know of a good seat for a bad back? : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I have an adult student who until recently practiced 1-2 hrs. a day with enthusiasm. About 5 mos. ago, however, she hurt her back exericising away from the piano. A recent MRI shows 2 tiny tears in the 2 lower lumbar discs. Her doctor has ordered no piano practice or other even moderately strenuous activity for the moment so that the injury can hopefully heal. He has said that if it improves and she pursues physical therapy, she may be able to return to practicing in sev. months. However, he thinks the unpadded bench she was using probably aggravated the injury, and might do so again. He asked her if she could practice on an "office chair" (!) with a back support. Rather impractical, I suspect, especially if it had arms.

SO: Anyone know of a piano bench--or possibly a hard foam seat that fits on top of the bench--that is ergonomically superior to the typical artist bench? The ideal would be one that provides some degree of lumbar support. --Karen

-- karen (, March 25, 2001


Hi Karen, I know that it sounds funny but I don't see that an office chair without arms would be a bad choice. It would need to be a simple one like secretary's get, not the kind like Bosses have. There isn't all that much difference, except for the back support, between that and a traditional piano stool. I would think that anything that would let her do some practice in comfort would be useful at this point. Hope she gets better fast.

-- Mary Jo (, March 25, 2001.

Dear Mary Jo: I think thatI may have given the misimpression that I would rule out the choice of an office chair (without arms) because it's unconventional or might look odd. Not at all! I agree absolutely with you that one should be pragmatic about these things and use anything that permits practice in relative comfort--at least on an interim basis. I'm just hoping to find a solution that doesn't inadvertently invite other problems in the future. My reservation about an office chair long-term is this: on nearly all those I've seen, the depth of the seat (front lip to back) is 15"-18". To benefit from whatever lumbar support the chair offers, a pianist would have to sit well back on the seat, which would mean that a good portion of the thighs would be on the chair. In this position the legs can't offer much support at all (normally they not only "ground" us, but also help us to access major sources of power and energy). Centering/balancing the body as a whole also becomes more difficult. But maybe at least as a stop-gap solution, an office chair is worth a try.... Surely, though, someone out there has found or invented a seat specifically designed for 'bad' backs??

-- Karen

-- karen (, March 27, 2001.

Hi, this makes me wonder: is it okay to practise on a normal chair i.e. not a piano bench? We don't have a piano bench so just sit on a normal chair (almost a diningroom type chair, not a heavy one and it's height is okay) but this does tend to make me tense up. I've noticed that. You think that poses a problem? I guess I'd have to try and find a piano bench soon.

-- Katie (, March 27, 2001.

A good hard chair can be an excellent seat for most pianists, IF it's at the exact right height for you. It's certainly better than a non- adjustable hard bench that's too high (which so many of them are), or a seat with cushioning that's too soft and unsupporting. HOWEVER--in my experience it's highly advisable to sit near the FRONT of a chair or bench so that your feet are well planted on the floor and your legs can give you strong support when needed. Unfortunately for my student with the back problem, this stance (toward the front of the seat) would negate the benefits of the lumbar support the office chair supposedly would provide. Dilemma.

-- karen (, March 27, 2001.


I can understand your students problem with his sore back. Last year I was near the end of my pregnancy and preparing for my grade 10 piano exam. of course practicing for hours every day was quite uncomfortable so I used one on those exercise balls. they force you to sit with good posture and they are comfortable... you can also roll it over to reach the higher octaves while playing. You just have to find one the right hight. I still use mine to sit on while i teach. hope it might work for you.

-- Casey (, January 22, 2002.

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