Robert Estrin - piano expert

Piano Music for Small Hands

If you have small hands, here is a suitable repertoire for you.

In this video, Robert talks about the best piano repertoire for those who have small hands.

Released on February 1, 2023

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

So it's possible that if this became a standard, pianists could choose among different size keys because why is this the standard? It doesn't have to be this way. It's just what evolved.

Welcome to I'm Robert Estrin. Answering the question, what are good pieces of music for people with small hands? Now, many of you know that I have rather small hands. Thank goodness I've got a good solid octave. I can even reach a ninth, most of them. Although, a ninth around the keys, not, I mean, above the keys, not quite. So yeah, this is my reach. A tenth, if I grab one and then grab the other, but it's not very practical, I could sorta reach it. Right hand, I can't even do that. As many of you know, your right hand is a little bit smaller than your left hand if you're like most people. From all the years of stretching, if you're a pianist, that is, stretching, because the left hand generally has more outstretched reaches than the right hand. Now, before I tell you the repertoire that is open to you that does not require large hands, let me mention that you can still play music beyond your reach as many great pianists do and have in the past. Joseph Hoffman had such small hands that Steinway actually built a piano for him with a reduced reach keyboard, a smaller keyboard. And this is a technology that some companies are even working on today. I have some videos on this subject for you as well, also in the description below. But what repertoire is really ideal for people with small hands are earlier period music. Because when you get to the Romantic era and the pedal was utilized extensively, the reach was greater generally. However, that is the key to being able to play music beyond your reach is capturing those notes on the pedal and breaking the chords very quickly. As I've demonstrated before, like the beginning of Schumann's Carnaval, where you have chords that are beyond my reach, like I can't play that chord.

So that sounds pretty awful, but if you watch my hands, you watch how I break these chords quickly and you can hardly tell they're broken because the way they're caught on the pedal. So that is a little technique that many pianists use in order to play music beyond your reach. And 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, Haydn, because the instrument wasn't as highly developed yet, it didn't have a pedal that we enjoy today, that is the damper or sustained pedal. The music wasn't demanding a lot of big reaches. You know, think about Bach two-part inventions. There's never more than two notes at a time anyway. So obviously a two-part invention, you only have one note in each hand the whole time, that's going to be splendid. Now even Mozart is really accessible for people with small hands. So 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 and you might want to look into some of those smaller keyboards, which would be wonderful if this became a standard, because after all the action of a piano, the whole keys come out as an assembly, so it's possible that if this became a standard, pianists could choose among different size keys, because why is this the standard? It doesn't have to be this way, it's just what evolved. But boy, wouldn't it be a pleasure, I'd love to be able to reach tenths comfortably, and if you can't reach an octave, a smaller keyboard can be just the thing for you. I hope this is helpful for you again, I'm Robert Estrin, this is, your online piano resource. Any video subjects, email them to me, robert at, always looking for good subjects for you. We'll see you next time, thanks for all you subscribers and your Patreon subscribers, particularly these videos are for you. We'll see you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Sharon R Boser on February 25, 2023 @11:06 am PST
I really enjoyed this session. I too, have small hands..I can reach an octave, but I am not able to effectively play some of Franz Liszt's and Rachmaninoff's music since some of it is so extensive.
Robert - host, on February 25, 2023 @12:26 pm PST
Some music can be difficult for small hands. But there are other pieces that have fast, delicate passages that are much more easily negotiated with small hands. So we should be thankful for that!
Fulvia %2528SnowLeopard%2529 * VSM MEMBER * on February 1, 2023 @8:35 am PST
Robert, please, don't overstretch your hands! You will end up in therapy like I did and my right hand has never been cured completely. Just practicing scales now triggers the pain of the tendons at the base of my right thumb. Our hands shrink with age. I am quite happy with my 6" keyboard, and I can easily reach one octave with it.
Robert - host, on February 1, 2023 @12:54 pm PST
The only stretching I do is to reach chords that are required in the repertoire I play. Anything beyond my comfortable reach, I break quickly and catch all the notes with the pedal.
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