Kid's Piano Posture
Kid’s piano posture can take any form from perfect to sloth-like, depending on their energy and mood. I think I’ve seen it all. Kids who are so hyperactive that they chew the furniture, play piano with only their left thumbs, sit cross-legged on the piano bench, if they sit at all.
Yes, there are very specific postures and positions that professionals take to play the piano. There are even times when a concert artist must know exactly when to move to one side, sometimes by only half an inch or two, to be in the best position for an upcoming passage.
For a concert pianist, a specific piece may call for sitting an inch or two or three on either side of Middle C, to take advantage of the body’s position in playing parts of a difficult piece.
Correct Posture Is Not Inspiration
Posture is irrelevant to a six year old. It’s like putting a child in a go-kart and them asking them if they’d rather have a lecture on automotive industry history for an hour before they get to drive. All they want to do is push on that gas pedal.
The point is that a child has to see the reward before they attempt to earn it. Asking a child to concentrate on posture at the piano is equivalent to asking them to choose the automotive history lecture instead of the go-kart drive. That is not a child’s nature.
Hand Position Has The Same Problem
The same goes for piano hand position, and finger position as well. You would do better to make these issues into physical games first, so they get the feel of the motions. Do it first, before it becomes complicated with musical issues.
The Only Posture You Really Need
The most important posture of all at the piano is to simply to want to be in front of one. Without that initial posture, achieved either through desire or force, nothing can ever be learned at the piano.
The quickest way to get the child to sit correctly at the piano, aside from them wanting to be there, is to ask them to use the foot pedals. For the youngest children, they may end up standing. For the average six year old, putting a foot on the pedal requires them to sit squarely in the correct position.
Crazy Solutions To The "Posture Problem"
I have had parents who insist on a small box or stool being put at the tiny child’s feet so that they reach a floor, simulated by the box. I’ve actually taught such a child over the years, until they grew enough to not need the box. The only result was the kids clumsily tried to incorporate the box into their routine when they were clearly too big for it.
The point is that the box or similar devices are useless. My own experience bears out some weird stories of extreme piano posture child abuse. Here is a true story that may illuminate the history of the foolish fad that is piano posture.
Actual Story: The Wooden Neck Yoke
I know a violinist, now a member of a major American symphony orchestra. His piano teacher, when he was a child, forced him to wear a wooden yoke around his neck to prevent his looking at the keys. Needless to say, he hated the piano for about four decades.
Finally, in the last few years, he got over it and started to enjoy playing the piano again. If this isn’t child abuse for the sake of piano posture, then what is? If a child ever gets good enough to care about posture about the piano, they will correct it themselves. It is impossible to play at the highest level in anything but a comfortable posture.
Don’t forget a posture lesson from a great pianist:
Glenn Gould (probably the most famous American classical pianist of the 50s and 60s) sat on a tiny folding chair with the legs sawed off at fourteen inches high, leaving his chin almost level with the keys!
If you hate playing the piano, sitting the correct way will do nothing.