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#1557572 - 11/14/10 02:22 PM Repertoire for Small Hands?
Randi Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/11/10
Posts: 2
Hey all, i've recently come to terms with the fact i will never be able to stretch a 9th comfortably. This is extremely disheartening because i rarely find pieces that wow me with enough passion to sit down and practice for hours (for example Pathetique mvmt 1 and Moonlight Sonata mvmt 3 by Beethoven).

Even more so since i'm hitting around level 7 and 8.

I was wondering if anyone can suggest some pieces (in minor and fast would be best! much like the 2 i mentioned above) for small handed pianists?

Thanks so much xx.

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#1557579 - 11/14/10 02:30 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: Randi]
Skorpius Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/08
Posts: 751
_________________________
Working On-

Deux Arabesques, Debussy


On Queue-

Danse Russe from Petroushka, Stravinsky
Toccata, Ravel





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#1557589 - 11/14/10 02:59 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: Randi]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4841
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Don't let small hands keep you from playing music you love. My hands are about the same size as yours. I still can't reach more than an uncomfortable 9th but gradually the stretch between my other fingers is increasing from working my way though Bach and Brahms. There really aren't that many pieces I can't manage, (although the Brahms Rhapsody Opus 119 #4 may be beyond my ability to play without pain.)

For music that easily fits your hands, try the Mozart, Haydn, and Scarlatti sonatas and, of course, anything by Bach. They offer lots of challenge and are very beautiful too. Most other composers have wonderful offerings as well: Beethoven, Chopin, even Rachmaninoff. You'll have to learn when to break a chord, drop a note or switch a note to the opposite hand but you should be able to play most music.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#1557603 - 11/14/10 03:09 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: Randi]
PaulaPiano34 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/16/10
Posts: 1217
I have very small hands (my comfortable reach is just under an octave but I'm slowly getting to the point where octaves aren't as painful as usual). I just don't let small hands bother me whatsoever. My teacher says that when I play piano, I need to think like a bumblebee. According to the rules of aerodynamics bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly but they do. According to the "rules" of piano, I shouldn't be able to play big octave pieces but I can. I've learned the Pathetique, moonlight, several Rach preludes, Brahms' intermezzos etc... I also rewrite octave sections so I can play them. Anyway, hope this helps!

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#1557610 - 11/14/10 03:16 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: Randi]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6160
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I have small hands, but somehow contortionist too, like Chopin... smile I can curl my fingers upwards for example and can open my hand to a 170 degrees span, but unfortunately my fingers are short cry , so even so I don't reach more than just a 9th, but comfortably at least. When I started piano 4 years ago I could only reach an 8th...
There are accomplished pianists with small hands, so the size of your hands is not really a fundamental factor for your progress... I am confident you will get where you want to get if you put effort in it.
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1557634 - 11/14/10 03:56 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: Randi]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6648
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Randi

I was wondering if anyone can suggest some pieces... for small handed pianists?



The vast majority of the piano repertoire.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1557771 - 11/14/10 07:05 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: Randi]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2667
Loc: Netherlands
small hands are no excuse
_________________________
Longtemps, je me suis couch de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Mussorgski tableaux d'une exposition/Ravel miroirs

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#1558066 - 11/15/10 05:06 AM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: dolce sfogato]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
small hands are no excuse
says the pianist with 20 fingers
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1558077 - 11/15/10 06:07 AM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: dolce sfogato]
Richter Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/10
Posts: 159
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
small hands are no excuse


This is completely true

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#1558098 - 11/15/10 07:51 AM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: Randi]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 769
Loc: South Carolina
It takes awhile for those with smaller hands to adapt to many pieces without strain. They need to re-think their approach to octaves, thicker chords, etc.... It takes much patience - and a very loose wrist, among other things...

I remember reading somewhere that Alicia de Larrocha - who had small hands - was able to toss off works like the Rach 3 and the Brahms concerti.

(Don't know if there's recorded evidence, though........)
_________________________
Piano performance and instruction (former college music professor).

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#1558285 - 11/15/10 01:51 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: Randi]
sarah_elizabeth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 466
Loc: Texas, U.S.
Bach works, like most of the Baroque repertoire, generally fit well into small hands. However, like others have said, rewrite if need be and gradually work yourself into repertoire that requires larger leaps. Note the "gradually" part - you don't want to jump in head-first and get an injury. While my hands are slightly bigger than the OP's - I can stretch a 9th, but no more - I've been able to progressively handle larger spans.

A quick observation... many of the Asian female pianists that I've heard or seen have very small hands, but they can manage extremely well. One of my musician friends once stated that many of them work on various exercises from early on to help their hand spans. I can't verify that, but it's an interesting thought. Maybe someone else knows more about that than I do.

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#1558338 - 11/15/10 03:04 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: sarah_elizabeth]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6160
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Originally Posted By: sarah_elizabeth

A quick observation... many of the Asian female pianists that I've heard or seen have very small hands, but they can manage extremely well.


Not only women, even children can manage well... So I think stores is right. By the way, not many have perfect hands anyway. It is probably not easy to play with fat fingers either for example I would think. Nobody is perfect...
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1558497 - 11/15/10 06:10 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: Gerard12]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6648
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Gerard12


(Don't know if there's recorded evidence, though........)


There certainly is.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1558500 - 11/15/10 06:12 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: dolce sfogato]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6648
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
small hands are no excuse


I agree and is the reason I said the vast majority of the piano repertoire is available.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1558625 - 11/15/10 09:11 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: stores]
Dror Perl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/10
Posts: 272
Loc: NY
Check the Czerny book:

25 Exercises for Small Hands Op.748

I think you'll find it interesting
_________________________
Dror Perl. Pianist, Composer, Teacher.

http://www.sheerpiano.com/

Sheer Piano: The First Full Color Piano Music Books





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#1558720 - 11/15/10 11:59 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: Gerard12]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8026
Originally Posted By: Gerard12
It takes awhile for those with smaller hands to adapt to many pieces without strain. They need to re-think their approach to octaves, thicker chords, etc.... It takes much patience - and a very loose wrist, among other things...

I remember reading somewhere that Alicia de Larrocha - who had small hands - was able to toss off works like the Rach 3 and the Brahms concerti.

(Don't know if there's recorded evidence, though........)


Don't forget that although she started with small hands, she methodically stretched them until she could reach 10ths. And she kept up a daily stretching routine throughout her career.

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#1558776 - 11/16/10 03:23 AM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: wr]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6648
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Gerard12
It takes awhile for those with smaller hands to adapt to many pieces without strain. They need to re-think their approach to octaves, thicker chords, etc.... It takes much patience - and a very loose wrist, among other things...

I remember reading somewhere that Alicia de Larrocha - who had small hands - was able to toss off works like the Rach 3 and the Brahms concerti.

(Don't know if there's recorded evidence, though........)


Don't forget that although she started with small hands, she methodically stretched them until she could reach 10ths. And she kept up a daily stretching routine throughout her career.



It's quite true that she was able to reach tenths, but toward the end of her career she had to completely renegotiate her entire repertoire, because though tiny of frame to begin with she began shrinking and it affected her hands to a great degree.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1558802 - 11/16/10 05:12 AM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: Randi]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5531
Larrocha has recorded Rach 3 for Decca, and listening to it, you wouldn't know that she has small hands - she doesn't appeggiate any more chords than anyone else, and there's no lack of power.
But considering that her signature work is Albeniz's Iberia (which contains some wide stretches) that's not surprising. However (like Argerich), I don't think she's ever played Ravel's LH Piano Concerto, though she did the G major.
_________________________
"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."

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#1559147 - 11/16/10 05:40 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: bennevis]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6648
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: bennevis
I don't think she's ever played Ravel's LH Piano Concerto, though she did the G major.


She did and recorded it.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1559208 - 11/16/10 07:43 PM Re: Repertoire for Small Hands? [Re: bennevis]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 769
Loc: South Carolina
Oh, how the heck did I forget about her recording of Iberia?
Especially since I owned a copy on vinyl back in the day. Thanks for the tip on
her Rach 3 rec.-I'll have to look that one up.
_________________________
Piano performance and instruction (former college music professor).

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