I've been learning The Second Waltz, and there is part I can't play.

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As you can see, the bass has notes more than an octave away from each other at times. My hands can reach about an octave, and I can play the melody. I think I need to change the music, but I'm not sure how.

  • Have you found a transcription of Shostakovich's Waltz No. 2 that doesn't have this problem? Note that this piece was not originally written for solo piano.
    – Dekkadeci
    Sep 4, 2020 at 12:06

4 Answers 4


You can hold the lowest notes -- the dotted half notes -- with the pedal, which will free up your hand to move to the upper chords.

Also, in the penultimate bar of your example, you could play both the F and G with your thumb if you can comfortably reach it.

Some related questions:


This is one reason why every piano has a sustain pedal - the one on the right. Press it when you play the first note in the bar, and keep it down until you play the first note in the next bar. Repeat as needed.

Since all the notes in each bar belong to the same harmony (chord) it will sound good, it will flow, and give you chance to move your hand from the lower note to the dyad above.

If you're lucky enough to have a piano with a middle pedal that is not just a quiet practice pedal, but a sostenuto pedal, you could use that instead. It works nearly the same, except it holds onto only the note played while it's pressed - others will be played normally.

The sostenuto pedal is common on pianos on the left of the Atlantic, rare on the right.

  • Here we go again - dv with no reason. Come on, man up and explain why you need to dv. But you won't - because you can't back up your reasoning...
    – Tim
    Sep 4, 2020 at 18:16

This arrangement of a Waltz by Shostakovich is a simplification and you are not asked at all to play like it is notated: e.g. you can play the r.h. without octaves. If you play it on a draw bar or a keyboard without sustain function you can play the note B in the last chord of the 2nd phrase with the r.h. between the two F.

My advice is to play it as written, holding the G in the bass and jump to the two upper notes, as this is a good practice anyway to improve your hands skipping on the keys - and if you have it, using the sustain pedal.

Finally you want to make progressions and one day your hands my be less small and there will be many other situations where you will need to play a decimes like this.

  • Thank you. I couldn't remember what it was. I love dark waltzes like this. Sep 4, 2020 at 14:01
  • I think this isn't dark, it's very joking and funny. We played it at Carneval: youtube.com/watch?v=IOK8Jb76ibc&ab_channel=VidMak Ah, you think because it's in minor? But it changes to major too! I don't know the movie, btw. She is probably jealous, I guess ... Sep 4, 2020 at 14:24
  • He wrote it for a 1955 Russian movie called The First Echelon, about a group of Komsomol members struggling to cultivate some muddy land in the steppes and about two of them falling in love. It's quite touching. It wasn't his intention to write funny music, but of course you can clown around with it, play the soft bits schmaltzily, the loud bits out of tune and pull funny faces. And then people - especially fans of André Rieu! - might indeed find it funny. You say I find it sad because it's in a minor key. Maybe you find it funny because a trombone plays the tune at one point. Sep 6, 2020 at 10:27

I am 12, with very small octaves, but now I can play octaves with 9 notes, when a year ago, I couldn't do one octave. The best thing to do is buy multiple pencils, and cut them to just the perfect size to where it hurts a little, and bind the pencil to your hand and between your first and fifth finger

  • You could of course cut the parts between each finger, which would give you more stretch. That would be pretty silly too.
    – Tim
    Sep 4, 2020 at 18:14

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