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#2067788 - 04/20/13 08:53 PM My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th?
pianotimo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/25/13
Posts: 51
Is this normal? I've seen in the forum that people with 16 cm hands can already reach an octave and the people with my hand size can reach a 10th? Is it because I'm new or is it because they do some special exercises?

I used this website to measure my hand from the tip of my thumb to the pinky: http://www.myonlineruler.com

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#2067790 - 04/20/13 08:59 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
dynamobt Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 674
Loc: NH
Honestly don't knowhat to tell you. I've got a reach a hair over 19 cm and can reach a 10th. Technically you should reach a 10th too.
_________________________
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#2067791 - 04/20/13 09:01 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
There are so many hypes when it comes to piano skills, and one of them is reach. When someone plays well, someone invariably mentions something about the size of that person's hand, but in the end, there are lots of really good pianist, my teacher included, who could only reach an octave or a 9th barely, so don't focus on these things. If you can reach an octave, then you're fine.
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#2067792 - 04/20/13 09:14 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4236
Loc: Arizona.
I have very large hands but my 'spread' is not any wider than normal. My fingers are not long or extra long but rather just normal.

This is actually a disadvantage because I don't get any benefit of a wider spread but since my fingers are very thick, I must tilt them and hold my hands at slight angles to avoid taking down the unwanted next door keys.

Of course, that doesn't always work as planned but over time you will adapt to doing it.

I could see advantages of actually having smaller hands just for this reason.

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#2067794 - 04/20/13 09:23 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: Mr Super-Hunky]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Going through the many technical exericises, I think having hand flexibility is far more important than size or reach.
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#2067815 - 04/20/13 10:57 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1865
Loc: Pennsylvania
I have hands the same size and I cannot reach a 10th either. So, I guess it is "normal". Unless I am not "normal". smile
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Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, Ravenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D, Pianoteq 5

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#2067817 - 04/20/13 11:19 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
PaperClip Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/09
Posts: 522
Loc: Amsterdam, Holland
My stretch has become wider and more easy. Just by playing piano.

Big hands seems very good to have for big streches, but little hands are better in fast narrow passages, like fast scales. So big hands are not necessary always better.
_________________________
Chris

Playing since May 02 2009

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#2067821 - 04/20/13 11:33 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2093
Loc: Rocky Mountains
I haven't done any work on extending the spread of my hands. Just trying it. I just make an octave.
The more I see things like this. Even different music. I'm beginning to think that some music is based on; look what I can do and you can't. It's focus is not to create beautiful music.
If normal is to be childish. Then I'm not normal.
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2067863 - 04/21/13 04:47 AM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
A nine is considered average. If your technique is good enough you can play anything with that by rolling chords when you have to. Since you're new your reach will probably increase as your hand become more flexible. This just has to come gradually with use. As for pianists comparing hand spans, just think of it as a bunch of guys bragging about the size of their - - - - engines.
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Slow down and do it right.

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#2067960 - 04/21/13 10:58 AM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
UK Paul UK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/22/11
Posts: 396
Loc: Berkshire, England
Id be happy with a ninth... theres way more to worry about before that will be an issue...
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http://www.youtube.com/user/PaulGPiano

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#2067988 - 04/21/13 11:53 AM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3483
Loc: not in Japan anymore
According to the link Pianotimo posted, my reach is over 20cm, but I'm pretty sure I can't reliably play a tenth, whereas I know I can reliably (musically) play a ninth. -- and btw I'm female and my hands are not especially large.

When I first started playing piano, I used to gently stretch my hands in the shower (after they were warmed up) and that kind of thing, as well as playing lots of music. And I distinctly recall that my ability to translate that stretch/spread into music changed and improved as I worked on more demanding pieces. Especially when I worked on the Moonlight Sonata. Also, when I've played pieces that require something I can't reach, or something I can't reach well/musically, I either rearrange the notes, or roll them, and I don't think that detracts in anyway from the music.

So Pianotimo, I don't think you need to worry, your fingers will limber up as you play more, and they will respond to the demands you place on them in terms of what kind of music you play.
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#2067998 - 04/21/13 12:08 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3483
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Hey, I took these photos a while back (maybe a year ago??) to share here, so I'll post them again. I think the keyboard shots are actually from the Moonlight Sonata, but I might be remembering wrong, and I'm not at home so I can't check the score.

Anyway, here's an octave with a note in the middle:


An octave with two notes in the middle


Here's a ninth, it doesn't look like I have much leeway!


Here's a ninth with two notes in the midde, looks like quite the effort for me to get my pinkie there, but I got it.


Here's a stretch I used to do (I don't actively do these stretches these days). Notice that my left hand is able to be flatter against the table edge than the right. If I'm remember correctly, I can play a ninth much more easily with my left hand, and looking at this photo, I can imagine why. (Unfortunately I don't have any pics of my left hand playing an octave or ninth)


Here's the thumb/pinkie stretch. The keyword with any stretches is always: Gentle! Do not do your piano stretches with the idea of "no pain, no gain" -- with piano it's more like "pain=injury"


And here's another stretch, thumb and index finger.
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#2068009 - 04/21/13 12:33 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: rnaple]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
Originally Posted By: rnaple
I haven't done any work on extending the spread of my hands. Just trying it. I just make an octave.
The more I see things like this. Even different music. I'm beginning to think that some music is based on; look what I can do and you can't. It's focus is not to create beautiful music.
If normal is to be childish. Then I'm not normal.


No, music is music. It's not made for big or small hands. People with smaller hands can change the notes slightly to fit their hand, you can play a different inversion of the chord or drop the middle or top note if it is not essential. Why would you let one or two chords in a piece that are too big, make you unable to play it? In addition huge chords can be rolled.
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#2068034 - 04/21/13 01:30 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3483
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Also, I'm reading a book about how adult beginners can be successful and have a better chance of sticking with piano (the book is in Japanese, sorry), anyway, the author mentions something that's similar to what Teodor mentions, but it's a piece that sometimes doesn't get stressed.

Namely, for those who can't play an octave, or who can barely reach an octave, rather than forcing yourself to play the octave which is barely within your reach, and have the sound be not so great, play only a single note but focus on making your touch and playing of that note as full as you can. In other words, a well-played single note is usually better than a barely executed octave.

Along these same lines, when thinking about how to modify a piece that has some phrases that are beyond your reach, try a couple different approaches and see which one sounds best. Examples include rearranging the notes in a few different ways, moving one note into the other hand, even leaving out one note of a 3-note chord and playing an octave of the lowest note with the middle note left in.

Having said all that, if you haven't been playing for long, don't automatically give up on something as not playable or too far of a stretch for your hands, because sometimes your reach will increase because you made the effort to put those notes under your fingers.

It's really hard to find the balance between when to work on making something playable as it's written, and when to rearrange it to fit your hand. A teacher can help, if you have access to one!
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#2068041 - 04/21/13 01:47 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2093
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Oh Gee....you two....
You could just do it the easy way...


Or this is how I do it....



Edited by rnaple (04/21/13 01:53 PM)
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2068048 - 04/21/13 01:57 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3483
Loc: not in Japan anymore
laugh

This is more common than I thought!

_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#2068127 - 04/21/13 04:27 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 761
19.5 cm. That made me wonder what my hand span was. But I didn't have a ruler.

Then I realized, if I had something close at hand that I knew the EXACT length in inches of, I could use it to measure my hand span and then just run the conversion to metric.

So I'm proud to say that I have an astonishingly large hand span of 40 cm! But strangely I can still only hit a 10th.
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#2068239 - 04/21/13 09:00 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
earlofmar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1587
Loc: Australia
Just in case anyone is thinking their hand reaches are not large enough, a word of caution about stretching and exercises.

While I believe in the Hanon exercises for the benefits in finger interdependence I know they are dangerous if done wrong and to excess.

As to stretches there was a thread awhile back which is worth reading

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ite_id/1#import
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2068261 - 04/21/13 09:41 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3483
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Whizbang, with all due respect, are you sure you're measuring/converting correctly? If I measure my span from the pinkie on my left hand, to the pinkie on my right hand, that's 42cm. I am having a hard time believing that one of your hands is that big.

And yes to Earlofmar's comment, stretching should be done very gently! And assume that you will see results in terms of months/years, not days/weeks.
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#2068452 - 04/22/13 03:50 AM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
A healthy diet (nothings good in excess) of arpeggios and scales will work to stretch the webbing between the fingers of the hand over time as seen in ShiroKuro's post and help you to maximize what you have - you obviously aren't getting any bigger hands, though. As a beginner, aim to work on them at least 5 to 10 minutes daily, even if for but just a short practice warm-up.


Edited by Bobpickle (04/23/13 02:18 AM)

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#2068461 - 04/22/13 04:42 AM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: Whizbang]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7605
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Whizbang

So I'm proud to say that I have an astonishingly large hand span of 40 cm!

No, you don't. 40 cm=16 inches, which would give you a span of over 2 octaves on the piano. Try running your calculations again. wink
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Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2068566 - 04/22/13 10:32 AM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
Randalthor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/13
Posts: 35
Loc: UK
Was it just me, or was WhizBang exaggerating the thing he was measuring against, lol.

Oh, and my 'tip to tip' span is 21.5cm, sounds average.. right?


Edited by Randalthor (04/22/13 10:33 AM)

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#2068580 - 04/22/13 10:50 AM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
BeccaBb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/11
Posts: 905
Loc: Thunder Bay, On Canada
I have a span of 17 1/2 on the right, 18 on the left. I can reach an octave with both (but no keys in the middle if I do that.) When I first started playing I couldn't even do one octave. Is it normal for beginners? I think so. With practice our hands naturally stretch out. Scales, chromatic scales etc are probably the most useful for teaching you the board and gently stretching your hand.

I think it's more important to focus on technique, sight reading, rhythm etc then worrying about how far we can stretch. smile
_________________________
Becca
Began: 01-12-11


Floundering and Lost
Roland RD300NX

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#2069205 - 04/23/13 08:48 AM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: Randalthor]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 761
Originally Posted By: Randalthor
Was it just me, or was WhizBang exaggerating the thing he was measuring against, lol.


wink
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#2069210 - 04/23/13 09:08 AM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
BrainCramp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/12
Posts: 255
Loc: USA
Steinbuhler makes smaller width keyboards for pianos. They have a chart on their website showing a distribution of people's hand sizes. You can see where you fall on the spectrum.

It's here: http://www.steinbuhler.com/html/our_research.html

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#2069457 - 04/23/13 04:50 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: Polyphonist]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Whizbang

So I'm proud to say that I have an astonishingly large hand span of 40 cm!

No, you don't. 40 cm=16 inches, which would give you a span of over 2 octaves on the piano. Try running your calculations again. wink


Too funny. If you hand span is 8.5 inches, for example, the conversion if you don't own a metric ruler is 8.5 in * 2.54 cm/in = 21.59 cm. A 40 cm hand would look very out of proportion for anyone shorter than 10-feet. laugh

By the way, if you measure the distance of keys on a piano, an octave is 16 cm; a 9th is 19 cm; and a 10th is 21 cm, or there abouts. However, in order to play a chord of 3 or 4 notes involving a 9th reliably, you'll need to be able to reach about 21 cm.

In the last 3 years, there has been exactly one piece of music requiring a legato 10th that I was able to play where my teacher had to play non-legato, so there is one thing I could do that my teacher cannot, but there are a million things my teacher can do that I cannot, so I think unless you are 12-years-old considering a performance career, it really makes no difference whatsoever. And even if you are that 12-year-old with a smaller hand, there's nothing you should do about it.
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#2069463 - 04/23/13 04:56 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: 4evrBeginR]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 761
Originally Posted By: 4evrBeginR
Too funny. If you hand span is 8.5 inches, for example, the conversion if you don't own a metric ruler is 8.5 in * 2.54 cm/in = 21.59 cm. A 40 cm hand would look very out of proportion for anyone shorter than 10-feet. laugh


But that would mean I was wrong about the size of my ruler. Unthinkable!
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#2069524 - 04/23/13 06:31 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: pianotimo]
earlofmar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1587
Loc: Australia
I think we need an upload photo of Whizbang's hands!
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2069526 - 04/23/13 06:35 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: earlofmar]
aTallGuyNH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 509
I'm thinking everybody is missing Whizbang's joke... which is probably for the best. blush
_________________________
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

XXIX-XXXII

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#2069527 - 04/23/13 06:38 PM Re: My hand reach is 19.5 cm and I can barely reach a 9th? [Re: aTallGuyNH]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 761
Originally Posted By: aTallGuyNH
I'm thinking everybody is missing Whizbang's joke... which is probably for the best.


True. Don't make me upload a photo!
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Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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