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Upper-Body Posture in Adolescent Pianists: A Cross-Sectional Study

Eleni Pappa, Yannis Koutedakis, Vassilis Sideris, Themistoklis Tsatalas, Giannis Giakas
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 35 Number 4: Page 202 (December 2020)

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Abstract: AIMS: Although the significance of upper-body posture in relation to piano performance has often been highlighted, the role of experience remains unclear. The aim of this study was to examine selected upper body posture parameters in adolescent piano students of different performance level (beginners vs advanced). METHODS: Thirteen (13) adolescent piano students (14.7±0.5 yrs; 7 beginners and 6 advanced) volunteered. They all performed two specific major scales (G-major and E-major) in five octaves in two predetermined different tempi (slow and fast). An upper body biomechanical model consisting of 27 reflective markers was applied on specific bony landmarks. A 10-T camera Vicon system running Nexus 2 was employed to capture upper body motion¿a) sway of the trunk in relation to the instrument, b) finger/hand sway over the keyboard, c) overall hand movement, and d) spinal angles¿at selected moments of four different performances. RESULTS: Beginners demonstrated more trunk sway than their advanced counterparts (p<0.05), more finger/hand sway (p<0.05), more overall hand movement (p<0.05), and more flexed spinal angles at the start of their performance (p<0.05). Most of these differences appeared in the G-fast performances, whereas the G-slow equivalents revealed no differences. CONCLUSION: Less-experienced piano players are characterized by more movement in their trunk posture and more upper limb activity than their more advanced colleagues. Future research should examine whether interventional programs designed to alter upper-body posture would have beneficial effects in piano performance.

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