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#343600 - 11/12/07 10:15 AM Yawn...another small hands post......
stavroski Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/27/07
Posts: 36
Loc: Liverpool, UK
Guys, I have really small hands for a bloke, and can stretch an octave, however am able to do ninths at a push, but this is painful and I have to do this from the 'side' of the keyboard rather than with my hands over the 'top'. I was watching a piano instructional video last night with some guy with large hands showing 'breakthrough' technique that for me is unattainable becuase my hands will not reach that far; and to be honest am convinced that for us unfortunate people who are born with small hands, things are so much harder from a stamina and accuracy perspective. I've been playing since I was 8, and to be honest my hands are really quite supple and 'stretchy', but for instance something like Chopin's Op. 25 No. 1 is nigh on impossible for me to play propery without stopping due to pain becuase of the size of my hand and the technique needed to make the melody line 'sing' out.

Sorry to moan on, but I find that this is incredibly frustrating, as there are so many pieces I would love to play that I just don't even bother looking at becuase of my hands..... I know that there are reduced hand span keyboards available to be retrofitted to grands, but for me this is financially impossible....

Would love to know your thoughts on this
_________________________
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Hohner HP-128 Upright
Kurzweil PC1X
Yamaha EX5
Roland XV3080
Muse Receptor Rev.C
East West Bosendorfer 290 amongst others....

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#343601 - 11/12/07 10:39 AM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I also have small hands. The thing that is most important, is that you know your limits and make adjustments accordingly. For example, the Etude you're working on, where do you first start feeling pain/fatigue? Usually for me, it is on big chords. In order to get through this, I play each chords slowly and out of rhythm, then I immediately lift my hand up and completely relax it. Then I move onto the next one and do the same.

If it's a question of the span being too much, remember that you can roll chords rather than play simultaneously. I do this a lot. In those spot where rolling is not an option or not musically appropriate, then I redistribute fingering between the hands and let the other hand help out. Just because the editor assumed you can do this all in one hand, doesn't mean you have to do it that way. Whatever makes it easiest. As a last resort, I can look at the harmonic context and see if there are any notes that are duplicated elsewhere or can be, and drop the unimportant notes.

This is extremely important to do, and you should not think that your performance will be inferior as a result. If what you are doing creates pain, then you will eventually cause yourself not to be able to play at all by not taking these steps.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#343602 - 11/12/07 02:31 PM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
Kevin88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 77
Hofmann could barely stretch an octave and he's widely considered to be one of the best pianists ever. Rachmaninoff, who I'm sure you know had enormous hands (13th I think), even considered Hofmann to be a better pianist than him.

That being said, there are certainly limitations that come from having smaller hands, but if you can comfortable reach an octave (and just as importantly, an octave with a minor third, ie. c-eb-c) you can overcome most of them.

My hands are about the same size as yours - to play the harp etude I just had to learn to play the notes with a relaxed circular motion in both hands, and it wasn't hard to get through it without being too tense after that.

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#343603 - 11/12/07 02:41 PM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
My hands are the same size as yours, and that piece doesn't present any problems. You're probably trying to stretch too much. Think more of speed - to get your weight over the notes you are playing - and rotation.

Do you have a teacher who can help you with this?

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#343604 - 11/12/07 02:43 PM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
GoatRider Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/07
Posts: 460
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
I just recently picked up George Winston's sheet music book. Judging by his music, I think he can comfortably reach a 9th. I can't though, unless it's black to black. White to white, no way, white to black, maybe.
_________________________
- Benton Jackson. Permanent piano novice.
Kawai RX-2 #2555861 in Satin Walnut
Kawai ES6

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#343605 - 11/12/07 10:03 PM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
A nine is considered average. 90% of the literature out there is within your reach. Stop worrying about what you can't do and concentrate on what you can.
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#343606 - 11/13/07 09:35 PM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1166
Loc: Singapore
just a note to take: for those of you who are able to reach a 9th or have hands the size of a 9th seriously should stop complaining.

there are some of us here with hands the size only of a 7th or 8th and we would love to have hands the size of yours. We still make do with what we have. People with smaller hands then yours still manage to learn op.25 no.1.
_________________________
Currently working on:J.S Bach Prelude&Fugue in C major from bk 1,Chopin Etude op.10 no.12,Impromptus nos.1&4 and Mendelssohn Song without words op.67

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#343607 - 11/16/07 12:48 AM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
gabytu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/05
Posts: 1522
Loc: Portland, Or.
I have very small hands. My wonderful teacher will rearrange chords for me so that the essential notes are played. Sometimes he has me roll them, other times not--depending on the needed effect in the music.

It is frustrating at times not to be able to play things they way they were originally written, but we just do with what we have.
Gaby Tu

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#343608 - 11/16/07 09:28 AM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by GoatRider:
I just recently picked up George Winston's sheet music book. Judging by his music, I think he can comfortably reach a 9th. I can't though, unless it's black to black. White to white, no way, white to black, maybe. [/b]
What do you think of this music? I am about to buy it becuase I love the sound, but around what level of playing do you think it is? I have a student who is intermediate that would love to play his stuff, and he's the type who can step up to a challenge when he loves something.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#343609 - 11/16/07 10:01 AM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
GoatRider Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/07
Posts: 460
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
 Quote:
Originally posted by GoatRider:
I just recently picked up George Winston's sheet music book. Judging by his music, I think he can comfortably reach a 9th. I can't though, unless it's black to black. White to white, no way, white to black, maybe. [/b]
What do you think of this music? I am about to buy it becuase I love the sound, but around what level of playing do you think it is? I have a student who is intermediate that would love to play his stuff, and he's the type who can step up to a challenge when he loves something. [/b]
It's not nearly as hard as it sounds. I'm not a very good player at all, and I think I might be able to play some of it. I'm working on "Longing" right now, and I'm beginning to think I might be able to get it. The most difficult piece I know is Moonlight Sonata, and I think this stuff is easier.

I remember when I first heard this music, I always wondered what GW had to do to his piano to make it sound so sad. Well, the answer is minor-9th chords.
_________________________
- Benton Jackson. Permanent piano novice.
Kawai RX-2 #2555861 in Satin Walnut
Kawai ES6

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#343610 - 11/16/07 10:16 AM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Rolled Chords[/b]. It seems to me that if the fingers don't reach, one no other choice but to roll the chord. Is the sound of the rolled chord considered inferior than its preferred alternative? Maybe inferior is not the right choice of words - doesn't sound quite as nice. Can most people tell the difference in sound? Big deal or not?

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#343611 - 11/16/07 10:21 AM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Akira: I don't think it is inferior at all. In fact, it often is a richer sound because then you can asily hear each individual note, whereas if they are played all together, the untrained ear only hears that as one musical event. Rolled chords are not inferior, and they were used more often in classic repertoire than was notated.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#343612 - 11/16/07 10:24 AM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by GoatRider:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
 Quote:
Originally posted by GoatRider:
I just recently picked up George Winston's sheet music book. Judging by his music, I think he can comfortably reach a 9th. I can't though, unless it's black to black. White to white, no way, white to black, maybe. [/b]
What do you think of this music? I am about to buy it becuase I love the sound, but around what level of playing do you think it is? I have a student who is intermediate that would love to play his stuff, and he's the type who can step up to a challenge when he loves something. [/b]
It's not nearly as hard as it sounds. I'm not a very good player at all, and I think I might be able to play some of it. I'm working on "Longing" right now, and I'm beginning to think I might be able to get it. The most difficult piece I know is Moonlight Sonata, and I think this stuff is easier.

I remember when I first heard this music, I always wondered what GW had to do to his piano to make it sound so sad. Well, the answer is minor-9th chords. [/b]
Thanks for the response. I think it would be very doable for my student then. And I alwasy like to have stuff I can sight read, becuase you never know when someone will need you to play a few tunes. \:\)
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#343613 - 11/17/07 04:39 PM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
glyptodont2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/26/07
Posts: 45
I do think if I were you, there might be certain pieces I would not much wish to play. Some pieces have many tenths, for example.

Alexander Cherepnin was a minor classical composer for piano who is still sometimes played. I have some of his material. He loved tenths and used them continuously. Lots and lots of them.

I can do tenths, but I have my own achilles heel. I steer clear of pieces with fast runs, such as with sixteenth or thirty-second notes. I am elderly, and I just can't get such passages up to speed.

The point -- look for pieces that fit you well, and do not go for piano literature filled with chords that do not suit you well.

Good luck to you--
_________________________
[Same person as former Glyptodont -- Some sort of system problem with forum.]

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#343614 - 11/17/07 05:46 PM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
This has probably been posted before, but you have to watch this four-fingered pianist play. I have all my students who complain about anything watch it...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwUTURQgE1I
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#343615 - 11/17/07 07:28 PM Re: Yawn...another small hands post......
Harumaki Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/01/07
Posts: 9
Loc: U.S.A.
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
This has probably been posted before, but you have to watch this four-fingered pianist play. I have all my students who complain about anything watch it...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwUTURQgE1I [/b]
I saw that! That was amazing.

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