We explain how knowledge of ergonomic design and good posture is essential for developing chairs that correctly support musicians.

Ergonomics – a brief overview.

Derived from the Greek ‘ergon’ (work) and ‘nomos’ (laws), ergonomics is the science that examines how humans interact with the systems they use. An understanding of ergonomics can be applied to develop systems and products that are better tuned to the physical and mental needs of the people that use them. Ergonomics can describe physical activities such as posture, materials handling, repetitive movements, workplace layout, safety and health. Processes such as perception, memory, reasoning, and motor response involving mental workload, decision-making, skilled performance, human-computer interaction and human reliability are referred to as cognitive ergonomics. While the optimisation of sociotechnical systems such as communication, work design, culture and quality are known as organisational ergonomics.

Why ergonomics are relevant to musicians

Musicians should be aware that good posture is essential to minimise health problems and that playing wind, string or percussion instruments can lead to repetitive strain injuries. This human interaction can benefit greatly from an understanding of ergonomics and application of the insights revealed applied to the design of equipment and instruments and how they are used. For players of wind instruments holding a good posture, with the instrument properly held, opens up the chest cavity allowing for good breathing. There are differences, sometimes significantly different, between sitting and standing postures. Musicians who have learned to play in one position may find it difficult to play in the other so both postures need to be exercised in order to strengthen the necessary muscles.

Repetitive Stress Injuries - tendonitis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, back, neck and shoulder pain and calluses - are risks for musicians who play for any length of time, whether professionally or for pleasure. Many musicians are likely to suffer from some level of repetitive stress at sometime since playing and practising music calls for repetitive motion. To counteract it you need to know what causes repetitive stress injuries and ensure that you warm up properly, stretch before and after playing, to take breaks and generally keep fit.

Why standard chairs are not suitable for musicians

Standard chairs let the musician slouch, allowing the spine to be forced out of its natural supportive position. This lowers the rib cage and constricts the diaphragm, reducing airflow. Wenger Music Posture Chair design redefined what a music chair should be by providing the seated musician with the same strong, natural posture as if they were standing. Nota takes that concept to the next level, providing rear and forward seating positions that allow musicians to sit in the manner that best suits their style and instrument. Both the Premier and Standard models also feature a narrow convex back that provides lumbar support while still allowing freedom and range of movement, and a rounded waterfall front that provides better circulation and comfort for a wider range of body sizes. Nota popularity is growing fast because there’s no other chair like it and it’s built to work and look great for the long run.

New ergonomically designed dynamic frame chair supports natural movement of musicians

The new Wenger Nota conBRIO chair available from Black Cat Music is built on a dynamic, flexible frame that encourages and supports a musician’s natural movement. The Nota conBRIO chair was developed following years of discussions with educators and musicians who were looking to progress the functionality of existing music posture chairs.

Inventors, Wenger explained, “with the variety of postural positions required of musicians, and brain, mind, and body research establishing significant links between movement and learning we knew we had to develop a dynamic chair.” The Nota conBRIO chair, with its cantilever frame, is as much a “teaching tool” as a chair. Built on a dynamic frame that encourages and supports the musician’s natural movement, it promotes the engagement of the musician’s entire body in the musical performance. It also further enhances the chair’s ability to mimic a standing posture - the posture that is the strongest and most supportive - when in a seated position. “There’s never been a music chair that provides such a stable, yet fluid foundation and the means to so co-engage in the musical performance” said a Wenger spokesman. Another smart feature is music directors can mix and match the ConBrio with the traditional Nota chair as the look and footprint of the chairs allow them to work together, even inter-stacking the two models of chairs on the same cart.

The current Nota chair has been received positively in the market and is providing great benefits to its users. With its passive ergonomics, it enables the musician to sit in a variety of positions and be supported or encouraged to sit with good alignment. The dual position seat allows them to sit back and have the support of the convex shaped backrest or they can sit forward, perching on the front edge of the chair. Many musicians prefer this position but most chairs aren’t designed for this -- the Nota chair is -- with a forward “flat” position and also with the rounded waterfall front. Whether sitting straight in the chair or angled - as so many musicians do - musicians will be encouraged to sit with good posture. The narrow convex back really makes the Nota chair unique. The narrow back provides support but doesn’t get in the way of the musician playing, even when sitting angled on the chair.

The introduction of Nota conBRIO chair now offers the option of dynamic or static ergonomically designed chairs, or a mix of both that can happily be used together.