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I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes. (Read 6862 times)

Offline dora96

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HI

I have small hands. My hands span just enough to reach the octave. Recently, I have to practice Chopin Etude op.10 #3. In the middle part of the piece, I am really struggle to play the double notes in both hand due to my small hands, I always hit the wrong note and couldn't play fast enough. Could anyone advise me? Thank you kindly.

Sheet music to download and print: Etudes by Chopin



Offline nyonyo

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #1 on: June 21, 2008, 04:05:19 PM »
Don't you think it is just merely a physical limitation.
I always want to play Schumann's "Soaring", but I just cannot grab the openning pharse with one hand, I have to use two hands. The main problem is in the middle, there is several bars that we cannot use two hands and it does not sound good two eleminate certain notes. Therefore, I just give up trying to master that piece.  There are many other pieces that sound as impressive as the soaring that I can physically handle.

Offline gerryjay

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #2 on: June 21, 2008, 04:12:24 PM »
 hey dora!

 i can't help you properly: my hands are big and i'm wrestling with chopin's etudes as well. anyway, when i did read your topic, i thought: chopin himself had very small hands, hasn't he? so, there must be a way to play that with hands that are not big.

 about your comment, don't worry about speed. there are so many things in piano playing to consider (touch, coordination, articulation) that speed for itself is, imho, dumb. of course that this passage (middle part of etude 3) is fast, but give yourself time to render it properly.  8)

 finally, some words of wisdom (rofl...): there are countless works to play that will fit your hand, even very very difficult works. don't hit your face in the wall playing something that is not suited to yourself.  ;)

 best!

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #3 on: June 21, 2008, 07:15:21 PM »
Quote
chopin himself had very small hands, hasn't he?

He could reach a 10th easily.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #4 on: June 21, 2008, 07:16:20 PM »
HI

I have small hands. My hands span just enough to reach the octave. Recently, I have to practice Chopin Etude op.10 #3. In the middle part of the piece, I am really struggle to play the double notes in both hand due to my small hands, I always hit the wrong note and couldn't play fast enough. Could anyone advise me? Thank you kindly.

Maybe the problem lies not in your hand span but in the fingers you choose to depress the keys.  What finger are you using?

Offline dora96

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #5 on: June 29, 2008, 10:18:47 AM »
hey dora!

 i can't help you properly: my hands are big and i'm wrestling with chopin's etudes as well. anyway, when i did read your topic, i thought: chopin himself had very small hands, hasn't he? so, there must be a way to play that with hands that are not big.

 about your comment, don't worry about speed. there are so many things in piano playing to consider (touch, coordination, articulation) that speed for itself is, imho, dumb. of course that this passage (middle part of etude 3) is fast, but give yourself time to render it properly.  8)

 finally, some words of wisdom (rofl...): there are countless works to play that will fit your hand, even very very difficult works. don't hit your face in the wall playing something that is not suited to yourself.  ;)

 best!

I follow the fingering in the book. The double notes are really hard. I think because there are lots of bars continually with 6 intervals, I can do 3 lines, but toward the few bars. I just lost it. If I can memorize all the notes without looking at the book, but concentrate with only the keyboard itself, it will makes a different. However, I have difficulties to remember them as well. I just keep on practice slow and preserving.

I heard that Lang Lang can play all the Chopin Etudes by the age of 12. Surely, a kid of 12 year old doesn't have large hand span. How some kids can do it ?
There must be a way. Anyone knows please !! I know that I should not put my physical limitation. This piece is a part of the exam syllabus.

Offline richy321

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #6 on: June 29, 2008, 07:38:42 PM »
Dora, I haven't worked seriously on this piece, but I have played other Chopin etudes that had much bigger intervals than this one, and I have small hands too, so perhaps these general suggestions might help.

Nearly all the fingerings in Chopin editions are editorial and should not be viewed as authoratative.  If a stretch feels really uncomfortable, it will cause tension and loss of control. In that case you should find the fingering that feels easy, even if the fingering is a little odd.  For example, if using 4-5 for the top notes of a series of doubles causes strain, try using the 5th finger for both, 5-5.  Actually, it is your teacher's job to teach you how to find the right fingering for you.  If he/she is insists that you follow what is printed, that is a bad sign.

Keep in mind that the pedal is freely used in this etude, so you don't always have to make a perfectly connected legato as written.

Make sure that you upper body is properly placed so it can support the doubles when they ascend into the high register.

Good luck with this piece.  It is one of the most beautiful in the entire repertory.

 

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #7 on: June 29, 2008, 10:54:36 PM »
Quote
Nearly all the fingerings in Chopin editions are editorial and should not be viewed as authoratative.

Depends on which edition you are using.  Which edition are you using?

Offline aewanko

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #8 on: June 29, 2008, 10:57:14 PM »
Small hands eh? Why not you do what Robert Schumann did. Or get a customized piano like Hofmann.

Just kidding. Your hands will grow as time comes.
Trying to return to playing the piano.

Offline thierry13

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #9 on: June 30, 2008, 03:17:41 AM »
Some people play Rach 3 with a ninth span. You can actually play anything if you can grab a ninth.

Offline richy321

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #10 on: June 30, 2008, 05:57:57 PM »
Depends on which edition you are using.  Which edition are you using?

I have the Schirmer (Friedheim) and Alfred (Palmer) editions.  I based my statement on this note in the Palmer: "Fingering is editorial unless commentary in the footnotes states otherwise".  I scanned quickly through the Palmer and found only one footnote attributing the fingering to Chopin.  I may have missed some, but you get my point. The Friedheim takes credit for all fingering as editorial. 

Offline ganymed

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #11 on: July 01, 2008, 10:24:25 PM »
chopin could reach a 10th.

BUT at those times the width between the keys were smaller. So a 10th at his time is smaller than our 10th !
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Offline sharon_f

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #12 on: July 02, 2008, 01:20:39 AM »
Dora,

I struggled with that part also. (My hands are not unusually small but they aren't big either. I can just stretch a ninth and can sometimes make a tenth but not always cleanly.)

A few things things helped me master that particular section.

First get the patterns memorized. At first glance they seem very complicated but they basically break down (I don't have the score in front of me) into 3 groups of repeating patterns with the final group an extended version of the first two.

Second, the slurs will help you with the wrist movement. Everything "swings" in this section.

Third, and most important, take a little breath (an almost imperceptible pause) between each section. It will help you get your hands in the correct position for the next pattern and it helps release the tension your hands can build up from all the stretching.

These are some suggestions that worked for me. And don't despair, it is a wonderful piece of music and well worth the effort.
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Offline dora96

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #13 on: July 04, 2008, 12:24:07 AM »
G'day

Thank you for everyone's suggestion and advice. Honestly, I nearly give it up, but when I read your post and slowly practice just like sharon_f said wrist movement , and little breath. This piece is not very hard except the middle part. I feel I can almost play it perfect, but that endurance to last to the end, and concentration and steadily tempo but attempted to speed up. I will keep going, I hope I play it well and post it for you guy.Thank you

Offline alpacinator1

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #14 on: July 04, 2008, 04:26:19 AM »
Stretch your fingers until they are severely deformed and capable of extreme hyperextension. You can be like Paganini.


Working on:
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Chopin - etude 25-12

Offline dora96

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #15 on: July 04, 2008, 06:09:56 AM »
Stretch your fingers until they are severely deformed and capable of extreme hyperextension. You can be like Paganini.




Can fingers be over stretched, how deformities can be? Can you show me example? I know some ballet dancers have terrible hands and feets. Will it be the same applying to painist as well?  Chopin and other former classical composers had given to this world their high technical piece. How do they cope with? Do they have deformilities with their hands? I know Schumann had terrible time with his hand. Is it because his stretch too much? Or other physical matter existed within his own self.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #16 on: July 04, 2008, 06:21:55 AM »
That was a joke - a bad one.

When I started playing the piano, I couldn't comfortably play an octave in either hand.  After some time, an octave was easy.  The reason had to do with the conditioning of the muscles in the hand to be able to contract the 5th finger outward and also perhaps the thumb as well.  I can now play a 10th in my left hand.  This is the maximum reach my body can do and I won't be able to increase it no matter what.

Schumann used a device which was supposed to increase his reach and instead injured his hand.  Schumann was no good pianist and assumed such contraptions would improve it.  Of course no good was Clara's father, his piano teacher. :P

Offline eyeballnick

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #17 on: July 07, 2008, 04:02:04 PM »
Im self taught but have played a few of these, 10 3 and4 and the aeolin harp, not to great standerds but alrite so far as having no lessons go. I have smallish hands also but i found just keep trying to stretch and losen your fingers, exercises are good. but just take them slow.
Good luck

Nick

Offline alpacinator1

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #18 on: July 13, 2008, 03:12:11 AM »
That was a joke - a bad one.

Gee, thanks. You make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Working on:
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Chopin - etude 25-12

Offline dora96

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #19 on: July 13, 2008, 07:36:18 AM »
I have kept practicing the middle part every day like technical exercise. I find that some days are easy than other. The problem 4 and 5 fingers in the left hand are weak as a kitty. It is winter in Sydney, I find the joints and muscle are stiff. I am really curious that every songs Chopin wrote, do you think he can play them all, if he is still alive. Someone said that lots of his songs were dedicated to George Sand. Who is it? Woman or man, I am sorry, I am just not sure. It is nice to know more about the composer. Does this song have a special name? Like a farewell song. 

Other thing, Schumann tried to increase his hand span, what kind of method or tool, why did he do that ? It must be hurt. I thought that he was a quite big man himself. I don't know much about his life, but music world feel that it was shame for that tragic lost and his life was so sad.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #20 on: July 13, 2008, 09:11:37 AM »
Gee, thanks. You make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Sorry, but it seemed it was taken seriously, hence.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #21 on: July 13, 2008, 09:30:22 AM »
Other thing, Schumann tried to increase his hand span, what kind of method or tool, why did he do that ? It must be hurt. I thought that he was a quite big man himself. I don't know much about his life, but music world feel that it was shame for that tragic lost and his life was so sad.

During the 19th century, there were dozens of devices that were invented to improve a pianists abilities and that also included ones that were designed to increase the hand span.  Franz Liszt, at one time, even recommended them because they allowed the pianist to read a book or do other mundane tasks while "practicing".

Pianism boomed during this century.  Every student (and virtuoso) wanted a get-rich-quick scheme.  Understanding of the playing mechanism (the human body) was extremely limited and it was thought that the body was a machine that needed to be built up & toughened to be able to play the piano.  (How little this mindset has changed even now.)  So inventors (which included famous virtuosos) invented devices that would allow the pianist to practice mechanically to strengthen their fingers, among other things.  Famous virtuosos that these devices created: none.

Liszt, in his later and more wise years, admonished these devices he once promoted.

Offline samuel13

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #22 on: July 16, 2008, 10:01:11 AM »
Observe young children playing the pieces. i think they can't reach an octave

Offline concorde331

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #23 on: July 20, 2008, 12:17:20 AM »
I have kept practicing the middle part every day like technical exercise. I find that some days are easy than other. The problem 4 and 5 fingers in the left hand are weak as a kitty. It is winter in Sydney, I find the joints and muscle are stiff.

Perhaps try some exercises - try doing a bunch of trills with 4 and 5, or take a look into some moderate-level pieces that demand a lot of 4 & 5 use.  That can help strengthen your weaker fingers.
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Offline cjsm

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #24 on: July 27, 2008, 06:22:37 PM »
chopin himself had very small hands, hasn't he?

Chopin had small hands, that is, small palms, but he had very long fingers.  He had very unusual hands.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #25 on: July 27, 2008, 07:36:19 PM »
This is unusual?

Offline neel1

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #26 on: July 28, 2008, 10:48:56 AM »
When you speak of a "10th", does it mean that you play 2 keys with 8 in between? Or 10 in between? (Without counting de black keys)

Offline tobias777

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #27 on: July 28, 2008, 12:58:52 PM »
HI

I have small hands. My hands span just enough to reach the octave. Recently, I have to practice Chopin Etude op.10 #3. In the middle part of the piece, I am really struggle to play the double notes in both hand due to my small hands, I always hit the wrong note and couldn't play fast enough. Could anyone advise me? Thank you kindly.



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Offline faulty_damper

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #28 on: July 28, 2008, 02:01:36 PM »
When you speak of a "10th", does it mean that you play 2 keys with 8 in between? Or 10 in between? (Without counting de black keys)

It means an interval of a 10th which is an octave and a third.  Exempli gratis:  c - e' is a 10th. c - c' is an 8ve.

Offline neel1

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #29 on: July 28, 2008, 02:35:51 PM »
Ok, thank you for your reaction.
I understand that the A - C' i mention in my "width keys" topic is a 10th as well then.

Offline cjsm

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Re: I have small hands, how to deal with playing Chopin Etudes.
«Reply #30 on: August 04, 2008, 06:30:14 AM »
This is unusual?

Well, I saw another picture of his hand, palm up, and it did look unusual.  The palm was very small, but the fingers were very long.  It looked like no other hand I've seen.