POSTURE AT THE PIANO
It’s impossible to ignore the role that good posture plays in setting good technique habits and in preventing future technique problems from developing. For most young students, it will be necessary to make both adjustments to the student’s height on the bench and to provide a place to firmly plant the feet on the floor. Unless your young beginner is especially tall, you’ll need either a sturdy foot stool or a pedal extender.
THE BASICS IN FOUR EASY STEPS!
1. SET THE BENCH
It should be farther away from the piano than you might think. When your arms are stretched straight ahead, your wrists should reach the fallboard (the wood board behind the keys). You want enough space to move your arms freely but not so much space that you must stretch to reach the keyboard.
2. KEEP YOUR BACK COMFORTABLY UPRIGHT
3. WRIST POSITION
With your elbows relaxed, your wrist should be in a neutral position, roughly horizontal, and just an inch or so above the level of the keys. The wrist should neither bend significantly upwards nor downwards.
4.PLAN BOTH FEET FIRMLY ON THE FLOOR
Maintain a bend in the knees of between 90 and 120 degrees.
BUT WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
Here is an external website link with some helpful photographs of correct and incorrect posture: wellbalancedpianist.com
FOOTSTOOLS AND PEDAL EXTENDERS
Most young students will require a footstool and/or firm cushion in order to maintain an acceptable posture for technical development. While a sturdy footstool of the proper height is completely fine, in many situations it is preferable to have an adjustable pedal extender. Because pedal extenders are expensive and seem like a temporary need, I’ve purchased several for the Studio which I rent out to parents for a one-time fee. If you think a pedal extender might be useful for your child but you haven’t purchased one, please ask me about renting one.
WHAT IS A PEDAL EXTENDER, ANYWAY?
First, it’s a sturdy platform for the student’s feet; second, it’s adjustable in height; and third, it offers an extension of the piano’s pedals. A secure and adjustable platform is the most important feature. It prevents dangling feet. Firmly planted feet are the foundation of the good posture needed for developing proper technique at the keyboard. If you have a footstool but it’s not the right height, an adjustable pedal extender will easily fix the problem. The pedal itself is also useful (and fun!) but rarely required.
SO WHY CAN’T YOU JUST USE A FOOT STOOL?
For youngest children and/or beginners in their first year, a sturdy foot stool is a perfectly acceptable alternative. Make sure you can find a foot stool that’s the right height. If the student must stretch to reach it, or if the knees bend at a sharp angle (less than 90 degrees), it’s worse than using nothing at all. A pedal extender becomes more necessary for any student who has progressed to the level where they are, or should be, using the pedals in their playing yet they can’t reach their feet to the floor—as well as for students for whom you are unable to find an appropriately sized footstool.
WHERE CAN I GET ONE?
There are only two models available that I know of, both sold direct by the manufacturer/importer. DPH
Music: www.dphmusicarts.com. CPS
Imports: www.cpsimports.com. If you are hesitant to go out and buy your own, you may rent a pedal extender from the Studio for a one-time fee.