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#974128 - 11/16/06 06:59 PM Hand size - what does it matter?
ormandj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 30
Loc: Oahu, Hawaii USA
Well, I did the measurement where you stretch out your hand, and from thumb tip to pinkie finger tip, I have a 9" span. From pinkie to pointer, 7" span. Tip of middle finger to beginning of knuckle is 4". Palm is 3.5" wide just below knuckles.

I'm only 5'8" or so, my hands are pretty big for my height. Are they still on the small side? Or will I be ok? My fingers are long and slender. Just for fun (and reference), here's a few pictures of my hands making a frog (if you ever wanted to know how, now you can!):
http://corenode.com/~ormandj/images/david/froggie/

Am I going to be at a disadvantage for classical piano? I've been worried because I don't know what hand-size is considered "good". Obviously a 14" span would be really cool, but what's considered a "good" span to have?

I've been getting anxious about getting back into piano, sorry if this topic seems trivial! \:\)

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#974129 - 11/16/06 07:32 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
Nighteyes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/06
Posts: 104
Loc: Amsterdam
Hm, if you can span an octave on the keyboard (so from c to c for example), you're fine. I can get an octave and my teacher thinks I will get an additional note in about half a year due to increased strength and stretch in the fingers. Those inches couldn't say less to me though.

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#974130 - 11/16/06 07:37 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
When you can play a tenth..

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#974131 - 11/16/06 07:41 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
ormandj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 30
Loc: Oahu, Hawaii USA
Bob: Sorry for my "newbieness", but is a tenth meaning notes 10 keys apart? IE:

[|] | | | | | | | | | | [|]

Or meaning 8 keys apart? IE:

[|] | | | | | | | | [|]

When I get home, I'll have to see if I can do an octave, I think I can. Not sure about the tenth. Could someone who can do a tenth stretch their hand and measure from thumbtip to pinkie finger tip please? \:\)

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#974132 - 11/16/06 07:55 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
ex: C to E left hand pinky thumb.. and Eb to G..

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#974133 - 11/16/06 08:04 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
ormandj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 30
Loc: Oahu, Hawaii USA
Thanks Bob, once I get home, I'll give it a go!

Is it common to be able to add an extra note after playing for a while, to your span? Two? Just curious. \:\)

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#974134 - 11/16/06 08:04 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
playadom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/06
Posts: 1366
Loc: New Jersey
I stretched out my hand, and got about 9.75".
I can reach an eleventh, and can do tenths easily.
_________________________
Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.

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#974135 - 11/16/06 08:06 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
playadom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/06
Posts: 1366
Loc: New Jersey
 Quote:
Originally posted by ormandj:
Thanks Bob, once I get home, I'll give it a go!

Is it common to be able to add an extra note after playing for a while, to your span? Two? Just curious. \:\) [/b]
From playing a lot, I have improved my ability to stretch. When I started, I could barely reach a tenth.
_________________________
Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.

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#974136 - 11/16/06 08:13 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
ormandj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 30
Loc: Oahu, Hawaii USA
Super news! Sounds like I'm not too disadvantaged by my hands, then.

Thanks again,
David

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#974137 - 11/16/06 08:30 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
Digitus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 866
Loc: Singapore
Well you guys are darned lucky to have decent-sized hands. I can stretch a 9th only. That limits what I can play but there is a lot of good stuff that people with small hands can tackle. I just avoid music with big chords. So no Rachmaninoff etc.

This used to drive me nuts when I was playing the piano regularly over 20 years ago, and the main reasons why I stopped for so long. I'm over the pianist envy now, hence the recent piano purchase. \:D

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#974138 - 11/16/06 10:01 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Chopin had tiny hands for a guy and Liszt's weren't much larger than average. Size doesn't matter nearly as much as suppleness does. Just keep trying to reach "the impossible." With effort "the impossible" often turns into "the difficult" and "the difficult" eventually comes more easily. (And even Chopin occasionally rolled chords.)
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#974139 - 11/16/06 10:08 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
ormandj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 30
Loc: Oahu, Hawaii USA
Ok, got home. Octave is easy, I can play it anywhere on the keys. I can play C - D too, but only if I play at the end of the keys. If I try to play it between the black keys, I'll depress them too. I can do C - E if I play the very edge of the keys. Am I going to be ok?

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#974140 - 11/16/06 10:12 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 ormandj:
Ok, got home. Octave is easy, I can play it anywhere on the keys. I can play C - D too, but only if I play at the end of the keys. If I try to play it between the black keys, I'll depress them too. I can do C - E if I play the very edge of the keys. Am I going to be ok? [/b]
You are going to be fine. Sound like you've got a very easy 8, probably a 9 already, and maybe a 10 with some practice. A nine is considered average when adult pianists of both sexes are considered together, and 90% of the repertoire can be handled by a pianist with a span of 9. A span 10 is gravy.
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#974141 - 11/16/06 10:13 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8482
Loc: Ohio, USA
you're more than ok, and i can reach C - D from key edges only.

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#974142 - 11/16/06 10:58 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
dannylux Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 1815
Loc: Connecticut
 Quote:
Originally posted by ormandj:
Ok, got home. Octave is easy, I can play it anywhere on the keys. I can play C - D too, but only if I play at the end of the keys. If I try to play it between the black keys, I'll depress them too. I can do C - E if I play the very edge of the keys. Am I going to be ok? [/b]
Your hand size is excellent and your fingers are longer than average.

As your hands naturally stretch with regular playing, you'll have no trouble with 10ths.

And if you do, you can always roll them.

Mel
_________________________
My Recordings

"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving." Katharine Hepburn

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#974143 - 11/17/06 06:07 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
AlexBell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/25/06
Posts: 64
Loc: Launceston, Tasmania
Now you've got me worried. I can do an octave on white with my left hand without pressing on the adjoining keys, but with my right hand I can only do a 7th. I'm left handed.

But I'm not going to worry too much; I've got plenty of other more immediate problems.
_________________________
Regards, Alex

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#974144 - 11/17/06 08:05 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
Mary-Rose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/16/06
Posts: 1428
Loc: Essex, England
You can definitely get your hands to stretch with time, regardless of natural size. I can reach 9th with my short stubby fingers. I started playing when I was seven. My boyfriend has long, elegant hands that look twice the size of mine; he has never played the piano, and can reach no further than I can on the keyboard (ha ha).
_________________________
Best wishes from MR
http://www.extraloudpurrs.blogspot.com

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#974145 - 11/17/06 08:57 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
Neophite Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/14/06
Posts: 28
Loc: Little Rock, AR
I never thought of this aspect to playing (hand size). I suppose it should have been obvious, but the whole realm of piano playing in new and fresh to me so it is somewhat overwhelming. (Sooo much information to take in and assimalate(sp?).

BUT ... my curiosity is tickled! \:\) ! So I'll be looking for my tape measure as soon as I hit the "Add Reply" button \:\) .
_________________________
Regards,
Rob Easter

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#974146 - 11/17/06 09:04 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
Neophite Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/14/06
Posts: 28
Loc: Little Rock, AR
Results: Right hand- a good bit over 8.5" and Left hand- bearly reaches 8.5".

But as I understand it, there isn't an official standard for the width of keys is there? This would suggest that people would be able to reach different groupings (number and/or distance apart) of keys based on both one's hand size/suppleness AND width of the keys yes?
_________________________
Regards,
Rob Easter

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#974147 - 11/17/06 09:43 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Actually key width is not officially standardized and never has been, but from a practical standpoint it is. Think about it. A manufacturer whose key width differed significantly from the average couldn't stay in business because a pianist must be able to play on whatever instrument is available.
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#974148 - 11/18/06 02:18 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
ormandj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 30
Loc: Oahu, Hawaii USA
Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_keyboard :

"Over the last three hundred years, the octave span distance found on historical keyboard instruments (organs, virginals, clavichords, harpsichords, and pianos) has ranged from as little as 125mm to as much as 170mm. Modern piano keyboards ordinarily have an octave span of 164-165mm, but several reduced-size standards have been proposed and marketed, including a 15/16 size (152 mm octave span) and the 7/8 DS Standard (140 mm octave span) developed by Canadian composer, conductor and pianist Christopher Donison in the 1970s then further developed and now marketed by Steinbuhler & Company, located in Titusville, Pennsylvania. U.S. pianist Hannah Reiman has promoted piano keyboards with narrower octave spans and has a U.S. patent (#6,020,549) on apparatus and methods for modifying existing pianos to provide interchangeable keyboards of different sizes."

So, a "standard" modern piano would have an octave span of 164-165mm. Older pianos might get up to 170mm. Pretty close either way. The smaller pianos seem to be a fair amount smaller.

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#974149 - 11/18/06 02:56 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
buxtehude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Copenhagen, Denmark
Ormandj, interesting! My upright Danish Hindsberg from the late 1920's is 165 mm. Now I will have to wear a tape measure wherever I go!

Frycek, that about Chopin's and Liszt's stretch, how sure are you about that? I have heard they had large hands .... (?!)

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#974150 - 11/18/06 06:12 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 buxtehude:
Ormandj, interesting! My upright Danish Hindsberg from the late 1920's is 165 mm. Now I will have to wear a tape measure wherever I go!

Frycek, that about Chopin's and Liszt's stretch, how sure are you about that? I have heard they had large hands .... (?!) [/b]
Chopin's were very small. I have a cast of his hand. It's actually the same size as mine, which stretch very well (180 degree angle)to an easy nine and very problematic ten. Liszt himself gave his maximum range as a ten. Thalberg, a rival pianist of the two, apparently had a great reach. "He does a ten as easily as I do an eight" was what Chopin lamented about Thalberg. Now Rachmaninov had a huge hand, I've heard a thirteen!

FYI my 1887 Mathushek is 164 and my Casio Privia is 165.
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#974151 - 11/19/06 10:17 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
Ormanji: How many yrs have you been playing?
if your just starting..your hand will stretch, if you can do a 9th now you'll make the 10th..
as an aside > I played Jazz guitar over 40yrs..
so my left hand is fully stretched..and can reach a 9th and a 10th white only..but get this.. my right hand can only make an 8th..so as you see its possible to reach another key or key and a half.. Bob Newbie

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#974152 - 11/19/06 02:23 PM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
Astra Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/08/06
Posts: 391
Loc: Slovenia
9, 13? What are this numbers? I can play from C to Eb with no problems with both hands. What number is this?
_________________________
ex - pian00b

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#974153 - 11/19/06 05:47 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 pian00b:
9, 13? What are this numbers? I can play from C to Eb with no problems with both hands. What number is this? [/b]
10 (assuming you can hit C-E as well otherwise a good 9)
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#974154 - 11/20/06 02:45 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
buxtehude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Copenhagen, Denmark
PianOOb, count the white keys in the span - C to C is 8, C to D is 9, and so forth. [Ed: I didn't notice Frycek had already answered that].

I must say that that about Rachmaninoff doing a 13 sounds almost incredible...!!

Thanks to Frycek.

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#974155 - 11/20/06 04:07 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Rach was a huge guy all over apparently.
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#974156 - 11/20/06 06:17 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
buxtehude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Copenhagen, Denmark
Wonder about his shoe size? (You have a cast of Rach's foot?)

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#974157 - 11/20/06 06:37 AM Re: Hand size - what does it matter?
dannylux Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 1815
Loc: Connecticut
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
_________________________
My Recordings

"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving." Katharine Hepburn

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