Kid’s Piano Posture

Kid's Piano Posture
The Posture Police

Kid’s piano posture can take any form from perfect to sloth-like, depending on their energy and mood.

I think I’ve seen it all.

Kids who are so hyperactive that they chew the furniture, play piano with only their left thumbs, sit cross-legged on the piano bench, if they sit at all.

Yes, there are very specific postures and positions that professionals take to play the piano.

There are even times when a concert artist must know when to move to one side, sometimes by only half an  inch or two, to be in the best position for an upcoming passage.

For a concert pianits, a specific piece may call for sitting an inch or two or three on either side of Middle C, to take advantage of the body’s position in playing parts of a difficult piece.

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But all this is irrelevant to a six year old.

It’s like putting a child in a go-kart and them asking them if they’d rather have a lecture on the automotive industry for an hour before they drive. All they want to do is push on that gas pedal.

The point is that a child has to see the reward before they attempt to earn it.

Asking a child to concentrate on posture at the piano is equivalent to asking them to choose the automotive lecture instead of the go-kart drive. That is not a child’s nature.

The same goes for piano hand position, and finger position as well. You would do better to make these issues into physical games first, so they get the feel of the motions, before it becomes complicated with musical issues.

Let’s take posture first. Let me preface this by saying that the most important posture of all at the piano is to simply be in front of one. Without that initial posture, achieved either through desire or force, nothing can ever be learned at the piano.

The quickest way to get child to sit correctly at the piano, aside from them wanting to be there, is to ask them to use the pedals. For the youngest children, they may end up standing, but for the average six year old, putting a foot on the pedal requires them to sit squarely in the correct position.

I have never had to make a serious comment about a child’s posture. Posture is really only important if the child ever becomes seriously interested, like an athlete, and must be inducted into the various mysteries and minutiae of playing the piano. Posture is never a problem, and if it is, be gentle and make a joke about their sloppy posture. Imitate it, extremely, then laugh and show them how it is correctly done. They either take the bait or not.

I have had parents who insist on a small box or stool being put at the tiny child’s feet so that they reach a floor, simulated by the box. I’ve actually taught such a child over the years, until they grew enough to not need the box. The only result was they clumsily tried to incorporate the box into their routine when they were clearly too big for it. The point is that the box or similar devices are useless.

My own experience bears out some weird stories of extreme piano posture child abuse.

Here is a story that may illuminate you on the history of the foolish fad of piano posture.

I know a violinist, now a member of a major American symphony orchestra, whose piano teacher, when he was a child, forced him to wear a wooden yoke around his neck to prevent his looking at the keys. Needless to say, he hated the piano for about four decades, until finally, in the last few years, he got over it and started playing the piano again.

If this isn’t child abuse for the sake of piano posture, then what is?

If a child ever gets good enough to care about posture about the piano, they will correct it themselves. It is impossible to play at the highest level in anything but a comfortable posture.

Don’t forget a posture lesson from a great pianist:

Glenn Gould sat on a tiny folding chair with the legs sawed off, leaving his chin almost level with the keys!

Play first then worry about posture.

If you hate playing the piano, sitting the correct way will do nothing.

Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press

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