Proper Seat For Practice

September 7, 2017, 10:10 AM · Is there a type of seat that works best for seated playing of the violin?

I'm presently using a chair with arms and I tend to rest my left elbow of the chair arm. This is probably a bad habit to start. High stools feel clunky. I don't like it when my legs are dangling.

Maybe a shorter stool?

Replies (36)

September 7, 2017, 10:25 AM · I suggest practicing standing, but if this is difficult, buy a music chair.

I recommend Wenger chairs, which is what you'll find in professional concert halls: LINK

The most common chair you'll find is their Symphony Chair. It's comfortably padded and a good configuration for typical seated playing.

However, I really like their Nota conBRIO Premier chair (LINK), which is great for keeping you in a good posture and has a comfortable seat.

(I own a trio of the latter, plus Wenger's cello chair, for hosting quartets.)

September 7, 2017, 10:36 AM · Thanks Lydia, I'll check into these. My first impressions are it looks like the chairs in the practice studio I attend.

I actually like to practice standing. Until I get my other space finished though, I'm in a smallish practice room at home which makes me feel claustrophobic. I play standing in the dining room sometimes which is much better, but it can irritate others, so I usually sit to play at the other location.

I have a stool, but I think I need to cut the legs down to feel comfortable on it.

Are there benefits to playing while standing?

September 7, 2017, 10:37 AM · Any chair without arms, doesn't have wheels and is the proper height for you should do the trick.
September 7, 2017, 11:04 AM · I always stand while practicing because I seem to concentrate and play better.
September 7, 2017, 11:19 AM · Sure beats playing while falling from a plane.
Edited: September 7, 2017, 11:24 AM · Practicing while standing is much better for your posture, but as a temporary fix if standing is difficult or impossible, any straight armless chair will do. Those chairs Lydia linked to are great but expensive. I've used dining chairs for quartet rehearsal, in a pinch. A piano bench works well, too.
Edited: September 7, 2017, 12:55 PM · Lydia, I've had that exact chair on my Amazon wish list for a while now. They make essentially the same chair with four legs, lacking that flexibility feature. How do you feel about the flexibility? I'd love to know from people who've used them, before I drop my $249.

Ergonomics become increasingly important as we get older, whether we're talking practice chairs or bicycles or whatever. (But don't ask me how I know that.) ??

September 7, 2017, 12:05 PM · Dining chairs I have! Thank you Mary! Ella Yu, thanks!

Jeff, I wonder why it's easier to concentrate standing? Unless it follows the old adage- " When me sits me thinks, when me thinks, me falls asleep."

I'll admit it is comfortable playing with one arm propped on my office chair.

I think I'll try playing standing and also playing while sitting on an unarmed chair.

I leave playing while naked falling from a plane and playing while running until later :0)

Edited: September 7, 2017, 1:00 PM · Mark, the flexibility is what really makes the chair worthwhile. Sitting on it feels much more akin to standing, in terms of your freedom to move and maintaining a good posture. Not having front legs on the chair makes that possible.

Warning: It is not a chair for people who like to slouch. But slouching is an awful playing posture anyway.

Also, I really love the fact that the chairs come in different heights. I got one of my chairs specifically for me, two inches lower, and the slight difference really feels meaningful.

September 7, 2017, 12:34 PM · Thanks Lydia! I think I'll go for it now.
September 7, 2017, 12:40 PM · I'm not terribly picky, but I do insist on a chair without arms. You could just start there. :)
September 7, 2017, 12:42 PM · I'll play standing or sitting depending on what's more convenient at the time. You could argue, I suppose, that playing sitting down is good for orchestral pieces; after all, you're going to be sitting during the concert. I confess that I do occasionally rest my left elbow on a chair arm if it's present.

I've fallen from a plane - naked, even - but I draw the line at taking a violin along, if for no other reason than that it's a terrible way to treat a violin. I haven't played while running, but I do walk with it from time to time. Maybe we can form a marching orchestra. In the movie Take the Money and Run, Woody Allen tries to play a cello in a marching band - hilarious!

September 7, 2017, 12:49 PM · I tried using a rocker but people listening complained about Doppler effect.
September 7, 2017, 2:40 PM · try a kneeling chair. It is also good idea to alternate between standing and sitting every 30-50 minutes.
September 7, 2017, 5:20 PM · I use a regular kitchen chair without armrests. Works fine, even helps me to actually improve my sitting posture. You know you're slouching when the bow hand hits your knee, lol.
September 7, 2017, 5:33 PM · I practice seated because where I practice the ceiling is only 7' and I have destroyed two bow tip-plates. Fortunately they were repaired inexpensively. Here is what I sit on, and I really like it.

It is the same seat I take to gigs when I play my digital stage piano.

September 7, 2017, 8:46 PM · "rest my left elbow of the chair arm."

When I was 7, I had the same idea : = ) My mother put a stop to that right away. I have practicing on my feet ever since.

September 7, 2017, 9:18 PM · I either stand or use my piano bench.

In class we have these very uncomfortable hard plastic chairs - do not recommend.

September 8, 2017, 9:41 AM · I feel better knowing I'm not the only one who has used the chair arm as an arm rest while playing.

Lydia's link led me to look around some.I found this-

It's a "band chair". Michael, this isn't the type in your class is it?

I've never split hairs over chairs before. The one Lydia posted a link to only has two back legs.Hopefully they are titanium or I'll bend those. I do like that the chair "gives" in response to the players movements.Nice design!

September 8, 2017, 9:47 AM · Symphony orchestras actually have special chairs for playing, and they do make a difference: They are pretty simple, with a straight back, modest cushioning, pretty much a flat seat. Here are a few examples.
September 8, 2017, 1:48 PM · No Timothy,

We sit in chairs that have a detachable writing arm. Hard plastic back, hard plastic cupped bottom, and steel legs with runners on the bottom not to damage the floor. I'd love something with a little cushioning like everyone is posting!

Edited: September 12, 2017, 5:16 AM · Best chair depends on your body dimensions. I have long arms, ing legs and a relatively short torso (getting shorter every year). So I have to be sure that when I play violin or viola sitting down my bow hand doesn't hit my right thigh or knee.

At home I use a Wenger Cello Chair, slightly sloped, high enough that my knees are lower than my hips. It's great for cello playing and it works for me for the chin instruments. Away from home I bring a cushion that when added to the chair will be appropriate for me and the instrument I will be playing.

I also own an Adjustrite chair:
that folds up for carrying but it is not light - probably weighs 15 pounds or so - as much as a cased cello. I find the Adjustrite not as comfortable for me as the Wenger, but it can be adjusted for people of any leg length and it can be set with the back higher than the front either for cellists or for long armed violin/viola players who want to avoid their right hands hitting their right leg.

September 9, 2017, 4:12 AM · Like Paul, I use a collapsing piano/guitar bench: portable (I carry it to gigs where supplied seating is uncomfortable), comfortable, and height-adjustable. Not expensive, either.
September 9, 2017, 6:23 AM · Any small chair with not too protruding legs and no back board or armrest will do...
September 9, 2017, 1:38 PM · Is there a benefit to standing while practicing/playing? Yes, better posture and easier movement. That being said if/when you play with an orchestra you will be seated (except when playing the national anthem - Cello players get a pass). Therefore you need to practice sitting in the proper position because your movements will be just different enough to make a difference.

Of course, right now I'm forced to sit as I'm between hip replacements and standing is just too painful. I use a fairly high stool that allows me to have my sit-bones on the stool and my feet on the ground taking the pressure off my bad hip. I'm supported much like when I'm on my bicycle.

Edited: September 11, 2017, 9:43 AM · I don't know if it would cause a Doppler effect (Arthur R), or if this is the kind of kneeling chair Rocky had in mind, but a Varier Variable combines rocking and kneeling. Although I haven't used one for playing the violin, I have used one for office work and found it good.
September 11, 2017, 10:35 AM · I'm sorry to hear about your hip George. I'm glad you found a solution to the problem.

These are some really great choices.Thanks for the suggestions all!

Function and comfort. Are they both equally important? Proper posture doesn't seem to always figure into full comfort.On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being you could fall asleep in it and 1 being all about a place to rest your "sitting bones" and nothing besides.. Probably the reason workplaces look and feel like work places and homes are usually more comfy.We don't really want to be that comfortable when playing the violin. The stuffed recliner is probably out.

I'm still trying to find that balance.

September 11, 2017, 10:38 AM · Good posture IS comfortable when you're working.

Do those Wenger chairs lean forward? I have found the the piano seats that tilt 1" are remarkably good for sitting long periods.

September 11, 2017, 10:39 AM · Try to get up to answer the phone from the Varier seat while holding your violin. Pension plan for your luthier.
Edited: September 11, 2017, 12:45 PM · Hi,

Although chair with arms aren't advisable, the most important is how one sets up the chair in relation to the stand. Many orchestra players get injured from having a chair facing forward and bringing the left shoulder in to look at the music. The better way (which I learned from a World-class chamber musician) is to have have your instrument and head pointing in the direction you need and then turning the chair so that it works. Your chair and legs will usually not be pointing forward, but at a sideways angle to the right (in an orchestra more so on the inside than outside). However, you won't bring the left shoulder in, twist the back or neck, or do other potentially very injurious things. Definitely worth exploring; makes a huge difference.


September 12, 2017, 2:17 AM · Kneeling chairs are great - except for the knees!
Some physiotherapists advocate a wedge-shaped cusion to tip the pelvis forward and restablish the lombar curve that God or Evolution intended.
September 12, 2017, 4:06 AM · I've seen orchestra players use little blocks of wood under the rear legs to get the same result.
September 12, 2017, 6:36 AM · Stephen, the Wenger cello chairs lean forward and several violinists in my orchestra prefer to use them.
September 12, 2017, 6:52 AM · @ Stephen , "Good posture IS comfortable when you're working". When I see good posture discussed it is usually a blanket kind of statement showing a picture of someone sitting on a chair and under the illustration it might say, "This is the proper way to do it". The back is usually fairly straight. Person sitting erect with the neck straight.

This has been a kind of benchmark and we need those.With respect to violin, there must be a few idiosyncrasies. Even so, I don't believe this is necessarily a strict rule for everyone. I don't mean to imply that slouching is ok, only that all skeletons are just a little different. If changing a norm makes me a better player I'll bend the rules.

If I had issues with raising my left arm, I would prefer to rest my elbow on the chair arm instead of not playing. I'll never be in a pro orchestra, so my needs to conform are less about appearance and more about what helps me to play the best.

I like to have some lower back support when playing if possible. I doubt it would make me a better player if I didn't have it. I like the feeling of looking down slightly at my work as opposed to sitting back at an angle. I like holding the fiddle at that angle too. Too far down though and the stick can drift. Being slightly higher and looking slightly down would be my preference.

September 12, 2017, 7:02 AM · Timothy,

The Wenger Cello Chair has a low back. Also, it's seat is relatively short compared to regular chairs. Thus when sitting in a Wenger, a cellist's back is usually able to be in contact with the back of the chair, contrary to conventional chairs in which cellists usually have to sit a bit forward. I don't know if this would be helpful to you or not.

September 12, 2017, 7:22 AM · Thanks Andrew. Very helpful. Oh and I finally got through to Heidi and ordered an Indredibow thanks to you. I'll keep you posted on that.

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