Lesson 5, Part 1

Piano Posture & D Journey

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Hello and welcome back. I'm Joseph Hoffman.
Today we're learning about piano posture.
Posture is a word that means the shape of your body for doing a certain task.
For example, let's pretend I'm going to eat a bowl of cereal.
Would this be a good posture? Nah. How about this? probably not.
How about this? Yeah, that would be a comfortable, good posture.
Well, it's the same with piano. There are some good ways and bad ways
you can shape your body for playing piano,
and if you learn the right posture, your playing will be more comfortable,
and we'll be able to progress faster and play better.
Please remember that the whole point of good posture
is to be comfortable and play better. It should feel good.

So today, let's learn the four steps for awesome piano posture.
Number one is bench position. It's more important than you might realize.
You see, it's very common for new students to sit too close to the piano.
Maybe they don't realize that it's okay to move the bench.
Sometimes I have a student come in and try to squeeze in.
Looks really awkward. If you sit too close to the piano,
you're going to have what I call Tyrannosaurus Rex arms.
Your elbows should not be jammed up against your body.
That will limit your arm motion as you play, and add tension.
On the other hand, if your bench is too far away from your piano,
then you're going to have Frankenstein arms.
You want the bench to be positioned just right, and you want to sit
about right smack in the middle, not all the way back and not on the front edge,
where you might fall into the piano pit of doom. Waaaaow! Help, please?
If you've got the bench just right, your elbows will be slightly but comfortably
in front of your torso when your fingers rest on the keys.

Then we need to deal with bench height.
The most common problem is having a bench or chair which is too low.
In fact, a regular chair is almost always going to be too low,
which is why I recommend using an actual piano bench. For most students
I recommend a bench height of about twenty or twenty-one inches.
You'll know if you're too low because your elbow to wrist,
which is called your forearm, will be sloped like this.
That's bad, because it can add tension to your wrist.
It's also bad to be too high. That will cause a slope the other way,
also adding tension to your wrist. The perfect bench height
is one that causes your forearm to knuckles to align with the floor,
and just in a flat smooth shape. Once you're at the right height,
if you find that your feet are dangling in the air,
which is pretty much always going to happen for young students,
you'll want to solve that problem with either a footstool of some kind,
or even a stack of old college textbooks. So please take a moment
and assess your own bench situation where you play the piano.
Is your bench too close to the keys or just right? Are you at the right height?
If your bench is too low and it's not the adjustable kind,
you can raise yourself up by folding some blankets or towels to sit on.
Cushions could work too, but they can be a little bit wobbly.
Pause the video if you need to, and figure out how to get your bench set up
so you can have awesome piano posture every time you sit down to play.

Okay, step two for awesome piano posture is tall back.
This is sometimes a hard one for me because I slouch.
I'm trying to break that habit though. There's so many benefits
to having a tall, flexible back. It's not supposed to be tall and stiff like a soldier,
but tall and flexible. The problem with slouching is, it puts your torso
out of alignment, which can add tension to your neck and shoulders.
To feel a tall back, try this with me and reach way up high
like you want to grab something off the ceiling. Come on, try it with me.
Reach, then let your arms and shoulders relax while your back stays tall.
Remember, tall back doesn't mean tall shoulders.
Shoulders should comfortably drop. Go ahead and lift your shoulders with me,
hold, then drop. Tall back but relaxed shoulders.

Great, now on to step three. Arm weight.
Good pianists use the natural weight of their arm to help them play.
Basically, the concept is that instead of relying purely on finger motion
to play each key, you're letting gravity help.
It's a very important concept to get in touch with the natural weight of your arm.
I want you to pretend your arms are heavy, but also floppy,
like big floppy octopus legs, but only two of them.
Try this with me and just kind of wobble your arms around really loosely,
very relaxed. Now this next part works best
if you have a friend or a parent who can help you, so just pause the video
if you need to get someone.

Now let your ...