“Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”
Plato

Monday, May 13, 2013

THE DILEMMA OF THE DAINTY HAND: PLAYING ON THE EDGE


The octave-challenged hand, when confronting the grimacing sneer of a piano keyboard, seems to shrink to its smallest self in sheer anticipation of being held to the rack for a round of torture. The feeling of being pulled and
stretched is a familiar one to those with a less-than-octave reach. It is therefore imperative for those possessed of such a hand to be well tuned to its reports from the dungeon.
When asked about physical requirements for piano playing, my usual answer is that the minimum hand size is an easy octave. By that I mean the hand should be able to reach an octave without feeling extended to its extreme. Even better, the hand should be able to play an octave and include a minor second between thumb and first finger without feeling stretched. But experience has shown that, with extra consideration, the smaller hand can be quite successful at the keyboard. And when there is a burning desire to make music, how can I not try to help. 
My adult student brought the final movement of Beethoven’s C minor sonata, op. 10, no. 1, which, though not in a class with, say, the octave-crazy Liszt Sonata, still has some pesky passages for the smaller hand. Find out how to avoid lockjaw of the arm and learn the solutions to this problem in Piano Technique Demystified, the book.
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