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I've done a search but couldn't find anything so here I go - is it nessesary for both hands to finger the chords the same way? I have small hands and can only reach an octave comftably and am struggling with 8th and it's making fingering some 7th chords the same both ways difficult, usually I'm having to change whenever I'm using 4th or 5th finger. I just started learning alone through the internet, I'm learning how to play synths and after learning how to program them I started working on being able to play the keys. Want to play jazz/blues piano, with focus on improvising

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I would say play what feels comfortable. It may be something that a teacher would encourage you to change as you progress but I say just do what feels right. A classical pianist may have different opinion here but for jazz and blues I think it is fine. As you get better and your hands get stronger and more flexible you may find that you can play it the way you are having trouble playing now, but don't worry about that too much, it will come naturally as you progress.

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You appear to be asking: do both hands play the same notes (an octave apart, maybe)? So with an A minor chord, do I play A C E with l.h. and the next A C E with r.h. an octave higher?

Answer - you can, but it's not always necessary. As long as the notes are all played, so there's an A, a C and an E somewhere, that's fine. In fact, here, the A is important, as it's the root, and the C is the m3rd., the E, as 5th, isn't really needed to be played. So you could merely play a combination, even using different notes in each hand. It's called voicing, and there are hundreds of different voicings possible for each chord.

With chords containing 4 or more notes, there are even more voicings, and often they get varied in a song. The lowest will more often than not be the root, but the other notes can be anywhere, there's no need to double up with both hands. In fact, it's probably the worst thing you can do throughout a song.

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No, you don't have to. Assuming both hands need to play B-F-G from lowest to highest (G7/B chords), for example, you may use 1-4-5 for the right hand, but you shouldn't use 1-4-5 for the left hand because the F and G are too close together to support that fingering. Try 1-2-5 instead.

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My advice is DO NOT BE A SLAVE TO NOTATION and don't play beyond your physical limitations. Make them your asset. Find ways to use what you've got to create your sound. Especially since you said you want to play jazz/blues piano, with focus on improvising. Here is why stretching for notes you can't reach is bad.

When you stretch, not only are you creating micro tears to your tendons which can lead to tendonitis but, you are throwing off the balance of the arm/hand/fingers.

Your arm, hand, fingers, can ALL only go in one direction at a time. When you stretch out your fingers (abduct) you are pulling in two directions. Then when you play down by either arm weight or incorrectly with the flexors, that is a third. If you are clawing or lifting any fingers high with your extensors that is a fourth. All these pulls or vector forces create a lot of tension in the hand and this leads to uneven playing and strain because the player is trying to play in multiple directions when really they only want to play one: straight down. Sure, you can shake out the tension but that doesn't solve the problem, only the symptom.

Honor and obey your limitations and they will serve you. My teacher Lee Shaw stood barely five feet tall and could barely reach an octave but you could hear her playing walking tenths all the time. I can reach a tenth and I'll never be able to sound like her. Nor would I want to. Jazz musicians should not be poor imitations of someone else but rather experts at speaking their own voice.

You want to keep all the fingers in their neutral position as much as possible and let the arm group the fingers rather than isolating them and creating stress filled stretches. Abduct all your fingers, what do they WANT to do? Adduct. I cringe at people who stretch out and position their fingers, they are creating tension before they even play a note.

We've all been to clubs where we heard people trying to sound like Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum or Garner, etcetera and on their own, these people are very good but they are still poor imitations.

Here is a recording of tiny Lee doing her own thing:

My friend Liz played a lot of community theater shows and a lot of those "piano" scores are actually condensed conductor scores and not intended for piano. Instead of picking and choosing what to play she tried to play every note which today, has crippled her. Do not be a slave to notation. Especially when it is out of your grasp, literally.

When I was a stupid kid, as opposed to being a stupid adult, I used to be able to run and jump over an eight foot trench at my lake. My friend Scott was a foot shorter than I was and he couldn't make the span. That didn't stop him from trying. What stopped him eventually was breaking his arm while trying.

Embrace your limitations and grow from there.

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