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Small hands(piano)

(11 Posts)
irvineoneohone Sun 18-Dec-16 09:41:24

Hi!
Is there any effective way to stretch your hands,to be able to make your hands/fingers bigger/longer like excercise?
My ds is very frustrated that he can't play some songs he wants to learn to play.
He is forever trying to stretch his fingers to reach those notes.
Is this work? Does it make any difference in the long run?
Or does he have to accept he has small hands and maybe able to, when he is a bit older? He is 8, almost 9.

Fleurdelise Sun 18-Dec-16 10:01:10

There are some stretching exercises which I am sure you can find online but I wouldn't encourage him to do them without demonstration from his teacher as he could injure himself.

He can play the pieces he wants but they need adapting, certain notes out of a cord not played, again his teacher can tell him which one to ensure it still sounds ok, DD is a petite 9 year old and everything she wanted to play she did but the teacher had to adapt some bars. (DD can't stretch an octave yet unless she plays on the edge of the keys, if the octave is on the black notes no chance).

Mistigri Sun 18-Dec-16 11:48:57

At that age I wouldn't be encouraging specific exercises unless given by his teacher, it would be easy to get a hand injury.

The answer to this issue for an 8 year old boy is simply to be patient - in 3-4 years it's likely that this will no longer be a problem! In the meantime, there are things he can do if he can't reach particular chords or arpeggios - for chords, you can skip a base or intermediate note, or arpeggiate them; for arpeggios there are often techniques to get around the problem (eg a "rolling" motion of the hand, or additional use of the pedal to provide a legato effect where you have to lift the hand to stretch between notes).

My DD who is 15 and won't grow any more has very small hands, but then so do some of the top female Asian pianists! She does exercises (under the supervision of her teacher), avoids certain repertoire known for being difficult for pianists with small hands, and is learning the "work around" techniques mentioned above.

Mistigri Sun 18-Dec-16 11:51:35

PS my dd can only just reach an octave and that's after stretching ...

TheLongRoadToXmas Sun 18-Dec-16 11:56:54

I asked dd1's piano teacher whether he wanted to guide her in choosing exam pieces so that they were easier for small hands (she's a small 8) and he said she should just choose the pieces she liked best, the examiners make allowances for children with small hands.

I hope that's right, as that's what we did and there is one piece where she has to sort of jump between notes rather than play the some of the chords properly.

irvineoneohone Sun 18-Dec-16 21:51:22

Thank you for advice. fsmile
Glad I asked. He is not doing any exercise, just trying to spread his hands as wide as possible, so I don't think he is going to injure himself at the moment.
I agree that he needs to be patient, and tell him to ask the teacher about how he can play better with small hands.

LooseAtTheSeams Tue 20-Dec-16 08:55:43

The jump between notes is absolutely fine - there are also ways in which you can use the sustain pedal to give you a chance to get to the other note and the teacher will advise if/when that will work. I think it's used quite a lot when playing Chopin but as I've only attempted one Chopin piece so far - and I have small chubby hands so I am not a natural pianist! - I am just going on what my teacher told me.

Greenleave Tue 20-Dec-16 09:04:29

I thought we had some problems due to small hands(short fingers) when we learnt the grade 5 pieces but in the end we didnt. The weight for the keys wont be as good when they have to plays few keys apart at once and I think everyone accepts it

Mistigri Tue 20-Dec-16 12:30:39

DD uses the sustain pedal a lot, for eg in Chopin nocturnes where she's having to lift her hand more than she "should" but also in easier pieces. She learnt a piece by Mussorgsky last year (grade 5/6 ish so the sort of piece a young pianist might come across) which has a lot of left hand travel in the fast section - this means that lifting can affect accuracy as well spoiling the legato effect. She got round it with a rolling motion of the hand/wrist to enable her to travel further between notes without completely lifting the hand, and some extra use of the sustain pedal.

There are probably pieces where there is no completely satisfactory work-around, but there are tens of thousands of pieces to choose from ;) and having small hands is probably an advantage in some instances.

Greenleave Tue 20-Dec-16 12:43:50

Misti, we used the same technique in Am Abend (a grade 5 piece), when to achieve the required legato we had to use alot of pedals. It became a slight problem to achieve 3 voices when small hands cant hand it as easily. But with practice, in the end it wasnt too bad

Mistigri Tue 20-Dec-16 12:47:00

I think the other thing to say is that you have to be really careful about the quantity of practice when there are big stretches as it would be easy for a young pianist to pick up an overuse injury.

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