Is there a righ posture to play your instrument?

I love Gerald Klichstein's blog The Musician's way. A few weeks ago he wrote an article about the importance of finding the right position while we play as to avoid discomfort.

It got me thinking because for most musicians focused on playing with the right position, discomfort still sets in after a few hours. I wonder if instead of one right posture, the right position isn't actually any that you change regularly.

Many people believe that it's only if you have the wrong posture that you will eventually be in pain, but how many of us do not ever feel pain when playing hours and hours a day?

Maybe after every hour we play we actually need to dramatically change our position. No pianist will ever admit to it, but I know many who spend part of their practice playing with crossed legs, or with their legs in a lotus, or with their legs extended under the piano, or the regular position.

Maybe I am very far from the right answer, but looking and trying different options has to be part of the process to finding what truly works.

I understand why the concept of sitting in one right position sounds like the correct answer, but until I meet many musicians who used to be in pain and are not anymore because of that technique, I won't be convinced.

Picture from http://www.barnard.edu/bc1968/exhibit.html


  1. As a tubist, singer, pianist, I can say that it's more important with tuba and singer because of the breathing and breath support. But I worry about pianists. Pianists practice for much longer periods than any other kind of musician I know. Poor posture could really take a toll. Wonder if Alexander Technique has been adapted for pianists?

  2. David,
    Thanks for your thoughts. I am certainly not suggesting poor posture instead of good posture, but rather I'm saying than one good posture for many hours becomes a bad one because of the amount of hours.
    People always talk about the importance of posture for singers, but of all musicians, there are the ones who are constantly moving around and singing in unimaginable positions in operas and music theatre productions.
    Alexander Technique has definitely been adapted for musicians, there are books about it actually. I haven't met many musicians who go beyond trying it.
    I think that there is still a lot of research that needs to be done on the topic of posture, to find answers that concretely work for musicians.

  3. Hi Geraldine and David,

    Piano playing injuries rendered me silent at the instrument for over a decade. I finally found my way to good, healthy, effective piano playing movements, from the inside out. Not so much posture, as knowing - intellectually, kinesthetically, emotionally- where my bony support is, and how it works. Knowing how my body "want to go," and having the awareness to use it that way, has made all the difference in being able to play - and keep playing - music, the way I want it to go. I learned this by studying Body Mapping, an outgrowth of the Alexander Technique. You can learn more about it on bodymap.org.

  4. Susan, that sounds like such a great technique! It also seems very much adapted to each person, which is great. And if it works for you, that obviously mean that it is a concrete solution. Thanks for telling us about it!


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