Are you a piano or keyboard student who struggles with stiff fingers, that won’t move fast? Do you have difficulty joining notes? Do you experience either hand, arm, shoulders or back pain when playing? If you do, then this post will help you.
Good piano posture from the beginning helps students progress quicker, as their fingers move better. So they later play challenging pieces with ease.
Many beginner piano students in India start learning on basic keyboards before investing in an instrument. If they ignore instructions on piano posture, they struggle. Learning very slowly, as their fingers stay tight and they’re unable to play with ease.
The biggest mistake keyboard students make with posture
Teaching good piano posture to the beginner piano student is a challenge and is one on the many reasons why beginner level teachers need to be very competent at their work.
It’s more so with students who practise on keyboards, as compared to those with digital or acoustic pianos. This is because the adjustable keyboard stand brings one more variable into the piano setup at home – the height of the keyboard.
My years of teaching, and struggling with students with tight fingers taught me that some students lie. Yes, some students LIE about setup at home. Saying their keyboard and bench is at the height recommended by their piano teacher, when they know it’s not. I’m not talking here about small adjustments, but about big errors that students make, and tell their teacher they haven’t, even when their teacher asks specifically about them. It’s the biggest mistake students can make, as it slows down their progress to the pace that a person with physical hand problems would move at.
Some big errors with setup at home
Teachers can explain keyboard set-up, and how posture, body-weight and balance affects freedom of movement in the hands and arms. And how this helps students use relaxed arms to depress the weighted piano keys or play at their keyboard without banging, so they’re better prepared when they move to a better instrument.
But students often wait until something is wrong and the pace of their learning is really slow, before they listen. Here are some really big errors students make :
- Practising sitting cross legged on the piano bench.
- Playing crouched at the keyboard, because the keyboard is too low and not at standard height.
- Using a seat with soft cushion that dips in the centre, grounding the student’s body weight in his/her hips, and making the student use excessive force to depress piano keys.
I’ve seen all of these and more.
A lesson I finally learned
I’ve learned that explaining the need for good piano posture, and asking my students if they follow setup instructions at home is not enough. I learned to investigate and check out what happens at home, by making submission of practise videos a routine. Especially with students whose fingers didn’t move well.
After years of struggling to convince parents and students to set up their keyboards properly, I’m changing my enrolment procedure. I’m going to be insisting on videos or photographs of setup at home, before enrolment.
And at regular intervals after. Because, I’ve seen students hunching over broken book stands of digital pianos that they won’t repair. Piano benches being replaced with cushioned furniture that matches the rest of the room. And keyboards suddenly adjusted to a good 24 inches below where they should be, after submission of initial setup photographs.
It’s funny, because these students with very tight fingers, arms and shoulders, who just won’t listen, often have very ambitious goals.
These students seem to need to experience the results of poor piano posture, before they change their mindsets and reach a place where they’re willing to learn.
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