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One of my struggles with playing the piano is that I have small hands. I can reach an octave - mostly. I can reach it, I just can't maneuver between octaves quickly. Often times a piece will have a running stretch of octaves that I am unable to play. I am completely unable to reach a ninth and above.

Are there any well-known composers (classical, baroque, romantic, jazz, etc) who generally wrote pieces suitable for someone with a smaller reach? It is so very frustrating to look at a piece and have to attempt to make concessions in the piece just to be able to play it.

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Unsure about tags on this: interval-reach? –  Rebecca Chernoff Apr 26 '11 at 22:55
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I suggest han'-span :P. I think this is one of the few good list questions -- a list of these composers would clearly help solve the problem of finding music you can play. –  Matthew Read Apr 26 '11 at 22:56
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I'm not sure the composers themselves have small hands, but rather write for performers with small hands. Composers do not necessarily compose at the piano. –  Andrew Apr 26 '11 at 22:59
    
You could just tag it technique; not sure if that's too unspecific. (Also, not sure it needs another tag.) –  Ben Alpert Apr 26 '11 at 22:59
    
@Andrew, fair point. I'll edit the question a bit. –  Rebecca Chernoff Apr 26 '11 at 23:00
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Josef Hofmann is a good bet. He had such small hands that he actually had pianos custom-made with smaller keys. I can't find any direct references to his compositions being easy to play with small hands, but I doubt he would compose something he couldn't play.

Another aspect to look at is players with small hands, and what they have played. Harriet Cohen was famously small-handed, and her repertoire may be interesting to look at. Apparently John Ireland wrote his Piano Concerto specifically for her.

You can also often find "Small Hands" versions of various songs. It shouldn't be too hard to find an appropriate version for most well-known composers or songs.

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I'm a Jazz pianist, and also have rather small hands. If you're playing Jazz, your hand-size doesn't really matter when you're choosing a song to learn, as your hand-size will only affect your interpretation of a given song. For instance, when I'm playing bebop, I wish I could play tall shell-voicings in the left hand like Bud Powell; since I usually can't reach those, I'll play reduced versions of them.

The basic fact of the matter is that you'll be able to sound better and do more cool things, the larger your hands. But having small hands won't stop you from playing better than a lot of people who have large hands. My advice is to interpret Jazz music in a way that is native to your body.

Of course, this advice probably isn't as applicable to Classical music.

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