Organ bench too high - I am 5'2" HELP
  • I just started a position with an unaltered 1978 Wicks with a standard AGO bench. However, I am 5'2" and cannot play with proper pedal technique. It also throws me into the manuals to where my technique is sounding heavier than it should because I am trying to balance. After 4-5 church services a weekend, I am sore from improper posture. What should I do to correct this so I can play pedals properly and have good posture??
  • MarkS
    Posts: 232
    At my most recent position I had the church handyman lower the bench by removing about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom of the bench legs. It can still be raised on 'blocks' (which I hade made) and can now accommodate organists of all statures. Of course, explain the situation and permission from appropriate folks!
  • At my most recent position I had the church handyman lower the bench by removing about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom of the bench legs. It can still be raised on 'blocks' (which I hade made) and can now accommodate organists of all statures. Of course, explain the situation and permission from appropriate folks!


    Mark, how did you measure how much to remove, and how high to make the blocks?
  • MarkS
    Posts: 232
    There is generally a limit to how much you are able to lower the legs, because of the cross-piece 'foot rest' that generally runs across under the bench and over the pedalboard. I basically took the bench down as low as we could—a little over two inches, which works well for me; 4 'blocks' were made for each side that are about 3/4" high, so that the bench could be raised by increments.
    Thanked by 1ValerieOestry
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,468
    Buy an adjustable bench. Yes, I know they are pricey, since I recently bought one. Worth the money.

    That bench was for the benefit of assistant and visiting organists. I am the perfect height for the standard AGO bench and never need to adjust.

    Then again, that might not work for you. The adjustable bench in its lowest position is standard AGO height.
  • The ideal alternative is to get a bench whose height is adjustable by a a crank-screw mechanism. If this cannot be budgeted shorten the legs and provide blocks for adjustment.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,468
    Or you could paint a line by the door like amusement park rides - You must be taller than this line to play the organ.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,957
    I have always had the opposite problem because my legs are so long and I have to hire the bench so high that my knees hit the bottom of the lower manual. One solution would be to remove a couple of inches below each knee, however, none of my friends, family or colleagues think it is at all an option.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Carol
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,620
    You could just raise the organ ;-) I'm a tall antiprocrustian like Francis and often find myself silently cursing builders who attach pedalboards to the bottom of the console, so that the key bottom to pedal distance can't be altered.
  • MarkS
    Posts: 232
    You could just raise the organ ;-)


    Actually I've heard of situations where, in the case of a detached console, the console (and pedalboard) has been raised by placing blocks under the console, but I'm not really sure that's viable in most circumstances!
  • The rack?
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Carol
    Posts: 342
    As in "give the rack a turn'?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,957
    This is a perfect solution!
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,543
    cursing builders who attach pedalboards to the bottom of the console

    Attaching also hinders cleaning and promotes pedal note failures
    as the zealous dusters snag and deform the paperclip-like contacts
    which increases the anger of the maintainer who must detach the board
    to inspect and repair.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • Carol,
    [several shades of purple]
    62"..... yes. Put that person on the rack to lengthen the legs.

    Thanked by 2Carol CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,468
    Are there some companies that build pedal "elevators" to raise the pedal board higher? Somewhere it seems I have run across that.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 3,912
    Just don't injure her if you put her on a stretcher ... she's too valuable a church musician!!!!
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 291
    The organ at the National Cathedral (Washington DC), has a pedal board that is separately capable of lowering and raising apart from the console in addition to the bench being motorized too. This was because Richard Dirksen was considerably taller than Dr. Paul Callaway during their tenure. I've often wondered why this combo isn't more common since it makes so much sense. Considering how much the average organ cost, what's an extra few thousand! Ha Ha

    What use to frustrate me, were some pedal boards (like a few E. M. Skinners), that were horizonally set so far away from the bench that I had to just about lay backwards to barely reach the blasted thing.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,468
    I am 5'8" which is neither tall nor short. I recently played a newer Casavant where my knees almost hit the underside of the lowest keyboard. I don't think it was to accommodate the church organist since he is about 3 inches taller than I am. I didn't think they build people differently in Canada, but go figure.
  • Matthew
    Posts: 27
    If I might take this opportunity to make a "bench confession." I am 6'3" tall and suffered for years when I was early in my career of playing at churches with short benches, no blocks, and non-adjustable. I eventually built a set of "adaptable blocks" to take with me when I would sub. I vowed one day that, should I be lucky enough to commission a new organ for a church I would have the console/bench built with the taller organist in mind.
    As luck would have it, such a project came to fruition 12 years ago. When talking with the builder about bench height, I insisted the bench be adjustable (via a hand crank) and tall enough to accommodate my lanky limbs, without my knees hitting the underside of the lowest keyboard. After some debate with our builder, he agreed. My wife (5' 2") is a very good organist herself and expressed some reservation - I didn't care (there...see, the confession). I'm happy to report we both "fit" quite nicely on the bench (no duets however). I've had many organists here to play concerts and all are able to adjust the bench so that it fits them nicely. All this to say that yes, with careful thought, benches can be built to accommodate most.
  • The crank mechanism is the last word.
    It does away with the need for blocks made by the builder, or one by four and two by four strips, or even poor hymnals.
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 770
    Are there some companies that build pedal "elevators" to raise the pedal board higher? Somewhere it seems I have run across that.


    There are these: Pedxtend. Intended for younger students learning the pedals, but if you only need to play a couple notes perhaps useful:
  • GerardH
    Posts: 46
    Are there some companies that build pedal "elevators" to raise the pedal board higher? Somewhere it seems I have run across that.

    Certainly not the cheapest option, but these might be what you're describing. An adjustable bench is probably more useful.

    image
  • Ach!
    Was it 'pedal elevators' in nineteenth century Russia???
    Shame!
    Shame!!!
    Thanked by 2MarkS igneus
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,468
    Ha! Was it organs in 19th century Russia? It was not.
  • Was there even a 19th century in Russia?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,468
    There definitely was. The earlier to mid part of century 19 produced a number of Russian saints and holy people. Toward the 20th, secularism reared its ugly head. Notice any parallel with the U.S. today?
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Ok, Charles,

    but …. what did people in 1799 claim about whether a practice was acceptable? They couldn't very well claim "19th century Russia" as their benchmark, now could they?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,468
    Probably not, but you do realize Father Vasiliy Vasileivich whose trademark was the 19th century Russia line is a fictitious character. He was created by Alex Riggle of the "Onion Dome." Any resemblance between Fr. Vasiliy and nineteenth century Russia is purely fabricated.
  • Carol
    Posts: 342
    CG-Z, are you making a pun using the word, benchmark?
  • Carol,

    I wish I were alert enough to have made the pun intentionally.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • ...made the pun...
    Ha!
    You didn't have to confess - and we all would have thought you were brilliant.
    Thanked by 2Incardination Carol