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Small hands - any suggestions? #454984
06/12/08 11:00 PM
06/12/08 11:00 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 5,828
Seattle area, WA
gooddog Offline OP
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gooddog  Offline OP
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Seattle area, WA
On a good day I can reach (barely) a ninth. I can usually work around this by dropping or "rolling" notes. Sometimes it isn't obvious but in pieces like Gershwin's 2nd prelude it's a mess. I just can't reach from C to E.
Also, small hands have farther to travel so sometimes it's difficult to move around the keyboard as quickly as I'd like. I'd appreciate any ideas you might have.

Gooddog/Deborah


Best regards,

Deborah
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Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454985
06/12/08 11:48 PM
06/12/08 11:48 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 267
SF Bay Area, CA
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miaeih Offline
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SF Bay Area, CA
I can barely reach an 8th and only on the very edge of the keys. On a good day, I will not end up crying due to stretching my hands too much while practicing. I've even noticed one of my pinkies curving out and away from my hands! My pieces include many chords with dropped notes, note played by the other hand in different octave, rolled chords, and just plain giving up on many pieces. Many pieces I work on, for example a Chopin Ballade or Sonata, takes an extremely long time to learn just trying to figure out the best notes to drop/roll etc. I posted once asking if there was some formula to help with this but no one really replied =(.

However, I've never had any problems moving around quickly on the keyboard. In fact, I think I move around faster b/c I sometimes need to "set up" my fingers to play large chords whereas normal ppl just play w/o "set up".

There's also smaller keyboards but IMO, what's the point? You'd only be able to play on your own keyboard if you practiced with that.

Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454986
06/13/08 12:04 AM
06/13/08 12:04 AM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 5,828
Seattle area, WA
gooddog Offline OP
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I'd never consider a smaller keyboard for the same reason you mentioned. I also do not want to limit myself to pieces I can't reach. I adore Rachmaninoff. I understand Alicia de Larocca had small hands. I wonder how she managed?

I find I have trouble playing consecutive notes accuately if they are very far apart and the pace is presto. I do practice it over and over and this helps build muscle memory, but there really is a speed disadvantage when you have farther to hop. I don't play to the point of pain, but the stretch is uncomfortable. Lots of octaves begin to hurt and my hands cramp up.

The irony is, I once heard someone with very large hands complaining he could not possibly do intricate finger work because his hands were too big! Go figure.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454987
06/13/08 12:21 AM
06/13/08 12:21 AM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,595
Pacific Northwest
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pianobuff Offline
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I also have small hands.

What I do is warm up with scales slowly, then arpeggios. I increase the tempo to really warm up then I do a hand stretch with each hand separately. For my size hand my RH thumb is on C, second finger on D#, third finger on F#, fourth finger on A, fifth finger on C. I first play these notes moving my hand a little into the black keys. I then hold on to these notes while playing four times on each note while holding on to the others and then strtch into the black keys again. I stretch the same way with the LH respectively.

This really helps and works on broadening the hand.

As far as playing pieces that have a big jumps, etc... try to conserve the stretch by not stretching unnecessarily. Expand then contract, making sure you are balanced over the note that you are on, and on and on... this should help with speed.


Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation
Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454988
06/13/08 12:34 AM
06/13/08 12:34 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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El Cajon, CA
I'm in the tiny hands club, too.

<a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/PianoPlayer88Key/PianoHandStretch/photo#5193131992057752530"><img src="http://lh3.ggpht.com/PianoPlayer88Key/SBG2CEpRq9I/AAAAAAAAAYA/-e1L2_poZGw/s288/Piano_Hand_Stretch_08th.JPG" /></a> <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/PianoPlayer88Key/PianoHandStretch/photo#5193132073662131186"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/PianoPlayer88Key/SBG2G0pRq_I/AAAAAAAAAYQ/9MIzFMY8IPY/s288/Piano_Hand_Stretch_10th.JPG" /></a> <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/PianoPlayer88Key/PianoHandStretch/photo#5193132150971542546"><img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/PianoPlayer88Key/SBG2LUpRrBI/AAAAAAAAAYo/dXZJE0i9UYM/s288/Piano_Hand_Stretch_12th.JPG" /></a>

Any suggestions on how to reach the 12th as easily as I can reach the 8th, or how to get a reasonable 15th?


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
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Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454989
06/13/08 01:24 AM
06/13/08 01:24 AM
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 147
United States
agent3x Offline
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Any suggestions on how to reach the 12th as easily as I can reach the 8th, or how to get a reasonable 15th?
Surgery?

The only piece I've played where stretch was a problem was Gershwin's 2nd Prelude. I rolled some notes, but there's a series of minor tenths in one measure that I just couldn't reach, and if I rolled them, I'd hit other notes in the process. I was short on time, so I just inverted the notes. I actually had to perform it for a project in English class, so I wasn't too worried about it being "cheating" or anything, but I'm curious. Does anyone else do this to get out of playing stretches that are too large?

Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454990
06/13/08 02:49 AM
06/13/08 02:49 AM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 6,604
Santa Fe, NM
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jotur Offline
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Santa Fe, NM
I can't reach a 9th at all smirk My octaves look like the 10ths in the above pictures smile

I don't have any suggestions for what to do other than roll the 10ths or others, but -

I will say that I haven't found that small hands are a problem with speed. I've heard almost everyone who starts playing Scott Joplin, for instance, remark that the speed of the left-hand jumps is difficult.

There are several things I do to practice them (some of which I picked up from CC Chang's on-line book on how to practice, some from other places):

Lots of slow practice

Practice in very short chunks, hands separate - maybe just one jump at a time

Practice those short chunks as close to "up to speed" as possible - start fast and slow down to the speed at which it is accurate, then practice *many* times over

Practice the lead-in and come-out-of to the chunks along with the chunks, in the same ways as above

Practice by playing the first note/group in the chunk, the jump, and being *on* the keys but *not* playing the second note/group, very fast. Someone here recently called this "shadow" playing, I think. Then practice playing the whole chunk

The speed comes in the *horizontal* direction - keep it close to the keyboard, rather than spending time in vertical-ness in the jump

Be aware of where the target is in the jump - sometimes it isn't really as far as it "feels" when first starting - maybe only a couple of keys. The problem, for me, sometimes is changing the hand *shape* from the first note group to the second one fast enough, not the number of keys I have to move

But, having to hang off the edge of the white keys for an octave does, I like to think laugh , make the accuracy of an octave at speed harder, and to some extent makes the move from an octave on the white keys to an octave on the black keys a little further distance. But the speed *has* come for me, and while for any particular set of jumps I still have to practice as above, it doesn't take me years, like it originally did.

My repertoire is probably nothing like yours, but maybe some of the ideas are transferable, or will give you some other ideas to try on the speed part.

Cathy


Cathy
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Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454991
06/13/08 08:36 AM
06/13/08 08:36 AM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,555
B
Bob Newbie Offline
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more canditates for the Steinbuler 7/8 keyboard..
laugh

Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454992
06/13/08 10:50 AM
06/13/08 10:50 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 267
SF Bay Area, CA
M
miaeih Offline
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miaeih  Offline
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M

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Posts: 267
SF Bay Area, CA
Quote
Originally posted by 88Key_PianoPlayer:
I'm in the tiny hands club, too.
Was this post a joke mad ? Your hands are huge. My 8ths are like the last picture. The last picture isn't even as much of a stretch as a person would initially think. The thumb is on the far right of the key! My fingers are fairly horizontal by now just by playing pieces, not purposely stretching.

As far as jumps and rolling large chords, I never have problems, just practice, practice practice. Know how wide each key is and good fingering for rolls. I stretch my hands to near their "max" and jump. For example, I know in my head the max is an 8th so think about how much more of a jump for a 15th.

If I am not going to be practicing a piece with at least octaves, I do octave scales to compensate for that day. As always, I warm up with regular scales, cadences, and arpeggios.

Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454993
06/13/08 06:54 PM
06/13/08 06:54 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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El Cajon, CA
Actually... the last pic is a 12th, not an 11th. The thumb & pinky are barely grabbing the inside edges of the keys.

Also my hands are NOT huge. I believe Rachmaninoff had hands a LOT bigger than mine - I've heard he could reach a 13th - I wonder if he would reach that at least as easily as I was playing the 10th...


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.
Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454994
06/13/08 07:15 PM
06/13/08 07:15 PM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 1,501
Champaign, IL
Fleeting Visions Offline
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Champaign, IL
I'll recommend some music written by a man with very small hands: Scriabin.

Don't you just love it?


Amateur Pianist, Scriabin Enthusiast, and Octave Demon
Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454995
06/13/08 11:17 PM
06/13/08 11:17 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 5,828
Seattle area, WA
gooddog Offline OP
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gooddog  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 5,828
Seattle area, WA
I envy the "guy" in the futuristic movie "Gattaca" who had 6 fingers on every hand.

My teacher has been telling me to do a better job of moving my hand, not just my fingers, into position for the next notes much sooner than I have been. I tend to linger.


Thank you Pianobuff, I'll give this a try.
gooddog/deborah


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454996
06/13/08 11:21 PM
06/13/08 11:21 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 3,288
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LiszThalberg Offline
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I have very small hands. A 9th is extremely hard for my to hit, so I've developed my octave playing as best I can and avoided pieces with tenths like the plague.

Matt

Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454997
06/14/08 02:21 AM
06/14/08 02:21 AM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 495
N. Texas
Barbara G Offline
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N. Texas
Have you read my posts on the "forum" about my new Steinbuhler small sized keyboard.?


Master of Music, School Teacher, Church Musician- See "Our Adventure to a New grand" thread... http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/18212.html
Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454998
06/14/08 10:10 AM
06/14/08 10:10 AM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,091
Richmond, VA
plays88skeys Offline
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Richmond, VA
Also a member of the tiny hands club.

I hope I won't get blasted for saying this, but knowing my limitations, I tend to focus on repertoire that fits comfortably under my hands and that was written for smaller keyboards to start with: Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Scarlatti etc.


There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. - Beverly Sills
Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #454999
06/15/08 07:53 AM
06/15/08 07:53 AM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,555
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Bob Newbie Offline
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you are only limited by the size of your keyboard
go Steinbuhler!! smile

Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #455000
06/15/08 08:02 AM
06/15/08 08:02 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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El Cajon, CA
Ok, then... in that case.. maybe I DON'T have tiny hands, seeing as I CAN fairly easily reach some 10ths on my keyboard, occasionally an 11th, and with a little cheating, can barely stretch a 12th.

I guess it's my KEYBOARD that's huge, not my hands being small. I can't reach any double-octave-plus-fifths. frown If necessary, I could probably settle for reaching a double octave about as easily as I can now reach a 9th or 10th on my current keyboard....


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.
Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #455001
06/15/08 08:27 AM
06/15/08 08:27 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,801
New York City
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There may be some pieces where compromises are required or cannot be played by someone with small hands.

On the other hand, I know some professional pianists besides de Laroccha(who could play Iberia incredibly well) who can only stretch an octave but can play some of the most demanding works in the literature. I also met a stride pianist with tiny hands who could play all the famous Fats Waller works with their endless tenths. He did this by rolling the tenths so fast it was virtually unnoticable.

Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #455002
06/15/08 11:00 PM
06/15/08 11:00 PM
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 159
Dayton, OH
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One of my teachers told me that she would often warm up with fully diminished arpeggios (C-Eb-Gb-A-C)to stretch out her fingers because she had smaller hands. Apparently over several years she developed a more comfortable reach to larger intervals. Maybe give it a try.


Yamaha C3 yay
Re: Small hands - any suggestions? #455003
06/16/08 01:45 AM
06/16/08 01:45 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by pianoloverus:


On the other hand, I know some professional pianists besides de Laroccha(who could play Iberia incredibly well) who can only stretch an octave but can play some of the most demanding works in the literature.
I have heard that she methodically stretched her hands so that she was eventually able to reach 10ths. And she did some artful redistribution of notes, too.

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