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Topic: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?  (Read 13350 times)

Offline Aaron_Sarnat

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Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
on: February 01, 2003, 07:23:06 PM
I've been playing for 13 years and I noticed a couple years ago that I slouch when I play.  I imagine that this isn't good but how bad is it really?  I never had a teacher so nobody ever punished me for playing like this.  I've tried many times to force myself to sit up but right but it doesn't feel natural.  Bad habits die hard I guess.

Am I doomed to get back problems or something?  Could it be affecting my playing?

Thanks!
-Aaron Sarnat
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Offline tosca1

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #1 on: February 01, 2003, 09:02:29 PM
Hello Aaron,
This a problem that many of us can identify with. Clifford Curzon, the distinguished English pianist ,was unkindly called "Banana Back" by some commentator.

As we become  completely involved in the music as we play we are easily unaware of what our posture is like.  Poor posture leads to an increase in muscular tension in the neck, shoulders and back.  

Consequently, freedom of movement in arms is restricted and that of course badly affects our playing.  Eventually the muscular tightness will cause pain and much discomfort.

Trying to change any bad, ingrained habit will be difficult and initially the corrected posture will feel unnatural and even uncomfortable.  

You should be conscious of your posture away from the piano too and if your problem is partly caused by poor muscle tone, you should do something to remedy that.  Any light physical exercise régime from yoga to brisk walking will work wonders.

Thanks,
Robert.

Offline Aaron_Sarnat

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #2 on: February 01, 2003, 09:40:36 PM
Thanks Robert.  Yoga's a good idea.  I should start taking classes....if nothing else, for the ladies ;)
-Aaron Sarnat
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Offline rachfan

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #3 on: February 01, 2003, 11:24:23 PM
Some more suggestions:  First, check out your general posture.  Sit on the front half of your bench only with your forearms level with the keyboard, feet flat on the floor by the pedals.  If you have an adjustable artist's bench, my advice is to try to sit lower rather than higher.  Tone production will be deeper and richer that way.  Make sure your knees are about two inches under the keyboard, no more.  Give yourself some mental reminders to sit up fairly straight.   Incidentally, there is an occasion when you will naturally bend forward toward the keyboard, and that is for the dynamic fff.  After you've executed that, move back into normal straight posture again.  By the way, you'll find that when you sit straight, you actually breathe better too.   That's very important, because like a singer, a pianist has to inhale deeply during passionate passages in the romantic repertoire.  It brings acuity of mind for execution and stirs the senses at the same time.  Proper breathing is essential in that regard.  If you're all bent over,  you cannot possibly do that as well, since the diaphram is compressed.  So again, keep giving yourself mental reminders to straighten up.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline amee

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #4 on: April 20, 2003, 06:51:36 AM
As well as helping your posture, yoga also increases your life span ;)

I think its something like if you do yoga every night for 30 minutes for 14 years, then you will live 5 years longer.
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." - Frederic Chopin

Offline lea

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #5 on: April 20, 2003, 08:20:16 AM
amee, yoga makes u live longer??

mi aunty used to do it and once she blackmailed me into doing it....a reward of food  :D but i absolutely used to hate it!!!! i always ended up crying!!!

Aaron, i would try the alexandra technique


lea 8)
memo from lea: red bull gives u wings

Offline amee

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #6 on: April 20, 2003, 08:40:16 AM
Yeah apprently yoga does make you live longer...
But I'm not totally sure on that. :)
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." - Frederic Chopin

Offline frederic

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #7 on: April 20, 2003, 09:47:49 AM
Yeah well no smoking makes you live longer as far as i know.... ;D
"The concert is me" - Franz Liszt

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #8 on: May 06, 2003, 07:04:45 PM
I also feel that when I slouch at the ivories, that I get too relaxed and actually lose concentration. If I stay erect, I feel like I am concentrating more on the piece and the business at hand than I would be if I slouch.

BoliverAllmon

Offline d1musicman

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #9 on: May 21, 2003, 06:32:10 AM
Piano playing is a whole body experience. It's not just in the hands, wrists, or arms. I've had the opportunity, over the past several years to work with a piano teacher who is also a certified Alexander teacher. Many of my lessons dealt (and still do) with my overall coordination and "use" at the piano (ie. how my whole body moves while I play). Not only has my posture improved, but my technique has as well. My playing is faster and also easier. My tone has also improved.

Indirectly, my playing improved by improving my coordination. Staying "up" (not slouching) is the way to go. At first I had to consciously direct myself "forward and up".  After a while it became natural.

Theres lots of info on the net about the Alexander Technique if you're interested.

As someone else also mentioned, I think about my "use" away from the piano as well. Piano playing should be as easy as picking up a piece of paper or typing on the computer.

Offline Franz_Liszt

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #10 on: June 24, 2003, 01:32:42 AM
 Slouching leads to back injuries for one thing, and it stunts technical growth. We all know that relaxation is a key part of the technical process. Back injuries reduce your ability to relax, and slouching postures limit the dymnamic range of your playing, to put it simply.
If I miss a day of practice, I notice it
  If I miss two days, my wife notices it
  If I miss five days the public notices it
                                       -Franz Liszt

Offline rubleski

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #11 on: June 17, 2004, 06:03:12 AM
Sounds like I'm in trouble then

Offline Tash

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #12 on: June 17, 2004, 02:11:58 PM
i was really paranoid about slouching at the piano a few years ago so made an effort to sit up straight. but i wasn't sure how straight i was sitting until last year when i saw myself on video in a performance last year and i'm like wow i have better posture when i'm playing than when i'm not playing. and i mentioned this in a similar thread- just think of the future when you're rather old and your head can't look straight up beacuse your shoulders are slouched and your muscles have adjusted to this position. sorry i am a posture nazi and am against slouching because it's not attractive in any form and to me represents a sign of laziness and i hate being lazy! (though i must admit i am quite lazy half the time and i hate it)
'J'aime presque autant les images que la musique' Debussy

Spatula

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #13 on: June 17, 2004, 09:29:41 PM
I was, and still am, a pretty bad sloucher especially when I drill a section of a piece, because for some reason if I sit up straight, my head has to look down further and cause some strain, and with my eyes looking down which is unusual for my body.  Slouching did cause some muscle pain though, so still I should correct it.  :o

bet33

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #14 on: June 18, 2004, 01:06:18 AM
"Slouching...it stunts technical growth"

tell that to glenn gould...  ;D

Offline donjuan

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #15 on: June 18, 2004, 01:27:26 AM
look, if you have back problems in your family history, then there is nothing you can do to avoid it (No matter haw you sit).  If you dont have back problems in your family, then there shouldnt be any consequence of slouching or not.
donjuan

Offline xvimbi

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #16 on: June 18, 2004, 02:02:48 AM
Quote
look, if you have back problems in your family history, then there is nothing you can do to avoid it (No matter haw you sit).  If you dont have back problems in your family, then there shouldnt be any consequence of slouching or not.
donjuan

Wow! Such statements destroy anything that has ever been tried to get pianists to adopt a better posture and avoid a plethora of problems. Please, everybody, don't listen to this!
It's almost like saying "If nobody in your familiy ever died in the mountains, there shouldn't be any consequence of you climbing Mt. Everest naked and without oxygen".

Offline donjuan

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #17 on: June 18, 2004, 03:33:26 AM
sorry, it didnt come off the right way...I meant you should do what comes naturally, and if you have back problems running in the family (much like susceptibility to kidney stones..), then there isnt much that can be done for you.  If you naturally slump a bit at the piano, it cant be too bad, because if you were to try to sit up straight, you wouldnt be comfortable, and your playing would be negatively affected.

Like bet33 was suggesting with the Glenn Gould example, we really dont know anything about the "Proper way" to sit.  I tend to believe it will be different for everyone.
donjuan

Offline xvimbi

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #18 on: June 18, 2004, 06:27:38 AM
Quote
sorry, it didnt come off the right way...I meant you should do what comes naturally, and if you have back problems running in the family (much like susceptibility to kidney stones..), then there isnt much that can be done for you.  If you naturally slump a bit at the piano, it cant be too bad, because if you were to try to sit up straight, you wouldnt be comfortable, and your playing would be negatively affected.

As I mentioned in the thread about "Correct posture" in the "Student" section, it is inevitable to feel uncomfortable when one goes from a bad posture to a good posture, because the body is so accustomed to the bad posture that it thinks it's the norm. One has to gradually change into the good posture.

Quote
Like bet33 was suggesting with the Glenn Gould example, we really dont know anything about the "Proper way" to sit.  I tend to believe it will be different for everyone.
donjuan

We do know a lot about the proper way to sit. Bet33 was referring to the effect of slouching on technique. In fact, Glenn Gould had SERIOUS injuries. He is among those that are always cited when it comes to list famous pianists with serious injuries (Rachmaninoff and Leon Fleischer are two more; in fact, 86% of all pianists have problems; you are one of them, as I recall). It was Gould's way to play the piano, but it was not PROPER posture.

Offline Bob

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Re: Slouching at the piano... how bad is it?
Reply #19 on: June 18, 2004, 10:58:56 PM
If you're sitting up, it's easier to lean forward a little and put more weight into the keyboard (as opposed to using muscles in you arms).
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."
 

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