I am a 60 year old flutist and I am about to perform a humble concert in my community. I have plantar fasciitis in my left foot, and I wonder if it is acceptable for me to sit on a high chair (like bar chair height) instead of stand for my performance? Does any one have any thoughts? Have you ever seen anything like this?

  • 1
    Well, soloists in a symphony don't stand. You might want to sit up a little taller during the solo... good luck!
    – Ringo
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 17:30
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    If Galway can sit, you can too: youtu.be/Ke4EQ2lDacc
    – ErikE
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 18:23
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    Just choose your clothes appropriately for sitting. People will come for a show...but only give them the type of show they came for. Good luck.
    – b3ko
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 19:56
  • If you only have one foot to use, you could always try the ol' Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull stance...
    – Bort
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 18:44
  • I quite often give lectures in front of an audience and would normally stand. But before I had my hips replaced, standing for an hour was painful, so I would ask for a high stool. Elderly conductors often do that too. The audience fully understands and doesn't mind in the slightest. Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 10:38

7 Answers 7


Absolutely. Nobody ever expects (extreme case) Itzhak Perlman to stand.

Personally, I'd be a happy audience if a flautist sat on a barstool, as many guitarists tend to do.
Now, performing while on a unicycle...

  • 6
    I've seen it done... youtube.com/watch?v=KldTIAZmoe0 Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 21:18
  • The barstool is a good proposal, as normal chairs are pretty low and - depending on the arrangement - OP would be visually lost in the surroundings. A little elevation would work wonders for the vibe IMO. But I too would probably barely take notice OP were just chilling out on a low chair
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 12:34

I've never seen a flutist sit, but I've also not seen very many flute soloists.

What I have seen is plenty of soloists that do sit, so you'd be in good company!

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And keep in mind that cellists, pianists, harpists, tubists, etc. sit. Why should you feel out of place for sitting? Do whatever helps you perform the best!

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    For those of you who don't recognise him, that's Itzhak Perlman.
    – TonyK
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 17:32
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    Note that in this picture, the pianist is also sitting. They do that even when they are soloists.
    – JAD
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 9:25
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    It's very hard to play well standing. You're basically doing 1/2 phantom chair. It's just an unpleasant experience unless you get a raised piano.
    – Nelson
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 7:39

Orchestral flautists sit the whole time so it's clearly possible to play the flute to a high standard while sitting. It's the 21st century and people are used to legislation that requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. This doesn't sound like an employment situation but the same principles and expectations apply. There's no reason you shouldn't sit, and every reason that you should. The audience wants to hear you at your best.

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    “The audience wants to hear you at your best.” This is the point! Of course, you probably don't want to be wearing or doing anything that will distract people unnecessarily. But people have come to hear you, and to enjoy the music you make, so don't worry about irrelevancies. Also, the fewer performers there are, the more leeway you have; as a soloist, you can do whatever you like!
    – gidds
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 15:52

If you were performing in an ensemble of 3 or more people - a flute quartet for example - you would not think twice would you; you would always sit.

So its not really an unusual way to perform. And even if it were you are still free to do whatever you need to feel comfortable and perform at your best.

So go for it, and good luck with the performance

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    “You would always sit” that’s not true; in chamber music standing up is common enough, too. Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 22:38
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    I have to agree with @orthocresol that chamber music players usually perform while standing. Pianists, cellists and harpists sit down of course, so you usually have a mixture of the two. The larger the ensemble, the more likely they are to all sit down, but I have seen Schubert's octet performed with only the cellist sitting down. (But the main point still stands: feel free to sit down if you want to.) Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 2:53

It's always acceptable to be seated. Standing is more conventional for a single soloist, but a group of performers would be seated.

The only advantage of standing would be diaphragm and breath control. That isn't an insurmountable obstacle whilst playing.

  • Well, you can of course sit correctly for your breathing muscles, it just takes the right chair and the right approach.
    – yo'
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 16:13

When I was playing (and I'm older than you are), allowances were always made for medical situations. I never saw any of my fellow flutists standing and playing with crutches.

But be careful. One of the reasons to stand includes the fact that it's simply better for breath control—and the flute uses more air than any orchestral instrument except for the tuba.

When seated, as with the rest of the orchestra, you can still fill your lungs completely with good breath control, but you have to take care to sit with good posture that facilitates breathing. Sitting on a "bar chair" might allow you to breathe easily, but then again it might not. And in compensating for the extra height you might put some other part of your body out of whack or off balance. At which point I'll add that if you think you have problems now, try falling off a high chair in front of an audience!

  • I'm not disagreeing, but I'm curious about your assertion that "the flute uses more air than any orchestral instrument except for the tuba". Can you cite a source for that?
    – Dalbergia
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 14:33
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    @Dalbergia: My teacher, Dick Graef, who was the Asst. Principal Flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, told me that. I have no reason to doubt him, as he was right about so many other things.
    – Robusto
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 14:41
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    As a tuba player myself, I'd always heard this claim, as well.
    – Richard
    Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 16:47

Conventionally, soloists stand. So what? Do you honestly feel that any objection would be raised to one sitting for medical reasons? Of course not!

So I guess your post is really about getting reassurance and recognition for your achievement. No problem. Well done! Hope it goes well. Good luck! (Will that do? You're welcome.)

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