How to Sit at the Piano

Learn How to Tweak Your Piano Bench Into the Perfect Fit

Sitting at the piano
Leren Lu

Find the Right Piano Bench

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.

Reading Key Signatures:

  • All About Key Signatures
    Everything you need to know about the accidentals & key signatures.
  • Use the interactive key signature locator to identify or double-check your key.
  • There are always two keys that relate to one another more than any other key. Find out what this means.
  • Comparing Major & Minor
    Major and minor are often described in terms of feelings or mood. The ear tends to perceive major and minor as having contrasting personalities; a contrast that is most obvious when the two are played back to back. Learn more about major and minor scales and keys.

Learn About Enharmony:

  • The 6 Enharmonic Key Signatures
    If you’re familiar with the circle of fifths (or you just know your way around the key signatures) you may have noticed a few anomalies. Some keys – like B-sharp and F-flat major – are seemingly absent, while others go by two names
  • The Inefficient Keys
    The circle of fifths shows only the working scales. But, if we expand on its pattern, we can see that it’s actually more of an infinite spiral, so there’s no end to the possibilities of musical scales.
  • Table of Working & Non-Working Keys
    See a clear visual of which keynotes are workable and which would be redundant.


More Italian Music Symbols to Know:

▪  marcato:    informally referred to as simply an “accent,” a marcato makes a note slightly more pronounced than surrounding notes.

▪  legato or slur:    connects two or more different notes. In piano music, the individual notes must be struck, but there should be no audible spaces between them.

▪  : "from nothing"; to gradually bring notes out of complete silence, or a crescendo that rises slowly from nowhere.

▪  decrescendo: to gradually decrease the volume of the music. A decrescendo is seen in sheet music as a narrowing angle, and is often marked decresc.

▪  delicato: “delicately”; to play with a light touch and an airy feel.

▪  : very sweetly; to play in a particularly delicate manner. Dolcissimo is a superlative of "dolce."