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Re: Does anyone raise their piano bench excessively?
#359051 04/27/08 04:38 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by piumosso:
I couldn't resist a reply to this post. I teach the Alexander Technique to Musicians (and I am a pianist as well) and seat height for EVERY musician is a challenge. While everyone has an opinion about the height of the bench in relation to hands and arms, I look at hip joints. Yes-really. If there is a slight slope down to your thigh i.e. your leg slopes down toward the floor, then it is easier to keep the hips free which allows your back to lengthen fully which adds to the freedom of your arms.
Piumosso can you tell us more about Alexander Technique and posture at the piano. An actual Alenxader Teacher Pianist ... you are my new hero !! I hope you can share your knowledge with us.

Re: Does anyone raise their piano bench excessively?
#359052 04/28/08 12:23 PM
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I tend to sit pretty high-I carry seat cushions with me around the practice rooms and even to my lessons. People may laugh at me, but I just can't get the bench to go high enough. I feel less grounded in the keys when I sit higher.

Re: Does anyone raise their piano bench excessively?
#359053 04/28/08 08:34 PM
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The fact is, with some degree of variation depending on length of torso versus legs, most people should sit with forearms parallel to the floor with elbows at the same height as the keyboard and wrists extended neutrally. By sitting lower, one obtains a richer sound through use of natural arm weight on the keys. The offset to that is that when playing velocity, you then have to fight gravity. By sitting high, one can play velocity a bit more easily, but the downside is that the tone becomes "gray sound"--not much color to it, and not very pleasing to the listener. The gray sound results from the keys receiving too light a touch, thus not being fully depressed past the escapement point all the way to the key bed.

At home I use a Jansen artist bench which is adjustable. I don't believe that a standard fixed-height wooden bench can be suitable for everyone.

I've attended seminars in ergonomics covering body mechanics, alignment of body to task, causes of repetitive motion soft tissue injuries, etc. It's readily apparent to me now that the principles of sitting in front of the piano keyboard are actually no different from sitting in front of a PC keyboard. Proved ergonomic principles must be taken into account to prevent things like carpel tunnel syndrome. Ignoring them invites unnecessary risk.

Re: Does anyone raise their piano bench excessively?
#359054 04/30/08 03:14 PM
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I study and play at the same height Glenn Gould did, except in several occasions that I play much lower than him, actually, just a little over the floor.


And in my twisted face... there's not the slightest trace of anything that even hints at kindness...
Re: Does anyone raise their piano bench excessively?
#359055 07/25/08 12:08 AM
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I've been getting this pain in my back. I don't think the piano stool the salesguy gave me matches the piano. He actually gave me another since he couldn't find the one that came with the piano.

I recently changed benches. I think the pain is starting to disappear.


The thought of eternal efflorescence of music is a comforting one, and comes like a messenger of peace in the midst of universal disturbance--Roman Rolland, Musicians of Former Days

Vast untapped resources lie within.
Re: Does anyone raise their piano bench excessively?
#359056 07/25/08 12:39 AM
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I actually sit extremely low. I used to sit extremely high though and really had problems with leaning into the piano and not maintaining good posture. My whole back, shoulders and arms would get sore after practicing. I also have an abnormally longer torso and perhaps thats what caused all the strain sitting so high

Re: Does anyone raise their piano bench excessively?
#359057 07/25/08 01:34 AM
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The optimal sitting height is very personal and it also becomes a habit. Your can easily adapt to a bad habit, i. e sitting too high or too low. I believe in the general recommendations as a starting point.

And once you get used to something, it is a question of centimeters - not inches (a very obsolete measure, by the way) Cannot understand that there are non-adjustable stools.

Phone books and cushions - apart from other draw-backs there is aestetical point of view.

Beside the sitting height, the distance from the keys to your position and how deep you sit on the stool is important. IMO you should sit more on the edge of the stool - it gives more freedom to your back and pedal-using legs.

Sitting height has nothing to do with produced sound quality (rich, warm, broad, hard, mellow, or brilliant). The sound is determined by the piano and its voicing. But of course sitting height affects how your ear percieve the sound and the psycho-physiolocigal feed back from playing on various height may also play some role.

Re: Does anyone raise their piano bench excessively?
#359058 07/25/08 02:23 AM
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The opposite question can be posed: Do people lower their bench excessively (like Glenn Gould)? Or, why aren't kids sitting higher?

I've seen little kids sitting at the very edge of the bench, almost standing, so they can reach the pedals. They end up "sitting" really close to the piano and thus can't stretch their arms out fully. Their sound is as cramped as their posture.


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Re: Does anyone raise their piano bench excessively?
#359059 07/25/08 08:28 AM
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Amazing! I thought I was the only one who liked sitting higher.

I do carry phone books around in the car so that I can get myself elevated.


Live Music Is Best
Re: Does anyone raise their piano bench excessively?
#359060 07/25/08 11:06 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by piumosso:
I couldn't resist a reply to this post. I teach the Alexander Technique to Musicians (and I am a pianist as well) and seat height for EVERY musician is a challenge. While everyone has an opinion about the height of the bench in relation to hands and arms, I look at hip joints. Yes-really. If there is a slight slope down to your thigh i.e. your leg slopes down toward the floor, then it is easier to keep the hips free which allows your back to lengthen fully which adds to the freedom of your arms. It also contributes to a free pedal leg. I usually raise people up. The amount depends on their height. Too high is when your heels are no longer supporting you well.
That's interesting. I'm 5'3" and after years of excruciating upper back muscle pain, I finally got an artist's bench (and Steinway) and the pain is gone. I have the bench as high as it will go; I sit on the edge of the bench so my thighs are slighly at a down angle and I sit well away from the piano.

Short people have all kinds of problems with chair height. Too high: feet don't touch the ground, arms of the chair are too high so shoulders are scrunched. Too deep: we can't get comfortable. Too low, results in upper back pain when trying to reach a computer keyboard. I finally bought a computer desk that fits me but everyone else complains it is too low. I also use a kneeling chair at the computer.


Best regards,

Deborah
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