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Posted By: JimmyTheSaint more comfortable damper when standing? - 07/26/12 12:38 PM
As a refugee from bass guitar-induced tendinitis , I'm always watching out for new repetitive stress injuries. I had classical and jazz training on piano years ago, so even though coming back to it now my playing now sucks, I do remember how to ergonomically minimize stress. But that training was all sitting down, and on this go round I'm strictly playing my 61-key standing up because that allows me to shift position in ways that minimize arm/hand/finger stress that playing sitting down can't do.

But playing the damper pedal standing up can get quite uncomfortable: you get locked into position, and you also tend to constantly keep more weight on the left leg than on the right so that you can operate the pedal well. In short, if I use the pedal, I can feel in my body that I'm asking for more RSI. Do people have any other suggestions as to how to get the sustain function in a way that will suit someone who can't adjust to the traditional single, tiny MIDI damper switch? I've thought that if there's some kind of really long foot controller, maybe that would do. I've tried to go without using the pedal at all--teacher always said you shouldn't rely on the pedal too much--but as I get my chops back, I'm realizing that some things you want to hear can only be done with a sustain pedal regardless of great fingering techniques. Do people know of any controller that might work better for me? I have lots of experience with breath controllers, but that would be a little too annoying for extended use here.
Posted By: ando Re: more comfortable damper when standing? - 07/26/12 03:52 PM
Personally, I don't think you are going to find a good solution for this. You are always going to have to put most of your weight on your left foot no matter what sort of pedal you get. I've got MIDI continuous control pedals, and whilst they are more comfortable because you can put your whole foot one them, they still don't resolve the issue of weight on one leg. They also use an excessive amount of travel for normal piano playing where you have to be able to activate and deactivate very quickly. A sustain pedal needs to be short throw, these pedals are long throw. You also can't put too much weight on them, plus they are 2" off the floor so you won't be level anyway. That will lead to stress on your back trying to equalise these forces.

I think you'd be better off sitting down or getting a high stool if this weight issue is likely to cause you trouble. Precise control of piano pedals dictates that you aren't supporting your body weight on your legs. The legs need to be free for pedalling.

Sorry, just my opinion.
Yeah, I couldn't think of or find anything either, so I'm throwing this hail mary. When I was studying piano, of course I never played standing up, but now I find that it's the best solution for my personal physical issues. Pedal is the lone drawback.
You can try getting a lower profile pedal or try putting your foot on a short support such as a 4X1. Also, if you can get the pedal closer to you, you might be a little more comfortable. I made a custom jig to hold the pedal in place so it doesn't walk away from me, it really helps because I can slide the pedal back and forth with my heel and change positions slightly. My jig is basically a piece of 1/4" plywood about 5" wide and about 18" long. I put some small strips of wood (about 1/2" by 1/2") around the front half of my jig with a slot in the middle so the pedal cable can go through. I painted it black and it's unobtrusive, lightweight, fits in my keyboard case and works really well. I'll try to take a picture of it this weekend and post it.
I jury rigged something similar: I run the pedal's cable through the clip of a clipboard, and the little flat square pedal sits up near the clip. It won't move out of position because your heel rests on one end of the clipboard when pressing the pedal. I would think it's eventually going to damage the cheap pedal, but it's much better than nothing.

My issue is that the pedal is such a small target. If I had a row of pedals all acting as dampers, then I could access the damper from anywhere without having to anchor my foot. That would be an improvement, and maybe I could sometimes use my left foot so that I don't build up fatigue from anchoring in one position. Is it possible to rig several foot controllers in parallel? Somehow, that kind of Rube Goldberg solution always ends up being more trouble than it's worth. I also thought of maybe getting one of those Taurus-like pedal controllers if I could map more than one pedal to the damper function. But that gear is kind of expensive to buy as an experiment.
Originally Posted by JimmyTheSaint
As a refugee from bass guitar-induced tendinitis , I'm always watching out for new repetitive stress injuries. I had classical and jazz training on piano years ago, so even though coming back to it now my playing now sucks, I do remember how to ergonomically minimize stress. But that training was all sitting down, and on this go round I'm strictly playing my 61-key standing up because that allows me to shift position in ways that minimize arm/hand/finger stress that playing sitting down can't do.

But playing the damper pedal standing up can get quite uncomfortable: you get locked into position, and you also tend to constantly keep more weight on the left leg than on the right so that you can operate the pedal well. In short, if I use the pedal, I can feel in my body that I'm asking for more RSI. Do people have any other suggestions as to how to get the sustain function in a way that will suit someone who can't adjust to the traditional single, tiny MIDI damper switch? I've thought that if there's some kind of really long foot controller, maybe that would do. I've tried to go without using the pedal at all--teacher always said you shouldn't rely on the pedal too much--but as I get my chops back, I'm realizing that some things you want to hear can only be done with a sustain pedal regardless of great fingering techniques. Do people know of any controller that might work better for me? I have lots of experience with breath controllers, but that would be a little too annoying for extended use here.


You could try something like these as a compromise between sitting and standing:

http://www.swopper.de/en/muvman/

or

http://www.varierfurniture.com/Collections/Human-instruments/Move

I use the former with my piano and can practice for much longer in comfort than hitherto with a conventional piano bench.

The latter is also good (I have one at work) but the saddle shaped seat would make using a three pedal unit somewhat awkward. It is a super comfortable chair though.

Neither are cheap so see if you can borrow one from a dealer for a few days before you buy.

P.S. I have no connection with either company. I just don't like having a stiff, sore back at the end of a long day at the desk.

Good luck.

Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused

You could try something like these as a compromise between sitting and standing:

http://www.swopper.de/en/muvman/

or

http://www.varierfurniture.com/Collections/Human-instruments/Move


Those look pretty great. I think they'd be really useful for me even if not with piano. But how well do they work when side-to-side repositioning is needed? The advantage of standing up is that I can reposition to the right or left as needed to keep my wrists, elbows, and shoulders at the best angle I can manage. (The problem is that the pedal doesn't move with me.) With a piano bench, for example, you can slide left and right, though not as smoothly and quickly as standing up. It looks to me that the muvman optimizes your working angle, but doesn't allow repositioning to the left and right. How does that work for you?
The Muvman allows you to shift in all directions as you pivot from the joint in the base of the chair which helps to strengthen your back muscles and abdominal core.

Tilting is not the same as sliding along a bench but it hasn't given me any problems. Fortunately I have long arms which helps. smile

As I say, these chairs are a compromise but they are a lot better (for me) than conventional chairs and I wouldn't be without one of them.

I found this on Youtube that might give you more info about how the Muvman moves:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fCNi-DWykk


I bought a 61 to best accomodate me physically, so I don't need to move terribly much from side to side. The muvman just might work (and be useful for other activities). But I can't seem to find a way to get one shipped to Taiwan. And then there may be customs duties, but definitely hefty shipping charges. I think I could end up paying USD $1000 or more, so that's a consideration.
I used to have trouble with the pedal when I first started playing gigs standing up. Put so much fatigue on my legs and back. I experimented a lot and eventually moved the pedal closer to me, not under the keyboard. I basically stood in a position that was most comfortable for me, saw where my right foot was, and put the pedal there. I now pivot my foot on my heel whenever I need the pedal, but can rest my foot beside it when I'm not using it. After doing that for sometime I can say that I think the most trouble isn't while you are pressing the pedal, it's the position your body is in when you're not pressing it.
Yes, I see what you mean. But I'm still have the problem of left-right body shifts. I've found the best way to minimize tension from the shoulders down to the hands is to shift so that my belly button sometimes lines up with middle C, and sometimes with the C an octave above and below. Standing up, I have the option of repositioning my feet to the right or left. But then it's difficult to diagonally reach my foot over to the pedal. If I don't move my feet and just shift my torso left or right (apparently what you're doing), that's still rather a strain for me. Sitting down, you can shift your torso no problem because your legs aren't supporting your body weight. But if you lean to the right standing up, all the weight goes onto your right leg, so that's a strain when operating the pedal.

The ergonomic chair described above might fix all that, but I'm now thinking of attaching one or two more damper pedals. Then I could pedal without strain while shifted to a point across from the additional damper pedal. Is there some simple MIDI device that will allow hooking up multiple damper pedals in parallel? I imagine I could also map my Kronos's "switch" and "pedal" jacks, but a small MIDI parallel box seems more idiot-proof.
Posted By: ando Re: more comfortable damper when standing? - 07/29/12 10:27 AM
Originally Posted by JimmyTheSaint


The ergonomic chair described above might fix all that, but I'm now thinking of attaching one or two more damper pedals. Then I could pedal without strain while shifted to a point across from the additional damper pedal. Is there some simple MIDI device that will allow hooking up multiple damper pedals in parallel? I imagine I could also map my Kronos's "switch" and "pedal" jacks, but a small MIDI parallel box seems more idiot-proof.


If your DP has the type of damper where there is an open circuit when it the up (damper off) position, you could wire together as many dampers as you like in parallel. That isn't a MIDI issue. Dampers are just variable resistors (potentiometers). The DP reads the electrical resistance based on have far you depress the pedal. Some DPs are open circuit by default, others are closed circuit. You wouldn't be able to parallel wire sustain pedals if your DP is the closed circuit type. Fortunately most are open circuit so you should have no trouble. A simple Y-connecter will merge two 1/4" mono plugs into one mono plug. If yours uses stereo plugs you can get Y-connectors for those too. If you want more than two pedals, just get additional Y-connectors. I think more than two sustain pedals is overkill though. Surely you aren't that physically challenged. I think there's such a thing as taking ergonomics too far. It can make you crazy and feel like nothing you do is good for your body. Try to keep it real. 3 sustain pedals is taking it one step too far IMO. It's your decision though, so go with your gut.
Originally Posted by JimmyTheSaint
I bought a 61 to best accomodate me physically, so I don't need to move terribly much from side to side. The muvman just might work (and be useful for other activities). But I can't seem to find a way to get one shipped to Taiwan. And then there may be customs duties, but definitely hefty shipping charges. I think I could end up paying USD $1000 or more, so that's a consideration.


Wow! That would be steep for a chair!

There must be somewhere in Taiwan that sells ergonomic furniture and they are bound to have a similar product. If not, it seems like a good business opportunity. I would contact the manufacturers and become an official licensed distributor as well as a consumer.

I'm no engineer but it strikes me that the solution is probably some sort of pressure sensor in / on the sole of the shoe with smart electronics that will ignore footsteps but sense when you are applying sustained pressure through the forefoot and convert that to MIDI data and transmit it wirelessly.

I bet Dewster could knock something like that up in a weekend if you asked him nicely. smile
Posted By: ando Re: more comfortable damper when standing? - 07/29/12 11:23 AM
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused

I'm no engineer but it strikes me that the solution is probably some sort of pressure sensor in / on the sole of the shoe with smart electronics that will ignore footsteps but sense when you are applying sustained pressure through the forefoot and convert that to MIDI data and transmit it wirelessly.

I bet Dewster could knock something like that up in a weekend if you asked him nicely. smile


I like your lateral thinking, but that would only work for an on/off style damper. If you want half-pedalling you've have to go with a pedal with some range of travel.
Originally Posted by ando
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused

I'm no engineer but it strikes me that the solution is probably some sort of pressure sensor in / on the sole of the shoe with smart electronics that will ignore footsteps but sense when you are applying sustained pressure through the forefoot and convert that to MIDI data and transmit it wirelessly.

I bet Dewster could knock something like that up in a weekend if you asked him nicely. smile


I like your lateral thinking, but that would only work for an on/off style damper. If you want half-pedalling you've have to go with a pedal with some range of travel.


I was thinking of something like a small pressurized balloon in the insole of the shoe that you step on and a sensor that can detect continuous changes of pressure and convert it to MIDI. Is that feasible?
Posted By: ando Re: more comfortable damper when standing? - 07/29/12 11:46 AM
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused
Originally Posted by ando
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused

I'm no engineer but it strikes me that the solution is probably some sort of pressure sensor in / on the sole of the shoe with smart electronics that will ignore footsteps but sense when you are applying sustained pressure through the forefoot and convert that to MIDI data and transmit it wirelessly.

I bet Dewster could knock something like that up in a weekend if you asked him nicely. smile


I like your lateral thinking, but that would only work for an on/off style damper. If you want half-pedalling you've have to go with a pedal with some range of travel.


I was thinking of something like a small pressurized balloon in the insole of the shoe that you step on and a sensor that can detect continuous changes of pressure and convert it to MIDI. Is that feasible?


It might be, but there's no need to mess around with MIDI at the pedal when you have a DP which measures damper activity by electrical resistance. Even with a pressure switch, you'd still go with something that works like a potentiometer. Let the DP handle the conversion to MIDI.
Originally Posted by ando
If your DP has the type of damper where there is an open circuit when it the up (damper off) position, you could wire together as many dampers as you like in parallel.


How do I determine what type it is? The only information I have is that the Kronos requires me to set the polarity to positive, or else the pedal works in reverse. The pedal also has a mono plug.

I get it about diminishing returns on ergonomic setups. I'll definitely try two pedals before I try three, but I've been burned by three different bouts of tendinitis in three different tendons. Each time I got hit with the full monty overnight. The last time, I woke up with no range of motion in my left arm. Not one bit of improvement for two months until I saw the right kind of physical therapist. So I'm willing to take more dramatic measures than most people to boost my chances of avoiding injury.
Posted By: ando Re: more comfortable damper when standing? - 07/29/12 06:38 PM
Originally Posted by JimmyTheSaint
Originally Posted by ando
If your DP has the type of damper where there is an open circuit when it the up (damper off) position, you could wire together as many dampers as you like in parallel.


How do I determine what type it is? The only information I have is that the Kronos requires me to set the polarity to positive, or else the pedal works in reverse. The pedal also has a mono plug.

I get it about diminishing returns on ergonomic setups. I'll definitely try two pedals before I try three, but I've been burned by three different bouts of tendinitis in three different tendons. Each time I got hit with the full monty overnight. The last time, I woke up with no range of motion in my left arm. Not one bit of improvement for two months until I saw the right kind of physical therapist. So I'm willing to take more dramatic measures than most people to boost my chances of avoiding injury.


Easiest way is to get a multimeter and check for resistance when the pedal is not pressed down. If there is infinite resistance (no reading), you can connect pedals. As you depress the pedal, you will start to see some resistance (or full resistance if it's an on/off style switch). A lot of pedals have a polarity switch on the bottom anyway, so you can set them up the way I described using a Y-connector.
OK, my current pedal is apparently the wrong type: I get continuity with the damper up. This is a good thing because my Kronos sometimes malfunctions with this pedal (sustain gets stuck on), so I'm getting a new pedal this week of the opposite polarity, which should then be the parallelizable type.

I would think there's also a way to take the old pedal out of the "damper" jack, plug it into the "switch" jack, and map the switch function to sustain on/off?
I just bought a Korg DS-1H damper pedal. It's the correct polarity, but it has a TRS cable for half-pedaling. Can two of this kind be hooked up in parallel with the above Y-connector method? I'd be OK with sacrificing the half-pedaling function.
Posted By: R0B Re: more comfortable damper when standing? - 07/30/12 03:52 PM
If the existing pedal is a basic on/off switch, it would be a simple job to replace it with a pressure pad, used in security systems, usually under a carpet.
These can be had in many different shapes and sizes. It could run the whole width of the DP, if required.
Posted By: ando Re: more comfortable damper when standing? - 07/30/12 06:29 PM
Originally Posted by JimmyTheSaint
I just bought a Korg DS-1H damper pedal. It's the correct polarity, but it has a TRS cable for half-pedaling. Can two of this kind be hooked up in parallel with the above Y-connector method? I'd be OK with sacrificing the half-pedaling function.


Yep, no problem at all! I'd get the half-pedalling going personally, but it depends on what turns out to be better for you in terms on ergonomic needs. I didn't think you could sacrifice half-pedalling with such a pedal.
Posted By: keystring Re: more comfortable damper when standing? - 07/30/12 06:41 PM
Possibly there is something else. Shifting body weight and position is something you should be doing for the very purposes you mentioned, and it should feel a little bit as if you are standing up or almost standing up. But often when we play the piano we literally sit. So maybe what you have ended up looking for is this "sitting as if you are standing but not quite" which is part of what piano technique is about.
Before I spend the money to buy a second nice damper pedal, I tried mapping my footswitch to the sustain controller to see how two pedals feels. (This wouldn't be an ideal solution because I'd have to edit every single program rather than make one global controller assignment.) I now realize that two pedals should be enough. I only need an extra one to the right because when standing and shifted right, it's difficult to pedal with the right foot because you need to cross your right leg over your left to reach the pedal. When shifted to the left, the pedal positioned over middle C is fine. Alternatively, perhaps I'll try learning to pedal with my left foot when shifted to the right. Since all my techniques are pretty basic, I would think I could bring my left foot up to speed quickly enough. Otherwise, a second pedal with stereo Y-cable looks like the way to go.

In either case, it looks like there's no way to keep continuous control over the sustain pedals when you reposition your body by shifting your feet left or right. Your feet lose contact with the floor when taking a step. I might try the pressure pad idea if I really want to keep continuous control over sustain by dragging one or both feet to the right or left.

keystring: Not clear what you mean: your suggestion looks like it's for playing sitting down (right?). But I only play standing, and my keyboard's too high up until I can find one of those specialized high chairs, which would give that "sitting while standing" feel. Perhaps that's what you meant.
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