Too short for orchestra chairs!

April 8, 2019, 4:44 PM · Hi friends! I’m a professional orchestra player, and it's time to tackle the issue of orchestra chairs being too tall for me. I’m considering options other than bringing my own chair...many people have mentioned that they've seen people use some form of platform under their feet? Has anyone seen this? Or anything that seems to be helpful? I’m 5’2” so not terribly short, but I can never feel grounded with my feet planted in rehearsals. Performances are fine since I wear heels..
Any thoughts/suggestions/firsthand stories welcome!

Replies (15)

April 8, 2019, 5:15 PM · Hmmmmm, should be pretty easy to make a collapsible foot stool made of light weight framing and plexiglass/acrylic that you could just carry into rehearsals with you. Probably some other low tech solutions you could implement, although they wouldn't be as aesthetically pleasing, if you care about that.
Edited: April 8, 2019, 5:30 PM · have you talked to your stage manager about this? what did they say? if they can't dig up a shorter chair for you and you're fine wearing heels in performance, the easiest solution might just be to pack a pair of heels to wear in rehearsal...

(edit: I think what my orchestra did back in the dark ages was take a standard orchestra chair, saw a couple inches off the legs, and reattach the feet)

April 8, 2019, 5:27 PM · You can try sitting more forward in your chair, but you can only sit so far forward or otherwise you end up almost falling off your chair. This may not look the nicest, but how about putting some cardboard pieces under your feet? It
April 8, 2019, 6:51 PM · One of my colleagues (about 5 ft tall) has a box (built by the stage hands) that she puts her feet on. I think it's around 4 inches high. We also have the option to request shorter chairs, but that would leave her sitting in a hole, below her colleagues (she has a solo wind chair).
April 9, 2019, 12:42 AM · Wenger, who makes the "standard" orchestral chairs, has options for shorter or taller chairs. Definitely talk to your stage manager.

I have a shorter model in my practice room, and love it. (I have a quartet's worth of Wenger chairs.)

Edited: April 9, 2019, 12:59 AM · A violinist in one of my orchestras uses a pair of wood blocks with felt on the bottom and shallow holes cut in the top, which she places under the back legs of her chair to raise them by about an inch. The purpose is to tilt the chair forward rather than to lower the chair, but it has the effect of lowering the front edge slightly.
April 9, 2019, 7:45 AM · Personally I'd prefer some sort of box under nay feet over a shorter chair. Your stand mate will sit high above you and you'll have to look up at the music. Also you might not see the conductor from down low.
April 9, 2019, 7:45 AM · Personally I'd prefer some sort of box under nay feet over a shorter chair. Your stand mate will sit high above you and you'll have to look up at the music. Also you might not see the conductor from down low.
April 9, 2019, 12:44 PM · Maybe talk to the Cellists in your orchestra. Cellists are fussy about their chairs, and many of them own their own personal folding chairs. At the pro. level, your stage manager will be able to help.
April 9, 2019, 12:55 PM · I'm a smidge shorter than you. For rehearsals, I just put my bag in front of my chair to rest my feet on. Even if having a shorter chair were an option, I wouldn't take it because my stand partner is 6'5" and it's hard enough now to arrange the music so we can both see it.
April 9, 2019, 8:12 PM · Yes, I have an adjust-rite chair that I brought to rehearsal a couple times, but didn’t like being shorter than my colleagues and trying to share a stand with a taller person!

I like the wood blocks idea.
A colleague pointed me to this and I may try putting this under my feet:

Mind Reader Adjustable Height Ergonomic Foot Rest, Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MSQDE0U/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_JluRCbMJV56C6

Edited: April 9, 2019, 8:19 PM · I know how David Burgess would solve this: He would take a Sawzall to the legs of the chair. No, that doesn't really help. The footrest is a good idea, but a larger platform for your feet seems like a better solution because don't you move your feet around at all while you play? I do. I can't keep them confined to a really small area for a long time.
April 11, 2019, 11:55 AM · Petition for David Burgess to make more Sawzall videos.
April 11, 2019, 5:16 PM · Michel Petrucciani had to have a special pedal set made for a standard Steinway. The pedals are about 18 inches off the floor. Of course that's a completely different type of situation.

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