Piano music for small hands

By Robert Estrin


What are good pieces of music for people with small hands? Many of you know that I have rather small hands. Fortunately I have a good, solid octave. I can even reach most 9ths. Although, I can’t quite reach a 9th from above the keys. I can only reach a 10th if I grab one key and stretch to grab the other. But that’s not very practical. I can’t quite reach it with my right hand. As many of you know, your right hand is a little bit smaller than your left hand, if you’re like most pianists, from all the years of stretching. The left hand generally has more outstretched reaches than the right hand.


You can play music beyond your reach, as many great pianists have in the past.


Josef Hofmann had such small hands that Steinway actually built a piano for him with a smaller keyboard! This is a technology that some companies are even working on today. I have videos on this subject for you as well. You can see one here.


What repertoire is ideal for people with small hands?

Early period music is perfect! During the Romantic era, the pedal was utilized extensively. The reach was greater, generally. However, the key to being able to play music beyond your reach is capturing notes you can’t reach on the pedal and breaking the chords very quickly. You can hardly tell they are broken the way they’re caught on the pedal. That is a technique that many pianists use in order to play music beyond their reach. It’s very effective. It does not in any way hinder the music.


If you have really small hands, and you don’t want to struggle, the music of Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, or Haydn is great.


The instrument wasn’t as highly developed yet during the time these composers lived. It didn’t have the sustain pedal that we enjoy today. The music doesn’t demand a lot of big reaches. Think about Bach two part inventions. There’s never more than one note in each hand at a time anyway! That’s going to be splendid for anyone with a smaller reach. But even Mozart is really accessible for people with small hands.


There is a wealth of music that will fall right in your hands, even if an octave is all you can reach.

Now, if you don’t have a solid octave, it is more of a challenge. You might want to look into some of those smaller keyboards. It would be wonderful if this became a standard. It’s possible that if this became a standard, a pianist could choose among different sized keys. Why is this size the standard? It doesn’t have to be this way! It’s just what evolved. If you can’t reach an octave, a smaller keyboard could be just the thing for you.


Watch my video here: 



Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com