Monday, 1 September 2014

Tuning in to Piano Benches

Just as the garden is fading, September is Piano Month and the piano bench is in bloom. Doesn't it look lovely? 

What better time to celebrate all those brilliant piano benches upon which music-makers perch their perky posteriors. But it's not as easy as it looks, so to give me a hand paw I've drafted in Meredith from animal editors dot com. 

After all, cats have an affinity with pianos.



Can you wake up from your cat nap and help me out here? 

Meredith: I'm not going to play the piano, if that's what you want. I'm not being paid as a concert pianist. 

Some cats sing and tinkle the ivories rather well though.

Even if the piano is invisible.

Not everyone plays an invisible piano, so here is a simple guide on how to use a piano bench properly. 

DO choose your piano bench carefully. This one is grand.

Meredith: Here we go with the puns. I hope you're not going to spin-it out.

Very funny, Meredith. Please leave the jokes to me.

You do not need a fancy bench, or indeed a fancy piano.

But it's important to hit the right note with your bench.

Meredith: I can see that we're going to recycle old benches and old jokes.

Yes, and pianos too. Don't be afraid to purchase a pre-loved piano. 

When making over an old piano bench, do make sure it's classy.

Don't buy a piano with holes in it.

Don't be sheepish about choosing a simple piano bench like this one. 

Anyone buying this is getting fleeced.

I'll ignore that, Meredith. You know perfectly well that this is my own design. Don't B Sheepish is made from the wool of local sheep. 

Yes, I know. Fleeced

It's a baaaaad piano bench. 

Bad in a bad way. You'd be better off standing up.

This cat is a miniature. Which reminds me: Do make sure that your bench is the right scale. 

Some people are trim and their backside only covers a couple of octaves.

Other people need a full keyboard.

It all depends on the anatomy of the pianist.

photo by Sheila B.

(Yes, Miggy, your bum does look big in this).

Before you sit down, do be sure that a cat isn't on the bench.

And be sure it isn't raining pianos.

Whatever are you on about, Meredith?

Pianos falling from the sky. It's not uncommon.

Let's hope they land softly. 

And speaking of soft, here's Plinky and Plunky, a beautifully knitted little piano and bench.

They're small enough and cute enough to take anywhere. 

If you need a portable piano, a plastic one works well.

Call me a fussy feline but this bench looks like my blood pressure tablets.

When going to the beach with your piano, don't forget to take your bench.

DON'T limit yourself to a stool. Depending on their molecular structure, piano stools can be very uncomfortable.

And whatever you do, don't use a chair. 

If it's a good chair, one or two cats will already be occupying it.

Beethoven used a chair to play the piano.

Using a chair for piano playing is for the birds.

I'm ignoring that. You're just being silly.

I thought you were getting into the swing of it.

I am. 

Speaking of swing, it's time to choose some music.

Kitten on the Keys is a very good song. 

I was thinking of an old jazz song about benches.

There's no need for benches. You can park yourself on the keys.

No, Meredith, it's about benches. Now you've got the piano bench, you'll need to park yourself on it. 

I can think of better things to do in the park. 

We're going round in circles here.

The point is, if you're going to play the piano, don't face the wrong way.

How you sit is very important: face the piano and align your belly button with Middle C.

That's a bit tricky where cats are concerned. 

This is not about cats.

During long arpeggios it's easy to get distracted by stuff on the floor. Mice for example.

Meredith, I have noticed that this blog about piano benches contains more cats than benches. Whenever I make a point, you exhibit another cat picture. 

Yes, cats are Numero Uno on the internet. 

On Benchsite it's benches that are numero uno. I'm going to swing this discussion back to piano stools.

Sit on it and spin, as the saying goes. 

Yes, it's possible to find a piano bench that swivels . . . 

. . . but don't sit sideways with your legs apart.

And don't stand on the bench.

What if it's Bench Monday and you want some pictures for your Flickr photostream? 

If you must stand on your piano, don't wear shoes.

Get dressed though.

Nude Playing the Pia1915, Frank Snapp

 Don't be tempted to give a concert at the Royal Festival Hall in your underwear. And for heaven's sake, if you're short-sighted, put your glasses on.

Do mind your coat tails when you sit down. This man shows how to maintain decorum when sitting at the piano to play a tocata. 

When playing your concert piece, don't have your dog with you.

That goes without saying. A dog is never welcome. 

Neither is a cat. If you're a concert pianist you need full concentration. 

I can see where you might not want a kitten on the keys while you're playing
Rach 3. It's pretty full-on. 

Meredith, you're doing it again with the cats. This is supposed to be about pianos.

This is about pianos. Here is a cat on a piano, singing along to The Moonlight Sonata. 

He's really getting his teeth into the music.

Eeeeeeeeee! Someone has hit a wrong note. 

So now you've got your concert, you've chosen your piano bench, you've got the t-shirt.

Sit up straight on your piano bench and begin. 

Remember, the audience will be your judge.

And no matter how long your concert is, think about how you sit on the bench. 

Above all, make sure that your backside is properly covered.


There are already quite a few piano benches on Benchsite, together with lots of other musicians and music benches. Not all of them are cat-centric. For a non-cat look at piano benches see the very festive

Meredith, like Naomi Campbell, is not prepared to get out of bed for less than ten thousand dollars a day. That puts her out of my price range so I used the same picture as before in the introduction.  Meredith has also ruined helped me with two previous posts. One of them is Cat Benches for World Cats Day. Fair enough that cats should appear on that one. But look what she did to the great benches of St. Helier.  

The beautifully creative garden piano and bench were at the Allan garden in Toronto in December 2013. It was photographed by Judy Meikle, aka Trinimusic, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago but has mostly lived in Canada. Inspired by the creativity of Flickr people and their photographs, she took up photography in 2008. Her photostream includes lots of lovely pictures of Canada and quite a few benches too.

What luck that I found Jan Willemsen's work! The kittens playing around on piano is a vintage card from 1900. If you're a cat lover, you'll have seen it many times. It was photographed by Jan and appears in a Flickr  group about extraordinary postcards of cats and it's also in Jan's album featuring pianos  Jan also collected the short-sighted woman playing the piano in what appears to be her underwear. The photo is from the Spaarnestad archives, 1930. 

The cat playing the invisible piano is from the photostream of Kevin Jarrett, who would like to make it clear that he found the photo and its source is unknown. I have been unable to trace it either, so let's just enjoy it.  Kevin is a teacher from Northfield, New Jersey and he has lots of albums of events and activities

London Lime photographed the mackerel cat sleeping on the keys and has a large album called Kitties. No, this is not Meredith, though she has been known to sleep on my piano.

Sean Michael Ragan took the photo of his cat Moonie playing the piano and singing for all he's worth. Sean, from Austin, Texas, writes and blogs for MAKE magazine and has a whole set of Edison Giocattoli ray guns. He also has a set of Moonie.

Ton Zilstra from Enschede in the Netherlands describes himself as a networked individual in a networked world. His photostream is admirably full of benches, including some stunning beach bench huts. He saw the grand piano bench at Queen Anne Park in Seattle in 2008.

The little boy sitting on a pile of wood to play the 'piano' bench is from the Gutenberg Press archives at   The original source is A Catalogue of Play Equipment by Jean Lee Hunt, 1918, Bureau of Educational Experiments, New York. Gutenberg's statement: This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg icense incuded with this eBook or online at 

Kate Robertson from Idaho Falls is the Queen of Creativity. She describes herself as a painter, mixed media artist, weaver, spinner and writer. Besides that, she photographs all kinds of stuff wherever she goes on her creative pursuits, such as the piano bench. She is a Kaizen-Muse creativity coach and she has loads of ideas on how to get your creative mojo working. She has various blogs; I first saw her at

The metallic piano and bench were in a spa park in southern Poland in 2012. The town is Kudowa-Zdrój. It was photographed by Karelj and available at Wikimedia  

I designed the Don't B Sheepish bench for the Baaaaad Sheep Bench post last year. The design is subtitled A Wadge of Wool on a Piano Bench and, surprisingly, this one-off creation is still available for $4,500. Contact Bo-pEEp via this blogspot. 

The miniature cat playing the piano is from Emily aka silly pucci from Sydney. Her photostream is full of babies, kids, cats, and toys from Japan.  

Quite Peculiar took the photo of the music bench in México in 2007.  Quite Peculiar lives in London, though her hometown is apparently the Land of Nod. She has two occupations: fox demon and cat of nine tales. She likes cats, pastries, books, tea and clothing formerly owned by strangers. There is a whole fiesta of bright Mexican benches at

Mike Coghlan in Adelaide is one of my most reliable bench providers - what an eye he has!  His bench collection is the most extensive I have found and it is truly inspirational. On dreary days I flick through to see what's new and it cheers me up enormously. Here I have used his guerilla-knitted keyboard bench from the Mount Barker jazz festival in South Australia, photographed in 2013  For a whole explosion of wool-bombed and guerilla knitted benches,see last autumn's story at

The derelict old piano bench was photographed by Kate in Kentucky in 2009. It makes me wonder what happened to it because it has certainly been a splendid thing. Kate, aka, bammermother is from Portland, Oregon and photographs for fun. 

Katy Wok-Stanley doesn't buy anything new. Her motto is Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. It's great to see how she turned a miserable old piano bench into something classy. And the black cat didn't escape my notice either. Her blog is at 

The full piano/bench was photographed in Andrassy Avenue, Budapest, in 2014. The photographer is Karen Bryan, who I saw on Flickr  Here is the link to the Europealalcarte blog

Acutey aware of fashion, Miggy always asks if her bum looks big in this. The fat woman on a bench is not Miggy. She was photographed by Sheila B on a bench is from the Cyprus Art College. Sheila lives in Cyprus some of the year and takes a lot of great pictures for me in the brilliant sunlight.

Gwen the Monster is a musician, composter, arranger, producer and cupcake baker from Amsterdam. Her sets are full of photos from her travels in the US, London, Sweden and the Netherlands. Also, beautiful cats which reminds us that you have to be careful where you sit if there are cats around; they get the best seats in the house. If there is a cat on the piano bench, you're in for a protest protest.

Leland Francisco's photograph is called Let a Smile be your Umbrella. If that were so, a piano would come crashing down through the umbrella. Leland, from Guam, loves Looney Tunes cartoons and was inspired by these for his 2009 surrealist photograph.

Plinky and Plunky are a pretty blue knitted piano and bench by Anna Hrachovec, a Brooklyn-based designer of cute and crafty things. Her mochimochiland
 photostream is full of tiny knitted people, animals, and well, things . . .

LEGO is very big right now and the people at Romans 3 can make just about anything with LEGO. This includes a grand piano and a piano bench made from original LEGO pieces which have never been played with, except to assemble the piano. They do a sorts of custom items at

It's rare to see a piano on the beach, unless you're watching the film The Piano, which begins with a piano on a beach in New Zealand. This piano, photographed by Michael, was on the Coney Island Boardwalk in 2010. Michael says his camera has a lot of buttons on it and occasionally he presses the right one. 

I love chemistry so I'm always on the lookout for interesting chemical formulas. The crystal structure of Tp Mn tricarbonyl is referred to as a 'piano stool' complex. You can see why. This image is in the public domain because it consists entirely of information that is common property and contains no original authorship.

There are lots of cats in a chair in Alisha Vargas's 2009 photo  The cats are Mendi, Hootie, Trini, and Barbi. Each cat is special so Alisha, from Reno, has made a page all about them at My Lens About My Cats although I didn't manage to make the page work. 

The painting of the German composer Ludwig von Beethoven (1770-1827) shows Beethoven in his home in 1811. The painter is Carl Schloesser and the painting is in the pubic domain at

Kitten on the Keys was a popular ragtime song in 1921, written and performed by Zez Confrey (1895-1971).This sheet music was photographed by kwtraveller in 2011. KW, from Portland, really gets around. There are glorious photos from Oregon and Washington in landscapes I know. Ever heard of The Palouse? Have a look at this photo set. And if you want to hear Cory Hall's brilliant version of Kitten on the Keys, click here:

Got the Bench, Got the Park was a song from 1931 performed by Seger Ellis and written by Fred Phillips, Al Sherman and Al Lewis. The sheet music cover shown was published by Irving Berlin Inc. The lyrics of the song are Got the bench, got the park, but I haven't got you. Ahhhhh.

There's not much I can say about Steph Mason, except that she has an adventure Just Being Stephers. On one of her adventures in 2013 she photographed a blue graffiti and piano in the street with a man and child trying to play it. Sadly for them, it has a chair but no piano bench.

Andy Aldridge is an idler from London. He photographed Pilbeam, the beautiful black and white cat on the piano keyboard in 2004. He has also photographed LOTS of other lovely cats, not necessarily on pianos.

The upside down piano player is Jon Schmidt from The Piano Guys. He played at a concert in Alabama in December 2012 and was blogged by author Jennifer Youngblood, who was mightily impressed by his ability to play Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer whilst upside down.  There are some safety issues about sitting incorrectly on a piano bench so you might want to check out my legal advice before trying this at home

The piano bench with lovely circles is Refurbished, Repurposed and Recreated by Crissy, Katie and Katherine, three women from Savannah, Georgia who love to collect and create. They offer repurposed and refurbished furniture, art and interesting items at  There are quite a few cats in their shop too:  Calvin, Ernie, Regal and Star. 

The white cat on the bench was photographed by Aaron Roberts in 2007.

Chemistry again. The diagram is not a swivelling piano stool but the synthesis of a Group 6 piano stool complex from the dibenzene complex. You knew that, didn't you?  It was contributed to Wikimedia by CHEM8240iajm  For more about chemistry and other kinds of lab and workbenches, see

The Scala poster is a 1898 color lithograph  for a cabaret show by French music hall singer and songwriter Harry Fragson, born in London, England, as Léon Philippe Pot (1869-1913).  The poster is now in the public domain, due to its age, and available through the Bibliotec National de France at

Judging from his photostream, Leo Reynolds from Norwich in England is a very Bench person and he has a huge number of signs, such as Do Not Stand on the Workbench. You'll be amazed at what's in his photostream at 

Mykl Roventine photographed the two girls standing on a piano bench for a Bench Monday in July 2009. Oh, there is nothing those Flickr people won't do for Bench Mondays!

The painting of the nude woman playing the playing the piano was done in 1915 by artist Frank Snapp (1876-1927). 

The red shoe-d person standing on the piano was photographed by Tristin Corbett in 2010 for Bench Monday. Tristin is from the Ohio/North Kentucky area and her album includes lots of self portraits

The woman on the piano bench with her dog is from Becki Harvey Myers, who sells vintage photographs from her shop at vintage  As she says, every picture tells a story and I have made several stories from her photos. I'm grateful as there are soooo many interesting ones. 

The drawing of a man in coat tails sitting down on a piano bench is by James Wells Champney

We've had the kitten on the keys song, now here's the real thing: an actual kitten on the keys. The beautiful kitten was photographed by omgponies2 in 2009. Her photostream contains a lot of babies, dolls, children, toys and lots and lots of travel far and wide

Patti Haskins in Dallas is a graphic artist who makes a lot of creative things and has a Flickr site full of creative work. In 2008 she made a large stuffed flying cat, who hung out with Marcie on the baby grand piano. Marcie is not stuffed; she is Siamese if you please. Or even if you don't please. Patti and her husband have two dogs and five former alley cats

In flicking through Flickr I saw quite a few of these cat teeth pianos. Some had kids playing them. To me they look a bit scary. This one was photographed by Thera T in 2011. Thera has photos of Washington, Oregon and cool childhood stuff

Bryan Ledgard’s token cat picture is Wonky Morris, a seven year old Oriental Blue, the last of a litter and born with nerve damage to one side of his head. His right ear permanently flops and his right eye doesn't close – he uses his second eyelid instead. Bryan has to wake him up to see if he's asleep. But he's a typically eccentric Dickensian character who likes to shout a lot about nothing in particular. His hobbies are sleeping, having his back rubbed and playing the piano. Sounds like my husband His Excellency.

The piano tshirt is from Brett Kenyon at Sexy T-shirt Designs. Each shirt is a unique, one-of-a-kind product, printed exclusively for the customer who ordered it. There is no end to the subjects for t-shirts: pepperoni pizzas, smiling dolphins, minecraft, and, of course, all manner of grumpy cats.


The Siamese cat Snickerdoodles seems to be an accomplished concert pianist. He has very good posture and so demonstrates admirably the correct posture for playing the piano. He was photographed by sammydavisdog, who lives in the East Midlands in the UK and has CP Cavafy's Ithaka poem in his profie  

The judges are from a 1974 advertising poster for Yamaha pianos. Apparently, according to the advertisement, Those who sit in judgment of a piano come from many branches of musical achievement. But they all look for the same signs of truth to emergeAnd, of course, you can judge the Yamaha for yourself at your nearest Yamaha dealer. The poster is available from Janet in Canada. Literally, from Janet, which is the name of Janet Rymal's etsy shop. She sells vintage,original, authentic, straight from the magazine. Fashion, Vintage Cars, Technology, Food, Appliances - if it sold, there's an ad for it!

The brilliant Butt bench at the end of the story is one of those images which is all over the internet but is impossible to trace. I'd like to give credit for the design but I have been unable to find any clues. I saw it at Inspiration Green, who are scrupulous about providing credits and even they don't name the designer so this is the best I can do:


  1. Thank you for featuring my photo of the piano bench in Budapest's Andrassy Ave in your collation.

  2. Hi Karen - it's great to have the Budapest piano in the story. I was thinking what I would play on it - Blue Danube?