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Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039032 10/24/20 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I, too, can get my hands to form almost a straight line when stretched, but still it’s only 7.5” across, end of thumb to end of pinky.
I'm always astounded by anyone who can do this. My pinky and thumb make an angle of maybe 95 degrees at full stretch.

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Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039069 10/24/20 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I wish someone could write a book of tips and tricks for us small-handed people. It would make me feel much better.
Actually, I think there has been an entire book written on that exact topic.
https://www.amazon.com/Adaptive-Str...amp;s=books&sr=1-1#reader_0190616857


I, too, can get my hands to form almost a straight line when stretched, but still it’s only 7.5” across, end of thumb to end of pinky. I can play a 9th hanging off the side of the keys. A 10th is just impossible.
I’m a tad under the averaged size male and I can reach an 11th which helps me avoid rolling chords in some pieces. I don’t think it is how big the hand is but how far your thumb and little finger can stretch. I never thought I had particularly big hands but I think they can open up pretty good. One of my former teachers had bigger hands than me but mine stretched further. He said he was just getting too old.


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Chopin: G Minor Ballade


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Re: Handspans of great pianists
pianoloverus #3039075 10/24/20 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I wish someone could write a book of tips and tricks for us small-handed people. It would make me feel much better.
Actually, I think there has been an entire book written on that exact topic.
https://www.amazon.com/Adaptive-Str...amp;s=books&sr=1-1#reader_0190616857

Just wanted to say I have read the preview chapter and I will buy it for sure. Finally, I find that someone understands my plight, and offers studies and statistics to show that I am not alone. Of course, there will be tips offered but those are not previewed so I’ll have to buy the book to find out more. Apparently, 87.1% of females have a handspan of less than 8.5”, which they consider small-handed. It is pretty clear that the modern piano is biased against females. Some females do overcome this bias but I’m sure it makes everything just that much harder. I think it will be a very interesting read.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 10/24/20 11:02 PM.

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Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039078 10/24/20 11:18 PM
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I had a student who was a very large-boned man. He was NBA basketball - size, about 6 foot seven inches, and his hands were proportionally large.

He had a very hard time playing the piano, because piano keys are sized for the average sized hand, whatever that is, but his hands were very much larger.

It was like he was 15 feet tall trying to fit into a normal sized car or house... his hands were simply too big for the piano.

Rachmanioff obviously did ok with his huge hands; but be careful for what you want...too big can be too big.

BTW, when I came back to the piano as a young adult, my hands were full grown in size, yet I could just reach an octave.

After a few years of proper technique exercises, and playing under the guidance of a teacher who understood technique training, I can now easily reach a 10th, and a bit more.

That is because there are no bones that span the hand sideways...it is all flesh, cartilage, muscle, and tendons. The span thus can increase, just like those people who increase their neck stretch or lip stretch.

The major exercises I did were Hanon (esp. #20), and Pishna...who has exercises that are specific for stretches. This all under the guidance of a qualified teacher, because at first glance how you do those exercises is counter-intuitive to how you think you should do them.


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Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039079 10/24/20 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Apparently, 87.1% of females have a handspan of less than 8.5”, which they consider small-handed.
I have a very stretchy hand, so I can do the straight line thing, but that gives me only 9" exactly. The right hand is a titch wider, the left a titch smaller. female.

Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039080 10/24/20 11:28 PM
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I think 9” is very respectable, especially for a female.


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Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039224 10/25/20 12:15 PM
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I can reach an octave comfortably, have to stretch to reach a 9th. This influences my choice of repertoire. There is a tremendous wealth of repertoire at all levels that does not require a large hand span.

Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039229 10/25/20 12:29 PM
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All of the notes can be found in one octave, or is this a controversial view ?

Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039236 10/25/20 01:02 PM
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My hand is fully stretched out with thumb and pinky in a straight line, and palm open. It is 7 3/4. There is no more there. Now I can only "shake, pedal and roll" :-)

Re: Handspans of great pianists
keff #3039238 10/25/20 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by keff
All of the notes can be found in one octave, or is this a controversial view ?
This is indeed true. Can you explain how you are relating this to the question? smile

Re: Handspans of great pianists
keff #3039257 10/25/20 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by keff
All of the notes can be found in one octave, or is this a controversial view ?
Play the notes C and E a third apart, then play them a 10th apart (use as many hands as you deem necessary). Also, try the notes C-E-G and then C-G-E, again with the C on the same key on the piano. (Use the C below middle C on the piano.)

You can hear there's a big difference. In fact, the difference is even bigger if you sing those notes at those pitches. When the notes are low down, they sound mushy if they're close together, which is why (Bach) chorales and hymns written in SATB have the bass notes further away from the tenor, than the alto is from the soprano. In fact, the bass might be singing a 12th lower than the tenor, whereas the soprano and alto might only sing a third apart:

https://www.anthem.nl/wp-content/uploads/Hark-the-herald-angel-sing.pdf

https://rootham.org/playlist/snc_o_come_all_ye_faithful/images/O_come_all_ye_faithful.pdf

That's why, especially in Romantic and late-Romantic, composers like stretched-out chords, especially in LH.

(Your LH should always be bigger than your RH wink )


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039264 10/25/20 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I think 9” is very respectable, especially for a female.

I'm another woman with a 9" span. I am told this is about average for a male hand, though I am otherwise average size for a woman!

Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039278 10/25/20 04:39 PM
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If you don't have wide hands, get yourself the widest mustache. No one will notice your hands then.

[Linked Image]
Scriabin

laugh

Re: Handspans of great pianists
keystring #3039319 10/25/20 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Apparently, 87.1% of females have a handspan of less than 8.5”, which they consider small-handed.
I have a very stretchy hand, so I can do the straight line thing, but that gives me only 9" exactly. The right hand is a titch wider, the left a titch smaller. female.
After reading your post I had to measure mine and they are also 9 inches. So you must have pretty big hands. I can reach a 10th but have to stretch to barely make an 11th. So I guess for me, somewhat comfortable is actually a 10th. Snap.


Working on:

Bach/Busoni Chaconne in D minor BWV 1004
Preludio: Bach/Rachmaninoff E Major Sonata for Violin
Chopin: G Minor Ballade


Shigeru Kawai SK2
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Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039337 10/25/20 09:37 PM
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Jethro, I'm only 5'7" and my hands are not the long slender type but the opposite. But I do have quite a stretch. 9 inches is my maximum stretch.

Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039519 10/26/20 12:28 PM
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I can reach a hand span of 9" and stretch a somewhat comfortable tenth but not an 11th. I can have a lot of difficulty with some Fats Waller transcriptions where one has almost no time to prepare the tenth or even has to play filled in tenths.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/26/20 12:29 PM.
Re: Handspans of great pianists
Iaroslav Vasiliev #3039585 10/26/20 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
If you don't have wide hands, get yourself the widest mustache. No one will notice your hands then.
laugh
Especially if you're female, they'll notice nothing other than that mustache.

Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039649 10/26/20 06:26 PM
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If that Classic FM image is correct and Scriabin could reach only an octave, then I guess he couldn't play his Etude in 9ths without breaking the notes rather than playing them in unison. Don't some of his pieces require a 10th? (It's not unheard of for composers to write pieces that they can't actually play.) I can reach a 10 easily, by the way.

Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039708 10/26/20 09:57 PM
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^^10th...

Re: Handspans of great pianists
WeakLeftHand #3039866 10/27/20 10:10 AM
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I loves Scriabin's Etude in 9ths.


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