man sitting at piano on sidewalk

Are you sitting correctly at the piano?

Do you feel stiff or in pain after playing piano?

It happens to all of us. Really, it does. 

It could be because you’re nervous to play for others. When I’m nervous, my shoulders get incredibly tense and I feel like they could touch my ears!

I’ve learned that when I force my shoulders down first, my playing becomes a lot more fluid!

Sitting correctly and comfortably at the piano actually has a big impact on your playing. If you’re sitting correctly, you shouldn’t be in pain, either! Below, I’ve outlined a few tips and what to look for to make sure you’re sitting at the piano the right way. 

  1. Straighten up!

    Our parents told us to walk with our shoulders back and stand tall and proud. We want to do the same thing at the piano. This not only makes us appear more confident, but makes the muscles in our core stronger.

  2. Check your bench

    If you’re sitting too low or too high at the piano, that can lead to more problems down the road. Can you reach the entire keyboard and still be comfortable?

    You need more room than you think. You might feel comfortable now, playing songs that are in about two octaves, but what happens when you have a song that is spread across four or more octaves?

    Being too close to the piano causes us to tighten our arms in toward our middle, which leads to more tension.

  3. Hold a bubble

    It’s important to not let your hands and wrists “hang” while playing piano. This can lead to accidentally hitting the wrong keys, not to mention it can be uncomfortable. Try acting like you’re gently holding a bubble, and go from there.

  4. Pedals

    You may not use your left foot to press the pedals, but your left foot does act as a support for the rest of you. Make sure your left foot is flat on the floor in front of you, not off on the side, or angled like your right foot is for the pedal. Make sure your right foot heel is balanced on the floor, angled like a lever of sorts so you can easily press the sustain pedal when needed.

  5. Let the music take you

    If you’re “feeling the music” while playing, feel free to move with it! Don’t feel like you have to sit rigidly at the piano. Part of the goal of playing piano is to feel something through music. The more you feel “moved,” the better of a piano player you become.
  • Carol Rouse
    Posted at 21:27h, 17 September

    I am very thankful to be at the piano again,I fell down my stairs and have not been able to play. Thank you for having these on Facebook.i now have play with my right hand with one finger.i thank Jesus and you my chance to play again.

    • Hannah Derleth
      Posted at 12:02h, 22 September

      We are so sorry to hear that, Carol! Hoping you have a speedy recovery. I’m glad you’re still able to make the courses/piano work for you!

  • Barbara J Sperl
    Posted at 12:27h, 17 December

    Bench or stool? Which provides the best option for playing?

    • Hannah Derleth
      Posted at 13:12h, 21 December

      Hi Barbara— it really just depends on what you prefer, what you’re most comfortable with!