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I have always hated using benches when I play the piano. In my tiny dorm room I play my digital piano on my bed, with a pillow to support my back. It's so much better than the bench I would use while playing my Grand Piano back in my home.

Since I play on my bed I can't reach a sustain pedal so I do this trick to get the sustain pedal always stuck on, I hold it down while the piano is being turned on so the piano thinks that on = off and off = on, so if I DONT want sustain, I just click it with my left hand :P

My back is pretty crappy. I have scoliosis. Anyone else have a poor back? Do you use a chair or some other support instead of the bench? Is the pillow somehow causing more damage than a bench? I have no experience/knowledge on this issue.

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    A bench is very helpful for playing piano due to the range of motion required, but it depends on what you're playing. Proper posture is probably the most important thing and it sounds like what you're doing could be harmful. I think this question is probably better-suited for a doctor, to be honest. – user28 Nov 10 '15 at 22:28
  • If you have a bad back, don't play in bed. You are slumping all the time. Either play standing up, with the piano keyboard surface elevated to elbow height, or play sitting up straight on a bench, again with the keyboard surface at elbow height. If you have been treated for scoliosis, then go back to the doctor or physical therapists who treated you and ask for further help. This comes under "occupational therapy". – user1044 Jan 22 '16 at 18:00
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For your digital piano, it sounds like you've worked out a good solution.

When you have the opportunity to play your real piano again, there are a few things you can try to reduce your pain:

  • put a cushion on the bench

  • get one of those fancy small benches with the big screws that raise and lower it, with the soft seat that has sort of a quilted look to it

  • use a foot rest and a pedal extender -- I saw my son's piano teacher set this up in recitals for her youngest students (you can really aggravate back problems doing a lot of reaching for the pedal)

  • experiment with a variety of chairs with backs (you won't want to play sitting back against the chair all the time, but some of your playing will work with this)

  • try installing a lumbar support on the chair back: example

  • try a waist brace while you're playing, see if it helps

  • try an ergonomic office chair -- this will have three different adjustments; you may find that adjusting the angle of the seat is helpful to give you the desired curvature

(And I probably don't need to suggest that you do some physical therapy with a really good therapist.)

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My best advice is to train yourself not to look at the keys, spend at least half your practice time with your eyes closed. This will prevent strain on your neck. Watch some video of Stevie Wonder playing, he always looks relaxed and happy with good posture and no stiffness. I also really recommend swimming once or twice a week to prevent back neck arm and hand pain.

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