I have been playing piano for almost 7 years. I am trying to learn "Flight of the Bumblebee", Rachmaninoff version. The problem is that the left hand has certain chords that my fingers cannot reach. There is AEC#, C#AE, F#ADA, and maybe more. I am able to reach an octave and one note over an octave, but thats it. I have tried compromising notes to fit my finger length, but it makes the song sound different. I don't know what to do, because this is an an assignment that is due on May 31.

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    When you can't reach all notes of a chord, as a rule you play it as a fast arpeggio rather than omitting any. This is so common that composers rarely bother notating it. Apr 24, 2016 at 11:33

3 Answers 3


Very large chords like the one you mention are quite common in fact in classical romantic music piano literature.

Basics about this issue is, play like an arpeggio (alephzero answer). Most pianists do that indeed. This is absolutely normal, as even pianists with very long fingers can't reach some insane chords (see image; La Campanella from Lizst).

enter image description here

One practical way of doing this is simply working on hand/wrist (and not fingers) movement. Just bring the fingers in order for them to do their job with the help of your entire arm.


Just play the chords that you can't reach as arpeggios (rolled chords). When you get the piece up to the correct tempo, nobody will notice. For consistency, you might want to roll some of the chords that you can reach, as well as the ones you can't.

(The score is here: http://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/99876)


In the specific case of Rachmaninoff's arrangement of "Flight of the Bumblebee" there is an option that works well for pianists who find arpeggiation difficult or unworkable.

The ACE chord (e.g., mm. 9-13)

  • Play the low A and E with the left hand.
  • Play the middle C with the right hand.

"Bumblebee" m. 9 ======> "Bumblebee" m. 9 modified

The C#AE and DAF chords (e.g., m. 17)

  • Move the C# and D up two octaves and play them with the right hand.
  • Play the low AE and AF with the left hand.

"Bumblebee" m. 17
"Bumblebee" m. 17 modified

The FDA chord (e.g., m. 20)

There are two options for this chord:

  • Like the ACE chord, move the topmost A to the right hand.
  • Like the C#AE/DAF chords, move the low F up two octaves to the right hand.

The F#ADA chord (e.g., mm. 64 and 66)

Here, too, there are two options:

  • Omit the topmost A in the left hand. A is already both the lowest and highest pitch present, so this inner A can be safely left out.
  • With some careful fingering, the inner A can be shifted to the right hand.

"Bumblebee" m. 64 "Bumblebee" m. 64 re-fingered

The remainder of the piece

These same techniques can be applied throughout, with any octave displacement being adjusted to the octave in which the right hand is playing. In general it works best to move the highest left-hand note to the right hand.

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