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The small-handed pianist support thread


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#31 corenfa

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 19:31

It is rare that I "discover" something that brings instant results, but I did today, and it is so blindingly obvious that i feel very stupid for not having realised it before blink.gif

There is no need to prepare by "reaching" for the octave before it's actually necessary. This has solved a lot of problems in Chopin Op 53. OF COURSE it causes extra tension, Duh! Oh well. Now I won't forget it.
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#32 Guest: lilly763_*

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 23:32

QUOTE(corenfa @ Jun 7 2011, 03:31 PM) View Post

It is rare that I "discover" something that brings instant results, but I did today, and it is so blindingly obvious that i feel very stupid for not having realised it before blink.gif

There is no need to prepare by "reaching" for the octave before it's actually necessary. This has solved a lot of problems in Chopin Op 53. OF COURSE it causes extra tension, Duh! Oh well. Now I won't forget it.



Good for you smile.gif It seems obvious, but for some reason it didn't come naturally for me either, and I didn't really get it until my teacher showed me.
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#33 corenfa

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 18:56

Today I think that flexibility is as important if not more important than a huge span. In two of the pieces I'm learning (Brahms horn trio and Chopin Op. 53) with a lot of octaves, it's not the octaves that are the problem but the ability to stretch other fingers as well to be able to get all the notes in between the octaves.


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#34 blackheaddog

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 19:06

I have small hands I can only reach an octave and no more and one of my teachers has very small hands which is very inspiring! It is certainly no handicap to him! But on the plus side of small hands, just imagine how much more difficult something like Ravel's sonatine would be with big hands! My other teacher has large hands so the techniques from both are very different. Like you say flexibility is the key. Perhaps Rachmaninov and some of the big liszt works are unsuitable for small hands, but there is so much repertoire out there - something to suit all!
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#35 corenfa

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 22:54

Ha - maybe it's good then that one of my unfavourite composers happens to be Liszt!
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#36 Guest: lilly763_*

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 23:22

QUOTE(corenfa @ Jun 18 2011, 06:54 PM) View Post

Ha - maybe it's good then that one of my unfavourite composers happens to be Liszt!


Hmm... I don't know that I agree that Liszt is hard on small hands. Liszt tends to be relatively pianistic and sounds more difficult than it is - my teacher always says Liszt is easier than Chopin because Liszt is easy and sounds hard, while Chopin is hard but needs to sound easy (obviously this statement isn't intended to be taken completely seriously!). But if Liszt is one of your unfavorite composers, this won't be a concern to you tongue.gif But on a related note, I'm glad that Rachmaninoff (and to a much lesser extent Brahms) are up there on my list of less-favorite composers biggrin.gif (Though Mahler and Shostakovich are also in the running, and those I have no choice about playing, sadly...)
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#37 jod

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 19:53

Up until yesterday I thought that fugal writing with more than three parts was near-on imporssible, then I realised that all the work I'd done on wrist flexibily and elbow counter-weight and travelling with the arms meant I had hands that pivoted and could cover so much more keyboard contrapuntally than I ever thought possible.

It had also helped that I'd been playing on a tracker organ a bit and not exactly been going light on the registration so my fingers had so much more strength.

There are times when, as long as you keep in mind the differences between a modern piano and other keyboard instruments that playing harpsichords and organ manuals can be beneficial. I wouldn't want to do it all the time, however it does remind me about the specific qualities of a piano action so that I can use my tiny hands and the wrists and arms attached to them in the best way possible.

I never played that well until I realised the ergonomics behind the piano. That I gained as an undergrad.
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#38 Guest: maledictis_*

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 22:06

.....
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#39 stetenorve

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 22:11

QUOTE(maledictis @ Jun 19 2011, 11:06 PM) View Post

QUOTE(jod @ Jun 19 2011, 08:53 PM) View Post

I never played that well until I realised the ergonomics behind the piano.

I looked behind my piano, but I couldn't find any ergonomics... rolleyes.gif wink.gif


Only dust....
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#40 Guest: maledictis_*

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 22:15

.....
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#41 corenfa

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 11:52

err, in addition to being a small handed pianist I am also a small handed housewife (ok ok, figuratively speaking). I used to think that the reason there was so much dust behind my piano was that my small hands were hampering my housework tongue.gif , but then I realised it was because I would rather play my piano than dust it biggrin.gif biggrin.gif biggrin.gif

(but seriously, there are ergonomics of housekeeping as well as piano, my mum used to yell at me when I was little to use the whole of my arms while sweeping not just the wrist. You can get RSI from housework as well as piano)

(I'll stop babbling now)
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#42 fsharpminor

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 12:42

QUOTE(lilly763 @ Jun 19 2011, 12:22 AM) View Post

QUOTE(corenfa @ Jun 18 2011, 06:54 PM) View Post

Ha - maybe it's good then that one of my unfavourite composers happens to be Liszt!


Hmm... I don't know that I agree that Liszt is hard on small hands. Liszt tends to be relatively pianistic and sounds more difficult than it is - my teacher always says Liszt is easier than Chopin because Liszt is easy and sounds hard, while Chopin is hard but needs to sound easy (obviously this statement isn't intended to be taken completely seriously!). But if Liszt is one of your unfavorite composers, this won't be a concern to you tongue.gif But on a related note, I'm glad that Rachmaninoff (and to a much lesser extent Brahms) are up there on my list of less-favorite composers biggrin.gif (Though Mahler and Shostakovich are also in the running, and those I have no choice about playing, sadly...)

There are plenty of Shost you could play Lilly, eg many of the Op34 Preludes
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#43 jod

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 15:04

On the subject of dust have you tried a long flat duster, or a pop sock attached to an elastic band to the skirting board tool on a vacuum cleaner.

Ergonomics aren't normally found behind the piano, but if anyone want diminutive housekeeping hints rather than a small handed tip for dimished sevenths except that there are only three the rest are invertions, only free to oblige.
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#44 Zoya

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 03:34

(Stands up)

My name is Zoya and I am a small-handed pianist.

I'm 5'4" and was led to believe for most of my life, that because of this "malady" I'd never be able to play piano.

FINALLY I stopped listening and took it up anyway. Later than I'd have preferred but better late than never, I think. I may not be performing at the Royal Albert Hall any time soon, but what I do gives me pleasure at least.

I can only just make an octave at present but I've had a big gap in my learning in recent years so I'm sure that, once I get back into the swing of things, that'll improve. I've heard of many people starting out like this but through practice and the strenghtening of both hands and fingers, that stretch gets extended eventually.

Well, here's hoping, anyway.... blink.gif
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#45 corenfa

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 07:36

QUOTE(Zoya @ Jun 23 2011, 04:34 AM) View Post

...

I can only just make an octave at present but I've had a big gap in my learning in recent years so I'm sure that, once I get back into the swing of things, that'll improve. I've heard of many people starting out like this but through practice and the strenghtening of both hands and fingers, that stretch gets extended eventually.

Well, here's hoping, anyway.... blink.gif


Welcome to the club!

I improved my span from an octave in left hand to ninth in left hand, and just-about-octave in right hand to easy octave and sometimes-ninth. I don't think I can physically go any further, but that's still more than I was expecting for. All the best!
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