Seated at the Keyboard

March 20, 2011

What to do when you play a historic keyboard instrument but, aside from direct music-making, have some untraditional requirements for sitting — not everyone choosing to stand to play, as we see in Vermeer? The ideal historically-informed way would of course be to acquire a chair in the period and style of the instrument. But aside from certain differences in the way we sit at the keyboard nowadays (18th-century male players having extended their legs to the side to show the curve of the calves to best advantage, for example — something that for several reasons almost never occurs to me), I had comparatively prosaic needs: I sit quite low to play, but the cembalo in question is played six times a week by a small child. Thus it needs to be easily adjustable. One of the elaborate contraptions used for modern pianos seemed somehow inappropriate — not to mention expensive overkill. Today I hit on a solution that I’m very happy with: one of those stools that medical and dental practitioners use. It is practical, comfortable, unassuming, and inexpensive.

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