Sitting at the piano

Learning or re-learning (as the case may be), the basics never hurts. What can actually hurt is not having the correct posture when playing the piano. This is an extract from the Rocket Piano Beginners eBook:

Learning the Basics

I’m going to assume from the start that you have a piano to practice on. If you don’t have one, get one now! You can’t learn the piano without an instrument to practice on. Fortunately, even an inexpensive electronic keyboard will do for most of the exercises in this book.

Sitting at the piano:

When you are seated at the piano, you need to have the correct posture. Without the
proper posture, you can experience back pain and stress in your joints.

1. The first rule of correct posture is to keep your back straight. Your torso may bend towards the piano.

2. Keep your head up. DON’T crane your neck to look at the sheet music. The sheet music should be positioned for easy visibility.

3. Your shoulders and arms should be loose and relaxed. If you need to do some stretches beforehand, feel free!

4. Your arms should be parallel with the height of the keys and bend at the elbow in an angle of slightly greater than 90 degrees.

5. Your thighs should be parallel with the floor. To ensure this, you should use an adjustable chair.

6. Your right foot should be set forward towards the pedals, while your left foot should rest midway between the pedals and your chair.

7. Keep enough distance between your chair and the piano that you can reach the pedals and keys comfortably, yet have freedom of movement. If your chair is too close, your body will get in
the way of your elbows. If your chair is too far away, you will have to bend forward to reach the keys.

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All the best!

Michel Petrucciani

Michel Petrucciani was a French jazz pianist and composer. Michel was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, which is a genetic disease that causes brittle bones and, in his case, short stature.

In Michel’s early career his father and brother occasionally carried him, literally, because he could not walk far on his own unaided. In certain respects though he considered his disability an advantage as he got rid of distractions, like sports, that other boys tended to become involved in.

Petrucciani gave his first professional concert at the age of 13. At this point of his life, he was still quite fragile and had to be carried to and from the piano. His size meant that he required aids to reach the piano’s pedals, but his hands were average in length. This had its advantages, however. At the beginning of his career, Petrucciani’s manager would often smuggle him into hotel rooms in a suitcase in a bid to save money.

Michel distinguished himself most obviously from his primary inspiration in that he lacked Bill Evans’ cerebral approach to the piano. Petrucciani’s interest was primarily in simply playing; he spent little time reharmonizing or arranging.

Stylistically, Petrucciani is most frequently compared to Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett for his lyricism and Oscar Peterson for his virtuosity. His playing was often quite dramatic; critics accuse him of over-indulgence and cheap showmanship; sometimes dismiss his music as being too accessible. Petrucciani was loose and playful in a rhythm section, and gave attention to a strong articulation of the melody. He sometimes paused at the peaks of his solo lines before descending again, as if in appreciation of his idea.

Listen to this track called “September Second”:

And also see him on a solo live performance from 1993: