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Topic: Ergonomic desk/setup-- need advice

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  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Jersey City, NJ (sort of...)
    Posts
    62

    Ergonomic desk/setup-- need advice

    Hey all,

    Its been a long time since I posted here...

    Over a year ago, I started a thread asking for advice on a desk setup. However, I stopped writing music for a while (new job) and never bought the setup.

    I've been composing a lot lately, and have decided that eveything I'm using needs to be updated. (I'm also thinking of switching from Overture SE to Sibelius 5, but that's a whole different topic).

    So... What I do now: I put the computer keyboard & trackball on the main desk shelf, and my MIDI keyboard on the keyboard tray. This seems to be opposite of what most people do, but I find that if my piano keyboard is too high I can't play it. The problem is that I have to stretch to access the computer keyboard & trackball, which is constantly neccesary for step input.

    I've looked at some of the desks online (musiciansfriend.com, zZounds.com, etc) and they all have the MIDI keyboard at main shelf level.

    I am confused... What do you guys do? how do you avoid the neck shoulder strain? Is there an answer? It seems that I need to have it all at the lower level (the keyboard tray height)...

    Also, does anyone have recommendations for a specific desk?
    Nigam Shah

    American Songbook Project
    www.nigam.biz/songbook

  2. #2

    Lightbulb Re: Ergonomic desk/setup-- need advice

    Hello Nigam,
    This is an issue that I agonized over for months. I looked at purchasing options, both inexpensive and expensive, created my own table using a CAD tool, and looked at modifying something from IKEA or an old desk.

    The solution I came up with was an RTA Creation Station found here:
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/produ...esk?sku=546550

    I also purchased an Evolution MK-461C controller. The MK-461C fits on the desktop just behind my QWERTY keyboard and is very convenient to work with. I've found I can do plenty of work without any discomfort. I also like the height of the shelf on the back of the desk. I have my video monitors on top of it and the height is perfect.

    Hope this helps,

    -Kevin
    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    The Hurricane place
    Posts
    276

    Re: Ergonomic desk/setup-- need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by nigamshah
    Hey all,

    Its been a long time since I posted here...

    Over a year ago, I started a thread asking for advice on a desk setup. However, I stopped writing music for a while (new job) and never bought the setup.

    I've been composing a lot lately, and have decided that eveything I'm using needs to be updated. (I'm also thinking of switching from Overture SE to Sibelius 5, but that's a whole different topic).

    So... What I do now: I put the computer keyboard & trackball on the main desk shelf, and my MIDI keyboard on the keyboard tray. This seems to be opposite of what most people do, but I find that if my piano keyboard is too high I can't play it. The problem is that I have to stretch to access the computer keyboard & trackball, which is constantly neccesary for step input.

    I've looked at some of the desks online (musiciansfriend.com, zZounds.com, etc) and they all have the MIDI keyboard at main shelf level.

    I am confused... What do you guys do? how do you avoid the neck shoulder strain? Is there an answer? It seems that I need to have it all at the lower level (the keyboard tray height)...

    Also, does anyone have recommendations for a specific desk?
    Welcome.

    I actually moved most things on my desk for this exact reason. It is funny you mention this as back problems and computer use is on the rise. I wrote a whole post dedicated to solving back issues here

    http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=54255


    If you are not into cosmetics then I suggest keeping things simple. Lets face it, in the US and alot of western cultures, we produce furniture that is not good for our bodies. Chairs that promote slouching, desks that promote looking up at monitors by craning the neck(half flexed neck for hours on end is going to hurt eventually).

    Keep it simple. Keep the monitor to a level where no neck straining to look up or down is involved. Alot of desks have the "perch" which can often auto lead to looking upward and neck craining.

    I moved everything off my pull out keyboard holder. I placed the typing keyboard and mouse on the main desk to keep from straining by the pull out being too low.

    I moved the playing keyboard to its own table slighly lower to then the desk to get it off the desk to begin with and also for a better "piano" feel/height. The table the midi keyboard sits on cost all of 2 dollars at the local thrift shop(just the right height without a strain feel!).

    In essence I have sacrificed vanity for ergonomics and keeping away from back pain. Keep it simple. All the little extra stuff where goodies you look at and reach for no longer exist in spots where neck strain or bad postural habits could result. Those spots are now storage for books and DVD/CD cases

    If you are willing to live with a less physically appealing way then do all to preserve your back. In the long run what is more important back/neck/headache pain or a pretty studio setup? Up to the individual but after a few years learning that sitting at computers is inherently vicious on the body, I chose a less pretty view over the last few because I got tired of the back strain.
    Robert Davis

  4. #4

    Re: Ergonomic desk/setup-- need advice

    If you can't lower the desk surface, raise the chair height.

    I bought an "executive" office chair and have it cranked to it's highest
    setting. It's not a perfect solution, but it's better than nothing.

    Alternatively, raise the floor. Build a platform for your chair (ideally,
    large enough that you don't fall off).
    "An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have, but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them."

    - Andy Warhol

  5. #5

    Re: Ergonomic desk/setup-- need advice

    A key decision for me was realizing how much time I spent using the MIDI keyboard versus how much time I used the PC keyboard. In my case, the PC keyboard was used much more often so I put it on my pull-out shelf and put the synth on the desktop where it's still comfortable and reachable for the short periods of time when I'm entering notes. I spend a lot more time editing parameters and doing keyboard note entry than I do playing in a part over and over. It works for me.

    BTW, I use a slightly modified store-bought build-it-yourself L-shaped office desk where I sit in between the two legs of the "L". The legs are at 45 degree angles from me - very "command central", but everything is within a comfortable arm's reach. The price was about $300 on clearance.

    While I think of it, another option I used to use was a desk top (30" x 60") bought from The Container Store that I sat on top of a double braced keyboard stand I had sitting around. Talk about your adjustable height! You have to find options for storage (if you have a double tier stand, put a shelf on the second tier), but work surface was sure plentiful. Total price = cheap (because I already had the keyboard stand).
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA
    www.bakersjazzandmore.com

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Jersey City, NJ (sort of...)
    Posts
    62

    Re: Ergonomic desk/setup-- need advice

    thanks all. more replies are welcome-- the more ideas the better.

    i think i should get a wireless computer keyboard and trackball (I like the trackball). that way I can adjust the setup depending on what I'm doing-- when I'm really just playing piano & working through ideas, i can easily move the PC keyboard out the way; when i'm doing a lot of editing/step input I can put the PC keyboard in the ideal place, and put the MIDI keys on the higher shelf.

    Also, the idea of the "Franken-setup" is pretty good-- there will never be the perfect desk, so decide what you want and put the pieces together.
    Nigam Shah

    American Songbook Project
    www.nigam.biz/songbook

  7. #7

    Re: Ergonomic desk/setup-- need advice

    If you're going to be swapping the keyboards back and forth a lot, you might look into an "articulated arm" type of setup for the PC keyboard. I know they have these for holding documents and I think I've seen something like it for holding a keyboard/mouse, too. Swing it into place, type away, and then swing back out of the way. Just a thought. The line is that you're going to be the one sitting at this desk so make it work for you. In this case, form really does follow function.
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA
    www.bakersjazzandmore.com

  8. #8

    Exclamation Re: Ergonomic desk/setup-- need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by bmdaustin
    If you're going to be swapping the keyboards back and forth a lot, you might look into an "articulated arm" type of setup for the PC keyboard. I know they have these for holding documents and I think I've seen something like it for holding a keyboard/mouse, too. Swing it into place, type away, and then swing back out of the way. Just a thought. The line is that you're going to be the one sitting at this desk so make it work for you. In this case, form really does follow function.
    This is a great idea in theory; I had thought of the same thing. What I came to find out was that although the arms are very sturdy, they do not provide the small level stability that you need when typing on a keyboard. In other words, each press of a key cause the arm to shake just enough to drive one nuts. At least it did in my case.

    -Kevin
    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

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