Tips to Help Maintain Excellent Posture When Playing Piano

by Cassie Winterhalter on January 8, 2015

Photo credit:  Wonderlane

Photo credit: Wonderlane

Happy New Year again! I hope your 2015 is off to a wonderful start! I know that it promises to be another awesome year. I’m very excited about what’s coming up for me this year. 🙂 More on that in an upcoming post…

Today I’d like to share my top five tips to ensure that you use proper posture in your piano lessons. While posture may seem menial and is often overlooked compared to other things taught in lessons, playing the piano (or any instrument) with proper posture is so important. Proper posture sets the foundation for a high standard of playing. It also prevents injuries, which can unfortunately happen to anyone and are quite common when proper posture is not followed.

Here are the top five tips for maintaining excellent posture while you play piano:

#1: Use a bench when you play, or if you have to use a chair make sure it’s an appropriate chair

I always think it’s better to use a bench when you play piano rather than a chair. It provides flexibility to slide right and left when you play higher and lower notes. This isn’t possible with a chair. Students often end up straining side to side to reach notes that are far to the right or left.

If your piano or keyboard did not come with a bench, consider getting one. Plenty of my families have ordered benches online. If you do need to use a chair even for a period of time, use one that is not cushy and won’t sink in when you sit down. I’ll talk more about the importance of the height of your seat below. Also make sure the chair doesn’t have arm rests, as those will get in the way of your arms when you play.

#2: Check the height of the bench or chair

This is so important. Make sure that when you sit on the bench or chair that your wrists and forearms are parallel to the ground. If not, this puts undue strain on the wrists and can easily cause injuries. I like to tell students to imagine their hands as a table top. As long as they keep their “table top” flat, the food or drink on top of the table, won’t spill and make a mess.

Very often piano benches are a little too low. Even my own bench that came with my grand piano is just a tad too low for me. I have a piano cushion which I use to keep myself higher up. Not only does it keep my wrists and forearms at the proper level, it also makes sitting on the bench for long periods of time to practice or play for fun much more comfortable.

If your bench is too low, I recommend getting a piano bench cushion. One specifically made for piano benches is better, so it won’t slide around or fall off. If you need to, don’t hesitate to grab any pillows or cushions you have in order to increase your bench or chair height before you’ve gotten your piano bench cushion. You can also buy an adjustable bench which can go up or down based on how high you need it. These are more expensive, but are really amazing!

#3: Sit halfway back on the bench

When you sit on the piano bench your bottom should be about midway between the front and the back of the bench. You shouldn’t sit right on the front of the bench edge or really far back on the bench either. Sitting right in the middle will provide you with the most flexibility as you play and will also make pedaling easiest.

#4: Use a stool if need be

We always encourage young children who are interested in lessons to begin with us. If you’d like more information on how young is ok, check out this blog post.

Many young students don’t have long enough legs to reach the ground when they sit on the piano bench. That’s totally fine, but often these kids become really antsy and swing their legs front and back or will sit on them during their lessons. This usually makes them more distracted and less focused.

To combat this, I suggest grabbing a stool and putting under the bench where your child’s feet are dangling, so they can rest them on top of it. This works wonders with otherwise distracted young students.

#5: Sit up straight and tall and don’t hunch over

This is self explanatory. It’s bad for your back to hunch over when you play. Believe it or not, it also can affect your playing and overall sound quality in a negative way. Sit with excellent posture and all of this can be avoided.

Thanks so much for reading! Please leave a comment below and let me know which of the above tips or which tip of your own resonates the most with you.

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Have a beautiful day!

Sincerely,

Cassie

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie Smith July 21, 2015 at 4:24 pm

It’s so important to maintain good posture while playing piano! I’ve been playing the violin for 7 years, and the same goes for that instrument as well. I’ve been teaching myself a few songs here and there on piano, but I’ll need to invest in some lessons soon. Thanks for the tips on posture!

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Logan Murphy January 4, 2016 at 1:39 pm

I never would of thought that bad posture could affect the way I play and the overall sound quality as well. I just started taking piano lessons a couple of months ago. We had a neighbor who was getting rid of their piano so we thought we would take it. I’ve really enjoyed taking lessons so far and love to look up tips to improve. I’ve noticed that I kind of hunch over when I play so I’m glad I came across your article. Thanks for sharing!

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Lauren Woodley February 23, 2016 at 5:53 pm

I just put my daughter in piano lessons, and I want to make sure that I know different techniques, so that while I’m watching her practice, I can help and critique her when necessary. Specifically, I really liked the insight you gave that she should be sitting about midway between the front and the back of the bench.This definitely gives me something specific to look for!

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April Cook April 26, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Thanks for tip 3, to sit halfway back on the bench. I didn’t realize that this would provide me with the most flexibility to reach all the keys. I need to start practicing playing more, and hopefully practicing the right way will help me improve. Thanks!

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