Sitting: My Preference
Many keyboard players choose to play from a seated position. I am one of those players and this post will help explain why this is and always will be my personal choice. It may or may not be obvious to non keyboard players, but playing a keyboard while standing requires one to stand on one foot, enabling the other to operate the sustain pedal and/or other necessary foot-switches. The following is an experience I had which may shed some light on this topic.
Standing: A Cautionary Tale
On one particular gig where the venue provided a generous-sized stage elevated four feet or so off the dance floor, I had occasion to play with a large band – 7 pcs if I recall correctly. This stage featured its fully-glassed back to the street/sidewalk so that passers-by could see and certainly hear the band before entering the club – more or less an audition. Because parking and load-in was rather difficult at this downtown club, I rationalized that carrying one less item that fateful evening was the lesser of two evils and left my trusty keyboard seat home. I was going to be behind two horn players onstage anyway so why look “small” playing seated?
We played to a packed house and dance floor (remember the good old days?) and at some point, I decided to twist a knob or two in my rack of gear that I had set up to my left on the stage floor. I proceeded to bend down and “fiddle around” in this rack while still playing with my right hand that was now at or above my head. Losing balance as I had one foot on a pedal, I fell backward against what I came to learn was the emergency door, which opened suddenly, sending me into a backwards cartwheel and onto the sidewalk. The door quickly slammed shut and locked while the band played on.
Unhurt (fortunately), I picked myself up off the sidewalk and promptly headed for the club’s main door where I was met by a bouncer and door man who announced that I had to pay a $5 cover charge to get in like everybody else. Explaining that I was in the band didn’t help my cause seeing as the band was still raging and when it became clear that nobody at the door was going to believe that I was in fact the keyboard player, I forked over the $5 and made my way through the crowd and back up onto the stage. The entire band was still playing and most were now grinning and laughing at my having left the stage so abruptly (some saw my back flip while others didn’t). To this day, the bass player brings this story up every time I am on a gig with him.
The moral of the story? Don’t stand up to play keyboards unless you absolutely must, and in homage to the old Italian aversion to having one’s back to a window, try to keep your back against the wall if you can – especially if you are going to lean on it.
PS – At the end of the night, I threw myself on the mercy of the doorman and was able to get my $5 cover charge back but not my dignity. This story lives on (and on, and on……)