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#916356 - 04/24/07 08:15 AM stretching an octave
sallyf Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/29/03
Posts: 4
Loc: Como/Italy
I'm a girl so I can't stretch an octave, most girls can't but I've seen a few who can..girls, how many keys can you stretch? - Sally

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#916357 - 04/24/07 08:25 AM Re: stretching an octave
Ruminer Sonatina Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/07
Posts: 23
Loc: Louisiana
I can almost stretch to about nine and a half. Not very impressive, but oh well.
_________________________
Pieces that I am currently working on:

Moonlight Sonata
Fur Elise
Piano Concerto #1 (Tchaikovsky)
Rhapsodie (Maxwell Eckstein)
Nocturne #20 in C-Sharp Minor (Chopin)
Maple Leaf Rag

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#916358 - 04/25/07 11:27 PM Re: stretching an octave
PerformingYak Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/05
Posts: 205
Loc: Lightning Ridge, Australia
11
_________________________
"Work hard and strive to reach the power of bland"

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#916359 - 06/13/07 01:13 AM Re: stretching an octave
LSW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/05
Posts: 44
can stretch 8 comfortably...and 9 with some strainining.

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#916360 - 06/13/07 07:26 PM Re: stretching an octave
PerformingYak Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/05
Posts: 205
Loc: Lightning Ridge, Australia
does it have to do with height as well though? I am nearly 5'9" so pretty tall for a chick, stands to reason that I would have larger hands than a chick who is only 5 feet tall
(unless she is one of those four foot people with giant hands I was talking about in the "how tall are you?" thread)
_________________________
"Work hard and strive to reach the power of bland"

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#916361 - 06/13/07 07:47 PM Re: stretching an octave
TThomas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/24/06
Posts: 545
Loc: Richmond, VA
I can make an octave (I'm 5'5" tall for what it's worth), but only on the edges of the keys and probably not the best form. As time passes, however, I am finding that the stretch progressively, albeit very slowly, becomes more comfortable. There has been some discussion on hand size here. If you run a search in the forums, you will find some help for dealing with or improving your stretch.

Tina
_________________________
"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

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#916362 - 06/13/07 09:35 PM Re: stretching an octave
LSW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/05
Posts: 44
PerformingYak,
You are 5'9'' and can stretch 11 notes? I am 5'7'' but can only manage 8 :s. My hands are small then. :p

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#916363 - 06/13/07 10:20 PM Re: stretching an octave
tryinghard Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 16
Loc: Lansing, MI
5'1". I can do 9 pretty easily. My hands aren't particularly large but I've made an effort to increase my stretch, and I play several pieces with octave sections. That's helped a lot too.

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#916364 - 06/14/07 09:39 PM Re: stretching an octave
PerformingYak Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/05
Posts: 205
Loc: Lightning Ridge, Australia
maybe I'm just stretchy:)
_________________________
"Work hard and strive to reach the power of bland"

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#916365 - 07/05/07 08:04 AM Re: stretching an octave
Muzzzz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 80
Loc: Australia
A 12th if I stretch, but I'm 15 and my hands are still growing. You just need to stretch your hands often and your span will increase.

But just don't do a Scriabin and wreak your hands!

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#916366 - 07/13/07 06:32 AM Re: stretching an octave
JBiegel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 850
I get complaints from students that if they don't do the stretching exercises or practice for a few days, they have to do so to achieve their usual stretch.
_________________________
www.jeffreybiegel.com

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#916367 - 07/26/07 11:49 AM Re: stretching an octave
Boira Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
Well, I'm 5'3".
Just as LSW said, I also can stretch 8 comfortably and 9 with some strainining.

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#916368 - 07/28/07 11:35 AM Re: stretching an octave
Arabesque Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 550
Loc: Japan
Muzzz, you must be one big girl! \:D
_________________________
It don't mean a ting if it don't have dat swing

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#916369 - 07/29/07 02:26 PM Re: stretching an octave
pianist.ame Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/07
Posts: 1166
Loc: Singapore
1 octave...if you can't stretch an octave then do finger exercises and learn pieces that are not in your comfort space, that's what i do
_________________________
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

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#916370 - 11/22/07 01:37 PM Re: stretching an octave
Jeff135 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/05
Posts: 912
Loc: Oregon
I can almost do a 10 comfortably, but it usually takes some strain.
_________________________
The clown is watching you.

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#916371 - 12/22/07 05:31 PM Re: stretching an octave
Kage Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/07
Posts: 74
I'm a guy, at 5 foot 9 (doesn't really count I know) and I can stretch from a C to the next E, but at that, I'm basically hitting other notes around it because my hands so low to the keyboard. Comfortably I can stretch from a C to the next D

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#916372 - 04/12/08 11:37 PM Re: stretching an octave
pianoman3849 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/03/08
Posts: 13
I have small hands so i can do an octave with a little bit of straining...
_________________________
remember: Life is like a roll of toilet paper
the closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes...
so have fun, think "good thoughts" only,
learn to laugh at yourself, and "Count your blessings"!!!!!!!

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#916373 - 08/14/08 07:34 PM Re: stretching an octave
Hazel Quinn Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/29/08
Posts: 12
Loc: UK
I'm a 5' woman, can stretch an octave (oh how I'd love to stretch a 10th). I confess I hadn't realised it was a problem for anyone who wasn't smaller than myself. I think it would drive me crazy not being able to...
~Hazel
www.hazelquinn.com

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#916374 - 08/15/08 12:07 AM Re: stretching an octave
hotWings Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 140
Loc: MI
I can stretch up to a minor tenth.

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#916375 - 09/29/08 09:14 PM Re: stretching an octave
bukopaudan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 506
Loc: USA
I can reach an octave, it's there but it's a STRETCH.
_________________________
"Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable." -Leonard Bernstein

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#916376 - 09/30/08 08:35 PM Re: stretching an octave
.:livingDREAMER:. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/30/08
Posts: 1
Loc: Manila, Philippines
I can stretch up to 1 note more than an octave, that's currently the max I can reach.

And I forgot to remind I'm a boy.
_________________________
Dreaming to get a good upright.

Currently using a 5-octave organ, and half-past grade 1. Left by a teacher doing home-service, left-alone and self-teaching pretty easy pieces.

- And whenever I play a simple staircase from Fur Elise, I realize I exceed the end octave by 3 white keys. Boo to 5 octaves.

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#916377 - 10/25/08 07:05 PM Re: stretching an octave
Tar Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 296
Loc: Munich, Germany
Cheat! See how:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ifKKlhYF53w

Kinda defeats the point though ;\)
_________________________
Tar Viturawong
Amateur composer and pianist
Known on YouTube as pianoinspiration
verbis defectis musica incipit

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#916378 - 10/25/08 07:22 PM Re: stretching an octave
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
Your stretch can increase. Consider that most pianist have a left hand that can stretch 1 or 2 inches more than the right hand. The reason is that the left hand has played more chords requiring stretch.

Stretching your hand can be dangerous[/b] if you attempt to pull your close fingers apart in a V with your other hands.

But there are also non dangerous ways to stretch your hand.

For example your can push your wide open thumb and pinky against the edge board of the piano so that the second, third and fourth fingers are on the keys resting.

Another thing you can do pushing the web between fingers against the web of the respective finger of the other hand. So basically your interwine the V-shaped web of skin between your righ hand thumb and index, with the V-shaped web of skin between your left hand thumb and index.
The same thing with the web between index and middle, middle and fourth and fourth and fifth.

What you also can do is playing arpeggio holding all the key down.

For example: C - G - A (holding the pinky, second (or third) and thumb. Then you move to C - G - Bb. Then to C - G - B. Then you move to C - G - C. And you can even try C - G - C# and C - G - D.

It doesn't matter if you don't strike the keys, what is important is that you're giving your hands a stretching stimulus.

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#916379 - 10/25/08 07:36 PM Re: stretching an octave
Tar Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 296
Loc: Munich, Germany
On a more serious note...

A very good "stretching" exercise I've been doing (note that this is really an exercise for FLEXIBILITY, but a larger hand is a physiological bonus) is similar to what Danny has suggested:

Play two notes at the same time (from bottom to top), as legato as possible:
1. Start at E C (with fingers 3 and 5)
2. Then go DOWN to C G (with 2 and 4)
3. Then DOWN to G E (with 1 and 3)
4. And finally reaching E C (with 1 and 2)

Do 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 then when start again in C minor (so Eb instead of E natural), another round of 1-2-3-4-3-2-1, then start again in C diminished (C Eb Gb), another round, then C# major, C# minor, C# diminished, D major, D minor...

Make sure that you can do each of the double stops seperately. Step 2. is usually the hardest one. If you can't play these stops individually with the provided fingerings, don't attempt this exercise as you will hurt yourself.

If you *can* do each one individually then try them legato. If you actually think about the movement before you transit from one to another you'll learn the most comfortable way for yourself. Keep doing it and you will also build up the muscles and reflexes required for large flexible leaps which are arguably more important than how far you can stretch!
_________________________
Tar Viturawong
Amateur composer and pianist
Known on YouTube as pianoinspiration
verbis defectis musica incipit

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#916380 - 10/25/08 07:38 PM Re: stretching an octave
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4802
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
Your stretch can increase. Consider that most pianist have a left hand that can stretch 1 or 2 inches more than the right hand. The reason is that the left hand has played more chords requiring stretch.
Are you sure you meant 1 or 2 inches? It's true my LH stretches a tiny bit farther than my RH, but the difference is a fraction of in inch!
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Piano Teacher

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#916381 - 10/25/08 08:01 PM Re: stretching an octave
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
The hand cannot stretch further than the webs between fingers allow spaciousness at the finger tips. The best any hand can do is to do 'the splits' like legs do LH 5__\|/__1and RH 1__\|/__5.

Any other explanation is non-relevant.

The 1 and 5 split can be used at the edge of a table top to exercise with gentle pressure like a push-off. Do not over do it and don't try for a quick motion.

When I open my hands in the air, my fingers are first in a lightly placed in a closed 5 finger position and 1 and 5 shoot straight to the sides to create the "split", then 2-3-4 open to extend to their length.

There are further extension possibilites in the sideways movement of the 2-3-4's.

Where all fingers are spread from this position, that is the extent, absolute extent of your piano hand reach, there being nothing else to stretch.

All else is bells, whistles and mirrors. Sorry.

Betty

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#916382 - 10/25/08 08:06 PM Re: stretching an octave
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Gotta disagree. When I started a few years ago, I could hardly take a 9th. Now I can take a 10th with my RH, and take an easy 9th with my LH. Octaves are as easy as pie. ;\)
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#916383 - 10/26/08 08:51 PM Re: stretching an octave
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gary D.:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
Your stretch can increase. Consider that most pianist have a left hand that can stretch 1 or 2 inches more than the right hand. The reason is that the left hand has played more chords requiring stretch.
Are you sure you meant 1 or 2 inches? It's true my LH stretches a tiny bit farther than my RH, but the difference is a fraction of in inch! [/b]
It might mean that you stretched your right hand a lot or you didn't stretch your left much. I know a person who couldn't play major ninths but devoted much time to stretching and increasing his span. Now he can reach 11th on the edge of the key in his left hand but can only reach a ninth on the right hand. The greatest difference is the thumb. In the left hand it can move to such an angle that it's almost gross to see, the skin of web between the thumb and the index is very loose and large. In the right hand the thumb is tightly connected to the hand and the web of skin between thumb and index is very shorter and much less deep. In fact I would say the thumb is the limiting factor in the stretch. The thumb could move to such an angle that it forms a straight line with the pinky. If your thumb doesn't form a straight line with the pinky there's still stretching and span widening possibilities.

Alicia De LaRocha has very diminute hands and is 4'10" tall. She wouldn't span a seventh normally but she, as said in an interview, spent five years practicing daily stretches. The way she can open wide her hand is almost alien (watch her videos and you'll see what I mean) and indeed she can reach tenths now when needed.

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#916384 - 10/26/08 09:02 PM Re: stretching an octave
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
BTW: if you have your pinky and thumb in a straight line but at the expense of closing and reducing the width of the palm then you don't really have those two fingers in a straight line. The fleshy part of the thumb must be flat and the palm wide open. Only in this position you can check the opening of your thumb and pinky span.

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#916385 - 10/26/08 09:55 PM Re: stretching an octave
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
Here is a pic to show what I mean.
This is actually a small hand[/b] but the distance between the thumb and index finger is stretched at its max. This is not a normal hand stretch. Only a person using her hand a lot in stretched positions (like a pianist) could develop such stretch.


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#916386 - 10/27/08 01:37 PM Re: stretching an octave
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
That is the split I talk about in my posting above - that is absolutely as far as one can "stretch".

However, I don't endorse doing it to this full expansion. It is not a position that is meant to be held.

Also the 3 fingers in this picture are distorted in positioning, I can't imagine this producing a quality sound from the instrument. Who would want to play a 'clump' of notes that looks like this, and being incredibly realistic as to how it feels to be 'wearing' this hand, it's outrageous to consider this.

Injury? Most likely!
Immediately? Possibly!
Over time? Definitely!

I can duplicate that position, and my question would be "Why would you want to?"

Betty

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#916387 - 10/28/08 06:29 AM Re: stretching an octave
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1508
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
I agree with Betty in that I have found it unwise to become obsessed with any physical extremes such as speed or stretch. I enjoy playing Waller and other stride with its rapid left hand tenths but music and fluency are the goals, not proving to myself I can do something and thereby lessening musical control and hurting my hands. If I find I cannot execute a grip without strain then I devise something else of equal musical value.

Doing something very physically stressful to no musical advantage just to prove a point seems silly to me. I wasted far too much time with that sort of nonsense when I was young.
_________________________
"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

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#916388 - 10/28/08 06:46 AM Re: stretching an octave
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
That is the split I talk about in my posting above - that is absolutely as far as one can "stretch".

However, I don't endorse doing it to this full expansion. It is not a position that is meant to be held.

Also the 3 fingers in this picture are distorted in positioning, I can't imagine this producing a quality sound from the instrument. Who would want to play a 'clump' of notes that looks like this, and being incredibly realistic as to how it feels to be 'wearing' this hand, it's outrageous to consider this.

Injury? Most likely!
Immediately? Possibly!
Over time? Definitely!
[/b]

But that's the point of the whole "small hand/big hand" debate. You only need to reach for a big chord once in a blue moon. If there are pieces that require an 11th it is usually one bar out of 400 bars. Even when tenths are in the piece, only in very few instances they are simultaneous played notes.

As long as the hand is not cronically deviated, it can divert even grossly from a natural position and returning to it immediately, without injury or consequences.

*******

Let me repeat this concept again.
It's absurd to limit your repertoire because of your hand size. I've heard of piano students with small hands claiming that they carefully select pieces that they can play or that they don't move beyond baroque and classical era or that they will never attempt Liszt or Rachmaninoff.

This is totally absurd for two reasons:

There are many professional small hands pianists who play whatever piece from whatever composers.
Check "Idil Biret" repertory. She is a small woman with small hands who need to stretch to
reach an octave.

The second reason is that large intervals span, even in pieces requiring them, is usually limited to few bars in a whole piece and few chords out of thousands. If you had to skip those passages altogether, it would rather be irrelevant in the context of the wall piece. If you had to just resort to skipping notes or rolling chords, the difference would be even more irrelevant. Often you can resort to substitute a tenth with an octave. An octave won't sound like a tenth, but in the context of a tune, who cares?

Here is what a pianist with small hands from another forum used to say:

I have pretty small hands but I don't let that stand in the way. It's only 1 or 2 chords. I love Rach, and don't find that a problem, so I don't think one has to limit their repertroire due to hand size.

Not very philosophical. Just straight to the point.

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#916389 - 10/28/08 07:12 AM Re: stretching an octave
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I have some questions to consider:

1) Let's think about the size of Liszt and Rachmaninoff please. Stature, and hand size. Do we know?

2) Then besides these two composers, what other composers or pieces ask for a huge extention.

3) How frequently do we do 9ths, 10ths, 11ths?

I am a firm believer that one's physiology sets the parameters of which one can use the hand to play octaves and chords. Even once to go to this extreme in the photo, is beyong my consideration.

You might choose to do this, a find it too risky. As a teacher, I would never encourage anyone to do this, nor if I saw it happening with a student would I be passive about it. I am responsible for my students well being, and an injury in my home on my piano to the hand, I believe, would be a medical and legal problem.

Rash? I don't think so.

Adults who play performance pieces can make their own decisions. I feel adament about this because I have arthritis in my thumbs and pain and limitation in movement is not something that has any benefit to a pianist, it limits one dearly.

Things like arthritis, bursitis, itis (being inflammation) may not bother you when you are young, but put a few decades on your body, and there you are caught in what may started in your prime with some risk taking. I recommend caution and sensibility.

And, being the forum, we each get to post as we see it. Preferences are individually based.

Betty

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#916390 - 10/28/08 07:12 AM Re: stretching an octave
Beethoven Fan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/07
Posts: 191
well, here's my bit of semi-advice. yes if you stretch your hand with exercises, your handspan will increase. my teacher a small russian woman was able to hit a 10th despite her hands being about 2 inches shorter than mine. exercise your hands

also, everyone's different. the webbing in between the fingers on each person is different and each person will require a different amount of time to stretch that out.

another thing i've learned is, if possible, play the chord with the hands as flat as possible because curving them takes away from the distance. right now i'm learning a piece in which the right hand must play

Ab Db F(natural) Ab B(natural)

and the left hand is playing

Db Ab F natural

I have relatively large hands but this is quite a stretch for me. especially the inclusion of the black keys makes it difficult but since I've started working on it, its gotten easier. so last major piece of advice,

play pieces that force you to stretch and your hands will gradually adapt to the best of their ability.

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#916391 - 10/28/08 07:14 AM Re: stretching an octave
Beethoven Fan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/07
Posts: 191
well, here's my bit of semi-advice. yes if you stretch your hand with exercises, your handspan will increase. my teacher a small russian woman was able to hit a 10th despite her hands being about 2 inches shorter than mine. exercise your hands

also, everyone's different. the webbing in between the fingers on each person is different and each person will require a different amount of time to stretch that out.

another thing i've learned is, if possible, play the chord with the hands as flat as possible because curving them takes away from the distance. right now i'm learning a piece in which the right hand must play

Ab Db F(natural) Ab B(natural)

and the left hand is playing

Db Ab F natural

I have relatively large hands but this is quite a stretch for me. especially the inclusion of the black keys makes it difficult but since I've started working on it, its gotten easier. so last major piece of advice,

play pieces that force you to stretch and your hands will gradually adapt to the best of their ability.


P.S- just a reminder that supposedly Joseff Hoffman had small hands but he made some pretty wicked sounds with the piano. sooo, it doesn't take large hands to become a virtuoso.

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#916392 - 10/28/08 08:38 AM Re: stretching an octave
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
You might choose to do this, a find it too risky. As a teacher, I would never encourage anyone to do this, nor if I saw it happening with a student would I be passive about it. I am responsible for my students well being, and an injury in my home on my piano to the hand, I believe, would be a medical and legal problem.

Rash? I don't think so.

Adults who play performance pieces can make their own decisions. I feel adament about this because I have arthritis in my thumbs and pain and limitation in movement is not something that has any benefit to a pianist, it limits one dearly.
[/b]
I think it's impossible to injury your hand by stretching the fingers like that momentarily. A lot of works requiring hands (expecially craftmanship and factory work) take advantage of far more awkward positions but generally without consequences. Should someone play the piano in a chronically stretched position it would certainly cause injury, but if you just stretch a lot or even choose an awkward position to play a chord for a fraction of a second, I don't think it will have any effect. We just have to remember what can we do by improving the flexibility of our body. Our legs, arms, torso, neck can be bent to maximum stretched position without consequences, as long as flexibility is increased slowly and soundly day by day, week by week.

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#916393 - 10/28/08 08:47 AM Re: stretching an octave
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
A physical specialist for musicians (I forget his exact specialty or title) has advised that stretches you can do using only the limbs involved in the stretching are generally not harmful. If you stretch your arms like when you are yawning, or if you play C with your thumb and reach over to play C with your pinky you are not that likely to hurt yourself (though I don't know if it's technically ideal). If you push or pull your fingers apart with your other hand, or if you wedge your fingers against a piece of furniture and shove, you may well injure yourself. The expert had a name for this second kind of stretching, and warned to be careful with it, or not do it at all.

It's probably also not a bad idea to have an idea of anatomy. The thumb and little finger are equipped in an extra manner to move sideways. There is a special distance to be had between the thumb and forefinger.

You can also make yourself aware of tensions. it is possible to be simultaneously stretching and tensing (pulling together the hand). For me it made a difference when I stopped trying to make the fingers have a distance between their tips, and moved each finger out from its individual base in the hand. I'm not sure whether it was all psychological, but the first created tension. I have a comfortable 10th, at 5'7" and "middle aged", having returned to the piano a year ago. A lot of the extra stretch came from what I have just mentioned.

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#916394 - 10/29/08 07:27 PM Re: stretching an octave
Beethoven Fan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/07
Posts: 191
also wanted as an update to my situation. i dropped the lowest Ab and it sounds nearly identical. the reason i say "nearly" is because I can't really tell the difference but i'm sure there's someone out there who's snobbish enough to notice and point out but Im satisfied. so if you're situation allows it, drop a note or too and see if it sounds the same.

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