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The small-handed pianist support thread


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#106 Kai-Lei

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 10:49

Big arpeggios - I have to move my whole arm from the shoulder and do what seems to me to be really extreme elbow movements. sometimes I wonder if I am going to take my own eye out..


I think this is the way for long, fast arpeggios. Your arm is the carrier, setting your fingers free to do what they have to do. Also, sloping the wrist in the right direction is important. It seems to be less "thumb under or fingers over" than moving the arm/hand and aiming.

I'm dogged by smaller hands as I like to attempt LIszt. It means more broken chords and even missing out some chord notes if I have to. His Study "Ricordanza" gave me a fair few problems as there are two passages of fairly quiet repeated chords that cover a tenth (which I can just about reach with certain black note combinations, like Bb to Db) in my left hand, not so in my right.

As for octaves I had to practice a lot away from the keyboard.

Incidentally, Liszt was an excellent teacher. He taught me how to suspend melodies between the thumbs of both hands which has been particularly useful in my "lounge" playing. You can make it sound like three hands at work!
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#107 corenfa

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Posted 16 March 2015 - 22:22

A few more months on- I think a large part of increasing my usable right hand span has been retraining my brain to use the right muscles to pull the fingers apart. If I moved my right hand fingers apart with the left hand, they would move apart with no pain, so it can't be that they are physically restrained from moving apart. Over the last few weeks it's like it's suddenly happened all at once; one day I could just think- I must move these fingers apart- and they did move. I also feel an ache in some very specific parts of the forearm, and those bits feel very warm after an intense session so something is clearly working.
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#108 jch48

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 15:54

I was interested to hear Ashkenazy being interviewed on radio 3 a few weeks ago. He spoke about the authorities making him play Tchaik 1 in the Tchaikovsky competition despite it being unsuitable for his small hands. That octave passage in the final movement comes to mind, but maybe there are other sections.
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#109 fsharpminor

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 18:10

I was interested to hear Ashkenazy being interviewed on radio 3 a few weeks ago. He spoke about the authorities making him play Tchaik 1 in the Tchaikovsky competition despite it being unsuitable for his small hands. That octave passage in the final movement comes to mind, but maybe there are other sections.

I was discussing hand size personally with Vladimirs son Vovka last year at the ProCroda course. You wouldnt think his hands were small the way he plays. even some Chopin Nocturnes (one of which I was studying with Vovka) are easier to play with bigger hands.


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#110 ieva22

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Posted 17 May 2015 - 15:11

It is possible to widen your stretch so just kepp working on that. :)
for me uts hard to engage I am a girl with man hands as my friends laugh I atritch 10th a full chord easily and 11 th.
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#111 fied

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Posted 17 May 2015 - 16:52

Hand span can stretch even for adults, but there comes a time when it's more or less set to its limit. I have small hands with a short and bent little finger and can still only just get an octave provided there aren't too many black keys to finger in the chord. Chopin and Liszt I have to play with broken chords or quick hand rolls or missing out a couple of notes. Those two don't get played very often!

 

Thank God playing the harp's easier in that regard!


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#112 jch48

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 16:32

Two things I was told on Monday:

 

oooo - you have got a short thumb

 

still, that's not reason not to play the piece!


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#113 corenfa

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 21:53

Six years after starting this thread... I played through the Chopin A-flat major Polonaise Op. 53 in my lesson tonight. Teacher was happy with my progress. It's taken a couple of years to work up to being able to play that Polonaise without wrecking my hands, but I've done it now. I can play through it under tempo, and nothing hurts. I've done stretching exercises every practise session and in the last year, I really started to notice the difference. Then in the last three weeks, everything kind of came together and all the consecutive octaves just became... possible. I think the most important thing for me is that nothing hurts. It used to, and then I'd have to stop halfway.


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#114 michael N

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 22:12

Oh well. I just knew there would be a thread on piano and small hands. I can get an octave in both hands but that's just about it. If I go to the edge of the keys I can get a 9 th, which may not prove very useful. I just can't see my stretch increasing even though I'm new to piano. I have good stretch on the guitar (for my hand size) and at my advanced age my fingers are not going to grow. I think it was one of those things that put me off starting piano earlier, I just didn't have 'piano fingers'. Of course that really is a silly thought but there goes that conditioning. Just try to play in a very musical manner and don't worry too much about what isn't possible. 


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#115 corenfa

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 22:31

I wanted to play the Op 53 Polonaise so I asked my teacher if it was  possible, and told her if she said it was impossible then I would pick something else. She said it's possible if I would follow a certain regimen of etudes and exercises and that it would likely take a couple of years. I agreed to this. She later said that she had expected me to say no. It's true that it hasn't always been a straight path towards that goal. Anyway, with the proper training and practise, it was possible for me to extend my span not by growing my fingers but by learning to relax the relevant bit. It's certainly not a conscious thing.

 

I could have been perfectly happy not being able to play consecutive octaves, there's certainly enough in the piano repertoire aside from things like that, but I really wanted to play that Polonaise.


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#116 Guest: mel2_*

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 00:18

Glad you achieved your goal - it must be very satisfying.
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#117 corenfa

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 07:45

Thanks, it is. It was one of the first piano pieces I remember from being a child. My dad used to really like Chopin and he had "Chopin's Greatest Hits" (urggh) which was on quite a lot. The other pieces on that that made a big impression on me were the Fantasie-Impromptu and the Op. 9 nocturnes, but I can play those without needing to resort to hand augmentation..


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#118 fsharpminor

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 10:10

Thanks, it is. It was one of the first piano pieces I remember from being a child. My dad used to really like Chopin and he had "Chopin's Greatest Hits" (urggh) which was on quite a lot. The other pieces on that that made a big impression on me were the Fantasie-Impromptu and the Op. 9 nocturnes, but I can play those without needing to resort to hand augmentation..

Well done Corenfa.  I still get pain down the left edge of my left hand when playing the C#minor Nocturne.  And my hands are quite large. I havent really tried that A Flat Poloniase though, have been spending too much time on Ballade 3, that may be managable for you.


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#119 dumdidum

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 10:16

Well done Corenfa! It must feel great to achieve something after all that effort. Did you actually do physical stretching exercises or did playing the etudes etc take on that role?


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#120 michael N

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 10:49

As a listener I know that Chopin polonaise. . . . . . . I think I'm going to remain as a listener for the rest of my days! 

 

Referring to octaves. I tried to play repeated octaves (same notes) and found that my hand/wrist locked after two or three repetitions. Then I came across the following video and I can now do six or seven (not at his speed!). 

 


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