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#2003290 - 12/23/12 12:16 AM Where should your belly button point?
Filibogado Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/05
Posts: 25
All previous online lessons I have taken have taught me to sit in such a way that my belly button points to the D after middle C. As I switch from solo to accompaniment piano, my new teacher is insisting that I should sit 1 octave below middle C because the right hand chords sound better at the lower tone where middle C is.

I would prefer not to slide my bottom left and right just because I constantly switch back and forth between solo and accompaniment playing. Any recommendations?

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#2003292 - 12/23/12 12:22 AM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Filibogado]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7062
Loc: So. California
I've never heard of sitting one octave below middle C. That's a first for me.

But regarding where your bottom is, although you are centered somewhere around D in middle C, you need to move your upper body A LOT to follow your hands. This will avoid having to twist your wrists sideways. If you don't move your body, even things like 4 octave scales are hard to do because the angle of your wrists to your arm will change dramatically.
_________________________
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#2003298 - 12/23/12 12:34 AM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Filibogado]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4373
Loc: Jersey Shore
I'm just thankful he went with belly button.. laugh

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#2003300 - 12/23/12 12:44 AM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: jazzwee]
BenPiano Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
I've never heard of sitting one octave below middle C. That's a first for me.


Me as well.

Although, I do have to adjust my bench for a recent piece, played in the bass clef with both hands. (belly button three keys to the left of middle C) smile

But it's the first time I've had to move my bench from it's normal position of middle C. (my carpet has permanent indentations in its usual spot to prove it smile )
_________________________
Learning to play since June 2009.
My piano diary on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/afpaSTU1096
<- 10+ ABF recitals

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#2003302 - 12/23/12 12:50 AM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Filibogado]
PaperClip Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/09
Posts: 521
Loc: Amsterdam, Holland
Well, I did change bottom once, but was corrected by my teacher. Instead I have enough distance to the keyboard so my right elbow could move in front of my body.
_________________________
Chris

Playing since May 02 2009

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#2003306 - 12/23/12 01:11 AM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Filibogado]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
As a beginner, my neighbourhood is never beyond one octive to the right of middle C as far as reach goes and I always wondered about the extremes of the left and right. When I have seen professionals on you tube they seems to bend a little for a few notes in the extreme because it seems that the pieces I have seen played didnt't hang around at the extremes for too mny notes. I sure hope there is lots of feeback on this question because it is very interesting for the here and now and for the future of my playing.

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#2003666 - 12/23/12 08:51 PM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Filibogado]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2380
Loc: Virginia, USA
I sit right at D; I think it's most important to be consistent. I doubt it would take you long to adjust to C but I would question a teacher who thinks it will make any difference to tone.
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  • Scarlatti - Sonata in D minor, K. 213

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#2003668 - 12/23/12 08:59 PM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Mark...]
piano joy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/11
Posts: 807
Loc: Florida
Originally Posted By: Mark...
I'm just thankful he went with belly button.. laugh


HA !
My first thought was " out " .
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-the Beatles




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#2003674 - 12/23/12 09:23 PM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Mark...]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19712
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Mark...
I'm just thankful he went with belly button.. laugh

Yeah. ha

BTW the reason I was interested to click on here was, I didn't know the belly button points anywhere. grin

About where to sit: I assume that when I started out, I sat in front of middle C. I can only guess that over the years I gradually meandered upward, because as soon as I started paying attention to it, I saw that I sat further to the right than middle C, and further than what anyone here has said yet.

For some time now, I've always sat somewhere between the E and the F above middle C -- never lower than the E, never higher than the F -- and I pay close attention to exactly where it is for any given piece. And the difference between the E and the F feels pretty big. If I sit in front of the F for a piece where I'm 'supposed to' sit in front of the E (or vice versa), it's noticeably less comfortable.

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#2003693 - 12/23/12 10:13 PM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Filibogado]
packa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1397
Loc: Dallas, TX
I may be confused, but I interpreted the OP to say that his teacher recommended transposing an accompaniment (as opposed to a solo performance) down an octave so that it sounds better. If that's what he's being asked to do, then sliding left an octave on the bench when playing the transposed accompaniment doesn't seem completely off the wall to me.

Changing bench positions in certain cases is not unknown. After all, you don't sit in front of middle C (or the next D) when you're playing a 4-hand duet part. You sit in front of the part of the keyboard where your part was written and to make room for your partner. If I encountered an accompaniment that was written (or transposed) wholly or mostly below middle C, I might consider changing for that (although probably not in the middle of a piece).
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Estonia L168 #1718

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#2003698 - 12/23/12 10:28 PM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: packa]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19712
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: packa
I may be confused, but I interpreted the OP to say that his teacher recommended transposing an accompaniment (as opposed to a solo performance) down an octave so that it sounds better....

Yes -- I'm not sure if he exactly meant transposing it down an octave, but yeah, he's talking about playing in the bass area of the piano, maybe for 4-hand music with another player at the same piano, but that's not clear. Whatever he meant, I didn't catch that. And yes, you're right -- our usual positions don't apply. We sit toward the bass. And unless I'm 'confused' smile the reason is more than just "because the right hand chords sound better at the lower tone where middle C is"; it's because that's where all the notes are. And if it's 4-hand music, there's an extra reason: We have to sit lower down, because the other person is sitting up there. smile

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#2003837 - 12/24/12 09:01 AM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Filibogado]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2515
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: Filibogado
...I would prefer not to slide my bottom left and right just because I constantly switch back and forth between solo and accompaniment playing. Any recommendations?


If you can reach the required keys, you can plant your bum wherever you like it. If you can't reach, you'll need to slide (or choose a different piece).
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#2003925 - 12/24/12 12:06 PM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Filibogado]
UK Paul UK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/22/11
Posts: 396
Loc: Berkshire, England
Middle d, after watching fink, before that it was middle c...

Changing would mess with my keyboard orientation...
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#2004252 - 12/25/12 10:02 AM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Mark_C]
Filibogado Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/05
Posts: 25
Here are snippets of the conversation I had with my teacher on the topic. I think it's time to put the matter to a vote. Those who believe I should move my butt to the left to play nice-sounding chord accompaniment, say "Aye". Thos who think I should anchor my butt to middle C, say "Naye".

Is it possible to shoot future video lessons with your electronic keyboard set at +/- 0 standard 440 Hz pitch for middle C, instead of playing while transposed by 1 octave down? I'm using a Yamaha Acoustic piano and to be able to replicate your sounds, I have to move my bench to the leftmost edge of the piano and artificially play at this lower contrived middle C position. Obviously, an acoustic cannot be transposed unlike an electronic piano - I'm stuck with middle C in the middle, just like many would-be customers who might be turned off by this unusually low tonal range on the instrument.
=============================================================
Your question about the "unusually low tonal range on the instrument" is an interesting one! Actually my keyboard IS set at standard pitch, and I'm sitting somewhat to the left side, as you described. Why? Because that's where these accompaniments sound best!

A singer needs to hear the chords and the bass line, and the bass line needs to be low on the instrument, so that it resembles what a bass player would play. And if the chords are too much higher, then you have an awkward sonic gap between bass notes and chords.

Have you been singing the songs as you practice the accompaniments? If you do, I think you'll find that the overall result sounds best when you play in the lower ranges.

Is all this making sense to you?

Now accompanists often DO play in the higher ranges of the instrument. But it's more difficult to do that, because often, you need to be somehow filling out the space between high and low. Which is what you're getting at when you say "two-handed playing (comping) with chord notes spread between 2 hands instead of just left hand bass."
=============================================================
Thanks, and you are certainly welcome to paste my email to your blog. I think I have found the answer to my original question. By looking at a still picture of your video and listening to the notes, I can see that you did not actually transpose the keyboard but you did transpose yourself (lol) by moving your bench to the left of center. This reminds me of a guitarist using a capo to change the key without altering the fingering. In you case, your piano bench works like a capo in that you lowered your tones by moving the bench to the left.

In physical terms, where you sit would not matter if you are playing on a shorter Casio 61-key or Roland 76-key electronic instrument, but this is problematic for a player using a real acoustic piano with 88 keys. In every internet piano lesson I've taken, and I've taken the most popular ones (David Sudnow, David Sprunger, Yoke Wong, Pianomagic's Mike Anderson, Scott Houston, etc.) we are always taught that the belly button should be pointing at the center of the piano, or more precisely at D4 next to middle C4, right below where the piano model name is. To play in any other sitting position would create a lot of complications:
1. If you sit to the left, your feet will not be able to reach the real piano pedals, especially the most important sustain pedal.
2. if you are playing in a public venue like a cocktail piano bar, your patrons would find your sitting position strange if not outright weird.
3. the bass notes below E3 are very muddy and would make your playing sound more like a growl with some songs.
4. if you play too far to the right, you would sound like you are playing a celeste or glockenspiel - center is where the sweet spot is, in my view.


It's an amusing analogy, but I only moved to the left for the purposes of fitting myself into the video frame better. I normally play seated in the middle, or very close to it. And I tell my students to sit wherever they feel comfortable.

Not true. It's easy to reach the pedal on an acoustic even if you sit to the EXTREME left--I just tried it. And my students never get nearly that far to the left.

Remember--I've taught hundreds of people these arrangements over the years--in person--so I see how this all works. And it doesn't lead to the problems you're concerned about.

(I wish had one of an adult--more than half of my students are adults.) She's too short to reach the pedal from ANY position, but the point is, she's playing in the low range I'm describing (all the ways down to C2) and her seated position doesn't look strange to me at all. And her arms are shorter than yours.

Bass notes are growly only if you play close position CHORDS down there (which I never ask people to do.) On a decent piano, single notes sound great, all the ways down to at least G1.

True, but playing the high notes by themselves can be a marvelous effect.




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#2005103 - 12/27/12 06:20 PM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Filibogado]
Schroeder II Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
Supposedly Adam did not have a belly button to orient himself.
Guess that would explain why he never learned to play!

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#2005114 - 12/27/12 06:47 PM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Filibogado]
BillTheSlink Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/12
Posts: 108
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
At 350lbs, and having as the famous Bill Cosby once described "the middle aged incredibly deepening canyon of an inny belly button", I am afraid my navel could swallow a whole octave if I sat too close to the keyboard. help wow
_________________________
Currently I am without a piano, but when I get mine back I will be working on "The Complete Piano Player", as well as Neely's "How to Play from a Fake Book. I am spending my time working on theory and learning how to construct chords currently.


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#2005121 - 12/27/12 06:59 PM Re: Where should your belly button point? [Re: Filibogado]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11655
Loc: Canada
As I understand it, we sit in the middle of the piano by middle C or middle D because of where the pedal is and so we can reach all the keys equally. We always sit at the same spot so that we end up having a kind of map - like when you reach for the light switch in a house where you've lived for 10 years, or reaching for things in your car. When you play notes that are further away from middle C, you can lean to the left or right and also shift your weight. This is something that I'm learning to do right now. You don't have to move your whole body to a new seating position.

I'm wondering if teachers making videos know that their students imitate everything. If your teacher is sitting to the left because of the camera, he might not think that his sitting to the left might be taken as an instruction of where to sit.

I can't find a video right now. If you browse, you will see professional pianists shift their weight, stick out their left foot to counterbalance. Sometimes it is very subtle.

Michel Petrucciano - a superb pianist. See what he does to get to the high registers - and enjoy.
Michel Petrucciano


Edited by keystring (12/27/12 07:37 PM)

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