Help your technique and avoid aches and pains
Always spare a thought for your posture when sitting at the piano.
Your posture is vital when playing the piano, not just so you can avoid annoying aches and pains but also to maintain a solid technique. Fail to sit with a good posture while placing your hands and arms in a good position and you will find your playing suffers as well as your body.
A good piano seat is vital for sitting correctly at the piano. If you don’t have an adjustable piano seat already you should certainly invest in one, as it is unlikely that you can find a chair that is already at the exact height you need.
How do you discover the Perfect Height?
Finding a good comfortable height is important; there is no definite set height you should sit at but there are guidelines you can follow to find the most ideal height for you. You should look at your forearms and ensure they are level with the floor when you have your hands on the keys. Your hands and fingers should arch slightly and not be completely flat. This is a good benchmark to work with although you should still adjust the height slightly until you are perfectly comfortable, which is the main reason you need a piano chair you can adjust.
How much space should be between you and the piano?
The distance you sit from the piano is also important for maintaining proper posture and hand technique. You should use your upper arms as a guide here: place your upper arms flat against your sides then rest your hands on the piano keys. This is as close as you should get while playing. Play around a little with the distance until you are comfortable just as you did with the height. I find that sitting slightly further back – so that my elbows are closer to the piano than my shoulders – is a good distance that allows better reach around the piano.
Once you have your positioning to the piano sorted it is time to focus on your posture. The right posture for playing the piano is very much the same as correct posture in many other situations, you should make sure you are not slouching because doing so will damage your playing ability and the freedom of movement with your hands and fingers. Just imagine you are sitting at a very exclusive dining table surrounded by royalty, keep your back straight.
To play the piano well you need more than just agile fingers, the way you hold your body will determine how well you can move your fingers and hands in intricate motions, if your body is not stable then your playing will certainly suffer.
To perfect your posture you need to do a few simple things: Keep your back straight, lean slightly towards the piano, keep both feet planted on the ground and make sure you are a good height and distance from the piano. That is how you should sit at a piano.
While working on your posture don’t forget that comfort is very important, if you are as stiff as a board you will harm your technique perhaps even more so than if you were slouching. You need to find a good middle ground of a straight back but also relaxed enough that you can have a fluid movement across the keys. There is nothing wrong with moving around while playing but always remember to go back to a good posture.