People freshly introduced to the world of the piano frequently have the same question, among others: is a piano bench the same as a chair when playing the piano?
This is especially common for those who want to get a piano set up on a budget, maybe because they already have a chair at home and wonder if they can simply use it to play the piano.
The answer requires a few explanations on how a pianist may use a chair to play the piano, the differences between a piano bench and a chair when playing piano, the potential consequences of choosing either one and, finally, how a special chair for piano works.
The Usual Confusion
In the mission of getting a piano set up at home, many players (or oftentimes their parents) consider the possibility of using a chair for playing the piano. Why not? They already have one, so they can avoid the hassle of researching and investing in another piece of equipment.
In this regard, it is not helpful that many people online, for the sake of simplicity, refer to piano benches as chairs—a reference that may actually be incorrect.
The starting point in this conversation is to understand that a piano bench and a chair are very different in design, composition, and features. Even chairs specifically built for playing the piano, which will mention later in this article, have a contrasting difference from piano benches. It’s beneficial to dig into those differences before choosing.
The Problem with Chairs
In very few situations, chairs may prove to be the working option. However, for most pianists, they present important disadvantages.
While the backrest may seem like a great idea, it will be counterproductive for piano players. In fact, the presence of the backrest can bring some issues to the pianist by, along with the armrests, influencing their posture and freedom of movement. Improper form and imbalance can easily result from this situation.
When we say freedom of movement, let’s take the size of the seat into consideration. Regular chairs have limited real estate when it comes to seating; they are essentially limited to our own bodies’ width. The problem with this is quickly evident to the pianist: it becomes difficult and uncomfortable to play the far ends of the piano. Superb performance on the piano requires that the artist has absolute freedom of movement to move and flow over the keys.
As we have mentioned before on multiple occasions in our articles, the consequences of improper form are grave for the pianist, especially if it is present in the long term. Piano players can suffer from a wide range of injuries if improper form and imbalance persist during their practice.
The Features of the Right Equipment
A good piano bench will offer you a world of features that, while they may not seem essential, effectively enhance the experience for the pianist. If we start comparing piano benches with regular chairs, we will notice a greater difference than the one exposed in the previous point.
Chairs normally lack the possibility of adjusting the height, which is imperative for a good experience. Pianists need to adjust the height in order to find and keep a healthy, effective posture and position while performing. Without this possibility, the pianist may find themselves locked in the wrong position with all the ergonomic consequences that it entails.
Piano benches also offer practical storage under the seat, which is appreciated by students and teachers alike, either at music academics or at home. This useful feature is lost in choosing a chair.
If you want to use the right equipment for your piano practice, it’s very difficult to go wrong with a piano bench. These benches have been carefully designed and built to provide the very best experience to pianists.
This being said, piano benches will normally be superior to chairs and will provide a much more effective, positive experience, especially in terms of ergonomics, comfort, and performance.
Now, if you insist on a chair for the piano, it would be advisable to choose a proper chair for the piano and not any seat you may have at home or at your local thrift store.
Great chairs for piano do exist and they offer some fine features that you need to look for: adjustable height with precision, quality materials that ensure the durability and stability needed for playing the piano, a seat built for comfort after long hours, and an aesthetic design that matches the spirit of your piano.