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my hand is small #424277
08/20/03 02:15 AM
08/20/03 02:15 AM
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 6
Mars
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PioPia Offline OP
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hello everyone..

I have a concern, i'm just in my 4 yrs playing the piano. My hand can only reach 9 notes the max.

I was wonder if small hand really have a disadvantage in playing certain music pieces that required a bunch of notes playing at the same time ?

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Re: my hand is small #424278
08/20/03 02:46 AM
08/20/03 02:46 AM
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Posts: 225
Kalamazoo, MI
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Quote
Originally posted by PioPia:
hello everyone..

I have a concern, i'm just in my 4 yrs playing the piano. My hand can only reach 9 notes the max.

I was wonder if small hand really have a disadvantage in playing certain music pieces that required a bunch of notes playing at the same time ?
I'm the same and my answer is "Yes", it does make a difference. Many pieces I like (not to mention jazz pieces - specifically the bass) use many 10th's which although you can fake to some extent, doesn't sound the same.

Regards,

Gary.

Re: my hand is small #424279
08/20/03 04:30 AM
08/20/03 04:30 AM
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Los Angeles, California
Zephyr Offline
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I don't think hand size really matters in classical music terms. It's all in the wrists. My girlfriend could play chopin's first etude pretty well and she could only reach an octave.
Maybe in some pieces it would be difficult to have small hands (Rachmaninoff & liszt pieces in particular), but the majority of the pieces don't require to reach tenths.


To be a real philosopher all that
is necessary is to hate some one
else's type of thinking- William James
Re: my hand is small #424280
08/20/03 06:23 AM
08/20/03 06:23 AM
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 225
Kalamazoo, MI
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Quote
Originally posted by Zephyr:
I don't think hand size really matters in classical music terms. It's all in the wrists. My girlfriend could play chopin's first etude pretty well and she could only reach an octave.
Maybe in some pieces it would be difficult to have small hands (Rachmaninoff & liszt pieces in particular), but the majority of the pieces don't require to reach tenths.
Yes, Rachmaninoff and Liszt are the composers I have a tendency toward frown

Gary.

Re: my hand is small #424281
08/20/03 11:31 AM
08/20/03 11:31 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
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Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Rachmaninov had big hands, Liszt had small ones, about the size of yours. If your hands are small, you need to practice rolling chords, as opposed to those who have larger hands and don't learn to do it as well. So small hands can be an advantage. Work on Chopin's Op. 10 #11.


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Re: my hand is small #424282
08/20/03 01:46 PM
08/20/03 01:46 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by BDB:
Rachmaninov had big hands, Liszt had small ones, about the size of yours. If your hands are small, you need to practice rolling chords, as opposed to those who have larger hands and don't learn to do it as well. So small hands can be an advantage. Work on Chopin's Op. 10 #11.
I can reach a 10th on white keys, but not a black to white key, for example B-flat to D. Is there any way I could learn how to play double octave sixteenth or eighth notes in the bass?

(editing hoping the pic in my sig will update)


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Re: my hand is small #424283
08/20/03 08:50 PM
08/20/03 08:50 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
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Auckland, New Zealand
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Ted Offline
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I'm pleased I can play tenths comfortably because I enjoy playing stride and things such as the Morton and Waller transcriptions. In general though I don't think it serves any purpose to dwell on limitations of this type. Even in stride a small hand isn't the end of the world. Billy Mayerl and James Scott both had small hands but it certainly didn't stop them making their marks in swing and ragtime respectively.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: my hand is small #424284
08/20/03 11:40 PM
08/20/03 11:40 PM
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CrashTest Offline
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You can still play well even if you have a small hand. Having larger hands is better though, I can reach a 12th with my left hand and an 11th with my right. (Fairly comfortably). Although I have yet to see any limitations to a larger hand, some people may find playing Bach and Mozart a bit harder, because the fingers are playing so close together. I do not find this articulation problem to be much of an issue though, as my fingers are not extremely long, they just span out well.

Re: my hand is small #424285
08/21/03 01:08 AM
08/21/03 01:08 AM
Joined: Feb 2003
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Canada
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PioPia,

I also have the same concerns as you. I'm 40+ yrs old & wear a youths' size large golf glove -- basically short stubby fingers. I can play a 9th (it's a bit challenging) & wonder how I'll cope as I progress in my studies. For instance the 1st movement of the Moonlight Sonata is somewhat awkward in a couple places for me (I'm working on it) -- & I wonder how I'll have to adapt when I progress to play 3 & 4 note chords that stretch more than an octave or (gasp!!) have to play a run of them quickly. My teacher just smiles when I bring this up -- She says "You'll adapt -- all of us with small hands do" (She's a fantastic player BTW). She has also mentioned Rachmaninoff as one having big hands, so I suppose there are limitations for us. Conversely, I sometimes wonder if any huge wrestler sized men with fat fingers & big hands manage to play quick &/or "noodle" fingered classical works (I don't want to stereotype anyone, but the word "wrestler" comes to mind). I saw someone like this pound out a few catchy gospel pieces (i.e. lots of chords) once & I pondered how he'd approach something like say...."Flight of the Bumble Bee". Now, for those of you who know, teach etc., what are the limitations of huge hands & fat fingers?

Re: my hand is small #424286
08/21/03 01:37 AM
08/21/03 01:37 AM
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CrashTest Offline
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Katie, Anton Rubinstein said that his stubby fingers sometimes would get stuck in between black keys. I actually read somewhere, (Maybe in the book Conversations with Claudio Arrau, but I forget) that the most technically capable hand is the moderately fat one with medium sized fingers. Godowsky, who looked Buddha like, and was opposite in appearance to the taller Rachmaninoff, had one of the most phenomenal techniques in piano playing.

Re: my hand is small #424287
08/21/03 01:48 AM
08/21/03 01:48 AM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 916
Jacksonville, Florida
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Jim Volk Offline
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PioPia, I knew there was life on Mars.

I have to respectfully disagree with Zephyr, who said
Quote
I don't think hand size really matters in classical music terms.
Ashkenazy has small hands, and will tell you that although your technic may be able to partly compensate for the resulting deficiencies, there are still notes you have no choice but to leave out.

Somebody--maybe it was Story & Clark--was offering a keyboard designed for smaller hands. In my opinion, this should be an option on most grand pianos. Why should bigger-handed pianists have the advantage? frown

-Jimbo


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Re: my hand is small #424288
08/21/03 02:00 AM
08/21/03 02:00 AM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,838
Canada
katie_dup1 Offline
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Crash,

Hmm.... interesting.... I'm going to compare hand sizes at the Hoens Competition this fall (bring the binoculars & all).

Just because I have to ask, & you're a smart fellow ..... with the 2nd movement of the Moonlight Sonata, can you recall many chords that stretch a 9th? The reason I ask, is someday.... maybe someday ..... I'll be advanced enough & like to challenge this, but not having seen the music I should also ask..... Can someone with little hands tackle this?

Also, what were Beethoven's hands like, do you know?

Re: my hand is small #424289
08/21/03 02:30 AM
08/21/03 02:30 AM
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CrashTest Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by katie:
Crash,

Hmm.... interesting.... I'm going to compare hand sizes at the Hoens Competition this fall (bring the binoculars & all).

Just because I have to ask, & you're a smart fellow ..... with the 2nd movement of the Moonlight Sonata, can you recall many chords that stretch a 9th? The reason I ask, is someday.... maybe someday ..... I'll be advanced enough & like to challenge this, but not having seen the music I should also ask..... Can someone with little hands tackle this?

Also, what were Beethoven's hands like, do you know?
You should have no trouble with the 2nd movement. The biggest interval is an octave, so you should manage, as everything else is either normal notes or double notes within reach.

The same goes for the first movement, except for a few scattered 9ths there. The only issue I would see with the 2nd movement and small hands are connecting legato octaves, using the 3rd, 4th, and 5th fingers to connect them. You can use a little bit of the pedal to connect them, or just try and achieve maximum legato without switching fingers.

Czerny, Beethoven's pupil, and Liszt's teacher, said that Beethoven's fingers were like cushions, moreso than others, probably because of the amount of time he practiced. I recall reading that his fingers were more on the stubby side, and unlike the slender and long fingers of Liszt.

There have been many pianists with small hands, like Josef Hoffman, who even had a custom keyboard built. Evgeny Kissin, while not having small hands, said his hands are not extremely large, he said he can right a comfortable 10th, the same with Brendel.

Re: my hand is small #424290
08/21/03 04:30 AM
08/21/03 04:30 AM
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 225
Kalamazoo, MI
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Quote
Originally posted by CrashTest:
Quote
Originally posted by katie:
[b] Crash,

Hmm.... interesting.... I'm going to compare hand sizes at the Hoens Competition this fall (bring the binoculars & all).

There have been many pianists with small hands, like Josef Hoffman, who even had a custom keyboard built. Evgeny Kissin, while not having small hands, said his hands are not extremely large, he said he can right a comfortable 10th, the same with Brendel. [/b]
I studied Kissin's hands up close and personal a few weeks ago and his hands, although not huge, are by no means small! I'm not sure if he can stretch an 11th (I didn't ask) but I know he can stretch 10ths and play any other notes with any fingers in between at the same time eek

The ends of his fingers have also gone through an evolution - there aren't really any pads as such but more flattened off and very hard. Nails, at least when I saw them, seem only half a normal finger nail length. Don't know if this was deliberate or not ...

Regards,

Gary.

Re: my hand is small #424291
08/21/03 05:03 AM
08/21/03 05:03 AM
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 2,384
Lancaster, pa
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PioPia, You may want to search the past posts on this topic since it has come up on numerous occasions. Just hit search and try "hand size". Should give you plenty of past postings on the topic.


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Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.
Re: my hand is small #424292
08/21/03 04:16 PM
08/21/03 04:16 PM
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CrashTest,

I read the same interview about the apparent consensus on optimal hand size, and the description of Anton Rubinstein's hand. You recalled it just the way I remember. It really clarified that the 'long, long, slender' socalled piano hand is a myth. Anton R apparently got his unbelievable tone from the fat pads on his fingers, upon which he played.

PioPia,

There are safe methods for increasing your reach and the stretch between fingers. Some exercises are given in various books to accomplish this. I xeroxed one short book by Ridley Prentice on hand and finger gymnastics -- got it through inter-library loan. Might be worth investigating.

I had a wonderful teacher who was a good virtuoso, who barely reached an octave. She refingered lots of stuff (took a RH note with the LH and vice-versa). I know that she played the Brahms Concerto #1 with a major orchestra. So small hands aren't the end of the world.


pianodevo
Re: my hand is small #424293
08/21/03 05:24 PM
08/21/03 05:24 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
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U.S.
Goldberg Offline
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Well I think everything that can be said has been said (I was personally going to mention Ashkenazy, who recorded a whole ton of Rachmaninoff pieces, but that was done when I came back)so I can't really contribute anything...but, 88Key_PianoPlayer, I'm curious as to what kind of piano that is in your signature? I can't quite make out the brand name...

Re: my hand is small #424294
08/21/03 05:31 PM
08/21/03 05:31 PM
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CA
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Quote
Originally posted by Goldberg:
Well I think everything that can be said has been said (I was personally going to mention Ashkenazy, who recorded a whole ton of Rachmaninoff pieces, but that was done when I came back)so I can't really contribute anything...but, 88Key_PianoPlayer, I'm curious as to what kind of piano that is in your signature? I can't quite make out the brand name...
Looks like a Bosie.... eek


"See?! The Cliffs of Insanity!"
Re: my hand is small #424295
08/22/03 01:16 AM
08/22/03 01:16 AM
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Posts: 6
Mars
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PioPia Offline OP
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Thanks everyone for replying. I'm just concerned but not anymore since there are other who had small hand size like mine like Katie smile . Sorry if i'm reposting the same subject.

Re: my hand is small #424296
08/22/03 12:53 PM
08/22/03 12:53 PM
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My piano teacher commonly tells the true story of one of the better performances he ever heard of Chopin's octave etude (Op.25 No...7?). It was by a pianist who couldn't reach an octave! She had to break each octave! -Just a little anecdote.

I have large hands, and consider it to be generally an advantage, but it is by no means necessary to playing virtuoso piano music. It can also be a disadvantage, in that those who have large hands sometimes try "large" pieces before they're ready and have a greater liklihood of injurring themselves...

Re: my hand is small #424297
08/22/03 03:22 PM
08/22/03 03:22 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
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Chapel Hill, NC
Stanza Offline
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I also have small hands (golf glove is a men's cadet small, which means small hands and short fingers!). Firstly, people are getting bigger as compared to the past! I read a recent article about shoe sizes (hands and feet being comparable). At the turn of the century, the average men's shoe size was 6.5! I have small feet and wear an 8. So...it is indeed likely that most of our pianistic heros of the past did have small hands by todays standards. Obviously they managed. Break or roll large chords or intervals as previously stated. It may even sound better!. It helps to raise your wrist to "cartwheel". Leave out notes or re-voice. Unless you are planning on winning the Van Cliburn competition it would be unnoticed by your friends or aunt Martha and Uncle Henry. Finally there is so dam much literature out there, just skip those that ask the impossible of you and play to your strengths. Just like sports. Football linemen do not return kick offs and basketball point guards don't play the low post!


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Re: my hand is small #424298
08/22/03 03:56 PM
08/22/03 03:56 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
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Mesa, AZ
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Quote
Originally posted by bmc:
Chopin's octave etude (Op.25 No...7?).
It is the tenth of opus 25. wink


"I love Beethoven, especially the poems."
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Re: my hand is small #424299
08/22/03 11:29 PM
08/22/03 11:29 PM
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El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Orlando Gibbons:
Quote
Originally posted by Goldberg:
[b] Well I think everything that can be said has been said (I was personally going to mention Ashkenazy, who recorded a whole ton of Rachmaninoff pieces, but that was done when I came back)so I can't really contribute anything...but, 88Key_PianoPlayer, I'm curious as to what kind of piano that is in your signature? I can't quite make out the brand name...
Looks like a Bosie.... eek [/b]
Right. It's a Bosendorfer Imperial. Unfortunately, though, it's not mine. frown


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Re: my hand is small #424300
08/25/03 08:11 PM
08/25/03 08:11 PM
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Davenport, IA
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Tori Amos's was playing at age 4 and i'm sure her hands weren't to big! :-)

Ben


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