Piano Forum

Topic: Short Hands  (Read 1404 times)

Offline ail

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 137
Short Hands
on: July 11, 2005, 10:01:35 AM

I'm self-taught regarding piano, and still haven't found myself a teacher. I don't have, currently, the free time needed to dedicate myself to classes in a committed fashion, I mean, with responsabilities before a teacher, so I'm not looking for one at the moment either.

That said, I like to play a lot, so I've taken a look at two Nocturnes from Chopin and I thought I could manage them... at first. It was the number 1, and the number 13. But when I began playing no.13 (Op. 48), I came accross some chords in the left hand that seem too big to me. For instance, in bar 16, the second chord is a 10th and I think it gets worse later. Now, what can I do? Can I arpeggiate this chord, or should I forget the piece entirely? I usually try, when I can, to "lend" a finger from the right hand, if it is in the vicinity somehow.
Also, in the same piece, there are some arpeggios clearly marked as so in the score, while the right hand has solid chords. Should the right hand play only after the arpeggio ends, or when it begins ? (this is probably basic, but I have no teacher, remember).

By the way, my left hand can barely play some 10ths, while my right hand goes at most to a 9th. Do I have small hands? What should be the ideal span? Can I improve them, somehow?



Offline xvimbi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2439
Re: Short Hands
Reply #1 on: July 11, 2005, 12:05:47 PM
You have the following general options, in order of my personal preference:

1. arpeggiate the chords; many professional pianists do that

2. drop a note from the offending chord. One has to figure out which one so that the overall sound does not get affected too much; I'd say, better do that than not playing a magnificent piece at all

3. pick a different piece


98764. Do stretching exercises to make the hand bigger. If learning how to relax the hand and the associated extra flexibity does not help, and general piano playing does not automatically lead to a greater reach, that's the way it is. I'd recommend against any forced hand enlargening exercises, because of the inherent dangers of permanent damage.

Offline alzado

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 573
Re: Short Hands
Reply #2 on: July 16, 2005, 04:32:24 PM
I can tell you what I have done on a couple of occasions.

Playing Alexander Tcherepnin's pieces, which are filled with stretches --

I can do a 10th so long as the upper note is not sharped.

If I just can't reach (it is more than a 10th) and a 3-note chord is involved, I just move one of the notes an octave.

Example -- here's a 3-note left-hand chord.  The lowest note is a C.  Then I still play a 3-note chord, but I move the C up one octave.

The only alternative is to roll the chord as you suggest, or drop a note.  I have also used your idea of trying to pick up the top note in the difficult chord with the right thumb, where this is possible.  (Once and a while, it is.)

Back to my practice of occasionally shifting a note up an octave in a big, spread chord --   A person would want to listen to the result when shifting a note in such a chord, since it has to sound okay in context.  Otherwise, one might try to move a different note an octave.

I suppose someone will tell me that we are not supposed to do this.  But of course, we are not supposed to omit a note from a chord either.

We need to think sometimes of what we are doing.  If we are being judged in a contest or something, that's one thing.  If we are playing for our own enjoyment, we sometimes can adapt things to fit our own capabilities, and who's to care?

I have a small stuffed bear that sits on the corner of my piano when I play.  The little bear is not going to criticise no matter what I do--

Best luck--


Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert