Robert Estrin - piano expert
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How to approach the Moonlight Sonata with small hands

Useful tips to approach any kind of repertoire requiring chords larger than an octave

Released on April 30, 2013

  
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joyce on May 31, 2013 @5:07 pm PST
Downton Abbey has a lot of 10ths. This is the piece I am working on now.
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Robert - host, on June 1, 2013 @12:02 pm PST
There are certain styles of music with 10ths such as stride piano that I avoid. While breaking large chords are a staple technique for people with small hands, there are practical limits as to what repertoire is ideal for small hands.
Annette * VSM MEMBER * on August 15, 2013 @2:54 pm PST
I have difficulty with chords especially those that are an octave width and include flats or sharps. I have small hands and can barely reach the note past the octave It is easy when the chord is broken up, but when you play the whole chord at once, my fingers hurt.
joyce on May 31, 2013 @1:15 pm PST
When breaking the chords does the base note have to be on the beat or does it matter.
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Robert - host, on May 31, 2013 @3:40 pm PST
Broken chords are negotiated differently depending upon context. If you have a particular piece of music you have questions about, please let me know.
Millie * VSM MEMBER * on May 20, 2013 @1:19 pm PST
Lost sound for a couple of days - advised to turn off computer since wires were O.K. -- sound has returned and I could hear your advice.
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Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator, on May 20, 2013 @4:49 pm PST
Great news! Thank you Millie for let us know about this.
Robert - host, on May 20, 2013 @5:17 pm PST
Wonderful!
Millie * VSM MEMBER * on May 19, 2013 @5:01 pm PST
Sound is not coming through --
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Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator, on May 20, 2013 @11:55 am PST
I am sorry about that. Are you experiencing this issue with just this video? Please, tell me more, I am willing to help.
Helena boggia on May 8, 2013 @10:35 am PST
Excellent.
Bribied * VSM MEMBER * on May 2, 2013 @2:48 am PST
I was doing this anyway, thinking I'll never be a good pianist for that reason. Thanks for assuring me that there is nothing wrong with it.
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on May 1, 2013 @7:02 pm PST
My hands have always been very small, and now with arthritis set in even one octave is difficult if I have to play other keys at the same time. At that B note in the moonlight sonata, I have always used the left hand, and kept the pedal on. Mother who was a pianist could not tell the difference!
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Robert - host, on May 2, 2013 @10:56 am PST
Fulvia-

My reaction to your unorthodox technique is, "Whatever works!" No two people are built the same or have the same circumstances. I'm glad you found a solution to playing the Moonlight Sonata even with hand problems.

I would suggest that you try to play the piano every day to develop more strength. If you can get to the point where there is sufficient muscle tissue, it can protect the delicate joints. The challenge is being able to work up enough time without doing any damage. Try playing on a very regular basis and see if you can overcome the weakness of your joints. Good luck!
wildekat on May 1, 2013 @2:42 pm PST
Helpful! Thanks.
christopher Slevin * VSM MEMBER * on May 1, 2013 @1:00 pm PST
Loved that trick - often wondered about it but never once thojught to ask anyone!
Mary Beth * VSM MEMBER * on May 1, 2013 @8:17 am PST
I had problems with my wrist for about two years. It is better now, but after favoring it for so long, my left fingers 4 and 5 are very weak. I would like exercises for re-strengthening them. I am 61 years old, so my athleticism isn't what it used to be; but I believe my fingers could regain at least some of their former strength.
Kathy * VSM MEMBER * on May 1, 2013 @7:03 am PST
Great videos. Do more videos on basics - including theory.
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Robert - host, on May 1, 2013 @6:33 pm PST
Thanks for your excellent suggestion Kathy. You can look forward to a series of informative music theory tutorials!
Humberto Cruz on April 30, 2013 @11:25 am PST
Robert, very useful video, as I face this same problem of small hand and not being able to reach in several places of the Moonlight Sonata and many other pieces, I have been by necessity resorting to breaking up the chord in order to be able to play both the lower ad the higher notes (or in some cases omitting the lower note, which I won't do any more), but the simple technique of adding the pedal which I was not always doing is very effective. thank you!
Humberto Cruz
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