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#130238 - 02/03/07 03:17 PM What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Big V Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/22/07
Posts: 19
Now that I have been practicing a lot more (several hours daily) the problem of my body dimensions is rearing its ugly head.

I cannot get my knees under the keyboard since I am so tall. As a result I tend to have to lean forward slightly to get in a good playing position. In the course of 30 or 40 minutes of playing my back gets fatigued, eventually to the point of hurting quite a bit and I have to stop.

I experimented with raising the piano by 1.5" using wooden boards and that felt a lot more comfortable. I was able to just barely get my knees under the keyboard. This solution was not perfect however. The piano was a bit unstable, and the pedals were raised too high off the ground.

Does anyone know about any solutions or companies that offer solutions for this problem?

Has anyone had to deal with back pain while playing?

Is there anyone who is tall and has dealt with problems like this?

Please advise!

Thanks!

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#130239 - 02/03/07 04:56 PM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
CozyWriter Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 789
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
a- What kind of piano are you having trouble with?
b- How tall are you?


I'm 6'7" and my knees run up against the bottom on some organs and digital pianos (happening to me now with the Clavinova rental in my house.)

What you might try is an adjustable artist bench. I'm not sure if lowering one all the way down is going to take you lower than standard bench height.

I was using one with a Knabe grand yesterday, and found that I had to crank it up just a bit, to have a comfortable reach to the keys, and didn't have any problems with my legs underneath the keyboard.

Those benches are expensive but compare that to medical bills if you throw out your back at the piano from sitting in the wrong position.
_________________________
Inspiration is the act of pulling a chair up to the writing desk.
Pramberger JP-185 (a 6'1" mahogany-red Grand)+ Glenn Gould-ish piano chair (no cushion)

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#130240 - 02/03/07 06:31 PM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
Do what Bruce Hornsby does - hunch over the keyboard. \:D

Seriously, that's something I never thought about before. You'd think there would be something around to sit under the piano legs to raise the height.

I'm sorry I don't have any suggestions for you, hopefully someone else here on PW will. This website is seen by many, I bet someone will have some info for you that will be helpful.

Jeanne W
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/8776.html#000000

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#130241 - 02/03/07 06:54 PM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
CozyWriter Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 789
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
Jim Brickman too.

He schlumps over the keys.


One can slso spread feet WIDE - to the two front feet of the piano, which gives about another 1/2" or so. But that then precludes using the pedals.

Or sitting WAY back and leaning forward (that Kills my back.)
_________________________
Inspiration is the act of pulling a chair up to the writing desk.
Pramberger JP-185 (a 6'1" mahogany-red Grand)+ Glenn Gould-ish piano chair (no cushion)

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#130242 - 02/03/07 08:26 PM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
Cozywriter: You say you can spread your feet wide also - but it precludes the use of the pedals. Interesting you should say that - I noticed Bruce Hornsby, who I mentioned in my last post, and it a tall guy, did just that - a lot of playing with no pedaling.

At one of our PW gatherings, there was a kind of miniature piano. It was really SHORT. I think i may have experienced some of what you're talking about Big V. It was quite uncomfortable.

Jeanne W
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/8776.html#000000

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#130243 - 02/03/07 08:43 PM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Craigen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/05
Posts: 1815
Loc: West Coast
This is counter intuitive but:
1. Back up the bench. God ususlly gives those with long legs with long arms.
2. Raise you bench height slightly and back up.
_________________________
Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.

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#130244 - 02/03/07 09:09 PM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21303
Loc: Oakland
Thick caster cups can help if you have a grand.
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#130245 - 02/03/07 10:35 PM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Big V Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/22/07
Posts: 19
What is happening is that my back gets tired from supporting my torso. I have to sit so far back (on account of my knees cannot fit under the keyboard) that my arms are extended a little bit farther than would be ideal.

When I get tired, if I just slouch and stop supporting myself completely the fatigue largely goes away although this is obviously not a good solution.

I think I will try some of these fancy piano chair/bench solutions that I have bookmarked:

Motion Throne:
http://www.rocnsoc.com/motionthrone.html

Concert Design Piano Bench
http://www.concertdesign.com/piano_bench.html

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#130246 - 02/04/07 12:56 AM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Climber Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/06
Posts: 224
Loc: Colorado
I'm 6'2.5"
Not exactly tall,tall but getting there. I find yoga does the trick for my back. I do thirty - forty minutes of yoga stretches each morning. There's a zillion books out their with illustrations on basic yoga routines.

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#130247 - 02/04/07 01:51 AM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1094
Loc: El Cajon, California
 Quote:
Originally posted by Big V:
I cannot get my knees under the keyboard since I am so tall. As a result I tend to have to lean forward slightly to get in a good playing position. In the course of 30 or 40 minutes of playing my back gets fatigued, eventually to the point of hurting quite a bit and I have to stop.[/b]
Your knees shouldn't be under the keyboard anyway. Keep your back straight and bend at the hips only. It works for racing cyclists and it works for pianists.

Are you supporting the weight of your arms with your shoulders when you play? The keyboard should support the full weight of your arms. Shoulders should stay relaxed.

Your teacher is the one who should set up your position at the piano.

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#130248 - 02/04/07 02:15 AM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Mountain Ash Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/21/06
Posts: 423
Loc: Canberra, Australia
I'm 6'5.5" and I find I can just get my knees under the piano if I take my shoes off. However I need to find a lower piano bench because my high position causes undue strain on my wrists.

I have also been thinking of buying some caster cups to gain some height. Why does this only help on a grand BDB?
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#130249 - 02/04/07 04:30 AM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
CozyWriter Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 789
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
 Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Ramirez:
Your knees shouldn't be under the keyboard anyway. Keep your back straight and bend at the hips only. It works for racing cyclists and it works for pianists.

Are you supporting the weight of your arms with your shoulders when you play? The keyboard should support the full weight of your arms. Shoulders should stay relaxed. [/b]
Racing cyclinsts aren't supporting their posture from their back and hips (or moving their back) - it stays in one static position. The pianist has to move their back.


If I didn't sit with my knees under the keyboard, I'd be about 3.5' away from the piano, sitting as if I'm reaching for the tape at the finish line (I just tried it.) Not terribly comfortable since I'm also looming so far over the keyboard, toppling forward. In that position I'm balancing with my feet rather than my hands.

I would imagine that page turning would require Looney Toons music in the background.
_________________________
Inspiration is the act of pulling a chair up to the writing desk.
Pramberger JP-185 (a 6'1" mahogany-red Grand)+ Glenn Gould-ish piano chair (no cushion)

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#130250 - 02/04/07 04:36 AM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
CozyWriter Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 789
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mountain Ash:
I have also been thinking of buying some caster cups to gain some height. Why does this only help on a grand BDB? [/b]
Some vertial pianos have casters on the front but not in the back (Yamaha is a culprit of that with some models.) or no casters at all (which would at least be easier to use a caster cup with.)

I always play "bare footed" here. I guess it's a southern thing. Or an organ thing - I never had those fancy soft bottom shoes that organists wear.

But I understand that's a no-no too because your bare feet on the pedals more quickly tarnishes the brass.

I think I'm going to have to go for the "played-in" look on that one, or buy booties for the pedals.
_________________________
Inspiration is the act of pulling a chair up to the writing desk.
Pramberger JP-185 (a 6'1" mahogany-red Grand)+ Glenn Gould-ish piano chair (no cushion)

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#130251 - 02/04/07 04:50 AM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Mountain Ash Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/21/06
Posts: 423
Loc: Canberra, Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by CozyWriter:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mountain Ash:
I have also been thinking of buying some caster cups to gain some height. Why does this only help on a grand BDB? [/b]
Some vertial pianos have casters on the front but not in the back (Yamaha is a culprit of that with some models.) or no casters at all (which would at least be easier to use a caster cup with.)

I always play "bare footed" here. I guess it's a southern thing. Or an organ thing - I never had those fancy soft bottom shoes that organists wear.

But I understand that's a no-no too because your bare feet on the pedals more quickly tarnishes the brass.

I think I'm going to have to go for the "played-in" look on that one, or buy booties for the pedals. [/b]
Ok now I'm confused, I have a U3 which has (admittedly small) casters on both the front and back, is there anything stopping me placing some woodern casters like these under the piano? How much extra height would that give me? I might post a new topic on this.

[Edit] Oh and how about playing in socks to reduce the wear and tear on the pedal finish?
_________________________
I'm reading this book.

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#130252 - 02/04/07 06:06 AM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
CozyWriter Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 789
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
Worth trying, but you're not going to get a huge amount of extra height. Probably < 1"


Socks would at least be less scary looking since I tend to "grab" the pedals with my toes rather than "push" them with the balls of my feet.
_________________________
Inspiration is the act of pulling a chair up to the writing desk.
Pramberger JP-185 (a 6'1" mahogany-red Grand)+ Glenn Gould-ish piano chair (no cushion)

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#130253 - 02/04/07 10:37 AM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Big V Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/22/07
Posts: 19
 Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Ramirez:
Are you supporting the weight of your arms with your shoulders when you play? The keyboard should support the full weight of your arms. Shoulders should stay relaxed.

Your teacher is the one who should set up your position at the piano. [/QB]
Shoulders are relaxed. The muscles that are getting fatigued are in the middle of my back, on the left and right of the spine. What is happening is that I have to lean forward more than necessary (on account of knees not going under the keyboard) and these muscles in the back get tired.

I know this because if I tuck my feet under the bench I can get closer and it takes longer to get tired. Of course this creates a different set of problems. That it precludes the use of pedals and I cannot support myself using my feet.

My teacher agrees that this is an issue.

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#130254 - 02/04/07 12:33 PM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1094
Loc: El Cajon, California
You might consider doing strength exercises for the lower back. These are powerful muscles that don't get used enough by most adults. Resting sore muscles is a good thing but making them stronger is the long term solution.

If your piano keyboard really isn't high enough for you then you could make modifications to the piano. Pedal trapwork is frequently rebuilt by piano craftsmen and yours could be lowered to compensate for raising the piano with longer legs or casters.

You will find a solution if you keep trying.

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#130255 - 02/04/07 12:35 PM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
i'd certainly invest in getting some caster height platforms made.. should be a pretty easy and inexpensive proposition for a carpenter. it's your piano. i don't know how you would address the pedal issue.. perhaps build a little platform for your feet to rest upon.

i am always lamenting that benchess are too short and pianos are too tall.

just played a piano yesterday on a triangular moving dolly. it seemed very high to me and i felt like a little kid.

one good thing about great height is long fingers..
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)

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#130256 - 02/04/07 02:54 PM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1094
Loc: El Cajon, California
 Quote:
Originally posted by apple*:
i am always lamenting that benchess are too short and pianos are too tall.
[/b]
My piano is too tall for my bench. I just ordered a set of legs for my Jansen bench that is one inch longer than standard. There are ways to deal with fit issues.

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#130257 - 02/04/07 03:16 PM Re: What do tall people do to play comfortably?
Piano World Offline



Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5571
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
This set up should give you all the clearance you need.

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