small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size

Posted by: adak

small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 12:53 PM

i am starting piano, adult so i am not growing anymore. just did a measurement, i can do a comfortable 9, edged 10, and stretched 11. i have been reading and that is the median for men, would i have issues because it seems african americans have larger hands than average.

i read you need to be comfortable with 11ths (for mozart?), just to get around the keyboard for most music without any compromises (although if we all had russian hands then this wouldn't be an issue).

what are "walking bass line 10ths"? can someone post an example.

what are some exercises to increase the span of my hand? how much can i go? i would like a comfortable 11th but that seems like a stretch. i can settle for a 10 but i assume some chord combinations would be difficult and awkward.

i am also slightly double jointed on my thumbs (45 degrees), would that help or hinder? trying to see if i could get a stretch somehow.

what is a beeline stretch for your hand, can someone a pic?

here is my hand:



Posted by: JoelW

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 12:56 PM

Your hands are fine.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 01:02 PM

You have huge hands. I can reach a octave and I play Mozart just fine. You will find lots of support in the ABF, and you could ask about walking bass in the non-classical forum.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 01:27 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Your hands are fine.

+1

Please, not only for yourself but also for us because it pains us to think about it ha ....please forget about "increasing hand size." But, you might think of working on relaxing the hands to let them stretch more comfortably -- not to stretch further than they do now, but to do it more comfortably. (The hand looks quite tense in the pics, but maybe that's just because you were straining to stretch as far as you could, which is further than you really need to for most anything.)

BTW, in all my 200 years I never heard of needing to stretch an 11th for Mozart, or really even a 10th (or a 9th). Wherever you saw or heard it was full of crap. smile
Posted by: Damon

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 01:32 PM

Have you tried putting your hand in a shop-vac?
Posted by: AndyJ

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 01:46 PM

Hi Adak,

You have big hands. Your tenth looks like my ninth, which I rarely play because it's too big a stretch for me.

If you learn to play tenths reliably, you'll be able to do some great stride stuff that's literally out of reach for me, but I'm not sure your hand is quite big enough for that. You don't need tenths to play stride, it's just another arrow in your quiver.

People like to watch me play anyway so I guess I do OK, and I'm sure you will do.

Have fun,

Andy
Posted by: bennevis

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 01:47 PM

This 11-year-old kid only just managed to stretch to an octave at the time he played this music:
http://youtu.be/3FJeOaRjZaE
Posted by: Bob Newbie

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 02:06 PM

as far as C,F,and G for 10ths your fine...how about A,D, and E chord in 10ths?
most pianists with average size can do the C,F,&G hanging off the edge..
Posted by: adak

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 02:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Bob Newbie
as far as C,F,and G for 10ths your fine...how about A,D, and E chord in 10ths?
most pianists with average size can do the C,F,&G hanging off the edge..


I fall 1 short of each, so CFF and ADD is as far as i can get. this is with both on edge, both they are 10ths. the ones you posted are 11ths. if i stretch and practice would i eventually be able to get them or is it physically impossible? what won't i be able to play so i can try to avoid them.
Posted by: BDB

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 03:03 PM

The best way to increase hand size is through genetic engineering. But it would be far better just to add another arm or two.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 03:23 PM

The quickest way to injure yourself - especially if you're an adult beginner - is to 'stretch' your fingers beyond their natural capability.

A warning from history - Robert Schumann derailed his ambition of becoming a concert pianist permanently by using a finger-stretching device that caused a permanent injury. (Fortunately for us, that meant he channeled his energies towards composing instead..... grin)
Posted by: Derulux

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 05:25 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
The best way to increase hand size is through genetic engineering. But it would be far better just to add another arm or two.

Don't listen to BDB. He's selling you a line. Genetic engineering is far too expensive. I still stand by my offer of finger extensions for $85,000 per finger. Remember, it's "forever".. (Works for DeBeers, right?) wink
Posted by: debrucey

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 05:49 PM

It that were possible, most people would probably be extending other appendages first.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 06:05 PM

Originally Posted By: debrucey
It that were possible, most people would probably be extending other appendages first.

Reminds me, I have a few thousand e-mails that went directly to 'junk' (no pun intended).... grin
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/24/13 11:06 PM

I believe I read recently an even better article than this on the subject of lengthening the hand-span, but can't for the life of me remember where it was. That said, this is still really good:

http://www.jeff-brent.com/Lessons/lh10ths.html

The best advice on the subject will be similar to the following quote:
Quote:
you're not stretching the tendons. The main part of the hand that stretches is the "web" between your thumb and forefinger.



edit: Oh! I remember now. The more recent resource was a short video by pianist/pedagogue Sara Davis Buechner discussing her thoughts on her and Dover's recently released re-print of Alberto Jonás's Master School of Virtuoso Piano Playing and the first two "stretching" exercises. You can watch here: http://www.saradavisbuechner.com/the-master-school-of-alberto-jonas/
Posted by: outo

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 01:26 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: BDB
The best way to increase hand size is through genetic engineering. But it would be far better just to add another arm or two.

Don't listen to BDB. He's selling you a line. Genetic engineering is far too expensive. I still stand by my offer of finger extensions for $85,000 per finger. Remember, it's "forever".. (Works for DeBeers, right?) wink


I only need them for my right thumb and pinky, the left is fine...Do you take MasterCard?

Oh, are they very painful to install?
Posted by: debrucey

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 02:54 AM

You can't definitely learn how to feel more comfortable stretching between intervals within the hand. For example with Chopin's Op. 10 No. 1. I often practice arpeggios in parallel 6ths/5ths with one hand. But there is no way to increase the overall span of your hand without injury.
Posted by: adak

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 03:07 AM

Are you all sure? People say they usually gain 1 key after playing for a while, so I am at a comfortable 9 right now, I should be able to do a comfortable 10 later correct? There is nothing I can really do about being small-handed but I can still try to make the best of it.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 03:10 AM

Love the pic, adak.
Posted by: adak

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 03:19 AM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Love the pic, adak.


What do you like about it?
Posted by: debrucey

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 03:19 AM

Judging by your pics, you won't gain any more keys. My advice would be forget about it. I know some seriously good pianists who have trouble reaching more than an octave.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 06:58 AM

Originally Posted By: outo
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: BDB
The best way to increase hand size is through genetic engineering. But it would be far better just to add another arm or two.

Don't listen to BDB. He's selling you a line. Genetic engineering is far too expensive. I still stand by my offer of finger extensions for $85,000 per finger. Remember, it's "forever".. (Works for DeBeers, right?) wink


I only need them for my right thumb and pinky, the left is fine...Do you take MasterCard?

Oh, are they very painful to install?

Visa or American Express, preferably. And it's not painful at all. About as bad as a hair transplant, or so I've been told. But it really depends on what size extensions you need. If you need to reach a 17th or larger comfortably, because you are trying to play Bach, it could be more painful. If you're going for a 42nd for Rachmaninoff, you won't feel a thing. You might not wake up in the morning, but at least you won't feel it, right? wink
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 07:23 AM

The reach of my left hand is greater than my right hand since I play a lot of tenths in my left hand.

I couldn't always play tenths in my left hand so it is possible to slightly increase the reach of your hands.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 07:36 AM

All kidding aside (some good chuckles in this thread), I would work more on getting a good technique. As Mark_C said, it appears as though your hands are quite tense and you should work with a teacher who can help you relax. You may possibly gain more span in the process, but if not, you'll at the very least gain longevity in your playing and avoid injury.
Posted by: AndyJ

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 03:50 PM

Originally Posted By: adak
There is nothing I can really do about being small-handed but I can still try to make the best of it.


Your hands are not small. My advice is, don't worry about it.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 09:58 PM

Originally Posted By: AndyJ
Originally Posted By: adak
There is nothing I can really do about being small-handed but I can still try to make the best of it.


Your hands are not small. My advice is, don't worry about it.

You're ruining my finger extension business.. wink
Posted by: adak

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 10:08 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
This 11-year-old kid only just managed to stretch to an octave at the time he played this music:
http://youtu.be/3FJeOaRjZaE


He will probably be able to stretch a 13th once he is done growing.

It would be great if I could even do a 10th on the black and white keys and I am full grown.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 11:08 PM

Originally Posted By: adak
Originally Posted By: bennevis
This 11-year-old kid only just managed to stretch to an octave at the time he played this music:
http://youtu.be/3FJeOaRjZaE


He will probably be able to stretch a 13th once he is done growing.

It would be great if I could even do a 10th on the black and white keys and I am full grown.

Time for a serious post.

Very, very, very few people on Earth (and probably in the history of people on this planet) can stretch a 13th. And there is no piece of music I have ever seen for which stretching a 13th is a necessity. In all seriousness, what is your obsession with hand size?

Take that jazz piece you posted, for example. I would be willing to be the absolute largest stretch in that piece is an octave. If you want to play it, you're going to have to relax your hand and make it smaller, not larger.

Movement, not size, is the key to playing an instrument where you are required to move in order to play it.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 11:42 PM

Originally Posted By: debrucey
It that were possible, most people would probably be extending other appendages first.

Yes, indeed. wink
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 11:49 PM

I just finished learning and performing the Chopin "Funeral March" Sonata. If there was ever any piece that made me want bigger hands, that was it. The Scherzo is murderous. But, there's nothing much I can do except practice more so that I can play with more control and less tension. Your hands are your hands. They may get better the more you practice, but they don't get bigger.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/25/13 11:59 PM

Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
I just finished learning and performing the Chopin "Funeral March" Sonata. If there was ever any piece that made me want bigger hands, that was it. The Scherzo is murderous....

Do you mean bigger hands would help the scherzo, or did you switch subjects there? grin
I can't think of anything at all in it where hand size is an issue. (Other things yes, but not that.)

Where in the sonata are you thinking of at all? Nothing in the other movements occurs to me either, except maybe the L.H. of the main theme of the 1st mvt, but I don't see it as an issue there either because I don't think we should be 'stretching' or 'reaching' there (but moving).
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/26/13 12:05 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
I just finished learning and performing the Chopin "Funeral March" Sonata. If there was ever any piece that made me want bigger hands, that was it. The Scherzo is murderous....

Do you mean bigger hands would help the scherzo, or did you switch subjects there? grin
I can't think of anything at all in it where hand size is an issue. (Other things yes, but not that.)

Where in the sonata are you thinking of at all? Nothing in the other movements occurs to me either, unless you mean the L.H. of the main theme of the 1st mvt, and I don't think it's an issue there either unless someone uses an inapt fingering.


Are you kidding? Have you ever tried to play it the way he wrote it? The left hand of the first movement's exposition requires an absurd amount of stretching. The main subject of the scherzo is nothing but a parade of rapid-fire, filled in octaves and tenths. The trio is stacked with tenths and elevenths. (Yes, I know, you can redistribute notes, but I firmly and stubbornly believe he wrote it the way he did for a reason!) Even the march is full of huge chords, which are only rolled because it's not feasible for most people to play it as written.

Also, the funeral march is indicated to be played with no pedal, and I obey this as closely as I can while still maintaining the legato touch he calls for.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/26/13 12:19 AM

Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
Are you kidding? Have you ever tried to play it the way he wrote it?

Yes....

Quote:
The left hand of the first movement's exposition requires an absurd amount of stretching.

Note my 'fix' of the last part of my above post. To me, it's more moving than stretching.

Quote:
The main subject of the scherzo is nothing but a parade of rapid-fire, filled in octaves and tenths.

Rolled!

Quote:
The trio is stacked with tenths and elevenths. (Yes, I know, you can redistribute notes, but I firmly and stubbornly believe he wrote it the way he did for a reason!)

Rolling, and some re-distributing. Make sure to voice it as written, and it's fine.

Quote:
Even the march is full of huge chords, which are only rolled because it's not feasible for most people to play it as written.

Recognizing that you may well know more about this than I do, that's news to me, and I think I disagree. Certainly it has never occurred to be that the only reason they're rolled is because people 'can't' play them as blocks. And BTW I can reach an 11th, but it never occurred to me to play the chords you're talking about as blocks, except sometimes privately as my own joke and with a smile.

Quote:
Also, the funeral march is indicated to be played with no pedal, and I obey this as closely as I can while still maintaining the legato touch he calls for.

Hey wait a minute. grin

It's not indicated to be played without pedal; it's just that there aren't any pedal markings for most of it. That's very different than "indicated to be played with no pedal."

I'm guessing that the way you're viewing these things reflects a school of thought, but it's total news to me. No issues of stretch or reach ever occurred to me while I was working on the piece, and it's not like I'm immune to that issue; there are pieces where I most definitely have it.
Posted by: outo

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/26/13 12:23 AM

I have struggled with an inability to play an octave with my right hand. For a long time I was only able to play it at the very edge of the keys, which was quite impractical for any faster pieces and also made my thumb hurt. I tried all kind of streching, but it didn't help at all. Then recently I began learning a piece that simply was impossible to play without going deeper. Since not playing this one is not an option, I just experimented and finally went the other way, extend my fingers towards the fallboard, relax more without consciously streching and using the keys to help a bit and finally managed to play them cleanly.

My hand is not growing, but I think an octave is enough to play whatever I want to play, further intervals will have to be by rolling/pedals...just need to learn to do it convincingly. Luckily I have a teacher who has smaller hands as well, so I am sure she'll teach me the tricks smile
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/26/13 12:28 AM

Yes, he does call to roll the chords in the Scherzo. But at the speed it's typically played at, you're still stretching a tenth or else you're not going to get all the notes in. As for the rest, if I had bigger hands, I would not roll a single chord that he didn't mark that way. Not even in the lyrical section of the first movement!

As it is, even with rolling, it's still a seriously difficult piece that taxes the hands mercilessly.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/26/13 07:13 AM

Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
Are you kidding? Have you ever tried to play it the way he wrote it? The left hand of the first movement's exposition requires an absurd amount of stretching. The main subject of the scherzo is nothing but a parade of rapid-fire, filled in octaves and tenths. The trio is stacked with tenths and elevenths. (Yes, I know, you can redistribute notes, but I firmly and stubbornly believe he wrote it the way he did for a reason!)

Ever think maybe he wrote it that way for voicing, and not necessarily for fingering? wink
Posted by: AndyJ

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/26/13 12:23 PM

Originally Posted By: adak
It would be great if I could even do a 10th on the black and white keys....

Adak,

Leave out the adverb and you have this statement: "It would be great if I could do a 10th on the black and white keys."

I thought the same thing after watching a Youtube video where Doctor John demonstrates his barrel-house and stride technique. It relied heavily on easily playing tenths in the left hand.

It would also be great if I could hear the changes in tunes for which I currently need lead sheets. My stretch won't increase, so I have to do what I can with what I've got. But with more practice and study I can hear more chord changes.

You've got nice big hands which are physically able to produce all kinds of sounds on a keyboard. Learn to use them and don't forget to train your ears as you do.

If you really want to play an instrument where you can play big intervals with one hand, you might want to consider the chromatic button accordion:

I can play a 17th on mine with no effort. That only applies to the right hand, though. The left hand has an entirely different, chord-oriented keyboard.

Andy
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/26/13 01:29 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Ever think maybe he wrote it that way for voicing, and not necessarily for fingering? wink

That sure is what I ever thought. It keeps surprising me to see how many advanced people believe that such notation necessarily indicates anything about which hand ought to be used for what.

Originally Posted By: AndyJ
Edit Reason: *Adverb*, not adjective

Yeah -- I read it before you changed it and it threw me off a fair amount. ha

(Really!)

But good job by you. smile
Most people wouldn't even be able to guess what the heck part of speech "even" is, and I didn't know for sure, but the "adjective" thing had me looking for other words that you might be leaving out....
Posted by: AndyJ

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/26/13 04:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C

Most people wouldn't even be able to guess what the heck part of speech "even" is....

It's easy enough once you realize that the -verb in adverb does not mean "verb". I don't know the etymology, but for whatever reason, adverbs are modifiers that modify anything but a noun. "Even" modifies the verb "would", so it's an adverb. It's also an adverb when it modifies an adjective, which some people find even more confusing!
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/26/13 07:47 PM

Originally Posted By: AndyJ
It's easy enough once you realize that the -verb in adverb does not mean "verb". I don't know the etymology, but for whatever reason, adverbs are modifiers that modify anything but a noun. "Even" modifies the verb "would", so it's an adverb. It's also an adverb when it modifies an adjective, which some people find even more confusing!

It's not as "easy enough" as you think, because to most people (me included) it's not obvious exactly what is being modified by "even." Sure, it modifies "would" * -- but for most people it takes some effort to realize that, if at all, and they still wouldn't be sure about it. Let me say this: If I had a farm, I wouldn't have bet it on it. grin


* I meant "could."
Which, acc. to the post below, is wrong. grin
Posted by: malkin

Re: small hands for jazz? how can i increase hand size - 02/26/13 08:49 PM

I think 'even' is modifying 'do,' as 'do' is the main verb, but it is possible that my grammar is not sufficient to comprehend or compose a sentence. Maybe someone can suggest a way to improve it. I heard that Hemingway tried to stretch his grammar and caused permanent damage by so doing.

My hand size seems ok, but I do wish for a couple extra fingers now and then.