Sitting Posture for Musicians: Learn to Sit Again

While the human body is ideal for making music, it hasn’t much evolved for sitting down. Drummers and pianists will no doubt be painfully aware of just how difficult it is to make music while you’re sitting. Thankfully, proper posture can help you play better and for longer. In this article, we’ll focus on just that, using drummers and pianists to set the example and talk about tailbones and hollow backs. And yes, chances are you’re going to have to learn to sit all over again.

Drummers on the Throne

Much like monarchs, drummers sit on a throne, ruling over the cymbals and commanding an army of drums. Using their hands and feet, drummers express what they feel inside, slowing down the rhythm before picking up the pace again, unleashing thunderous beats, or laying down velvety-soft accents — all while sitting down. Does it make sense? If you were to ask an evolutionary biologist, probably not.

Sitting Posture for Musicians: Learn to Sit Again

Learning to Sit (and Call It Quits)

In addition to learning drum rolls, it’s essential that every drummer learns how to sit on their drum throne correctly. If they don’t, the risk of developing neck, back and shoulder injuries is a legit concern. Proper posture not only helps with pain-free playing, but can boost your performances both in quality and duration. And it’s not just about the way you sit, what also matters is the distance between you and your kit, your playing technique and how long you play for. Musicians are kind of like professional athletes in that they’ll go to extreme lengths to achieve their goals, but endlessly honing the same pattern can easily lead to RSI (repetitive strain injury) or a similar injury. As such, it’s absolutely crucial that you listen to your body and learn not just how to sit, but when to call it a day.

Want to know how you can set up your drum kit ergonomically? Check out this blog!

Pointers for Proper Posture

  • While it may seem obvious that the best way to sit on a drum throne is by keeping your upper legs horizontal and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, experts actually recommend going for a 110-degree angle. This way, the hips are positioned slightly above the knees, which provides extra support and results in a more upright sitting position. Having the knees and the pelvis at the same height tilts the pelvis backwards, resulting in a hollow back and increased pressure on the intervertebral discs.
  • The height of the drum throne should be high enough so that you’re not forced to reach for or even overextend to play your drums and cymbals. Every part of your kit should be within reach, with the cymbals below shoulder height.
  • In the optimum playing position, your arms are as close to the body as possible with the shoulders down.
  • Tighten your abs when you’re drumming. This supports an upright posture with a straight back.
  • Breathe in deep before you start pounding. If this makes you feel like you’re going to lean forward, you’re not sitting correctly.
  • Do a proper warm-up and take five in time. Just like taking regular breaks, warming up is standard procedure for all musicians. Just don’t be foolish enough to think that a little wrist flexing is enough to compensate for being dog-tired after playing into the wee hours the night before.


Drum throne manufacturers facilitate proper posture through a wide range of different design features and models, one more ergonomic than the next. There are drum thrones with and without a backrest or lumbar support, models with a three or five-legged construction, and models equipped with a round seat or a saddle seat, where saddle seats are little wider than round seats and help reduce pressure on the hamstrings. Some models actually have a split seat, where the cushioning is divided into two parts and separated by a slit. This is supposed to keep you from sitting on your tailbone, but the downside – according to critics – is that split seats can lead to an imbalance in the hips. If you’ve been drumming for a couple of decades and have already burned through five or six different drum thrones, you might simply keep going back to that one old throne because it’s just too comfortable. You might also have been sitting correctly all that time and still suffer from back pain. In that case, it’s worth digging a little deeper into the possible causes. Perhaps you’ve been lugging those heavy drum cases without the help of a dolly?

Sitting Posture for Musicians: Learn to Sit Again

Piano Posture

Most of what we’ve discussed so far also goes for pianists and other seated musicians. While technically compiled for classical pianists, the 5 Basic Elements of a Correct Piano Posture by Ilinca Vartic ( are incredibly useful.

  1. The first step is doing a mental reset and adopting a positive attitude.
  2. Your piano bench is set at the correct height when your forearms are in line with the keys.
  3. While playing the keys, the hands should be positioned slightly higher than the forearms. Vartic also advises not to sit too far away from the piano. You should be able to reach all of the keys and your elbows should not stick out past your back.
  4. While drummers may use the entire surface of the seat, pianists should stick to the front half without placing their thighs underneath the piano. Stability is also important, so make sure that your feet are resting on or right beside the pedals, and keep your arms completely relaxed at all times — “like they’re the wings of a bird” to use Vartic’s words.
  5. Keep your shoulders down and your elbows at a comfortable distance from your body.

Too Low

Sitting too low is detrimental to your body, so unless you have a condition like legendary Canadian virtuoso Glenn Gould and you’re not actually able to sit up straight, we suggest adjusting the height of your drum throne or piano bench. If you do suffer from back pain, it’s best to use a stool with built-in lumbar support instead of an actual backrest, since a backrest only limits your range of motion. If you play the keyboard, chances are you’re already playing in a standing position since most keyboard stands are height-adjustable, making it easier to assume a healthy playing position. If you play instruments such as handheld percussion instruments and you’re always standing, it’s not a bad idea to sit down during rehearsals every now and then. If you’re dealing with persistent pains, you’re better off seeking the help of your GP or a physiotherapist.

You can learn more about proper piano playing posture in this blog.

See Also

» Drum Thrones with Saddle Seat
» Drum Thrones with Backrest
» All Drum Thrones
» Piano Benches
» Piano Stools
» Keyboard Benches
» Piano Stands
» Keyboard Stands
» Guitar Stools
» Universal Musician’s Chairs and Stools

» How To Make The Most Out Of Your Drumheads – 3 Practical Tips
» Drummers! Build Yourself an Ergonomic Setup
» Independence Exercises for Drummers
» How to Drum Faster
» Drum Kit Configurations: Try These Variations!
» How to Hold Your Drumsticks
» Playing the Piano: Correct Posture & Hand Position
» How to play basic piano chords
» Tips to Help You Memorise Sheet Music
» How to Play the Cajon
» Adjusting Your Guitar Strap: Playing Comfort or Looks?

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