The Pianist’s Posture
A musicians profession without a doubt, is an activity of high performance. In the intellectual, physical and psychic aspects: the pressure, tension and stress of rehearsals, the daily practice, the analysis of musical structures. The activity of shows and concerts, and the irregular hours of meals and sleep, take this professional to the limit of his resistance. As for all those with health, healthy eating, physical exercises and good posture are factors that guarantee the musician conditions to face the challenges of daily life. Both physical and mental, in practice and interpretation.
But it is not only the professionals who must pay attention to these elements. The amateur musician also needs to take care of the body to ensure pleasure in exercising music. And one of the main obstacles to this is the poor posture, which limits both the movements and the time of the study.
The posture used to play the piano, compared to other instruments, is one of the most natural: the musician is sits, leaning on his stool and legs. Despite this comfort, there may be several risks, which can lead to discomfort or stabbing pain.
Although there are many examples of pianists who challenge nature in relation to body posture when they play. A correct posture must be functional and acceptable, representing a balance between the muscles and the skeleton. To protect the support structures of the body against injuries or deformities, besides not causing fatigue or pain.
Many have not always practiced these. In the 19th century, the so-called “black pedagogy” prevailed in the pianistic sector. They forced students to place a book under each armpit and a coin on the back of their hands. Without letting them fall, and thus perform a series of keyboard exercises.
These Methods And Others
With these methods and others, they intended it to cancel help of the arm. And even the body of the pianist in the performance. And only the fingers needed to move like hammers. Which led to deformations that, most times, caused problems and muscle injuries.
A movement emerged that advised the use of three pillars – naturalness, relaxation, and freedom. Which led to the birth of the so-called modern piano technique. Pedagogues such as Deppe (1828-1890) and Breithaupt (1873-1945) followed this new trend. And the great master of the Russian school Heinrich Neuhaus defended this in his work (The Art of Piano).
Ideal Body Posture on Piano
The pianist’s posture is positioning himself in relation to the instrument. We should position the feet in front of the pedals, with the heels resting on the ground, to ensure stability.
The legs should remain relaxed. The musician should sit in the stool’s middle closest to the piano. In a position that allows a wide range of movements from the waist upwards. We shall adjust the height of the seat so that the arm builds a right angle to the forearm, hand and keyboard.
The neck must not tilted forward and ones back must be upright and t. You should relax the set formed by clavicle, scapula and humerus, leaving the shoulder blades suspended freely, allowing the arms to be loose.
The movement of the elbow remains inactive, followed by the forearms and maintaining balance through its center of gravity. Ones wrist should be ready for any lateral, upward, downward or elliptical movement, and with it is the responsibility for the best arrangement of the fingers on the keyboard.
Hand Posture on the Piano
The palm of the hand should form a “cave”, an easy-to-understand position: when a person walks, let their hand swing naturally. When you place your hand on the keyboard, this is the ideal position to play the piano.
The arrangement of the fingers shall be, according to their length, more circular or elongated, but never with the last folded phalanx or with the claw-shaped hand.
Fingertips are the pianist’s only points of contact with the instrument’s keyboard, using movements that have nothing to do with pressure. But with support and transmission of the weight of the musician’s trunk. And the part of the finger that should have contact with the key is the pulp, not the tip and much less the nails, which should be regularly cut.
Despite all these guidelines, each interpreter has his or her own individual “naturalness”. Influenced by factors such as the biotype of each interpreter and the size of the body, and needs his or her own freedom. For Neuhaus, freedom is a “conscious necessity”. Proof of this are the great differences in the way great pianists such as Glenn Gould, Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubinstein, for example, sit and move.
With the correct orientation and great attention to relaxation and any signs of pain or tiredness. The pianist can improve his posture to prevent the more serious consequences and increase his productivity and his technical and interpretive capacity.