Please read Part 1 of How to Obtain the Best Sitting Position at the Piano before reading the following:
To finalise the perfect sitting position for yourself, however, you would need to answer the following questions:
1. Are you a
A. Beginner or
B. Intermediate/Advanced Player?
2. Are you establishing the sitting position for
A. Your daily practice or
B. For performing purposes?
3. What is the acoustic of the space?
4. What is your body type?
A. Tall upper body
B. Short upper body.
Here are the answers to the questions above:
1A. For the beginner, you will be unlikely to need to produce a lot of sound or exhibit strength in your playing, so all you would need is to sit correctly, trying to match the 90 degree angle between your upper arm and the keyboard on the length of the forearm, so your fingers are gently resting on the keys and your wrists are in line with your arms and hands. Keep your feet parallel, with legs slightly apart. This is very important, particularly for women players, who are taught from childhood to keep their legs close together, which is appropriate in daily life, but creates tension in the hips if you are playing the piano, and hence negatively affects the playing.
1B. For Intermediate and Advanced players, you would need to analyse what pieces you are playing.
If your music has a lot of fast passages or/and big chords, it would be easier to play it sitting slightly higher, as it is less physically exhausting and makes the playing easier, however, on the downside, it will tend to encourage a few wrong notes, as your ‘grounding’ will be affected and therefore your control of the instrument will be disturbed.
If you sit lower, you will be safer from the control point of view, but it will be more tiring to play. Also, you would need to watch out that your wrists don’t go lower then the hands (for more then a few seconds), as this could lead to all sorts of hand problems.
2A. If you are sitting in your practice studio, then it is good to challenge yourself and work from the traditional position described above.
2B. However if you are playing in a concert hall, it is OK to work with the acoustic of the space: sit higher if you need to produce more sound, as your whole body will contribute to producing more sound (very useful for people with a small frame), or sit lower if the keys of the piano are too light and the acoustics of the space are ‘booming’, forcing you to be extra careful not to play everything loudly.
3. Please refer to the 2B answer above.
4. This is very interesting point:
4A. If your upper body is quite long, then your chair would be always placed in a lower position then the chair of someone with a shorter upper body. This is important to remember if you are performing in a concert or exam, where you are not the only person who is playing.
To be on the safe side, particularly if you do not have an opportunity to rehearse on the instrument before performing, make sure to reproduce the seating position that you adopt at home (the height of your sitting position in relation to the instrument) and try to recreate it at the new venue. You may not be able to react to factors like the touch of the instrument or acoustics of the venue, but at least you will feel more grounded, which is so essential for a confident performance.
4B. Please refer to the answer in 4A.
At the end of the day, establishing the best seating position is a very individual factor, as many of us have unbalanced right and left sides, different physique, various hearing abilities and many other factors, so it is always very interesting and rewarding to find the position that works best for you. This is why various great performers sit completely differently. The correct seating position could considerably improve the quality of your playing without you even practicing! If you follow the guidelines above you will definitely be on the right track.
Here is an excellent example of the optimum seating position - Artur Rubinstein.
Happy Practising & Enjoy Finding your Unique Position!
GéNIA’s Piano-Yoga® Book is available here.
Piano-Yoga® also offer a course of Skype lessons if you have trouble making it to London. Click HERE to find out more information and to book.