How to Sit at the Piano

Learn How to Tweak Your Piano Bench Into the Perfect Fit

young stylish woman playing the piano
Nisian Hughes / Getty Images

Adjustable piano benches are a great option; especially for growing children, those sharing a piano, and those still getting comfortable at the keyboard. Traditional piano benches are not one-size-fits-all – you may have to tweak your bench in order to achieve proper piano posture.

Tip: Adjustable benches can be found in a surprising array of styles:

Adjust and Repeat

If you’ve seen live piano music, you’ve probably also seen a few pianists take their merry time adjusting the piano bench – some quite meticulously. This is perfectly acceptable, so don’t feel self-conscious if you find yourself having to do so at your piano recital. You want to be comfortable, flexible, and stable: 

1.  Feet Should be Able to Touch Floor Completely

If this is impossible or causes you to sit too low, place a sturdy object (from a simple footstool, to one of the fancier pedal platforms) under your feet instead. During play, your feet should provide more stability than the piano bench, so don’t let them wander too far in any direction.

2.  Only Sit On the Front Half of the Piano Bench

With your feet in the picture, your hips are no longer your center of gravity – your back is free to flex back and forth, and your torso can provide momentum for your upper body during strong dynamics and long octave spans.

3.  Keep Knees Just Under the Keyboard

Avoid sitting at the piano like you would at a work desk; the keyboard may cover your knees, but your thighs are not meant to be underneath the instrument.

4.  Find the Right Height at the Keys

Sitting too high in front of the piano can cause pain in the upper back and neck; sitting to low makes for poor playing positions and a reduced view of the keyboard.

  • Your height must allow you to touch the keys with your forearms parallel to the floor.
  • Thighs are nearly parallel; it’s ok for knees to be slightly lower than your hips.
  • If you need to add height, sit on a firm pillow or evenly-stacked blankets or bath towels.
  • Sheet music should be kept at eye-level.