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#936009 - 04/30/08 10:07 PM advanced pieces for small hands
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
I've been searching through my books for advanced pieces for students who can't reach an octave. I tried to simplify some pieces by reducing the octaves, but it can only go so far before a piece starts to sound "hollow" due to missing notes. I still have pieces from the Baroque and Classical periods to teach, but I'm running out of ideas for Romantic and 20th century pieces. From the latter periods, I've taught the following:

Schubert Impromptu in E-flat 90-2
Debussy Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum (modified)
Copland The Cat and the Mouse (modified)
Kabalevsky Sonatinas, Four Rondos
Khatchaturian Sonatina (3rd mvnt, modified)
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#936010 - 04/30/08 10:58 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
While I think about your question for a bit, take a look at a solution your student might be interested in:

All about Keyboards for smaller hands.

7/8 Keyboard background
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"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#936011 - 05/01/08 03:44 AM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
fingersandthumbs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/07
Posts: 53
Loc: kent, england
Apologies for interrupting you thread but I couldn't help noticing the topic. Speaking as one whose muscles go into spasm when I stretch to reach octaves, the idea of a 7/8 keyboard is absolutely brilliant. Why ever haven't they been introduced before? One for the Piano Forum perhaps.

Thank you. I'll go away now and dream...

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#936012 - 05/01/08 09:17 AM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
MarkFromNYC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/12/07
Posts: 37
 Quote:
Speaking as one whose muscles go into spasm when I stretch to reach octaves, the idea of a 7/8 keyboard is absolutely brilliant. Why ever haven't they been introduced before? One for the Piano Forum perhaps.
Speaking as yet another small-handed pianist, I think that the only way that the idea of smaller piano keyboards can work is if we change the world standard and start making them ALL smaller. Otherwise, wouldn't you run into major issues moving from the smaller size to the larger standard size?

One of the big problems with creating special pianos that address things like that is that while we might be able to have one in our living rooms, we can't easily drag it to a concert hall. On the other hand, now that DPs are coming into their own, maybe we can.

(You spasm when reaching for octives? Wow! And here I am complaining because I can only barely reach a 10th.)

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#936013 - 05/01/08 10:05 AM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I was sitting next to Mario while he was videoing Carole's presentation. I didn't realize my gasps and chuckles would make it onto the web! Any way, it's a terrific piano. I first met David at the WPPC conference a year before.

And that leads me to a related thought - if you're planning on purchasing a grand for your student, why not purchase a reconditioned one, and specify either 7/8ths or 15/16ths size keyboard.

Now I've totally hijacked the topic. Sorry.
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"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#936014 - 05/01/08 10:19 AM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
What is the largest interval your student can handle? An octave? If so, many of the Mozart and Haydn sonatas would do, but they are not Romantic or later. Perhaps Debussy's Gardens in the rain would do. I've seen it performed well by students with very small hands.

The real problem is that music from 1850 on is much richer in texture (as you well know) and that demands a broader hand span to accomplish.

If your student can play octaves, perhaps some American jazz would also be reachable.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#936015 - 05/01/08 12:19 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
Karisofia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 201
Loc: Wisconsin
Recently came across a listing for this piece: "Concertino for Small Hands" by Koh-Ichi Hattori. Don't know anything about it except that the largest interval is a 7th.
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#936016 - 05/01/08 12:52 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
My student's biggest reach is a 7th. "Garden in the Rain" has octaves all over the place (including octave triplets), plus extra wide stretches between notes. I'm surprised kids with small hands can handle that piece.

There are still plenty of Mozart and Bach that he could play, but some of the festivals and competitions require advanced pieces from the Romantic and 20th Century. Villa-Lobos' "O Polichinelo" can be modified for small hands, but the piece is too short. I tried to modify Poulenc's Improvisation No. 1, and it ended up sounding "hollow" with all the omitted notes.

There is Chopin's Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. Posthumous. He'll probably end up using that one. But we're still searching for a 20th Century piece.
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#936017 - 05/01/08 01:19 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Checking Jane MacGrath's Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature[/b], I find some suggestions for you. I am not familiar with most.

Jean Absil - Sonatina Op 125 & Humoresque Op 126.

Josef Alexander - 12 Bagatelles for Piano

Rodolfo Arizaga - Toccata (it does have some octaves)

I've only listed 4 possible titles I've found under the A's. She has over 300 pages of contemporary lit for students indexed and rated for difficulty. Surely you have a copy of this book.

For other teachers who are not familiar with Jane's seminal opus, run, don't walk, to the music store and get thee one.

Published by Alfred.
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"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#936018 - 05/01/08 04:41 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
ptbarnum Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/10/05
Posts: 14
The selections in this book may not be advanced enough, but worth a look, possibly:

It's published by Alfred.

Essential Keyboard Repertoire, Volume 5 (Requiring a Handspan of an Octave or Less)
83 Early / Late Intermediate Selections Requiring a Hand Span of an Octave or Less
Ed. Maurice Hinson
SERIES: Essential Keyboard Repertoire
CATEGORY: Piano Collection
ITEM: 00 -4574C
UPC: 038081126340
ISBN10: 0739021982
ISBN13: 9780739021989
PRICE: $14.95
FORMAT: Book

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#936019 - 05/01/08 05:52 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5943
Loc: Down Under
What about the Bartok Roumanian Dances? I don't think there are any chords with more than a 7th. They're great fun to play and the set of 6 makes a satisfying whole, with the exciting fast one at the end.
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#936020 - 05/01/08 06:27 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
What about the Bartok Roumanian Dances? I don't think there are any chords with more than a 7th. They're great fun to play and the set of 6 makes a satisfying whole, with the exciting fast one at the end. [/b]
Bingo!! Thanks \:D

I also looked through some atonal Muczynski stuff. Not the most engaging pieces for 10 year old students, but they'll work, too. Starer's color pieces (forgot the title) also would work. Some Ibert Histoire would work. I'm finding more solutions how.
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#936021 - 05/02/08 01:22 AM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I have students who are barely able to reach an ocatave who are at an early advanced level.

What I have done is I still give repertoire that have octaves in it.

Our hands will broaden if made to.

There are also stretching excercises that work well too, to broaden hands.

It may not be easy and for a short time the pieces don't sound perfect but it is not too long after that it isn't a problem anymore.

Just a thought.
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#936022 - 05/07/08 07:36 AM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
What can one do to broaden one's hands? I have to play octaves off the edge of the keys with my right and just a little better with my left. This has caused many frustrating practice sessions.

I'm seriously considering getting a 7/8 or 15/16 piano when I move, but I'd also want to continue teaching. Has anybody moved from one of the smaller keyboards to a larger?

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#936023 - 05/22/08 07:58 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
Kabalevsky concertos are great.
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#936024 - 05/22/08 08:00 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
I mean, they're great (the Kabalevsky concertos) for students who are fairly advanced but have small hands. Some students can never have their hands "broadened" enough. I've had some Oriental women who would always struggle with this. Never been a problem for me, I could reach ten notes when I was six years old \:\)
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#936025 - 05/23/08 11:45 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
ClaraSchumann Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 73
I'm curious about the idea of broadening the hand. Is this really advisable? I have one student approaching early advanced who can just barely reach a seventh, with difficulty. Her hand is very small. She wants to play octaves, but honestly cannot.

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#936026 - 05/24/08 12:41 AM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
faucon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 285
Loc: Missouri USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by ClaraSchumann:
I'm curious about the idea of broadening the hand. Is this really advisable? I have one student approaching early advanced who can just barely reach a seventh, with difficulty. Her hand is very small. She wants to play octaves, but honestly cannot. [/b]
An English concert pianist and pedagogue advised me in the strongest possible terms NOT to do stretching or other exercises because of the risk of injury. There are well-known pianists with quite small hands who must be making adaptations in their playing to compensate for their smaller hand size. Is your student still growing and could hope for a greater reach in a few years? Perhaps someone in the forums will have more suggestions.

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#936027 - 05/24/08 03:17 AM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Interesting.

I have small hands. When I was studying music in college, my teacher gave me stretching excercises to broaden my hands. It worked so well. I still use these exercises, and although still small, I do have broad hands.

Perhaps it may not be wise to use this on a growing child's hand, although I have, and those students are developing nice "piano hands" and are able to reach further than before having used these strectching exercices.

I don't think it would do much harm if done correctly. Much like ballet or gymnastics, I assume.
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#936028 - 05/24/08 02:49 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
My second piano teacher was a small Chinese lady whose hands barely stretched a 7th. She contemplated surgery to cut the webbing between fingers.

I am not familiar with hand-stretching exercises, but neither my professor nor I would recommend them. I wouldn't tell my students to do something that could potentially injure their hands! They are still young, so their hands will get bigger, eventually.
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#936029 - 05/26/08 11:22 PM Re: advanced pieces for small hands
ptbarnum Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/10/05
Posts: 14
Also see this thread on this topic:

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?/topic/2/16803.html


This mentions some more advanced pieces.

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