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#1740058 - 08/24/11 10:45 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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WinsomeAllegretto Offline
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I can reach an octave very comfortably, a 9th if I need to, and a 10th just barely with my hands hanging off the keyboard. My hands are actually pretty small and can fit through tiny, tiny holes (like baby bracelets) and my fingers are thin, but they are very flexible.

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#1740064 - 08/24/11 10:48 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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8 inches (both hands)... And yes, a 9th is usually my maximum stretch, without an effort now, with some effort some time ago.



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#1740072 - 08/24/11 10:51 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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I can reach a minor tenth, or a white to white major tenth. I'm just a little bit short of white to black or black to white tenths.

#1740121 - 08/25/11 12:02 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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My left hand can reach a very painful ninth and my right hand reaches a rather uncomfortable octave

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#1740126 - 08/25/11 12:08 AM Re: handspan [Re: PaulaPiano34]  
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Originally Posted by chobeethaninov
My left hand can reach a very painful ninth and my right hand reaches a rather uncomfortable octave

Then, please don't do it. grin

#1740132 - 08/25/11 12:30 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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Tenths on either hand, but I don't see why it's so important.

#1740136 - 08/25/11 12:37 AM Re: handspan [Re: Steve712]  
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Originally Posted by Steve712
Tenths on either hand, but I don't see why it's so important.

I think vanity mostly. grin

#1740188 - 08/25/11 04:06 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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I just reached a 10th! smile Again in "Soaring" - LH F-C-A. Not a difficult 10th, I know, but still a 10th! I do have to stretch and I think I have to work on this now. In fast playing it would be a problem but maybe I can get used to it... I have to start with C and A and then stretch the pinkie to reach the low F. This is the only way I can do it at the moment. Maybe there is hope. smile
If I try a random 10th with the RH it is the same. I have to stretch the pinkie last if I want to succeed.



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#1740231 - 08/25/11 07:45 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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11th in both hands... but only just.

#1740233 - 08/25/11 07:46 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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11th in both hands... but only just.

#1740296 - 08/25/11 10:26 AM Re: handspan [Re: ChopinAddict]  
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Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
I just reached a 10th! smile Again in "Soaring" - LH F-C-A. Not a difficult 10th, I know, but still a 10th! I do have to stretch and I think I have to work on this now. In fast playing it would be a problem but maybe I can get used to it... I have to start with C and A and then stretch the pinkie to reach the low F. This is the only way I can do it at the moment. Maybe there is hope. smile
If I try a random 10th with the RH it is the same. I have to stretch the pinkie last if I want to succeed.


That's exciting! You sound like me yesterday because I just figured out I could reach a 10th too!

#1740401 - 08/25/11 02:01 PM Re: handspan [Re: ChopinAddict]  
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Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
Some passages in "Soaring" by Schumann really annoy me... Because that stretch Bb-Bb-Db is too big for me. frown I can just touch the Db with the tip of my pinkie, then the pinkie slips down. mad cry I would prefer not to reach the Db at all! I feel like Tantalus instead... eek
I did found a trick - playing it with the LH of course - very easy in the first measure of course, and when the LH is supposed to play something else, like just a couple of measures later, use the pedal (luckily the evil stretch is not at the beginning of the measure, and it is easy to use the pedal to sustain the octaves in the LH and then use the LH to help the RH.)


If you refer to the tenor melody, it's absolutely expected that it be divided between the hands and a certain over-ring of pedal is acceptable. (In speed this is hardly noticeable.) If the LH passage Bb leap to Db bothers you, think of the low Bb as the last note of the previous group and start the next group with the thumb. This will remove the "stretch."

Please allow me to encourage you to never "stretch" to an extreme. The hand can, of course, be open without stretching, but it is always more efficient (and healthier) to move rather than stretch.

Last edited by NeilOS; 08/25/11 02:08 PM.

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#1740402 - 08/25/11 02:03 PM Re: handspan [Re: Rhonda B]  
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Originally Posted by Rhonda B
I can only just get an octave on the edge of the white keys. I've been doing research on hand size and piano playing, have had some stuff published and given conference papers down here (Australia).

I also have a 7/8 keyboard in my grand, custom made by David Steinbuhler of Pennsylvania (www.steinbuhler.com). Until you have experienced a smaller keyboard, smaller-handed players simply do not realise how much EASIER everything is, how much faster it is to learn, and how much more enjoyable the whole experience is. It's far more profound than simply being able to get certain chords.

I've summarised hand span data that's readily available on my website: www.smallpianokeyboards.com (see page called 'Hand size and the piano keyboard'). For males, the mean is around 9 inches for total thumb to 5th finger stretch, for females it's about 8 inches, which translates into being able to play a 10th and a 9th (though not comfortably) respectively.

This difference is approx the same as the difference between the 7/8 and conventional keyboard.

I'm currently compiling my own database and will later report on an analysis of this, including left hand versus right hand differences and ethnic differences.


This is fascinating. I'm so glad you're doing this research. Have you come accross information on Josef Hoffmann?


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#1740452 - 08/25/11 04:01 PM Re: handspan [Re: NeilOS]  
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Thanks, yes, I always stop when I feel pain, but I have pretty flexible hands (I can curl my fingers upwards for example ha) and want to make the most out of it, but in a natural way, so step by step until I get there. I could only reach an octave 5 years ago, so I am improving. smile
(Chopin by the way also said to choose a natural fingering, what really comes natural to you without stretching.)



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#1740453 - 08/25/11 04:05 PM Re: handspan [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]  
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Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto
Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
I just reached a 10th! smile Again in "Soaring" - LH F-C-A. Not a difficult 10th, I know, but still a 10th! I do have to stretch and I think I have to work on this now. In fast playing it would be a problem but maybe I can get used to it... I have to start with C and A and then stretch the pinkie to reach the low F. This is the only way I can do it at the moment. Maybe there is hope. smile
If I try a random 10th with the RH it is the same. I have to stretch the pinkie last if I want to succeed.


That's exciting! You sound like me yesterday because I just figured out I could reach a 10th too!


thumb Wonderful!!! Was it in a particular piece you want to remember as a milestone? I could also reach a 10th in "Fable" yesterday by the way.
Now that I am getting there (and this is a question to everybody), are there any particular exercises you would recommend?



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#1740564 - 08/25/11 07:21 PM Re: handspan [Re: ChopinAddict]  
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Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto
Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
I just reached a 10th! smile Again in "Soaring" - LH F-C-A. Not a difficult 10th, I know, but still a 10th! I do have to stretch and I think I have to work on this now. In fast playing it would be a problem but maybe I can get used to it... I have to start with C and A and then stretch the pinkie to reach the low F. This is the only way I can do it at the moment. Maybe there is hope. smile
If I try a random 10th with the RH it is the same. I have to stretch the pinkie last if I want to succeed.


That's exciting! You sound like me yesterday because I just figured out I could reach a 10th too!




thumb Wonderful!!! Was it in a particular piece you want to remember as a milestone? I could also reach a 10th in "Fable" yesterday by the way.
Now that I am getting there (and this is a question to everybody), are there any particular exercises you would recommend?


I just discovered it while messing around. Unfortunately it isn't quite practical for playing pieces yet, but it might be eventually!

A warm up/stretch that I do and have been doing for a long, long time is to play a 5 note chord with one hand (big enough to be a comfortable stretch) and lift one finger curved, then straighten, then play the key while keeping the other 4 fingers down. Repeat several times with all fingers. I think it has helped me a lot. smile

Last edited by WinsomeAllegretto; 08/25/11 07:22 PM.
#1740677 - 08/25/11 10:37 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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Regarding Josef Hoffmann, his scaled down keyboard was destroyed by Steinway after his death. I have read conflicting information about its size - as to whether it was 7/8 or 15/16.

My hand span has not increased since my youth - I don't believe that stretching does much, apart from warming up before playing which is probably a good idea. Whether my hand span would be even smaller than it is if I had not played the piano as a child, I do not know. Though I wasn't really trying to play octaves etc until I had more or less stopped growing. As I mentioned, I can only just get an octave as an adult.

After experiencing the 7/8 for a couple of years, I have no doubt that up to half the population is severely disadvantaged by the 'one size fits all' approach - apart from smaller-handed players who are happy to specialise in Baroque/early Classical repertoire.

There is much commentary from pianists playing reduced size keyboards on my website. Based on this, and reactions I've seen from others, those whose hand spans are less than around 8.5 inches (i.e. cannot get a 10th on the edge of the keys) find so much that is a whole lot easier and thus, more enjoyable.

#1741007 - 08/26/11 12:30 PM Re: handspan [Re: Rhonda B]  
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Originally Posted by Rhonda B
Regarding Josef Hoffmann, his scaled down keyboard was destroyed by Steinway after his death. I have read conflicting information about its size - as to whether it was 7/8 or 15/16.

My hand span has not increased since my youth - I don't believe that stretching does much, apart from warming up before playing which is probably a good idea. Whether my hand span would be even smaller than it is if I had not played the piano as a child, I do not know. Though I wasn't really trying to play octaves etc until I had more or less stopped growing. As I mentioned, I can only just get an octave as an adult.

After experiencing the 7/8 for a couple of years, I have no doubt that up to half the population is severely disadvantaged by the 'one size fits all' approach - apart from smaller-handed players who are happy to specialise in Baroque/early Classical repertoire.

There is much commentary from pianists playing reduced size keyboards on my website. Based on this, and reactions I've seen from others, those whose hand spans are less than around 8.5 inches (i.e. cannot get a 10th on the edge of the keys) find so much that is a whole lot easier and thus, more enjoyable.


Yes, I read an article some time ago about a professional pianist (forgot the name) who final got fed up struggling with the G minor ballade coda and had a smaller keyboard designed. Problem solved.

What a pity it's impractical for most pianists to carry their instruments from concert to concert. Of course the stars can do it: Andre Watts just appeared in Los Angeles at the Bowl with his own piano, not a smaller one, though.

And you're quite right. Your hand size is set. No amount of "stretching" is going to make it larger and when you do stretch the danger of injury is considerable. Coincidentally, I spent last evening at a musical gathering at which a hand surgeon was in attendance. We discussed some of these issues. One new syndrome he's finding in his practice is the injured thumbs from incorrect use during excessive texting.

Last edited by NeilOS; 08/26/11 12:32 PM.

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#1741180 - 08/26/11 06:18 PM Re: handspan [Re: NeilOS]  
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Originally Posted by NeilOS
Your hand size is set. No amount of "stretching" is going to make it larger and when you do stretch the danger of injury is considerable.


Alicia de Larrocha said she increased her span by a couple of notes through regular stretching.


#1741200 - 08/26/11 07:14 PM Re: handspan [Re: wr]  
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Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by NeilOS
Your hand size is set. No amount of "stretching" is going to make it larger and when you do stretch the danger of injury is considerable.


Alicia de Larrocha said she increased her span by a couple of notes through regular stretching.



Quite true. Later in life she lost that increase and then some as her hands shrank along with her body.



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#1741227 - 08/26/11 08:23 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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The professional pianist who struggled with the G minor Ballade was a Canadian, Christopher Donison, the co-inventor of the DS keyboard now made in Pennsylvania by David Steinbuhler. He worked with a technician to design his own 7/8 keyboard for his Steinway, many years ago, before he met Steinbuhler. I first stumbled on Chris's website on 31 Dec 2006, before finding the Steinbuhler website, which led to me getting a DS keyboard. Chris is no longer involved in the business but I have been in touch with him by email to discuss various issues. I admire his articles and increasingly agree with virtually all that he says. (There are some quotes on my website and links to his website.)

Chris, and others involved with reduced size keyboards, believe that a second standard size is necessary. In the long term, the major manufacturers would have to come on board and start producing pianos with a choice of one of the two sizes. Performance venues would of coure have both sizes, as it's easy to swap them in a grand. There are now five universities in the US with either 7/8 and/or 15/16s, so anyone performing at these would have a choice now.

According to a NY Times article, Alicia Larrocha could play a 10th in her heyday, which 80% of women cannot do. (Sometimes body height is not a good indictaion of hand span).

I've also been told that Daniel Baremboim has his own smaller keyboard - but I don't know what size or aything else about it.

#1741309 - 08/27/11 12:31 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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Hand size really isn't that vital--it's more important what you can DO with it. People with small hands can be very creative.

#1741719 - 08/27/11 07:37 PM Re: handspan [Re: wr]  
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by NeilOS
Your hand size is set. No amount of "stretching" is going to make it larger and when you do stretch the danger of injury is considerable.


Alicia de Larrocha said she increased her span by a couple of notes through regular stretching.


Interesting. I would think that might be possible as a child, but later...?


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#1741726 - 08/27/11 07:49 PM Re: handspan [Re: NeilOS]  
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Originally Posted by NeilOS
Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by NeilOS
Your hand size is set. No amount of "stretching" is going to make it larger and when you do stretch the danger of injury is considerable.


Alicia de Larrocha said she increased her span by a couple of notes through regular stretching.


Interesting. I would think that might be possible as a child, but later...?


Well, I increased my span too (as an adult). I could only reach an octave 5 years ago. Now I can reach a ninth very comfortably and a 10th not so comfortably, but maybe with time I will be able to reach that cursing 10th comfortably too ... smile



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#1754280 - 09/17/11 08:23 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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The average male can just reach a 10th 'on the edge' and a 9th comfortably. The average female hands are an inch smaller, meaning a 9th 'on the edge' and an octave comfortably. See data on www.smallpianokeyboards.com

#1754314 - 09/17/11 09:20 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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I can reach a 10th comfortably, an 11th 'on the edge.'


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#1754390 - 09/18/11 12:06 AM Re: handspan [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]  
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I thought that that the span between the 2nd finger and the thumb is where stretching can occur. I regularly stretch the web between these fingers, and I know it has increased my span there at least. I have a photo of Artur Rubenstein with his thumb hanging way below the level of his wrist. Isn't that acquired?


Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)
#1754541 - 09/18/11 09:02 AM Re: handspan [Re: Rhonda B]  
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Originally Posted by Rhonda B
The average male can just reach a 10th 'on the edge' and a 9th comfortably. The average female hands are an inch smaller, meaning a 9th 'on the edge' and an octave comfortably. See data on www.smallpianokeyboards.com


I'm just 16 and can reach a 10th. Not comfortably, but not on the edge either.

#1754564 - 09/18/11 09:48 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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I can reach 12th, 19 years old but its not so important.


Sorry for my English, I know it sucks, but I'm trying to improve.

#1754595 - 09/18/11 10:28 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]  
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a difficult 8ve, doesn't really bother me that much...

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