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Could are profession move away from having one 'standard' keyboard size ? (Read 2405 times)

Offline henselt1

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  Smaller narrower ergonomic piano keyboards (7/8 and universal 15/16)  seem to be gaining slow but gradual support and popularity in America and even Australia. I became aware of this movement when PASK (Pianists for alternate size keyboards) launched an online global petition.

 These smaller 'standard' sizes if they become mass produced could significantly change the out look for your typical small handed adult and child player. Although I can't see this happening for sometime if it happens and would piano manufacturers take such a risk ?   

Offline stevensk

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-Oh, what a nightmare. -That was my first thought, but then I realized that this have happened whith violins and cellos decades ago whith good resaults (for children). So. I dont really know but I feel some resistance to this. 

Offline iansinclair

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Well... first place, I think we've gone around this barn before.  With no firm conclusion...

Second, I would point out that harpsichords and clavichords do have a narrower keyboard.  As one who plays both organs and pianos (standard keyboards) and harpsichord, I would comment that it is quite possible to play both equally well (or poorly, as the case may be!) -- but what one can't do is take a piece which has been learned well on one size and just switch to the other.  Your muscle memory is wrong, and you will miss intervals.  Not that this can't be overcome -- it can -- but one must be aware of the problem.

The real problem, seems to me, is economic -- one would need to have a completely different action for each keyboard size, although I expect that the rest of the instrument could remain the same.  So the question is... just how much demand might there be?  I expect it would be much easier with electronic instruments...
Ian

Offline keypeg

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-Oh, what a nightmare. -That was my first thought, but then I realized that this have happened whith violins and cellos decades ago whith good resaults (for children). So. I dont really know but I feel some resistance to this. 
A child who switches to a larger violin as he grows, has to get accustomed to that instrument, and he doesn't switch back and forth between them.  That child also gets to take his instrument with him wherever he goes.

Offline timothy42b

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It seems to me there's a compromise between making keys smaller to reduce the need for a large reach, and making keys big enough that fat fingers don't hit two keys, or won't fit between black keys.

Given that very small children can get around a keyboard pretty well, maybe with the occasional rolled chord or pedal use, is it really worth improving the piano so marginally? 

With electronics I wouldn't even go there.  I'd go Wicki-Hayden or one of the other advancements. 
Tim

Offline adodd81802

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"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline mjames

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Yah most people can handle the piano, it only bothers the itsy bitsy hands crowd. Theres no real incentive for smaller key sizes to be added to the "standard" by various companies, its impractical.

Inb4 crapstorm

@adodd

Exactly. Like why do they even need petitions? You want MAJOR companies to adjust the standard for the minority population? Cmonnnnn
Yeah itll probably be nearly impossible for you to become a major star, like it is for a no legged person to become an olympic swimmer.
I feel sorry for asian girls..
Theyre so...
Small...

Offline adodd81802

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"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline alexm88

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The piano has been developed in a way that it meets the average majority population.
So excluding most women is meeting the average majority population?

Just as a basketball has a regulation size, (you'd never see a midget playing professional basketball!) Just as a Pilot has to take an eye test (.. No explanation needed) there are set requirements that make it fair for the majority population to have enough options for career and hobbies, whilst sensibly segregating those that do not meet the criteria, and not only that, but to ensure it is made fair for everybody else.
Not everybody wants to be a professional. There are a lot of amateur basket ball players who are very small. Same for amateur pianists with small hands. The difference is that short amateur basket ball players are not that limited, in fact there even is a list of short pro basket ball players: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_shortest_players_in_National_Basketball_Association_history

Yeah itll probably be nearly impossible for you to become a major star, like it is for a no legged person to become an olympic swimmer.
Have you ever heard about the Paralympic Games?

The real problem, seems to me, is economic -- one would need to have a completely different action for each keyboard size, although I expect that the rest of the instrument could remain the same.
In fact, the only thing that has to be changed is the keyboard. The original action can be mounted on a keyboard with narrower keys without any issue. All you need is a screwdriver and five minutes of your time. Well at least this is true for a grand piano, on an upright it might be more complex.

I believe that it is far from difficult technically speaking to make keyboards with smaller keys on demand, so I cannot understand why piano companies won't make them more accessible. I think that the whole thing is just about raising awareness: as I can see with the comments here, it seems like people with large hands are stuck with their opinion because they don't see the problem: indeed, the current standard fit your hands perfectly, because you have large hands. But hey, you are not alone!

Being able to play the piano at a decent level should not be a privilege based on genetic aspects: I've just pointed out that disabled athletes can perform very well in various sports thanks to modern solutions! Of course these disabled athletes won't compete with healthy athletes, because there is a real difference between the two, but here we are just talking about reducing the size of the keys, as an healthy swimmer would choose a swimsuit that fits him.

And please don't tell me things like "yeah Alicia de Larrocha had small hands and she was able to play at a decent level". We are not talking about small hands like "omg I can only play a tenth on the edge of the keys, I have small hands :( :( :(", we are talking about hands which for example can only reach an octave on the edge, or less.

Offline visitor

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been done.

Offline henselt1

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 :)
  I think this is the main problem, being larger handed players (often men) don't appreciate that the conventional piano keyboard isn't really very comfortable to play for smaller hands ! 

 I think the more smaller handed pianists (women and children) get to experience these new ergonomic sizes, the more pressure piano manufacturers will feel to begin providing them... 

 As the saying is what you don't know you don't miss   

Offline timothy42b

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Keys that are too big pose a problem for small handed pianists but there are workarounds.  It is not absolutely necessary to play huge chords and there is plenty of repertoire perfectly accessible, including pretty much all the modern stuff, jazz, and pop.  You can roll and you can use pedal.  And if you can reach a tenth, somebody can always compose a twelfth.  Like the Lone Ranger said, there's always somebody faster. 

Keys that are too small are simply impossible to play at all for anyone with average to large fingers.  You can't get between the keys. 

The current piano isn't too bad a compromise. 
Tim

Offline adodd81802

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"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline alexm88

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Yes. Obviously, otherwise the piano would be smaller would it not? Don't make this sexist, make it what it is. I said it's made to meet the majority population, and that it does. There indeed may be a correlation in women having smaller hands, but that is not the deciding factor for the size of the piano keys here.
No it is not the majority. The current standard has been established more than one century ago, when there were A LOT LESS female pianists. You should take a look at the statistics collected by the paskpiano website.

What is it you want out of a smaller piano, to be able to play pieces that you cannot play with your hand size? Your difficulty is contextual, and you have to deal with it if you want to be taken seriously, I can reach a 9th and so am not limited by many pieces, I still wouldn't be able to comfortably play much Rachmaninoff, you don't see me complaining about it and being determined to play his pieces with clear impedance, no I approach pieces that are suitable, can you not do the same? You may find yourself suprised at the fact that is a huge amount of repertoire that does not demand ocatve passages.
Yes indeed, it is exactly what I wanted, to be able to play pieces that I couldn't play before! The issue with not being able to make an octave is that it reduces tremendously the available repertoire, eg most of the romantic repertoire! And that's very frustrating: I should avoid most of Liszt works just because I have small hands? That's not fair. As you said, with a ninth nearly all the repertoire is available. There is an incredible difference between reaching a ninth and reaching an octave with difficulty in terms of repertoire.

What does this even mean? The Paralympic games is a wonderful opportunity for those with disabilities whether physical or mental are able to compete on their own level playing field. I take nothing away from their wonderful accomplishments, but there is a reason that there is a completely separate set of games made for the impaired, because it puts these people in a level playing field on their own ground. You know how about we just merge both games together, and then for the 100m sprint, those with one leg can start 50m ahead of the able bodied...
I took this example to show that the disabled athletes HAD a solution available to get rid of their limitations. Of course they will be outperformed by healthy athletes (as I stated in my previous post), but at least they can enjoy fully their passion. Again, the goal is not to compete with professional piano players (well at least not for everyone).

I actually think these pianos are very accessible, there is just simply not a huge demand for them. You may think there is, but there really isn't. People with large hands are not stuck in their ways, they are not to blame for having average / bigger hands. I may enlighten you on the fact that playing the piano successfully is far more about mental capability than it is handsize.
Unhappily no these keyboards are not very accessible. It starts to become a little more available in the US indeed, but living in Europe, I struggled a lot to have one made and I even had to move to be able to try one. And at the moment, the availability in Europe doesn't seem to get any better.

No this is completely wrong. Your comment on playing the piano at a "decent" level is simply aimed at trying to play pieces that you cannot physically play. This is not the same as playing the piano at a decent level. We don't have to all bang out La Campenella to be appreciated, you can see the same wonderful pianists playing Debussy's Arabesque, or Chopin's Nocturne 9/2.
Yes sorry you are perfectly right, I misused the expression "decent level". That's not what I wanted to say. Indeed with small hands you can play a lot of Bach and Mozart with perfection for example, along with most Debussy's repertoire and even some Beethoven advanced sonatas (this had been my choice repertoire for a long time). But the choice remains very limited compared to the whole piano repertoire.

Your comparison to swimmer / swimsuit is terrible. A swimmers swimsuit in my opinion is the same as a pianists stool, or the most comfortable attire to perform at their best.

Your comparison with piano keys is the giving the swimmer a longer diving board so they can jump further ahead.
Not at all, because a pianist with large hands won't have any benefit from reducing the size of the keys, as he will experience some discomfort with small chords, and won't be able to hit the keys accurately. So it is not like giving the swimmer a longer diving board. In an ideal world, it would only be a matter of choice and fit, exactly like a swimsuit.

What is the end goal of your argument here, is it for the smaller piano to exist? because it does..
Is it for the smaller piano to be accepted on the same level as a "normal" piano. Because that simply will not happen, and doesn't need to.
Is it that there should be competitions that accept smaller pianos so people with smaller hands can have a chance to feel accomplished? What's the point, why not have suitable pieces for smaller hands / children on a normal sized piano... oh wait - THEY DO!
Yes it does exist, but again no it isn't widely accessible, and that's a shame. I don't even ask for making smaller keyboards available at competitions and so on, because as I said and as you said, the goal is not to be a professional or to feel accomplished or something. The goal is to enjoy fully one's passion, by being able to play music one likes.

So my whole point is: for most people, playing the piano is just a hobby and they don't expect to be concert pianists one day. However, playing the piano without being able to play music one likes is pointless. You know as well as I that the vast majority of post romantic pieces requires at least being able to play a comfortable octave with each hand. Making a keyboard with narrower keys on demand for individuals is quite easy for major piano companies, but yet it is very difficult to have one made, why?
After I tried a keyboard with smaller keys in a university once (not in Europe of course, it was during a travel abroad), the experience was so incredible that my only goal after that was to get one for my own usage. I waited very long, but I finally succeeded in that goal. You believe the demand isn't there, I believe it is. But people are just not aware, because these keyboards are not easily available, and even when you know that these keyboards exist, it is very difficult to find one and try it, so it discourages people from taking the next steps for having one made.

So no, I don't speak out of frustration. I speak out of compassion. I know that there are a lot of pianists who would GREATLY benefit from the use of such keyboards. But either they don't know it, or they aren't able to have one made. And this is the real shame.

Offline iansinclair

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I have to admit that I find portions of the argument to be annoying.  That, however, is my problem.

I will also start out by saying that in addition to playing piano, I also play harpsichord (which has a significantly narrower keyboard) and clavichord (ditto) and organ, which is the same as piano -- except for the pedal keyboard, which can be very odd on some older instruments.  So I do have some experience with other keyboard sizes...

It is difficult to move from one size keyboard to another with the same music (for example, if I take my Bach French Suites -- harpsichord -- to a piano, I make mistakes)  However, if one always plays the same size instrument, not so much.  For a hobbyist, or for a professional who can afford to take his or her instrument along, this would not be a problem.

There is, however, another problem which simply hasn't been mentioned: while it would be possible (and, within limits, say adapting a harpsichord size keyboard to a piano, not that difficult) it would mean that the builder would have to create an entirely different set of hammers -- or a completely different harp, stringing, and soundboard.  Feasible, sure.  Is there sufficient market?  I doubt it very very much.

Now if one is talking digital keyboards, different story, and perhaps there is enough market.

On one other point, though, I simply have to comment on: perhaps my sample is badly biased (quite likely, since most of the pianists and organists I know are professionals, and so self-selected) but I have yet to note that the women have much more trouble with reaching notes than the men, or vice versa, nor have I heard any of the women I know in the professions complaining about the size of the keyboard. 
Ian

Offline alexm88

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In fact there is no need to build different hammers and so on. The original action can be mounted on a keyboard with narrower keys without any issue. It is just that the branches of such a keyboard are more curved (I don't know if this is clear, here is a picture taken from the steinbuhler website:
http://www.steinbuhler.com/assets/images/autogen/a_Bass-Treble-Web202.jpg).
And removing the keyboard off a grand piano piano is really easy, as well as putting it back: 5 minutes for each operation (but you need a screwdriver).

I agree with the fact that translating pieces learnt on one size to an other size can be difficult, but as you said not unfeasible and in fact with some work and time, it comes quite easily. I believe that if you work a little bit on your Bach French Suites on your piano, you won't make mistakes anymore after a little time of practice.

Most women in the profession are in the profession because they had the chance to get larger hands that the average woman. Again, I encourage you to check the statistics on hand span data collected by the paskpiano website. But that's not all, how do you explain that there are so few women in Chopin or Liszt competitions, and yet they are very successful in Bach/Mozart competitions for example?

Offline iansinclair

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In fact there is no need to build different hammers and so on. The original action can be mounted on a keyboard with narrower keys without any issue. It is just that the branches of such a keyboard are more curved (I don't know if this is clear, here is a picture taken from the steinbuhler website:
http://www.steinbuhler.com/assets/images/autogen/a_Bass-Treble-Web202.jpg).
And removing the keyboard off a grand piano piano is really easy, as well as putting it back: 5 minutes for each operation (but you need a screwdriver).

I agree with the fact that translating pieces learnt on one size to an other size can be difficult, but as you said not unfeasible and in fact with some work and time, it comes quite easily. I believe that if you work a little bit on your Bach French Suites on your piano, you won't make mistakes anymore after a little time of practice.

Most women in the profession are in the profession because they had the chance to get larger hands that the average woman. Again, I encourage you to check the statistics on hand span data collected by the paskpiano website. But that's not all, how do you explain that there are so few women in Chopin or Liszt competitions, and yet they are very successful in Bach/Mozart competitions for example?

The comment about the French Suites is true enough -- were I to decide to play them on piano instead of harpsichord, I could do that in a few weeks.  Then I'd have the same trouble transferring back to harpsichord... but I don't have a few weeks.  At most I have a few days between performances, and switching keyboards with the same literature isn't an option.  Sorry.  Maybe I'm not good enough yet...

I have zero enthusiasm for statistics; as I mentioned my observations are on professionals, and thus on a self-selected group.  I said as much.  Furthermore, my observations aren't on competitions; they are on folks who try to make a living performing (and succeed).  I might note that the of of the very finest performers of late French organ music living today is Diane Bish.  A fine lady, with rather small hands.  She has, however, taken the time and effort to learn to play the instrument. 

At the risk of being tarred and feathered, I might add: there are many professions where some aspect of one's physical being is critical to one's ability to perform at a top level in the profession.  This comment ranges from fighter pilots to lumberjacks to pianists to... the list is endless.  I would be a poor lumberjack; I'm not big and strong enough.  Do I whine about changing the physical aspects of being a lumberjack to suit my personal abilities?  No.  Nor do I have any patience with those who might.  Sorry.
Ian

Offline adodd81802

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"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline outin

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The website quoted by Alex promotes small pianos and so I would not consider the stastics accurate regardless of peoples opinions on statistics in general.

I can easily select 100 people from this site and they will tell you the piano is suitably sized for them and that selection will range from girls boys men and women.

I have to say their research method is a lot more reliable than yours  ;D

Offline adodd81802

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"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline xdjuicebox

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I practice on a slightly smaller keyboard (though I just got an electronic that is full size), and it does throw me off, but being able to reach 10ths is also nice lol
I am trying to become Franz Liszt. Trying. And failing.

Offline alexm88

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Well in fact this website is not a random website held by a random guy, it is held by some serious researchers in musicology. And researchers don't claim things that they believe are true. They claim things that they proved are true. The study they led is very serious and they have no interest in giving fake statistics or statistics that wouldn't be representative. For example, looking for a set of 100 people who think the piano keyboard is suitable for them and then claiming "100% of the people among this set think the keyboard is suitable for them" is not giving representative statistics.

The difference with piano playing unlike the examples you give is that there could be an easy solution which doesn't put anyone at risk or anything. Being a pilot implies having the responsibility of the people you carry, so if you crash the plane and if it is found that it was because of your bad vision, then you and your company will have serious problems. But if you just want to fly your own glider without carrying passengers or being in the army or so, then no problem you can (but you should have your vision corrected if you don't want to put yourself in danger). I also believe that anybody in decent form who REALLY whants to be a lumberjack can be a lumberjack. And maybe in some years, when the technology in order to medically correct one's vision will be more advanced and accessible, then everybody who wants it will be able to be a pilot in the army.

I know indeed that keyboards used to be smaller two centuries ago, and in fact pianos were smaller as well. Pianos started to get bigger in the end of the 19th century, along with the keyboards in order to avoid technical problems, so that they have a more powerful sound and can fully use the potential of the newly created large concert halls of that time. So at that time, it was only due to technical limitations that the keyboard grew larger as well as the pianos, and of course no one saw any issue with that knowing that the pianists of that time were all men with large hands, so they didn't even try to keep the keyboard at its former size. But hey, we are in 2016, everyone can play the piano and keyboard makers have proved that they could make smaller keyboard without encountering technical difficulties and without losing sound power or anything.
If you are interested, the history of keyboard size is given on the paskpiano website, it will give you more details than my basic explanation, especially concerning women and piano at that time.

I'll give you an other example of a situation where people are not physically able to do something but still they try "desesperately" as you say to do it. The example is a little extreme, but it is somehow related: it's about homosexual couples. I think you will agree with me that the two persons in an homosexual couple were not physically made to have children by themselves. Yet they are in a constant fight for getting the right of having children. And they are perfectly right to do that! Why? Because today, our mentalities have evolved, homosexuality is now a widely accepted thing, and moreover we have in vitro and in vivo fecondation etc so THEY CAN have children, and it is perfectly legitimate for an homosexual couple to want children: why heterosexual couples should be allowed to do so but not homosexual couples, just because they are of the same sex? Of course you will find opponents to this, but the issue is quite the same: homosexual couples DO HAVE a modern solution to have children IN THEORY, but yet some people are not ready to accept that for a reason that still escapes me. But this is another debate which is as I said a little more extreme.

Offline adodd81802

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"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline michael_c

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Narrower keyboards exist and are slowly gaining acceptance in conservatoires, concert halls and competitions. For a grand piano a complete action with narrower keys can be swapped with the standard one in less than two minutes. Pianists who have tried these keyboards are usually amazed at how easy it is to adapt.

Her's a pianist playing in the Dallas competition on a 15/16 width keyboard. She only had one day to adapt to the different width keys:



Yes, she can manage to play most of the repertoire on a standard keyboard, which is what she has to do for the vast majority of concerts she plays. But when she gets a chance to play on a keyboard better suited to the size of her hands, she jumps on it. Why shouldn't she?

I find it hard to understand the amount of hostility that the idea of keys of different width can generate. Nobody is suggesting that we replace the old standard by a new one. If you're happy with your piano, why should the existence of other pianos with heavier or lighter touch, with smaller or greater dynamic range, or with narrower or wider keyboards bother you?

Is anybody here campaigning against tennis racquets of different weights or sizes, demanding that all golf clubs should be the same length, or proposing that all cars should have a standard driving seat position?

Oh, and, by the way, this isn't just about men versus women. I personally know two male pianists with hands considerably smaller than average who are both very interested in narrower keyboards.

Offline alexm88

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Homosexuals are indeed a minority. But over 80% of women in the sample cannot play a ninth with minimal comfort: I cannot call this a minority. Indeed, small handed men are a minority (only 24% who can at most reach a tenth on the edge), but still they exist and their proportion is not negligible.

Again, it's not getting an advantage to even the odds. A very large handed pianist (who can already make a 10th or more) who tries to play on a keyboard with 5.5 inches octave will have great difficulty playing on it, and he will conclude that for nothing he would quit using his 6.5 inches standard octave keyboard.

People with say not too small hands but not very large neither could however benefit from using a 6.0 octave instead. For example, you can only reach a 9th. Then with a 6.0 inches octave, you could reach a 10th, and you shouldn't experience discomfort because of the narrower keys. Of course the gap between being able to reach a 10th and being able to reach a 9th is not the same as the gap between 9th and octave in terms of repertoire. But still, it could be useful, and having a larger span available to you could open some new perspectives in already known repertoire... You should at least try if you have the opportunity one day, maybe you will see things differently.

And I think this is part of the reason why people refuse to see the interest of smaller keyboards: because they haven't tried and they don't know how it feels. This is of course partly due to the fact that these keyboards are poorly available. Before trying one, I was also skeptical. Indeed, I had been playing on a standard keyboard for more than ten years, I knew I had small hands and I was frustrated to see that I couldn't play 90% of the pieces I would have liked to play just because of that, but I believed nothing could be done. I did hear about smaller keyboards, but I also believed switching to a smaller keyboard was not worth the effort and well I didn't see the point: I had small hands, I would stay like this all my life, and nothing could be done, over. Then as I was passing by, I tried one, just out of curiosity: it costs nothing after all. Then after that as I already said, my only goal was to get one. I also saw other people than me trying such a keyboard, and I saw people watching people trying. Whatever their hand span, if they were small handed pianists trying such a keyboard, or if they were large handed pianists watching small handed pianists do so, it opened their eyes. So did it open my eyes.

As I said, it is really like choosing the correct size for a swimsuit or a pair of shoes. Someone with very big feet will experience discomfort with small shoes. Someone with very small feet will experience discomfort with too large shoes. The idea is to find the one that will fit you the best.

Offline adodd81802

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"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline timothy42b

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I don't see this for competitions or in music schools.

A smaller piano for the home bound amateur who does not intend to play bar gigs, church jobs, or anywhere else in public does make sense. 

It's a small niche.  But for those who are out there, more power to you.

To me the idea of playing for one's self rather than an audience is incongruent.  But I realize there is a substantial population like that out there. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Very succinctly: the violinist, violist, and I assume tennis player, carries her instrument / equipment with her.   The pianist must play the piano that is located on premises.  There is already a need to adjust to the different touches etc. of each new piano.  Having practised a piece on a piano that has one set of dimensions, and then having to play that piece on a piano where the keys are further apart, which needs that larger span which you haven't practised, and maybe a different technical approach - I imagine that this might create difficulties.

I responded to the comment about violins earlier, and that response was ignored.

Such comments are not "hostility" - they are considerations.

Offline michael_c

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So what are your thoughts on piano competitions?

I don't see this for competitions or in music schools.

The Dallas international piano competition already provides reduced width keyboards. All competitors have the choice of which keyboard they use, so there can be no question of somebody being able to take an unfair advantage.

The  Kuleshov international piano competition in Oklahoma will also provide reduced width keyboards from next year onwards.

As for music schools and universities, several already possess reduced-width keyboards. 

Offline iansinclair

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Look.  This thread has, not surprisingly, gotten a bit off.

Let me say this.  I have no objection to anyone having their own size piano or organ keyboard.  Go for it.  If you want to carry the action with you and swap it out with the normal action on a competition piano, I'd say good luck, but have a go.  Perhaps I should do the same, and carry my action with a specific touch?  I don't think so.

Still less for an organ, where interchanging the action would take weeks.

Bottom line: if you want to create your own piano, or your own action, go for it.  I have no objection.  If you want to swap it into my piano, fuggedabahtit.  If you want to learn to play the organ, wonderful -- but you'll have to cope with the standard keyboard (which has, incidentally, been a standard since at least pre-Bach).

Ah -- I see a question about thoughts on piano competitions came up while I was typing.  Since I'm on a roll here... I have no use for them.  They are usually amusing; sometimes appalling.  Once in a long long time one of the competitors will actually prove to be a fine musician over the long haul.  In my sixty plus years as a professional musician, I can count those on the fingers of one hand.

Or a more general bottom line.  If you want to be a member of a particular group of humans, be prepared to be part of the group.  Don't expect the group to change to conform to your precious snowflake sensitivity.
Ian

Offline adodd81802

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"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."


Offline michael_c

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Very succinctly: the violinist, violist, and I assume tennis player, carries her instrument / equipment with her.   The pianist must play the piano that is located on premises.  There is already a need to adjust to the different touches etc. of each new piano.  Having practised a piece on a piano that has one set of dimensions, and then having to play that piece on a piano where the keys are further apart, which needs that larger span which you haven't practised, and maybe a different technical approach - I imagine that this might create difficulties.

Instead of imagining what might be, why not listen to the people who have actually tried different width keyboards? The actual experience is this: once the player has got used to the narrower keyboard, they can swap between normal and narrower keyboards instantaneously. It's just like swapping between violin and viola: the basic technique remains the same, but the distances between the notes change.

Offline michael_c

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Should there then be competitions for the original sized piano as we know it now and then smaller piano's? Would the smaller piano competitions be taken as seriously?

At the height of his career when he could afford to travel with his own piano, Josef Hofmann had a Steinway fitted with a narrower keyboard. I don't think he was taken any less seriously when he played concerts on this instrument.

Offline iansinclair

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Instead of imagining what might be, why not listen to the people who have actually tried different width keyboards? The actual experience is this: once the player has got used to the narrower keyboard, they can swap between normal and narrower keyboards instantaneously. It's just like swapping between violin and viola: the basic technique remains the same, but the distances between the notes change.
I don't find it so -- but I guess I'm not that good.
Ian

Offline michael_c

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I don't find it so -- but I guess I'm not that good.

Could you give some more detail? What size keyboard have you tried and for how long?

Offline keypeg

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It's just like swapping between violin and viola: the basic technique remains the same, but the distances between the notes change.
What has your experience been when you swapped between violin and viola?  This is not rhetorical.

Offline michael_c

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What has your experience been when you swapped between violin and viola?  This is not rhetorical.

I play neither, but I have professional colleagues who are happy to swap between these two instruments in the same concert. It's very common for viola players to also be violinists: the most well-known example at the highest level is Pinchas Zukerman, who recommends that all violinists and viola players learn both instruments.

Offline iansinclair

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Could you give some more detail? What size keyboard have you tried and for how long?
I guess my reply got lost in the internet...

Organ, primary instrument, studied at colleges/universities/conservatories in New York and Paris, primary teachers Enid Woodward and Nadia Boulanger.  Minister of Music, later Dean of Music, three cathedrals in UK and US.

Harpsichord, primarily continuo for Mozart operas etc., but also Bach and Scalatti etc. concerts, primarily New York and Boston, US

Clavichord, concerts at various museums, which seem to be the only place where one can...

Piano, rehearsal accompanist for opera, lieder accompanist, also solo concerts globally.  Primarily Chopin, just because I like the music!

Now retired and play only piano and organ, and only privately.

That help?

Sincerely, Ian, PhD, AAGO, ARCO
Ian

Offline michael_c

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I guess my reply got lost in the internet...

Organ, primary instrument, studied at colleges/universities/conservatories in New York and Paris, primary teachers Enid Woodward and Nadia Boulanger.  Minister of Music, later Dean of Music, three cathedrals in UK and US.

Harpsichord, primarily continuo for Mozart operas etc., but also Bach and Scalatti etc. concerts, primarily New York and Boston, US

Clavichord, concerts at various museums, which seem to be the only place where one can...

Piano, rehearsal accompanist for opera, lieder accompanist, also solo concerts globally.  Primarily Chopin, just because I like the music!

Now retired and play only piano and organ, and only privately.

That help?

Sincerely, Ian, PhD, AAGO, ARCO

Thanks a lot. My primary instrument is piano, but I also play continuo on harpsichord or fortepiano, and sometimes other historical keyboard instruments in chamber music concerts. I find that I adapt immediately to keys with slightly different widths, but adapting to the differences in touch between modern pianos, older pianos or harpsichords may not be so easy. But then adapting to the difference in touch between different modern grands can also take time. In any case, whether it's a modern grand, a copy of an old fortepiano or a harpsichord, I know that if I have a few hours with the instrument before the concert, I'll have enough time to get properly acquainted.

If you need time to accustom yourself when swapping between different keyboard instruments, is this due to differences in key width or more to differences is touch?

Offline iansinclair

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If you need time to accustom yourself when swapping between different keyboard instruments, is this due to differences in key width or more to differences is touch?

Touch.  And if you should think that various pianos are different, you should really try various organs!  Some trackers you have to be a proper gorilla if you have everything pulled.  Some modern electric keyboards you have to be careful if you sneeze...
Ian

Offline michael_c

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Touch.  And if you should think that various pianos are different, you should really try various organs!  Some trackers you have to be a proper gorilla if you have everything pulled.  Some modern electric keyboards you have to be careful if you sneeze...

I'm not an organist but have sometimes accepted to play organ for a marriage or funeral, or in an orchestra: I've often bitterly regretted it!

In any case, I agree with you: differences in touch between different keyboard instruments can be considerable and are much more important than differences in key width.

Offline timothy42b

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I'm not an organist but have sometimes accepted to play organ for a marriage or funeral, or in an orchestra: I've often bitterly regretted it!




I've not regretted doing it.  My audience, on the other hand............... ;D

The best was when the guy running the Praise and Worship team (a team I later inherited) came over and asked, "do you play piano as well?" 

Nobody could resist a setup like that.

At the speed of light I shook my head and said, "no, actually I play piano AS BADLY." 

Waited years to use that line. 

Tim