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#434529 - 08/30/06 12:19 PM Re: handspan
florhof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 133
Loc: Germany
By the way, guys: It is much more important to have a flexible hand than a big one. I used to have problems with the last few left hand chords in Rachmaninoff's prelude op. 23/1 (actually I don't think you should play them arpeggio). But then I found out how I can improve my hand span.

Just put your hand on the chord keys, press them down to the keybed and leave your fingers there for a while. If necessary stretch the fingers (very carefully!) with your other hand. Repeat this from time to time. After a while you will be able to play chords you couldn't play before - of course within your natural possibilities.

I think this is the ability which contemporaries reported about Chopin's hand.

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http://www.pianistenschule.de

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#434530 - 08/30/06 05:28 PM Re: handspan
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
I remember reading a comment by one of Chopin's students that Chopin sometimes wrote chords he himself had to roll. He was also quite willing to take two keys with one finger if helped the situation.
_________________________
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#434531 - 09/01/06 02:22 AM Re: handspan
gabytu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/05
Posts: 1521
Loc: Portland, Or.
I have small hands. I can reach an octave comfortably, but full chords are sometimes a problem. I sometimes have to roll them, and use the pedal to sustain the sound. Purists will frown, but it is the best I can do. Sometimes I leave out notes that are doubled. Gaby Tu

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#434532 - 09/01/06 06:24 AM Re: handspan
Ted2 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 790
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Depends which tenths. Eb/G,Ab/C,Db/F and Bb/D are uncomfortable in Waller basses so I break them. The rest are all right quite fast, even filled in. I can play an eleventh but it's hardly worth bothering. My left hand has a wider span because my left fifth finger is a few millimetres longer than my right one.

It is worth remembering, when considering spanning intervals, that physically similar looking positions actually have small differences in stretch.

1. The centres of the key shanks, black or white, are equally spaced.

2. The borders of the white notes are equally spaced.

To take the case of sharp key tenths, which caused me to notice this effect:

For these particular tenths therefore, what matters for stretching purposes is the distance between the upper border of the lower white notes and the centre of the upper black note. Well, strictly speaking , the lower border of the upper black notes, 1/24 of an octave less, but for comparative playing purposes in this example this doesn't matter.

Let the distance of an octave be unity. Then the centres of the key shanks are therefore at 1/24 + 2n/24 and the borders of the whites at m/7.

For an E tenth:
The upper edge of the E is at 3/7 and the centre of the G# is at 41/24
Stretching distance = 41/24-3/7=215/168

For a D tenth:
The upper edge of the D is at 2/7 and the cente of the F# is at 37/24
Stretching distance=37/24-2/7=211/168

For an A tenth:
The upper edge of the A is at 6/7 and the centre of the C# is at 51/24
Stretching distance=51/24-6/7=214/168

For a B tenth:
The upper edge of the B is at 0 and the centre of the D# is at 31/24
Stretching distance=31/24-0=217/168

There are very tangible variations in the span of any physically similar grips involving two colours. In fact, because of the arithmetic no black/white pairs can have identical spans.
_________________________
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

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#434533 - 09/01/06 07:02 AM Re: handspan
florhof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 133
Loc: Germany
 Quote:
Originally posted by Ted2:
It is worth remembering, when considering spanning intervals, that physically similar looking positions actually have small differences in stretch. [/b]
This is very important to mention, indeed. Only very few (even professional) pianists know that the black keys are not always right in the middle between two white keys.

----------

http://www.pianistenschule.de

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#434534 - 09/09/06 06:07 AM Re: handspan
Liszt_BG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/06
Posts: 326
Loc: Bulgaria
Of course, there are differences between the same intervals.

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#434535 - 09/09/06 11:03 AM Re: handspan
Fledge Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/04/06
Posts: 8
Loc: Wales
I can do a 12th with my right hand but only a 11 with the left.

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#434536 - 09/09/06 12:00 PM Re: handspan
bukopaudan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 506
Loc: USA
Wow all of you are so...stretchy.

I can do a tenth with a little bit of stretching. My most comfortable is probably a 9th. But it depends, usually on my hands.
_________________________
"Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable." -Leonard Bernstein

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#434537 - 09/09/06 12:23 PM Re: handspan
lol_nl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/06
Posts: 918
Loc: Ede, Netherlands
Both hands a 10th, left is able to reach a 11th with a lot of streching.

It's hard to compare the pianist's handspan from the past with those of now, because I've you've noticed they are building keys wider and wider... On a 19th century Pleyel or Erard Chopin played the keys are much narrower.
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Yiteng

"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is never enough for music."
-Sergei Rachmaninoff.

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#434538 - 09/09/06 01:10 PM Re: handspan
w_scott_iv@yahoo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 1120
Loc: West Virginia
I can reach a tenth if I have a moment to prepare for it. I have practiced playing larger tenths (D - F#) broken, but very quickly emphasizing the top note. On a good day, these sound quite acceptible. I also agree w/the posters who talk about developing flexibility. I was taught to expand my hand from the palm rather than to strain to reach from the fingers. Struggling from thumb to pinky actually restricts motion a lot like those chinese finger toys that only pull you in tighter the more you try to pull out.

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#1739500 - 08/24/11 07:21 AM Re: handspan [Re: Shellman]
Froglegs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
It is natural for all humans to have bigger left hands than right. I can reach an 11th on good days.
_________________________
"There is nothing greater than the joy of composing something oneself and then listening to it."
- Clara Schumann

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#1739501 - 08/24/11 07:23 AM Re: handspan [Re: Fledge]
Froglegs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Fledge
I can do a 12th with my right hand but only a 11 with the left.


Most unusual since most people have bigger left hands.


Edited by Froglegs (08/24/11 07:23 AM)
_________________________
"There is nothing greater than the joy of composing something oneself and then listening to it."
- Clara Schumann

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#1739510 - 08/24/11 07:39 AM Re: handspan [Re: Froglegs]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: Froglegs
Originally Posted By: Fledge
I can do a 12th with my right hand but only a 11 with the left.


Most unusual since most people have bigger left hands.


Is it unusual then to have absolutely equal sized hands like I do?
_________________________
Current:
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Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
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Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1739517 - 08/24/11 07:46 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
I can reach a 14th!
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1739518 - 08/24/11 07:47 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
just kidding.. I can comfortably play a 9th, and reach a 10th with both hands.

I wish my hands were bigger but can quickly substitute an 'emergency' note in the other hand if necessary to complete a chord.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1739522 - 08/24/11 08:01 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2594
Loc: Netherlands
a 12th both hands, never have to really use it though.
_________________________
Longtemps, je me suis couch de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Chopin op.28/20/31/39/54

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#1739624 - 08/24/11 11:40 AM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17666
Loc: Victoria, BC
How many people's hands have expanded since this thread was initiated three years ago? Is that a good reason to revive it?
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190 in satin ebony

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#1739641 - 08/24/11 12:00 PM Re: handspan [Re: dolce sfogato]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3621
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
a 12th both hands, never have to really use it though.


From the perspective of those of us with a much smaller hand, who experience difficulty and fatigue more easily when playing broken 10th LH accompaniments, or sequences of large chords... believe me, you "use" it all the time, even if you never actually play 10ths or 12ths in a chord.


-J
_________________________
Schoenberg op.10+k, Beethoven op.100+k for k=9
Schubert D.899/4, Chopin op.25/2

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#1739654 - 08/24/11 12:17 PM Re: handspan [Re: beet31425]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 599
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
a 12th both hands, never have to really use it though.


From the perspective of those of us with a much smaller hand, who experience difficulty and fatigue more easily when playing broken 10th LH accompaniments, or sequences of large chords... believe me, you "use" it all the time, even if you never actually play 10ths or 12ths in a chord.


-J

It's true, there can be advantages with a wider span. But a comfortable octave and a good understanding of how to move is all that is required. Still, I wish I didn't have to concentrate so hard to play LH in the d minor Chopin prelude!
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1739658 - 08/24/11 12:21 PM Re: handspan [Re: BruceD]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6035
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: BruceD
How many people's hands have expanded since this thread was initiated three years ago? Is that a good reason to revive it?


To be honest, three years ago I could only play a ninth and now I can play a tenth.

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#1739664 - 08/24/11 12:24 PM Re: handspan [Re: -Frycek]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 599
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Chopin - probably an easy 9, a very difficult ten. He said of Thalberg (not Liszt) that "he can do a ten as easily as I can an eight." Chopin's hands were very small but stretchy.

Me, an easy nine, a very difficult 10.

I remember reading somewhere that the average handspan of adult pianinsts (man and female combined) is a nine and that about 95% of the literature out there needs no more that a nine.


I'm so glad to know this about Chopin's hand size. Do you remember the source?

I see evidence everywhere in C.'s passage work of his need to compact the hand, yet still cover great expanses. It's a window into his technical insights I find very interesting.

I have a comfortable octave, a possible ninth and a sneaky tenth.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1739755 - 08/24/11 02:38 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]
tnew Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/10
Posts: 158
Loc: Austria
I seem to be the only full grown adult here only able to do a 7th. I can't really do an 8 because I can't seem to apply the pressure on both keys equally at the same time and can only touch the keys with the very tips of my fingers. I often slip when trying. Until now, I have been in denial thinking lots of people have small hands. From the comments I see here, not quite that small though. Even beginner music requires me to do lots of jumping and fast movements to compensate. At times it completely ruins my attempt to play legato frown If I have trouble now at beginner level, how can I ever hope to play more complicated music?

On the upside, I can easily play between black notes with lots of room to spare.

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#1739758 - 08/24/11 02:50 PM Re: handspan [Re: tnew]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19292
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: tnew
....Even beginner music requires me to do lots of jumping and fast movements to compensate. At times it completely ruins my attempt to play legato frown If I have trouble now at beginner level, how can I ever hope to play more complicated music?

Do the best you can, and do what you can. smile
Including, sometimes, simplifying/modifying what's in the score. Rolling chords, breaking chords, and maybe especially just leaving out some notes. Even the highest echelon of pianists sometimes do those things, or at least most of them do. Some people who see this might say it's not so, but it is. I'm not saying they do it a lot, but some. The only difference for you is that you'll need to do it more -- a lot more, but so what. smile
Most people with your issue probably would be discouraged from playing serious piano at all. It's great that you're not.

Quote:
On the upside, I can easily play between black notes with lots of room to spare.

ha ha

There have been moments where I would have gladly traded with you. grin
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1739931 - 08/24/11 07:04 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]
Pianoflage Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/11/11
Posts: 18
I can reach a tenth, the most difficult tenth I can reach fairly well is from one white key to another. Anything beyond that I have to roll.
_________________________
Learning:
George L. Cobb - Hop Scotch (Fox Trot)
Chopin - Fantaisie Impromptu

Back Burner:
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#1739932 - 08/24/11 07:07 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6077
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Some passages in "Soaring" by Schumann really annoy me... Because that stretch Bb-Bb-Db is too big for me. frown I can just touch the Db with the tip of my pinkie, then the pinkie slips down. mad cry I would prefer not to reach the Db at all! I feel like Tantalus instead... eek
I did found a trick - playing it with the LH of course - very easy in the first measure of course, and when the LH is supposed to play something else, like just a couple of measures later, use the pedal (luckily the evil stretch is not at the beginning of the measure, and it is easy to use the pedal to sustain the octaves in the LH and then use the LH to help the RH.)
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1739940 - 08/24/11 07:24 PM Re: handspan [Re: tnew]
miaeih Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 267
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: tnew
I seem to be the only full grown adult here only able to do a 7th. I can't really do an 8 because I can't seem to apply the pressure on both keys equally at the same time and can only touch the keys with the very tips of my fingers. I often slip when trying. Until now, I have been in denial thinking lots of people have small hands. From the comments I see here, not quite that small though. Even beginner music requires me to do lots of jumping and fast movements to compensate. At times it completely ruins my attempt to play legato frown If I have trouble now at beginner level, how can I ever hope to play more complicated music?

On the upside, I can easily play between black notes with lots of room to spare.


There's definitely hope. It's called practice, just way more than most people. If you are a beginner, your hands should stretch the more you play but most importantly, the precision will increase.

Some of my 5 year old students have larger spans than I do LOL. I too am a grown adult who can only play a 7th comfortably. Octaves on the very edges and tips of my fingers are possible; with my pinky and thumb stretched out, it's close to 180 degrees. I've played since I was very young, so I can stay on the keys and learn to fake it as long as they are not chords. Fast running octaves, broken or chords (ex. Beethoven's Tempest), can be achieved through a ton of practice to make sure you don't slip off though it may hurt while practicing due to slips... then hanging on a nail even when they are very short, OUCH!

Kid gloves (and shoes) are cheaper than adult ones that are exactly the same =).

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#1739947 - 08/24/11 07:31 PM Re: handspan [Re: miaeih]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6077
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Originally Posted By: miaeih

Kid gloves (and shoes) are cheaper than adult ones that are exactly the same =).


I just bought some kid gloves without fingers yesterday for only 2 dollars. I though who knows, maybe they are nice for playing when my hands are really cold in winter. They fit me. smile
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1739984 - 08/24/11 08:53 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]
jesseoffy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/10
Posts: 240
11th or 12th (depends on the notes). But, along with many other comments I skimmed through, most of the time stretching your hand isn't necessary and actually bad (in terms of tone). Technique usually calls for the hand to stay relaxed, loose, and rotating instead of stretched and sprawled over the keys. . . of course, big hands help when showing off to people who are not educated in piano technique. laugh
_________________________
Chopin, Brahms, Schubert, Rachmaninov

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#1740002 - 08/24/11 09:30 PM Re: handspan [Re: Bosendorfer88]
Rhonda B Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/30/06
Posts: 10
Loc: Melbourne. Australia
I can only just get an octave on the edge of the white keys. I've been doing research on hand size and piano playing, have had some stuff published and given conference papers down here (Australia).

I also have a 7/8 keyboard in my grand, custom made by David Steinbuhler of Pennsylvania (www.steinbuhler.com). Until you have experienced a smaller keyboard, smaller-handed players simply do not realise how much EASIER everything is, how much faster it is to learn, and how much more enjoyable the whole experience is. It's far more profound than simply being able to get certain chords.

I've summarised hand span data that's readily available on my website: www.smallpianokeyboards.com (see page called 'Hand size and the piano keyboard'). For males, the mean is around 9 inches for total thumb to 5th finger stretch, for females it's about 8 inches, which translates into being able to play a 10th and a 9th (though not comfortably) respectively.

This difference is approx the same as the difference between the 7/8 and conventional keyboard.

I'm currently compiling my own database and will later report on an analysis of this, including left hand versus right hand differences and ethnic differences.
_________________________
Rhonda B

www.smallpianokeyboards.org

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#1740044 - 08/24/11 10:33 PM Re: handspan [Re: Rhonda B]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6033
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Rhonda B

I've summarised hand span data that's readily available on my website: www.smallpianokeyboards.com (see page called 'Hand size and the piano keyboard'). For males, the mean is around 9 inches for total thumb to 5th finger stretch, for females it's about 8 inches, which translates into being able to play a 10th and a 9th (though not comfortably) respectively.



My total thumb to finger stretch in the LH is 9 and 3/4 inches...but my RH stretch is only 9 and 1/2 inches. Until now I never realized that there was a difference between the two.
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