If you’re going to play the piano well, you must be physically and mentally flexible and relaxed. Many people want to believe that their musical intuition should be enough to help them play well.
Unfortunately, this may have a negative effect on one’s health, and it becomes difficult to interact with maximum efficiency with the piano. The piano is not going to adjust itself to you, and your body has its limits. This is why it’s so important to achieve a body posture where the functionality of your body and that of the piano merges for the best result.
Well-renowned piano enthusiast and teacher Joseph Hoffman shares the ten most vital tips for developing proper posture while playing the piano:
- Pay attention to the shape of your hand and fingers
When you place your hand on your thigh and slide it to your knee, you’ll notice that your fingers will curve naturally around your knee cap. This shape is the most ideal for playing piano.
- Keep your thumbs in check
Although the rest of your fingers should be curved when playing piano, this is not the case with your thumbs.
Keep it straight but loose. When using the thumb to play the piano, just drop it downward. Only the side edge of the thumb, near the tip, should contact the piano key. Via Hoffman Academy
- Keep your head up
If your head is down while playing, this puts a lot of weight on your back and shoulders and will negatively affect your comfort over time.
To find the center balance point for your head, gently touch your fingers inside each ear and nod your head up and down, like you are saying, “yes”. This will help you feel where the center point of your head is. That center point should be in line with your shoulders over your hips. Via Hoffman Academy
- Make sure the feet are firm
If the feet are dangling, particularly for kids, they will tend to slide forward on the bench and end up sitting too close to the keys.
To keep this from happening, use a foot stool, a crate, or even a pile of books as a foot rest. Kids will be more comfortable and exhibit better posture at the piano if their feet can rest firmly on something instead of dangling. Via Hoffman Academy
- Keep your fingers firm
The end joint of your fingers should always curve out as you press down on the keys – they should never curve in.
One way to practice keeping this joint firm is to place one hand in a curved finger position on a flat surface. Using the pointer finger of the other hand, push gently in on one end joint until it buckles inward. Now try it again, this time resisting the pressure so the curved finger stays rounded out. Via Hoffman Academy
- Make good use of your arm
Your fingers already have a lot of demands placed on them, so it’s important to give them all the help they can get.
Rather than relying only on finger strength to play a note on the piano, use the whole weight of your arm… Practice holding your arm as if you had the keyboard in front of you, then letting your arm drop into your lap. Feel the natural weight of your arm as it falls limply into your lap. Via Hoffman Academy
- Involve your wrist
Your wrists play a vital role in transferring the weight of your arm to your fingers.
With curved fingers already in contact with the keys, allow the wrist to comfortably drop, slightly, as you play a key. After you play the key, then allow the wrist to gently rebound back up, in preparation for the next down stroke. Fingers should stay in contact with the keys as you do this. Via Hoffman Academy
- Align your arms
Remember to keep your elbow, wrist and pinky finger in a mostly straight line.
Sometimes, especially when playing with both thumbs on Middle C, kids will rotate their hands so their wrists are bent. Try instead to keep the wrists straighter and let the hands turn in toward each other. Keeping the wrist locked at an angle creates tension, which interferes with playing your best. Via Hoffman Academy
- Use the tip of your little finger
Like the other fingers, your little finger should have some curve, with just the tip touching the keys.
- Sit in one spot
Don’t get tempted to move around the bench – lean if you need to.
Kids seem to love to slide around on the bench when they play, but this isn’t really a good use of energy. It is better if they sit in one spot and lean if they need to. Via Hoffman Academy
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Perfect Your Piano Posture
When I think back on elements of good posture at the piano, I remember many important tips given to me by different instructors, but one that always sticks and comes to mind first is what my accompanying professor told me in college:
“You are a tree—your torso and up are the trunk, and your arms are the branches. You have to have a strong, stable trunk to allow your branches to move freely.” Via Lessons In Your Home
SITTING AT THE PIANO
Most students have to learn how to sit at the piano and, unfortunately, pianos aren’t designed for young students. Benches have them sitting too low and there’s usually no foot rest so they don’t have a solid connection with the floor. This leads to poor practice habits that become ingrained and have to be unlearned as they grow. An adjustable bench and foot stool are essential investments and good posture (not stiff or held) during practice is necessary for developing good technique and beautiful sound. Slouching is unacceptable, and even the youngest students usually have to learn to soften and breathe while sitting tall and getting their arms organized to learn appropriate gestures for playing. Via Devonshire Piano
Top five mistakes when learning to play the piano
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things when learning to play the piano is to trying to iron out the mistakes you make at the beginning. When I started, I wanted quick results, so I skipped all the things I thought were unnecessary. As a result, I picked up some bad habits that were a huge pain to break later.
However, you don‘t have to fall into the same traps. Here is my personal list of the top five of things you will hopefully do better than I did. Via Flowkey