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Proper Seating At The Piano (5/7/18)

Having the correct posture when playing the piano is crucial. Have you ever been to a
piano recital and noticed that the pianist will always move the bench? What they are
doing is adjusting the bench to give themselves the most comfortable position. There
are three main points to having the correct position for piano playing. They are
height, distance and posture. Whether you are a seasoned pianist or a beginner, these
points apply to anyone who plays the instrument.
Height
What is the best height for piano playing? One which allows the elbow and upper
arm to fall freely from the shoulder, as well as allowing the forearm to be parallel
to the floor when the forearm and hand are in their natural shape, is optimal. The
arms should rest comfortably on the keys when you are sitting at the piano, and
they should be relaxed and horizontal with the floor. Wrists should be bent a
little bit lower than the knuckles. Your knees and legs should fit under the piano
easily.
Distance
Distance allowing for your elbows to rest slightly in front of your center line,
when your hands are in a neutral position on the keyboard, is the best distance
for piano seating. Your arms shouldn't be fully extended, nor should your elbows
be pushed behind your back.
Posture
Posture is extremely important while playing the piano. When you are sitting on
the bench, you should keep a straight back and relaxed shoulders. This will allow
you to keep your head straight, so that you able to see the sheet music easily and
without strain.
Sitting On The Bench
There is an etiquette to sitting on a bench for piano playing. One needs to sit on the
front of the bench, and your torso needs to move from the hip joint. The freedom of
the hip joint is one thing to check to see if you're sitting in a good place. Sit far
enough back on the bench to feel stable enough so that you don't need to hold
yourself in place, and forward enough on the bench to allow the hip joint to move
freely. Don't perch on the bench.
Adding Height To The Bench
Adjustable benches are pretty common. However, even adjustable benches
sometimes cannot raise people high up enough to that their shoulders, arms and
hands are comfortable. In this case, you should add height to the bench with a firm
cushion or something similar you can sit on to play.
tricks for adding height are at the left). 

Adding Height To The Floor

Shorter pianists, whose feet don't reach the floor, won't be able to feel easily
balanced forward on the piano. So what's the solution? You can add height to the
floor with footstools. You can buy a footstool or DIY one with large books covered
with cardboard boxes. Pedal extenders are also available.
Benefits Of Correct Posture For Piano Playing
Having a proper position at the piano does not mean being rigid and immobile in any
way. A proper posture is a set of ergonomic guidelines to help you access the entire
range of expressive possibilities of the piano. Some other benefits of proper piano
seating are:
It allows you to feel good at the instrument and enjoy your practice;
It protects your spine and your arms from tension-related injuries;
It simplifies your practice and increases your productivity;
It saves you time and effort;
It allows you to fully develop your potential and your pianistic skills;
It gives you confidence;
Learning all about the correct piano posture can help you reduce injuries from
prolonged periods of playing. Maintaining the correct piano posture is an important
aspect of piano technique. Ultimately, piano playing is a flexible art. If you want to
play well, and feel good doing it, then you have to be supple and relaxed, mentally as
well as physically. Having the right seating at the piano helps you connect with your
instrument.

 

The Musician Physician (4/30/18)

You might have heard of surgeons who also play an instrument in their spare time. Or maybe you've seen it on a TV show and dismissed it as not realistic. The fact is that many surgeons are fascinated by classical music, and the chords and harmony of the symphony orchestra, as much as they are by their scalpel and what it can do. Often, surgeons are known to be musicians as well as medicine men. Here we look at one surgeon who has successfully blended her passions for medicine and music.

 Dr. Kunitake is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the Boston University School of Medicine. She began playing the piano when she was 4 and half years old. Her family took classical music very seriously. Her brothers play the piano as well. When Dr. Kunitake was in high school, she spent anywhere from 4 to 6 hours practicing the piano. She soon found that while practicing was a challenge, it was also deeply satisfying and playing the piano became an integral part of her life. Dr. Kunitake says that it taught her the importance of discipline, in all undertakings. At one time she wanted to become a professional musician and perform classical music.

 In 1992, when she was a freshman at Harvard University, Dr. Kunitake majored in biochemical science, but didn't leave her musical practice behind. She continued to take lessons at the New England Conservatory of Music. Upon graduating Harvard, she received a 3 year fellowship from the American Pianists Association, which allowed her to study music and perform around the country. Next came a Doctorate in Piano Performance at the USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles. And shortly after, an event that changed the direction of her life. She was among the 4 young US pianists picked to compete in the 2000 Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland. Taking part in the event only reaffirmed her love for classical music. Dr. Kunitake has described the competition as a 'fantastic, eye-opening experience', where she got to meet and listen to world class musicians from around the globe. However, there was something else that had also always fascinated her, and that was science and medicine. 'I had wanted to be a surgeon for a long time,' says Dr. Kunitake. So she began her medical journey and attended medical school at UCLA, and completed her general surgical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and went on to do a Fellowship in Colerectal Surgery at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

 In Dr. Kunitake's view, being a surgeon as well as a world class musician are not mutually exclusive. In fact, she would stress that the two skill sets complement each other. This is a view that is supported by a lot of science, and backed up by other doctors. For eg, Pulitzer Prize winner Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, who is an author, hematologist, and oncologist, would say the same. Dr. Mukherjee has noted the similarities in being a surgeon and a musician. Dr. Mukherjee writes, 'The professions still often go hand in hand. Both push manual skill to its limit; both mature with practice and age; both depend on immediacy, precision, and opposable thumbs.'

 Dr. Kunitake certainly agrees, by noting that both disciplines require a person to have dexterity and challenge the hands and the mind. Furthermore, creating something with your hands can be very gratifying. She would have led a very different life if she had chosen to follow one passion over the other. 'I absolutely enjoyed pursuing both interests,' says Dr. Kunitake, 'and it has turned out to be a wonderful, interesting road for me.”

 In some ways, music and medicine are in completely separate worlds. One tends to think of medicine as fact-based and concrete, while music suggests something ever-changing, emotional, and creative. But as we have seen, in so many other ways, the two are remarkably similar. Music can heal, just like a good doctor. It connects with people like a therapeutic touch or talk, and both music and medicine involve an intimate human connection. For instrument playing surgeons, music and medicine can define their lives, while they balance their medical and musical practice.

 

 

Why Play the Piano?  It will make your brain work in different ways and might lead you to great things!   (2/28/18)

What do Photographer Ansel Adams, Surgeon Hiroko Kunitake, MD, MPH, NBA Star Grant Hill and Legendary Television personality Fred Rogers have in common?  They all played the piano and stated that their experience of playing led them to becoming the masters of their professional crafts!

Scientific research has concluded that there are distinct advantages of learning to play the piano.  Those who learn to play have shown increased language skills, increased IQ, better test scores in school, increased brain activity (your brain works harder if you play music!!), reduced stress and better motor skills.  

Whether you learn as a young child or as an adult, the benefits are real.  Those who are learning have increased confidence and are able to take on greater challenges in music and life.  So, don't wait to learn!  Playing the piano will allow you to be the best you can be in all areas of life--personally and professionally.

Reach all of your potential and learn to play the piano--it might just take your life to a whole new level!