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#974158 - 11/20/06 06:39 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
dannylux Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 1817
Loc: Connecticut
 Quote:
Originally posted by pian00b:
I can play from C to Eb with no problems with both hands. What number is this? [/b]
C to E flat is a minor 10th.

That's very good.

Mel
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#974159 - 11/20/06 08:36 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
 Quote:
Originally posted by dannylux:
An octave is 165mm on my Yamaha P140 and 164mm on my Steinway B.

The B is much easier to play.

So only a millimeter makes a difference.

Mel [/b]
Same difference between my Privia and my Mathushek but I really can't tell any difference atributable to key width.
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#974160 - 11/20/06 08:39 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
 Quote:
Originally posted by buxtehude:
Wonder about his shoe size? (You have a cast of Rach's foot?) [/b]
I imagine somebody has one someplace. There's a museum in Paris that has a cast of George Sand's arm.
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#974161 - 11/20/06 01:38 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
ormandj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 30
Loc: Oahu, Hawaii USA
Bob: I've only had one lesson (last Saturday). Well, I've "noodled" off and on for the past 15 years, but maybe a day or two out of every month if you averaged it out, and nothing that required any stretching. \:\) Seems I'll be ok, assuming I'm not some mutant with inflexible/unstretchable hands. :p

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#974162 - 11/20/06 01:43 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
ormandj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 30
Loc: Oahu, Hawaii USA
As a FYI for those discussing Rachmaninov, it is generally thought he had Marfan's syndrom, as well.

http://www.marfan.org/nmf/GetContentRequestHandler.do?menu_item_id=2

Some people who have Marfan's exhibit the ability to stretch their hands in unbelievable ways. The connective tissue isn't "normal", some of these people can flex joints sideways and all kinds of other interesting ways. While Rachmaninov was a big guy, and did have big hands, Marfan's explains his *extraordinary* span.

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#974163 - 11/20/06 08:22 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Re: Rach - very interesting. There's more about it in the article below.

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi?artid=1351877&blobtype=pdf
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#974164 - 11/20/06 09:40 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
glitzer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/06
Posts: 64
Loc: Tornado Alley meets Bible Belt
This discussion comes up here quite regularly, but I don't really see the point. Sure, my life would be easier if I were good-looking, witty, and rich, and I could become a better piano player if I had another 200 years to live and three hands, but in view of the lack of these qualities, you just try to make do with what you have.

(I can reach an octave with mild discomfort and a 9th if my life depended on it, and I'm still trying to play.)
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#974165 - 11/20/06 10:13 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
 Quote:
Originally posted by glitzer:
This discussion comes up here quite regularly, but I don't really see the point. [/b]
Just think of it as guys comparing - - - engines.
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#974166 - 11/20/06 10:30 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
glitzer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/06
Posts: 64
Loc: Tornado Alley meets Bible Belt
 Quote:
Originally posted by Frycek:
Just think of it as guys comparing - - - engines. [/b]
Yes, that was actually more or less my thought, too. Well, I did post my data (to avoid misunderstandings and because you might think otherwise if you just measured my hands: I am a guy).
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#974167 - 11/21/06 08:39 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
buxtehude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Copenhagen, Denmark
 Quote:
Originally posted by glitzer:
Sure, my life would be easier if I were good-looking, witty, and rich[/b]
I am good-looking, witty and rich and still I'm not allowed to sleep on park benches or under bridges. So, you shouldn't envy us...

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#974168 - 11/21/06 01:06 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
ormandj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 30
Loc: Oahu, Hawaii USA
glitzer: For somebody starting out, who doesn't really know much about piano, it's only natural to ask "will I be able to play." That's what I did. It wouldn't make sense for me to invest 10 years in something I won't ever be able to do because of a physical limitation. Not knowing piano, I didn't know if small hands are crippling, or if they are ok.

From the response, it's quite obvious hand size does make a difference, but even if you have small hands it doesn't mean you can't play piano. That's the answer I was looking for. \:\) I'm about "average" in span it seems, and should be able to play a tenth between blacks after my hand stretches more, but even if I could only hit an octave I'd still give it a go, now knowing that it's quite alright and doable! Hope this helps explain why it gets asked (or at least - why I asked.) At $60/hour to learn, I tried to make sure I wasn't just throwing my money into the toilet and flushing it over and over. ;\)

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#974169 - 11/21/06 04:16 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
Astra Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/08/06
Posts: 391
Loc: Slovenia
Thanks frycek, buxtehude and dannylux!

And I agree, 13!? Thats huge! So if I understand correctly this is from C to A. Almost two octaves!!
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#974170 - 11/26/06 08:16 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
An octave (C to C) is an 8. C to the D above that C of the octave is a 9. This is using the C major scale as the example.

I do not know what C to Eb is called.
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#974171 - 11/26/06 08:23 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
pmpiano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/26/06
Posts: 2
Loc: USA
If anyone wants to investigate a smaller keyboard, there are two models which currently exist for the smaller-handed pianist - be that a child, a student with a tiny hand, or an adult amateur whose hands may have stiffened with time. David Steinbuhler in Pennsylvania makes a 7/8 keyboard and a 15/16 size keyboard. These can either be built into an existing piano (does not change the sound at all)or - if one wants to invest in a so-called "portable" keyboard, it is available at a higher price and can be easily fitted into a Steinway concert grand (American model only at this point).

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#1648729 - 03/27/11 05:15 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter? [Re: ormandj]
deKXer Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/18/11
Posts: 8
Guys I have a question which is somehow related to this post.

I want to buy a piano for my 8 y.o. niece and I'm wondering whether it is usual to buy a normal-size piano with normal-size keys for her with those little hands. What do people do when teaching piano to a kid? Limit the repertoire? Use specific technics? or use smaller-keyed pianos?

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#1648756 - 03/27/11 07:39 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter? [Re: ormandj]
ll Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
It would have probably been better to start a new post, but I'm a member who wouldn't care - just a warning for others.

Buy a normal one. I'm not really going to go into why, but yeah. That's all you need.
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I teach piano and violin.
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#1648804 - 03/27/11 09:44 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter? [Re: ormandj]
Fate Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/23/11
Posts: 52
Loc: Kansas City
I have what I'd say are moderately large hands (11th or 12th reach depending on the day, and a 10th without thinking about it), and it ain't all rainbows and sunshine. Large chords get a lot easier (yay Rachmaninoff!) but Mozart and friends seem to get nastier. I'm convinced that part of the advantage of younger players is being able to move a lot less even with bad technique in playing quickly.

I've been curious lately about developing new fingerings that are more advantageous to me, a lot of pieces feel very "cramped" when I use the written fingerings (ex: Bach Invention #1, there's a few places where my book has fingerings that repeatedly move thumb under for reasons I don't understand instead of simply stretching...)

In the end, my conclusion on hand size, is that you should be happy with what ya got, and develop a style that best suites you. smile

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#1648810 - 03/27/11 09:55 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter? [Re: ll]
deKXer Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/18/11
Posts: 8
Originally Posted By: ll
It would have probably been better to start a new post, but I'm a member who wouldn't care - just a warning for others.

Buy a normal one. I'm not really going to go into why, but yeah. That's all you need.


Thanks. I myself think that a normal piano would be better.

And sorry for asking a question is someone else's post. I know its a little nasty!

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#1648826 - 03/27/11 10:32 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter? [Re: Fate]
gahdzila Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/11
Posts: 175
Y'all got me curious, so I checked my span. I can reach an octave easily now, but it was pretty hard a couple of months ago when I started lessons. I'm working on the D Minor arrangement of Moonlight Sonata, and since this piece requires an octave span, working on it has helped stretch my hand for sure. I can now reach a major 9th without too much difficulty, and just barely reach a 10th on the tips of the keys.

What I've been worried about more is the thickness of my fingers (my ring finger is a 10.5 or 11 ring size, 2 and 3 are of course correspondingly larger). I feel very clumsy reaching between black keys (that is, playing D, G, and A up high on the white keys, between the black keys). I still sometimes bump a black key, but it's getting better with practice.

Originally Posted By: Fate
In the end, my conclusion on hand size, is that you should be happy with what ya got, and develop a style that best suites you. smile


An excellent point. Thanks!!!

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#1648894 - 03/27/11 12:04 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter? [Re: ormandj]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5441
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Yes, a regular-sized piano. I know kids start with smaller guitars or violins, but pretty much pianos are standard (altho I've heard of miniscule differences in key width). I have very small hands but they've stretched enough that I can do octaves now. But when I couldn't, I adapted smile For children beginning there's lots of repertoire they can play and learn things from as their hands grow to accomodate larger spans. And their hands are more flexible than some of us old farts, so they will get to octaves and possibly beyond faster.

Good question.

Cathy
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#1649094 - 03/27/11 06:29 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter? [Re: ormandj]
PaperClip Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/09
Posts: 505
Loc: Amsterdam, Holland
This week I went to Bonn to see the house where Beethoven was born. There was an organ and two piano's similar to those he played and I was amazed how small the keyboards were. Especially the organ. The piano keys were about 5 mm smaller each 5 white keys. I always thought key width was fixed. How wrong was I.

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#1649313 - 03/28/11 03:37 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter? [Re: ormandj]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1539
Loc: NY
My hands are pretty small, but I was born with hyper-flexible (floppy) joints, very double-jointed, so they're stretchable at least. smile

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#1649418 - 03/28/11 09:53 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter? [Re: ormandj]
Stanza Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1458
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
Like the OP, Ormandi, I am just over 5'8". My span is only 8.75", my golf glove size is "Men's Cadet Small" that means; small hands, short fingers. Now, I am not a beginner, however there is very, very, little classical piano literature that I can't comfortably play. An octave is comfortable, I have to be a little bit careful with a 9th to not catch an adjacent note, I can do an isolated 10th using the very tips of my fingers on the very tips of the keys. Your hand will stretch.

What I really can't do are those LH tenths that occur in some jazz pieces (Art Tatum, et.al.)
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