most of my students sit too close, but some look like they need to take a cab to get to the piano - way too far back. The most important thing is to experiment with the help of a good teacher to help you locate the distances that are best for your playing and your body.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Gary D.] #2778637
11/06/18 05:47 AM
11/06/18 05:47 AM
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Gary, I hope you don't mind that I isolated two things from your longer post.
Originally Posted by Gary D.
There is a range of positions for height and distance, and over time each player will (hopefully) find the best one, usually with help.

........The most important thing is to experiment with the help of a good teacher to help you locate the distances that are best for your playing and your body.

I feel comfortable reading the idea of finding what is right for the individual player, which the teacher guiding the student to find this. This feels right to me.

If somebody got taught "method A" (say, sitting low), discovered for himself that "method B" (say, sitting high): works better for him, you can draw two conclusions:1) that "method B" is what all students should use since A didn't work for this person, or 2) that different variables work for different people and they have to be helped to find which works for them. I think I prefer "1)".

I brought up this topic originally: namely that a student starting a new instrument needs fundamental technical guidance from the beginning rather than just being given ever more challenging pieces while he risks tying himself in knots in the process. However,I did not mean this by way of rules like "round hands" or "sit at height /distance X - as straight as possible". Rather, awareness of comfort and ease, what creates or impedes these, with a teacher's watchful eye and guidance as things develop. You shouldn't end up with what happened with the student who wrote in Reddit (quoted in the OP).

Another thought with this is that there isn't a series of formulas like you have grammar rules in language, or formulas to memorize in algebra. It all varies according to your body type, and also according to the music you are playing. You don't want rigid rules, but you also don't want a free-for-all with no guidance, just trying to make the music sound right somehow.

Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2780811
11/14/18 05:27 AM
11/14/18 05:27 AM
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Sorry, I've almost forgotten about this thread.

During the experiment with electronic kitchen scales I found out that when player sits higher and closer a relaxed arm applies LESS weight.

I will probably post this in a separate thread as well, it seems to be interesting.

For me it coincided with the subjective feeling that it required less effort to hold arm on the scales and in the air just above the scales when sitting higher and closer.

I agree with AZNpiano that sitting higher and closer is better, especially for tall or overweighted persons, because it makes hands feel lighter.

On the other hand it may be reasonable for little kids to sit lower and further to increase the applied weight. What do you think?

Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2780815
11/14/18 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Sorry, I've almost forgotten about this thread.

During the experiment with electronic kitchen scales I found out that when player sits higher and closer a relaxed arm applies LESS weight.

I will probably post this in a separate thread as well, it seems to be interesting.

For me it coincided with the subjective feeling that it required less effort to hold arm on the scales and in the air just above the scales when sitting higher and closer.

I agree with AZNpiano that sitting higher and closer is better, especially for tall or overweighted persons, because it makes hands feel lighter.

On the other hand it may be reasonable for little kids to sit lower and further to increase the applied weight. What do you think?

If you check videos of the finest players on the planet, you won't find an agreed upon height or distance.

I will tell you this: if you sit closer, there are things that are harder. The closer you sit, the more you have to angle out the elbows to play very low in the LH or very high in the RH. My joke about this is that if I sit very close (way too close) I tell people I'm playing like a T-Rex, and I make fun of how short my arms look. It's perspective.

So I tell students that beginners tend to sit too close, but other than that I just watch and ask people to feel comfortable.

The most radical difference I see is where the elbows line up with the keyboard. Some very fine players sit low, and I don't think anyone would say that Horowitz sat too low. Others seem to have the elbows around even with the keyboard, and then there are people who sit higher, elbows definitely higher. You will even see players change over time. Argerich sits lower now than she did decades ago.

This is what I teach: if you find yourself bending down or hunching a bit to get comfortable, you are sitting too high. If you unconsciously raise your shoulders (trying to raise the arms to feel more comfortable, you are too low. Other than that, get something adjustable, make sure you are relaxed and sitting with good posture, and adjust as you develop to where you feel most comfortable.

I never know what my students will pick, but they seem to sense where it works for them. There is no right answer for all people.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2780818
11/14/18 06:00 AM
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By the way, this is much too high for me, and is too high for most of my students, who hunch when they sit like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSHwX2O7j2w

Most of the time Horowitz always looked a bit tight to me, obviously something that never hurt his playing, but here he is utterly relaxed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qll0vK3uTHA&t=355s

Look at 5:25. This is where I am comfortable, at the height and distance. My students know that if I sit a bit higher I start missing things, which happens when I sit down at the height that is right for them but it is higher.

Two players with magnificent technique. I refuse to recommend one position over the other.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Gary D.] #2780828
11/14/18 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.

My joke about this is that if I sit very close (way too close) I tell people I'm playing like a T-Rex

lol smile

Yes, I understand, there is no general agreement upon height or distance. I personally prefer Hamelin's posture and I always thought that Horowitz used to sit too low.

I agree that there is some tolerance range in how we sit as well. There seems to be a range of postures for every person that aren't harmful. I remember that when I was learning, me and my mates used to copy the postures of great pianists, there was even a kind of fashion for the posture. And I don't remember any harm done because of that.
And when I practice for many hours, after some hours I often find myself sitting in very 'non-classical' postures as well. smile Harmlessly.


But now I want to find out how exactly does the posture affect playing. I heard and read many times that high posture inclines to use more arm weight while low posture inclines to use more finger technique. I agree with this statement, my experience tells me the same. But how does it correlate with the results of the experiment? Why does the high posture inclines player to apply more arm weight, when there is actually less static weight in his fingers? And vice versa, why does the low posture inclines player to use more finger technique when there is actually more static weight in his fingers?

Last edited by Iaroslav Vasiliev; 11/14/18 07:25 AM.
Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2780843
11/14/18 09:16 AM
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And then there's organ, with multiple keyboards at different heights.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2780846
11/14/18 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
But now I want to find out how exactly does the posture affect playing. I heard and read many times that high posture inclines to use more arm weight while low posture inclines to use more finger technique. I agree with this statement, my experience tells me the same. But how does it correlate with the results of the experiment? Why does the high posture inclines player to apply more arm weight, when there is actually less static weight in his fingers? And vice versa, why does the low posture inclines player to use more finger technique when there is actually more static weight in his fingers?
That's a very interesting observation. I tend to agree with it. Think of Gould and how he sat. I also wonder if Agerich sits lower now because she, like all of us, is shrinking? smile

This would seem to apply to pianos only though. As an organist, I needed to be able to play on four keyboards, each at a different height, at least two simultaneously (sometimes three, where a finger or two is on one keyboard and another few are on the one above or below). Arm weight is not used extensively, though an older tracker action instrument can get extremely heavy to play when the keyboards are physically joined together and arm weight is essential.

Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2780884
11/14/18 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I agree with AZNpiano that sitting higher and closer is better

If you think that's what I said, you've misquoted me.

Bench height is determined by the ratio between the spine and the upper arm.

Distance is determined by the length of the lower arm. If you have to "lean into" the piano, you are sitting too far.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2780915
11/14/18 01:11 PM
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We could easily go into the "cycle of the generations". As follows: Teacher A believes a given thing must be done - say, sitting lower. After many years of studying with him, student B discovers that the opposite works for him, and what he was taught to do has been the cause of some problems he had. His solution is sitting higher. This student becomes Teacher B. As Teacher B, he teaches what he found worked fro him - sitting lower. One of his students, student C, discovers that the opposite works for him, and what he was taught to do has been the cause of some problems he had. His solution is sitting lower. This student becomes Teacher C. He insists on sitting lower... And so it goes on. That's the "cycle of generations".

I propose this: That there is not just one correct way of doing things, because people are different physically, behaviourally etc. Instead, there are general principles. In this case: a) How high and how close you sit to the piano will affect your ease of playing. b) The whole body works together in playing. Then, instead of having a dogma about height and closeness, you start with something neutral and experiment / teacher observes and suggests, to find what works for you. For a child ofc the teacher has a major role in this.

Initially I tried to highlight an important point that comes out from the blog which was quoted in the OP. Namely that older students especially, and in particular older students with other musical experience, may be zipped through piano levels with little attention given by the teacher on fundamentals including the physical side of playing. I gave the example of sitting: Such a student struggling from grade level to grade level. He's never been taught that where he sits can impact his playing, and this particular student happens to sit ridiculously close or whatever. He has never been taught to look at this aspect of his playing, because his first teachers were too busy advancing him in grade levels so he wouldn't be bored. I gave the silly idea of "This trumpet player will know how to move his hands on the piano because he knows how to breathe and shape his mouth."

But specific things applied dogmatically, I think, harm at least as much as not making students aware at all. Think of the student who has had it drilled into him to have his hand perpetually put into a round ball-holding shape and then doesn't know why he is struggling with the wide notes of Chopin - or why his hand always feels cramped. In this case he is probably better off not being taught anything; then he might experiment to find out what works rather than being trapped in such rules. Except that it is hard to experiment if you don't know what factors to experiment with - which is why general principles to work with seems a good idea. (Or a teacher who knows how to work with general principles).

(Posted while think this might just add to confusion.)

Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: AZNpiano] #2780927
11/14/18 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
.

Bench height is determined by the ratio between the spine and the upper arm.




Not meaning to nitpick, but I think I have a minor quibble. The term ratio would imply a "divide by" mathematical operation. I think you mean a difference. Subtrack the upper arm length from the spine length, and you have the vertical distance from bench to keyboard. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding your intent.

Quote
Distance is determined by the length of the lower arm. If you have to "lean into" the piano, you are sitting too far.


That seems reasonable. Unless there are other factors - very long lower legs and a low piano might mean you sit farther back and lean, but then there are some other accomodations you'd want to make to have a decent neutral spine. Sitting way back and curling forward makes my back hurt just to watch, yet I see this on youtube videos frequently. And then they can't see, so the neck has to crank back.

As I age I'm finding the need to do more core exercises, even though I don't spend hours a day practicing. For those who do, that might be part of being a complete pianist/oboist/whatever. Our bodies weren't really designed to sit for hours at a time.


gotta go practice
Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: AZNpiano] #2780930
11/14/18 02:15 PM
11/14/18 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I agree with AZNpiano that sitting higher and closer is better

If you think that's what I said, you've misquoted me.

Bench height is determined by the ratio between the spine and the upper arm.

Distance is determined by the length of the lower arm. If you have to "lean into" the piano, you are sitting too far.

Oh, sorry about that misquotation. What are your recommendations on height and proximity if we lay aside harmful extreme values?

Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: TimR] #2780938
11/14/18 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Not meaning to nitpick, but I think I have a minor quibble. The term ratio would imply a "divide by" mathematical operation. I think you mean a difference. Subtrack the upper arm length from the spine length, and you have the vertical distance from bench to keyboard. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding your intent.

Both division and subtraction work.

Long spine, short arm = sit low
Short spine, long arm = sit high

Obviously, nobody will have arms longer than the spine, but even if that's the case, then the person would need to sit really, really high

Originally Posted by TimR
That seems reasonable. Unless there are other factors - very long lower legs and a low piano might mean you sit farther back and lean, but then there are some other accomodations you'd want to make to have a decent neutral spine. Sitting way back and curling forward makes my back hurt just to watch, yet I see this on youtube videos frequently. And then they can't see, so the neck has to crank back.

This "lean into the piano" approach is handed down from generations of teachers. It is antiquated and unscientific. And it causes problems!


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