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pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458970 11/05/08 02:39 PM
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I started playing the piano roughly a year ago. Recently I've
started to run into octave exercises and wide chords that are
difficult for me. I have small hands with short fat fingers.
I sometimes have trouble playing between the black keys, but
that is a different problem. When I started I had to stretch
to reach a 7th. I've gotten slightly more flexible and can now
stretch to an octave, but they are still not comfortable for
me. Anyway, on to my question. If I bought a piano would it
be a good idea to invest in a 7/8 keyboard, or should I wait
until I have more experience with a full size keyboard.

I realize that a keyboard of this size would not normally be
available. Would learning on it make it hard to transition
between instruments? If, for example, I wanted in the future
to pursue a music degree would it be a handicap?

thanks in advance

Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458971 11/05/08 02:56 PM
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If you're playing classical music I would definitely recommend a full sized keyboard because many classical songs go to the very top and very bottoms of the keyboard. If you're missing a few keys from it, it's not possible to play some of the songs.

Hm..define what you mean by a 7/8s keyboard. Do you mean the keyboard has less keys or are you talking about the keys of the keyboard are actually smaller??
If it's just missing a few keys, switching to a full sized keyboard would be easy because it's the same thing.


Yamaha C3, Yamaha Avant Grand N1 (sold), Steingraeber 170 (family's)
Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458972 11/05/08 03:08 PM
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he probably means the keyboard with key size a little smaller (7/8th of actual size)? a lot of keyboards with smaller sized keys, usually cheap ones with less than 88 keys and no-weighted action.

i don't think buying such a keyboard would benefit you in anyway, because you're pursuing a music degree in some music school which would have only normal sized pianos. instead, i would think it's better to get used to your current piano, and try to use some fingering adjustment to accommodate your hand size.

Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458973 11/05/08 03:09 PM
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Michiyo Fir I think you are misunderstanding the poster's meaning. A 7/8ths keyboard has keys 7/8ths the width of a normal key, making the entire piano narrower and thus easier to play large chords with. It has the full complement of 88 keys.

To the OP, I personally think that you should try to stick with a regular keyboard because when you go and perform somewhere outside of your house you would be sunk. However if you believe you will never ever touch a regular keyboard again, it is a possibility but I believe if you can reach an octave, there is no reason to go for the 7/8 keyboard.


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Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458974 11/05/08 03:27 PM
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To clarify I meant a keyboard that has slightly smaller keys.
All the keys are still there they are just a bit narrower than
normal.

Something like this:
http://www.steinbuhler.com

I can reach an octave now but it is not comfortable, and I was
hoping that I could do something to help me along. Perhaps
I should be more patient and continue stretching.

Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458975 11/05/08 04:18 PM
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I personally would not recommend it. I have small hands for a man but have no problems playing most all of the standard repertoire. Tenths are out though.

Granted, I have been playing most of my life. When I picked up the guitar it at first seemed impossible to fret many of the chords but with time thing got considerably easier.

The main thing is that pianos are not portable, so when you are away from your 7/8ths you will be frustrated by other pianos


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Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458976 11/05/08 04:35 PM
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I know two pianists who have done a lot of research and work with Steinbuhler - Lora Deahl at Texas Tech University and Carol Leone at Southern Methodist University.

They have found that there is very little difficulty switching between 7/8 and full sized keyboards. Carol even travels and performs on her own 7/8s keyboard (a technician can quickly fit it to any Steinway D.)

I can recommend the 7/8 keyboard without reservations. If you find that you need to perform on a full-sized keyboard, all it really takes is a few hours of warm-up on the full keyboard for your hands to become accustomed to it.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458977 11/05/08 04:36 PM
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Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458978 11/05/08 04:37 PM
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Also - Mr. Steinbuhler is a neat guy and would probably be happy to talk to you in person if you have any other questions. I don't know him personally, but I have met him and from what I hear, he's the kind of guy who takes great pride in his invention and wants it to be used because it works and makes your musical life better.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458979 11/05/08 07:26 PM
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One of my former teachers, who had very small hands, studied with Carole Leone at SMU specifically because of her research with reduced-size keyboards.

Although she can and does still perform on full-size keyboards, my teacher acquired a 7/8 keyboard for her own Baldwin grand and loves it. She remarked to me that studying with a reduced-size keyboard gave her a new lease on her love for playing.

As Kreisler indicates, the Steinbuhler keyboard is made to be interchangeable with a piano's regular action so the piano isn't permanently altered by the new keyboard/action.


Paul Buchanan
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Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458980 11/06/08 10:54 AM
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if you are pursuing a music degree, you could handicapp yourself by practising on a 7/8th's keyboard. Right now, currently, a standard expectation is that a pianist should be able to play on a piano that is placed in front of them and what if it does not have that keyboard.

I myself have really petite hands, and when i say that they are small, they really are. All of my piano teachers have commented that they have never taught a student as old as me with such small hands. A few of them have ever wondered too if i can make it.

stick to the normal keyboard for now but in the future if u happen to purchase another piano, why not have one with a standard&another with a 7/8's keyboard.

I myself, will invest in one someday if i can afford to own a second piano. My best friend/piano buddy has encouraged me to look into it too!


Mastering:Chopin Etudes op.10 nos.8&12 and op.25 no.1, Chopin Scherzo no.4 in E major op.54, Mozart Sonata in B flat major K.333& Khachaturian Toccata
Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458981 11/06/08 12:45 PM
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Why do you think it would be a handicap? Everything in my experience suggests otherwise. Do you know people who have had trouble? Everyone I know was able to switch to full size just fine.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458982 11/06/08 12:54 PM
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I think I may have a flawed understanding of the 7/8-size keyboard: I thought it was for people who don't have adequate handspan to play comfortably (or even play at all) on a standard keyboard.

Why would people who have no problem switching between them use the 7/8-size in the first place? For what reason, and for what purpose?

Steven

Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458983 11/06/08 12:57 PM
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I have never heard of this kind (7/8) of piano. One of the last International Piano editions had a feature on a pianist specializing on very small pianos (apparently some composers wrote pieces for her), but that's an entirely different story as these pianos also have a much smaller range.

Regarding a 7/8 piano, I can't imagine how you can adapt in just a couple of hours back to the normal format. Maybe for passagework, where you are always in close contact with the keys. But complex movements involving fast jumps would (I guess) be more difficult. Of course it's a good exercise for always 'being there' before one plays, i.e. good preparation of jumps. But I personally wouldn't do it given the widespread acceptance of the standard dimensions. Many famous pianists have small hands (Alicia de Larrocha for example) and can live with it.
I wonder, how is it for string players, e.g. to switch between 50%, 75%, and "normal" violins?

Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458984 11/06/08 01:05 PM
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For arpeggios and large jumps, I can't imagine that it wouldn't be a disadvantage trying to adapt from playing a 7/8 to a normal keyboard size.

And do you normally have a few hours to adapt before you are to perform on a regular piano? Not in my case. I think the best solution is to have both at home if the OP has the funds.


Steinway M & Yamaha P120
Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458985 11/06/08 01:22 PM
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The transition is no big deal. I recently took up the piano accordion and they come in all sorts of key widths. I started with a narrow layout and have recently traded it in on a medium-width keyboard. Neither of them is quite as big as a piano keyboard.

Before this I had played piano for 36 years. The transition between key widths was easy. The only caveat I would add, though, is that the black keys get closer together and it could become difficult to get your fingers in between them if they are large.

Your brain thinks in generalizations with motor skills, not in specific muscle movements. That's why your signature looks identical when written on a chalkboard to how it does on paper, even though it uses arm movement instead of finger movement.

My grandfather was a professional saxophonist and played the baritone, tenor and alto, which have slightly different key locations, though the same fingerings. He, like most sax players, had no problem switching between them, even between songs.

Incidentally, where would one buy a 7/8-scale piano? Wouldn't it cost a fortune?

Don
Kansas City

Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458986 11/06/08 01:43 PM
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If Alicia DeLarrocha can play the whole repertory with ease and superb technique and she has became one of the finest pianists ever, so can you.

Alicia is 4.10 feet tall with hands way smaller than what is considered small for even a young teen let alone an adult.

Her DeFalla's "Fire Ritual Dance" is superior in many ways to that of Rubinstein and his big hands.
In spite of her diminute hands, she, unlike other performers, maintain all the trills over the melody and accompainment.

Alicia, by the way, is a big promoter of stretching exercises. If nothing, playing on a normal keyboard will train your hand to stretch with more ease. And stretching abilities positively benefit playing ability. So much that a famous piano teacher once said that what makes young beginners more likely to become virtuoso is the fact that they have practice pieces exploying octaves in both hands or melodies whose parameters describe an octave, at a time of life when their hands were exceptionally small.

Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458987 11/06/08 02:21 PM
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Kreisler,
To get the Steinbuhler 7/8 keyboard, does this mean that you trade in your whole grand action for a new action? My action was Stanwoodized and is perfect! If I go for the 7/8 keyboard, would I lose my perfect Stanwoodized action?

Thanks for the info!

sleepy

Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458988 11/06/08 04:30 PM
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When I move (and have space,) I have plans to purchase one of the 7/8th uprights. I want to be able to PLAY, not spend hours in utter frustration at the pain in my hand and arm because octaves hurt. I honestly feel that my small hand size is the biggest thing holding me back right now. I dare say, you posters who wish you had a 10th have no idea of the anguish us hardly-octave people put up with.

That said, since I still plan to teach, I also plan, at some point, to purchase a full size piano. I want the 7/8s piano for me.

To the OP, you mention possibly pursuing a degree in music. This leads me to question your age (sorry, but I don't know many older people who went back to school for music.) I say if you are still growing, you should probably wait, because even though I desperately want a 7/8th keyboard, I do feel as if playing/performing outside of the nice, comfortable keyboard would be a problem. (Just because I/we could play comfortable octaves on a 7/8th keyboard doesn't mean that once we learn a piece, we'll be able to transfer it to a full size keyboard and be happy.)

Re: pros and cons of a 7/8 keyboard for beginners
#458989 11/06/08 05:05 PM
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I'm not that old but I'm no spring chicken either. For me it is not
just hand size but, as an adult beginner, I also lack flexibility as
well. I've been stretching for almost a year now, since I started
playing my goal was to be able to reach an octave. Happily I've gained
about 3/4 of an inch and can now do it. But the strain limits my
ability to practice certain exercises because of fatigue, and gives
me hand cramps.

I'm fortunate enough to have the time now to spend studying topics that
interest me. Once I have gained a basic proficiency in an instrument
and expanded my knowledge of music theory I would like to study music
at a university.

Keeping that in mind I don't want to do anything that would make it
harder than it would be otherwise. Since I'm a novice I worry
that a small keyboard might interfere with the ability to switch
between instruments, or, worse yet, prevent me from developing sound
technique. My situation in that regard is different than an
experienced pianist with mature technique. Also, at some point I'm
going to buy a piano an need to plan for the additional cost of a
7/8 keyboard if it is practical.

Edit: cut myself off to early

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