Accommodation for tall pianist

Posted by: 88slowpoke

Accommodation for tall pianist - 02/04/13 02:48 PM

I've been learning on my own for two or three months now, and making reasonable progress. I recently met with a teacher to discuss lessons. I pointed out that, at 6'-6" tall, with long legs, I couldn't get my knees under the edge of the keyboard, nor could I position my feet to operate the pedals. (I have raised my own small grand on 1¾" blocks). Her solution to be able to play her piano was for me to place my knees against the front of the keyboard and stretch my arms out almost straight to be able to reach the keys. I tried this when I got home, and it was unworkable after about 5 minutes. Before I raised my own instrument, I was stretching my legs either forward or back to allow me to get my knees 2-3" under the keyboard, which puts my arms and body in good alignment. Of course, at this stage, I do not need the pedals. My bench is at the correct height to put my forearms parallel to the floor and elbows at the same height as the keyboard. From everything I've found, there is widespread agreement, within slight variations, that this is correct. I searched for any pictures I could find of professional pianists as well as teachers, also looked for descriptions of posture, and found none that called for sitting so far away that the arms are held out straight, and concluded that she gave me this answer to recruit a new student.

So, my question- Are there any other tall piano players out there, and if so, how do you accommodate your height when playing?
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: Accommodation for tall pianist - 02/04/13 10:54 PM

Well I'm 6ft 5 and have no problems sitting. I think you may have your bench too low making your knees point up - I have my bench slightly higher so that my knees are able to point downwards therefore fitting underneath the piano perfectly. Give it a go

Justin
Posted by: beechcraft409

Re: Accommodation for tall pianist - 02/05/13 01:50 AM

I too am 6'5" I just kinda do this weird knees-out, feet-in kind of thing. Let's me have my foot by the pedal, but keeping my knees off to the side let's them be lower to the ground. It doesn't really feel as weird as it sounds, now that I actually look at what I just wrote haha I just kinda make it work. I generally just use the very tip of my foot to use the pedal. I only have one pedal (digital) so really I am only trying to squeeze one leg under there, my left foot I keep tucked back, pretty much under my seat. My friend has a piano that I can't even play because of its size.
Posted by: Artur Gajewski

Re: Accommodation for tall pianist - 02/05/13 08:24 AM

As far as I know, knees don't need to be below the keys. I'm 6'6" and I don't have a problem you describe.
Posted by: 88slowpoke

Re: Accommodation for tall pianist - 02/05/13 09:39 AM

Originally Posted By: Artur Gajewski
As far as I know, knees don't need to be below the keys. I'm 6'6" and I don't have a problem you describe.


I'm playing a Mason & Hamlin B small grand piano. With my feet flat on the floor and my knees against the keyboard, when I sit up more or less straight, my arms are extended well beyond the range of comfort, forming about a 45° angle, to enable me to reach the keys. I have searched out many pictures and videos of piano players, and have never seen this type of posture, rather that the upper and lower arms should be closer to a 90° angle. And, of course, bench height has no bearing on the length of my lower legs, which is simple anatomy.
Posted by: Fate

Re: Accommodation for tall pianist - 02/05/13 11:13 AM

I guess there's a rather tall crowd here. wink

I too am 6'6". I take the same general approach as beechcraft409

I've noticed in concert halls (local conservatory here), many of the grand pianos are setup to be movable. This general lifts a good 3-4", or just enough for me to not worry about hitting the bottom.

My teacher's grand isn't lifted. I play by both adjusting the bench slight out, and placing my knee to the side. This does put some extra pressure on the ankle, especially if you're lifting off the bench for those loud grand chords. In general, I solve this by pulling my other foot into/under the bench slightly. This (obviously) makes using the una corda pedal a bit of a pain.

I'm largely thankful that so many pianos need to be moveable. :-)

I've realized over time, to adjust the bench for the forearm angle, NOT the legs. My personal observation is that bench height has some, but not as much to do with physical height as you'd imagine. You'll get more bang for your buck by pulling the bench back and adjusting the angle of your knee. It's not "perfect" posture, but the world isn't designed for tall people.
Posted by: 88slowpoke

Re: Accommodation for tall pianist - 02/05/13 11:28 AM

Originally Posted By: Fate
I guess there's a rather tall crowd here. wink

I too am 6'6". I take the same general approach as beechcraft409

I've noticed in concert halls (local conservatory here), many of the grand pianos are setup to be movable. This general lifts a good 3-4", or just enough for me to not worry about hitting the bottom.

My teacher's grand isn't lifted. I play by both adjusting the bench slight out, and placing my knee to the side. This does put some extra pressure on the ankle, especially if you're lifting off the bench for those loud grand chords. In general, I solve this by pulling my other foot into/under the bench slightly. This (obviously) makes using the una corda pedal a bit of a pain.

I'm largely thankful that so many pianos need to be moveable. :-)

I've realized over time, to adjust the bench for the forearm angle, NOT the legs. My personal observation is that bench height has some, but not as much to do with physical height as you'd imagine. You'll get more bang for your buck by pulling the bench back and adjusting the angle of your knee. It's not "perfect" posture, but the world isn't designed for tall people.


Thanks for your input. Your comments seem to validate my solution to raise my own piano and bench to get correct upper body and arm posture while accommodating long legs. You could say I've "lowered the floor".
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: Accommodation for tall pianist - 02/05/13 11:34 AM

check out this thread from a couple of years back - may have all the answers you need 88slowpoke

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ite_id/1#import
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: Accommodation for tall pianist - 02/05/13 11:37 AM

or this one

http://www.abrsm.org/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t31585.html


just google it - those sites were the top two of many
Posted by: 88slowpoke

Re: Accommodation for tall pianist - 02/05/13 12:03 PM

Originally Posted By: ju5t1n-h
check out this thread from a couple of years back - may have all the answers you need 88slowpoke

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ite_id/1#import



Thanks, I just looked at that thread. More evidence that I am on the right track. I made three of these from a scrap of 1¾" mahogany I had in the shop. For now, I'm using a firm cushion to raise the seating position, but when I get it fine tuned, I'll upholster the bench to have comfortable seating at the correct height. [img]http://s1082.beta.photobucket.com/user/Slowpoke80/media/Pianoriserblock002.jpg.html?sort=3&o=0[/img]