We have always seen professional pianists swing up and down the hands on the piano keyboard when they are in action. We can see that their fingers fly over the keys and they play note after note, bringing life to the music between their fingers and their thumbs. Do you know that the span of the hand and the size of the fingers of the pianist play a significant role in their piano playing style? Yes, the size of the hand impacts the piano playing experience and there is an ideal hand size for playing the instrument.
Musicians are of different ages and there is a difference in their hand sizes. The hand size of male pianists is different from that of female pianists as well. And hand span plays an important role in playing the piano as they have to stretch their fingers between two specified intervals on the keyboard to play an octave correctly. For instance, the average octave placement for hand span is about 6.7 inches, and to play the 9th note, it may be required to increase the hand span to about 7.6 inches and so on.
For instance, as the hand span of women is small, about 70% of them find it uncomfortable to span their fingers across an entire octave. And some even find it difficult to add a 9th note to their music in a single hand. This is because the hands of females are at least 15% smaller than that of the males and for children, it might be even smaller. And this can have a great impact on their playing ability. So what is the ideal hand size to play the piano? Read through to learn more.
Table of Contents
- What are Piano Hands?
- Bigger Hands or Smaller Hands?
- What is the Ideal Hand Size to Play the Piano?
- What is It to Have a Real Piano Hand?
- Pianists’ Hands vs Normal Hands
- The Remedy
- Final Words
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 1. Do Pianists’ Fingers Tend to Be Stronger Than Average?
- 2. Is It Difficult to Play the Piano if You Have Short Fingers?
- 3. What About Those With Double-jointed Fingers? Can They Benefit From Playing the Piano?
- 4. I Am a Mature Adult With Zero Training in Music. Is It Possible for Me to Pick Up the Piano and Play?
- 5. When Is It Time to Rebuild the Piano?
What are Piano Hands?
The term “piano hands” does not refer to having particularly large hands or fingers, despite the prevalent misconception that “piano fingers syndrome” means just that. When someone plays the piano, their hands go through a series of motions that are referred to be “piano hands.” People sometimes refer to this as having “piano hands” because playing the piano requires a different way of holding and moving one’s hands than while playing other instruments.
The features can be found in piano hands are open and relaxed, moving their fingers with ease to achieve precise positioning and contact. Fingers are strong and curled. Strong, but when restraint is called for, kind. The length of the fingers is less important than the range of motion in the hand. Even though some people have smaller hands than others, their tendons could be longer than average. Their hand sizes may have been lower than mine, but their hand spreads on the piano were comparable to mine. I’ve witnessed this firsthand. I can easily make it to the tenth, and with a little effort, I can even make it to the eleventh.
Bigger Hands or Smaller Hands?
To begin, let’s have a conversation about whether or not you need to have considerable hands to play the piano. Even if there might be a few items that are better suited for persons with larger hands, this is more of an anomaly than the norm in this collection. The greater pieces of the 19th-century composer Alkan that was recorded on the debut CD stand out as one of the most prominent of the exceptions. Songwriters, in my opinion, should shoot for the size of the hand that is considered to be average. Why should music only be written for pianists with extraordinarily large hands?
In a turn of events that can only be viewed as favorable, the vast majority of composers do take into account the skills of the vast majority of players. It is not necessary to be able to play more than an octave with your hands to be able to perform the vast majority of the piano repertoire. Students with small hands have blown me away with their brilliant performances of Liszt rhapsodies and Prokofiev sonatas.
On the other hand, certain kid prodigies are so small that they are physically unable to reach the pedals, but despite this, they play music that is significantly older than they are. Helen Huang was only eight years old when she played the Mozart Concerto in A major (K. 488). Her performance was simply faultless. Aimi Kobayashi, who started playing when she was three years old and was able to perform pieces as well as a professional artist within a year of starting to play, is the most incredible child prodigy. She boasts an intrinsic talent on par with that of a genius and has also reaped the benefits of first-rate instruction from the very beginning; but, no amount of practice will ever make her hands, which are only four years old, and less little.
What is the Ideal Hand Size to Play the Piano?
There is a general conception that we need bigger hands to play the piano, but there is no clarity of how big the hands should be. Though some music pieces require really large hands, they are very rarely found. Even music composers tend to compose music, by keeping in mind the hand size of the pianists.
The general rule is that, if your hands can stretch for an octave, then you can easily play the piano. But even students with tiny hands can play some notes brilliantly, as they make use of the pedals to complement their music journey. Having bigger hands to play the music is truly a blessing and their pianist can play the chromatic octaves with 5-1 on the white keys and 4-2 on the black keys and for such pianist, the open hand positions seem very comfortable. But the fact that only those who have a larger hand span could play complex octaves on the piano is a myth.
Most pianists modify the passages so that they could fit their hands. At times one chord In the music piece could be really hard to reach with the fingers. In such instances, it is better to use our musical judgment and find a perfect solution for the problem, rather than following the composer diligently.
What is It to Have a Real Piano Hand?
Nobody is born with a real piano hand but rather equip their hands to be piano friendly. Pianists must develop flexible hands to play the instrument, but at the same time, shouldn’t get it hypermobile or double-jointed. The fingers need to stay curved and should be bent backward at the joints. The pianist should develop the dexterity to get around the keyboard easily. They should also develop the skills to move from one hand position to another quickly, especially when their hand position demands dexterity from the fingers and this can be improved carefully including the scales, arpeggios, and even the double notes at times.
Yet another quality of the real piano hand is to develop the ability to release the fingers instantly, especially in fast passages. This is one quality that allows us to play articulately so that we can communicate the music. The real piano hand articulates notes in the music appropriately so that the music sounds natural and realistic. Both under articulation and over articulation gets the music to sound very unnatural. For expressive playing, it is important to have good control over the release of the keys as well.
Above all, it is important to gain some strength in the muscles of the hands and the fingers to play the piano. Endurance is part of muscular development and it can be achieved with a minimum practice of a few hours in a day. By practicing scales of different dynamics, tempo and articulation are some of the best ways to develop endurance and strength of the hands.
Also read: How to Play Piano With Both Hands?
Pianists’ Hands vs Normal Hands
The hand is the part of a human body that consists of two thumbs and five fingers. The thumb is used for grasping, whereas the other fingers are used for various tasks. Writing, typing, playing an instrument, and many other activities would be impossible without the use of hands. The strong and flexible hands of a pianist are no guarantee against injury. A multitude of factors, including repetitive stress damage and difficult habits to break, can contribute to hand pain. Fortunately, you can take some preventative measures by doing workouts at home.
The typical hands are the ones that have been selected as the norm for all other human hands. Furthermore, they are universal and shared by all humans. There are several factors at play here. It takes years of practice to master the piano’s eighty-eight keys with all ten of your fingers. Many aspiring musicians wonder if the demands of piano playing alter their hands. The physical make-up of your hands will not change from playing the piano. Frequent practice will help you develop finger dexterity, agility, and the ability to spread your fingers wider, but it won’t alter the skeleton’s framework.
While playing the piano may not alter the appearance of your fingers and hands, it does have other effects. If you’re a pianist, you might be curious about the effect of playing the piano on your finger size and shape, and whether or not all that practice will result in slimmer or larger fingers. Even though the tendons in your hands will get stronger, your fingers won’t alter in appearance or size in any discernible way. Some musicians claim that their finger and hand tone improved during times of increased performing. There shouldn’t be any structural changes to your hand from playing the piano properly. Others worry that constantly spreading their fingers would cause permanent damage to their joints. You won’t be able to physically expand your hand, but you will have more flexibility in spreading your fingers. This happens because the webbing in your fingers loosens up the more you use them. For example, a string player’s fretting hand may be able to reach further than their bowing hand.
When we compare the keyboards that we play recently, compared with the historical instruments, the size that we use today is large compared to the keyboards that were used in the past. The greatest pianist in the past has played on keyboards that have narrower keys.
For people who like to play the piano and have the passion to enhance their playing style, the alternative sized piano keyboards can be an optimal fit. These downsized keyboards help pianists to play more music without having to worry about injuring their fingers. It also helps in improving the hand position and power and it doesn’t mandate the need for redistribution of complex fingering as well.
The conclusion is that there is nothing like an ideal hand size for playing the piano, and like other skills, we can play the instrument with only what we have. Some pianists will have natural piano hands and their hand span will be much higher than others. Whereas others have smaller hands, but can develop piano hands with practice and endurance.
Or they can choose pianos with shorter and narrower keys to play like professionals. People with smaller hands have the advantage to play the instrument quickly and nightly and some notes fall easily and naturally for them on the instrument.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Do Pianists’ Fingers Tend to Be Stronger Than Average?
Our finger muscles are located in the palm and forearm. The arrector pili muscles are the only ones in your fingers, and they don’t do anything useful when playing the piano. While the phrase “strong fingers” is commonly used to describe pianists, it is not a measure of physical strength. Piano playing does not require physical strength, despite popular belief. Despite the common misconception that “strength” is what’s needed to get through challenging musical parts, agility and stamina are more like what’s needed. Playing the piano requires a lot more stamina and muscular control than brute power.
But playing an instrument, such as the piano, it is common to think that greater force is needed to play loudly when, in reality, the velocity with which you approach the note is what determines the loudness. This speed, along with the weight of the player’s arms, produces a strong, resonant sound. A pianist who practices regularly may noticeably gain some muscle near the palm’s base of the thumb, but not enough to cause any visible difference.
2. Is It Difficult to Play the Piano if You Have Short Fingers?
Shorter fingers may have trouble with some songs, but as long as they can reach an octave, they’re fine. Having larger or smaller hands depends on the music. Shorter fingers may find music with several big stretches difficult. Larger fingers may trip over one other in music with quick scale passages. Shorter fingers allow for faster passages with more hand and finger rotation.
3. What About Those With Double-jointed Fingers? Can They Benefit From Playing the Piano?
Those born with two joints in each finger have a wider range of motion than most. It’s possible to use this trait to one’s advantage if the player adopts the right mentality, and the term for this is hypermobility. Fingers should be slightly bent and fingertips should be somewhat firm when playing the piano correctly. Hypermobile fingers make it more likely that someone with double jointedness may inadvertently bend a finger backward. The ability to consistently prevent the joint from turning over may need gradual, methodical practice.
Finger joints can be trained to become more robust and resilient, allowing the pianist to keep his or her fingers in a gracefully curled position from the joint to the tip of the finger. Learning to play the piano can help you develop finger joint control. Those with double-jointed fingers may benefit from this as it will aid in directing the bend in the fingers.
4. I Am a Mature Adult With Zero Training in Music. Is It Possible for Me to Pick Up the Piano and Play?
Indeed, we instruct grownups of all ages. Someone in their sixties started classes with us. If you want to play the piano well, how long will it take you to get there? That, of course, is dependent on how much time you put into practice. Every day, try to play the piano for at least half an hour. The best way to learn something and make it stick is to practice it over and over again. If you’re able to do that, we can have you playing your favorite song in as little as two months.
5. When Is It Time to Rebuild the Piano?
A piano’s touch, tone, and exterior will degrade with age; how soon it will need to be rebuilt will depend on the piano’s quality, how often it is played, and how well it is maintained. The best course of action is to have a trained technician examine the piano and make recommendations based on the instrument’s specific condition.