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Teaching chair.

Posted By: Chris H.

Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 01:55 PM

This might seem trivial but I think it's quite important given the amount of time some of us spend sitting down when teaching.

Recently I have been getting a bit of back ache (I'm pushing 40 you know ;)) and I do wonder if it has something to do with the chair I use for teaching. It's nothing special, just a spare dining room chair with no arms and no adjustment and it really isn't that supportive when you are sat in it for up to 4 or 5 hours. The new term starts next week for me and I have decided to treat myself (and my back) to a nice chair for my studio.

What do you guys use and why?
Posted By: keystring

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 02:32 PM

Chris, over in Musicalfossils the teacher mentioned that he sits on a posture ball.

Catchy title, btw. First thought was, "Will he teach the chair, or is it doing the teaching? And what is it that a chair might wish to learn?"

Seriously though: Ball = Chair?
Posted By: Chris H.

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 02:42 PM

A posture ball???!!!

I'm sure it's very good for you but I don't think I am quite ready for that kind of thing. I was thinking more along the lines of soft leather, comfort, reclining etc. Maybe even a matching foot stool. grin
Posted By: Chris H.

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 02:45 PM

I have never actually tried teaching a chair. Brick walls on the other hand.........!
Posted By: Knabe26

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 04:09 PM

I tend to have lower back issues, and I find that the best chair for me is a nice straight wooden chair. There was a time when I taught in a studio and was granted access to a cushier leather arm chair -- my back hurt within two days. It was back to the hard chair for me!
Posted By: lilylady

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 04:25 PM

You know...this really SHOULD be important considering the am't of time a teacher sits day after day.

How about one of those nice leather office chairs. Can roll forward and back, a place to sit back or up straight, easy on the bottom end, arms that go up or down, comfortable on warm or colder days.

I was like you, a tall side chair or extra bench. I'd do things differently now.

Posted By: Chris H.

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 04:37 PM

Do you think this might be going a bit too far?

Stressless Chairs

I wouldn't want anyone to think that I'm not taking the job seriously. grin

A bit too pricey anyway. One of those office chairs could be good. I will check them out over te next week.
Posted By: Sal_

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 05:17 PM

[Linked Image]

Why not?

To answer the question I have a dinning room table chair, too. I've been tempted to get one of those plastic balls for that and the computer.
Posted By: Piano*Dad

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 07:04 PM

I had a teaching chair for a while. Too bad it expired after three years.

This is what you get for writing ambiguous thread titles. whome
Posted By: Susan K.

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 07:08 PM

The problem with ball (which I used to write at the computer) is it encourages bouncing because it is kind of fun to sit on. If you're already rhythmically inclined, you might find yourself bouncing to the beat.
Posted By: Stanny

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 08:49 PM

You guys sit down while teaching?

ha, yes sometimes I sit (I have an antique...well, old) wood chair with a padded seat that I use. But most of the time I'm standing or walking around the room.
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/30/09 08:55 PM

I generally am standing while I teach, with my laptop propped on the piano so I'm facing the student. I decided to stand while teaching after having lower back issues like you, Chris. I have a tall stool I can rest my bum on if I get tired, and of course, I can always sit at the other piano which has a nice padded bench. But for the most part, my back issues go away if I make a point of standing. Maybe stand for every other lesson and see how you feel?

Comfortable shoes are a must smile
Posted By: Diane...

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/31/09 02:07 AM

Took this picture of my chair. One thing I have to have is a comfortable chair. The back gives, so I can bend backwards and think. Have had other chairs, but this one, I won't part with!

[Linked Image]
Posted By: LVP

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/31/09 02:50 AM

The ball chairs are to help you with posture, and are quite a workout for the back...I actually developed a pinched nerve by sitting on one (too much too soon, you are supposed to build up to an eight hour day.) So...don't expect to use one without getting used to it slowly! That being said, I wish I had eased into it more, b/c I did like it!

They do have ones with frames which are easier to get used to because they have a back rest. [Linked Image]
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/31/09 06:07 AM


This almost seems like a silly topic if you are not in pain.

But I've had the same problem. For me it's all about getting the right thing to sit on (personal) and retraining myself to take care of my back. For me the problem comes from using the computer and teaching, not from playing.

I also find that changing from sitting to standing frequently is very helpful. I don't have two instruments. As I teach, I am almost continuously switching positions with my students. They play, then I get up, sit down and play myself. If I'm only playing for a few seconds, I don't adjust the height, but I always adjust for my students (and teach them how to do it), but if I sit down to play something seriously, I will readjust seating height (for playing).

It all adds up…
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/31/09 07:08 AM

I move around when I teach. I might be standing next to the score to mark something up, or lifting the student's arm when he's ignoring the rests, or sitting at my piano demonstrating a passage, or climbing atop the staircase to observe the student's posture, or listening from the kitchen for an impartial judgment of tone/sound production. Once in a blue moon I'd go to the backyard or out the front door. The different locations give different impressions of sound.

It's really helpful to have a second grand piano in the studio, so you don't have to keep scooting the student.
Posted By: Chris H.

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/31/09 08:26 AM

Thanks for the responses. I think I will try something like a computer chair similar to the one Diane uses. Standing could work but my room is very small so I can't really walk around without looking a bit wierd as there's nowhere to go! Other than that I guess I will have to find a good chirpractic clinic nearby.
Posted By: lalakeys

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/31/09 06:37 PM

Like Morodiene, I often stand when I teach or sit on a tall stool. I like the stool because I can have a clear view of what the student is doing, and it's easy for me to lean over and point to something in the music or play along in the upper range of the piano.

I have a keyboard near my grand piano in my home studio, so I can play along with students without "crowding" them. I have the keyboard on a stand that allows me to play either standing up or sitting on my stool. When I teach in the church studio, the piano is a fairly decent Yamaha console, and I set up my keyboard so I can see the music over the student's shoulder while I sit on the stool.

The only problem I'm having is that the folks at the church keep taking my stool and putting it in the kitchen!
Posted By: trillingadventurer

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/31/09 06:50 PM

I am at the mercy of my students! (Since I go to their homes) I prefer a kitchen chair.

I try and go do something physical between lessons: like surfing, running or swimming...Sometimes I just go hang out at my favorite coffee shop: Peet's!
Posted By: Jennifer Eklund

Re: Teaching chair. - 08/31/09 07:54 PM

I've always lifted weights -- start a regular routine incorporating strength training for your back and it will do wonders for your teaching and your health.

Highly recommend the book: "The New Rules of Lifting" by Alwyn Cosgrove. It's a no-nonsense approach to training, get in--get out.

~Jennifer Eklund
Posted By: Chris H.

Re: Teaching chair. - 09/01/09 07:41 AM

I do keep myself in shape. Most weeks I get down to the gym 3 times and I also swim a lot so it's not that I'm a slob or anything!

I think the key is getting up and moving around regularly. If you travel out to your students then you are only sat for one lesson at a time which is probably a good thing. All my teaching is back to back (pardon the pun) so I often remain sitting for quite some time. I will try to avoid that in future.

Anyway, I bought a nice leather office chair yesterday and will give it a spin next week and see how things go.
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Teaching chair. - 09/01/09 02:16 PM

More often, it is how we sit that causes the problem, than a weak back. There's a great book on proper posture called "Ageless Spine, Lasting Health" by Kathleen Porter. I highly recommend it for anyone with back problems. Basically, good posture (in sitting or standing) relies on the bone structure since that is what the skeleton is supposed to do. Muscle is intended for the movement of the body, not the support. One can have very strong abs and back muscles and still suffer from back problems if they are using muscles to hold up the body.
Posted By: Ludwig van Bilge

Re: Teaching chair. - 09/04/09 09:57 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
Chris, over in Musicalfossils the teacher mentioned that he sits on a posture ball.

Posture ball? Seriously?
I'm not sure if you're joking about the posture ball but I'm intrigued by the idea. Chairs and benches seem to become torturous all to soon and I must admit that my posture is atrocious. But would one be able to scoot the ball back & forth as neccessary? And would it make pedaling tricky?
Posted By: keystring

Re: Teaching chair. - 09/04/09 12:01 PM

Ludwig, not for playing the piano, lol. That teacher sometimes sat at a distance from his student. That's when he sat on the posture ball. Which makes me want to ask whether piano teachers always sit on the bench with their students, or whether they sometimes sit at a distance (to hear the piano as an audience would? To?)

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