Proper Piano Posture: Getting settled on the piano bench

Here’s a quick video demonstrating proper piano posture and how you should sit at the piano – very important stuff if you don’t want to injure yourself, or look like a big goof.

Practice this as many times as possible until it’s second nature, like brushing your teeth or walking down the street.

 

Once you got proper piano posture covered, we’ll do a Q+A with one of your most burning questions (I’m psychic, I know these things), and then we’ll get into the real goods – the actual reading and playing of piano.

Woo hoo!

Proper piano posture

Getting set up at the piano: The bench

Please for the love of everything, no chairs. Chairs aren’t usually the right height for a keyboard, and if they have arms, your own arms will get all squished and thrown out of alignment. Benches aren’t expensive and they will contribute to your spinal health as well.

proper piano posture

If you’re really tall or really short, you’ll want a bench that you can adjust the height of. Your elbows should bend at about a 90 degree angle – you’ll create tension if you’re leering over the piano, or if you’re reaching up like a needy child. For those of us with average proportions, a regular bench should work just fine.

Distance from the Piano

Now let’s talk distance. If your arms are proportional to your body, a good rule of thumb is having your knees line up with the edge of the piano. This provides a comfortable reach.

If your arms are longer or shorter than average, just look for this shape when you sit – arms beside, but not touching the torso, a gentle bend in the elbows, with arms flat-parallel to the keys.

Basically what you want to avoid is sitting too close, which causes the elbows to jut out, the wrists to drop, and making it impossible to use the pedals when you eventually get to that. Or, sitting too far away, with no bend in the elbow, causing a lot of strain in your arms.

Where to sit on the piano bench

Where you plant yourself on the bench is important too – the best posture tends to come from sitting on the front edge of the bench. If you’re too far back, in a leisure position on the bench, your feet won’t be properly grounded – if you can swing your feet, it’s not a good sign.

Sitting on the front edge keeps your feet firmly on the floor, which I find also helps to sit up straight. You might be like, “but I like doing the slouchy thing”, but just think about your back, and all the tears of bitterness that can be avoided just by sitting like a lady (or gentleman).

Hand position and wrist shape

Last note is on hand position and wrist shape. If you’ve paid attention to all the previous stuff, this should come naturally. All five of your digits should be on the keys – don’t be leavin’ your thumb hanging.

Try to avoid playing too deep into the keys as well – it’s just harder to play like that, and why make life harder?

Keep your wrist level with your hand – no fancy spider claw hands, or sad droopy wrists. You don’t want your fingertips directly above the keys – relax em a bit so they’re slightly angled, but not flat, which just makes it look like your fingers are grossed out by the keys.

A summary of proper piano posture

Good piano posture is comprised of this: Back straight, sitting on the front edge of the bench, elbows lightly bent, and I’m able to reach the span of the keys without doing the butt shuffle. Practice this posture until it’s second nature, so that it’s one less thing to worry about when you start reading music!

proper piano posture

xo,
Allysia

Allysia has been teaching piano in Canada for nearly a decade, and has her Grade 10 RCM certificate. She especially enjoys nerding out to music history and theory. When she’s not making videos or teaching, she’s reading, writing, and jamming in a rock band.