Believe it or not, this is a question that is dear to my heart. I don’t know if any of you have noticed but I actually have very small hands.
This was a problem for me as I was growing up and working on more advanced repertoire; I was learning music that required reaching an octave, yet my hands could barely reach – I was only able to achieve this by playing around the keys as opposed to directly above them.
If you are learning to play the piano and your hands are too small to reach an octave, you will be at a severe disadvantage. However, it’s not impossible. I work with Jake Clayton, a 10-year-old pianist who has trouble reaching an octave but you would never tell by the way he plays Mozart Concertos or Chopin; he manages just fine.
At this point, Jake’s hands will eventually get bigger; mine, on the other hand, are pretty much stuck where they are. Now I have no trouble reaching an octave but when I get into playing music with 10ths and 11ths it requires a bigger reach then I can manage. You probably wonder, do I have to leave out notes? Actually no.
It’s not overly difficult and anyone can learn how to achieve this. The secret is learning how to break chords very quickly using the pedal; The difference is almost imperceptible.
While there may be disadvantages to small hands, there is also a tremendous benefit to having small hands for playing the piano. Believe it or not, some people have such large fingers that they can’t get their fingers easily between the black keys; so they will have to play on the outside of the keyboard as opposed to the inside near the fallboard – presenting a big challenge.
The most important part of playing the piano is achieving the sound you imagine. With practice, you can play the piano with small hands.