First Aid for Collaborative Pianists with Small Hands: Suggestions and Solutions for Awkward Passages from the Standard Repertoire.
There are many passages in the standard collaborative piano repertoire that are best executed with average to larger hands, such as densely voiced chords, fast octave passages, spans of 9ths or 10ths, legato lines with wide ranges, or extended arpeggiated passages. As a petite Asian woman with smaller hands, I am frequently engaged to rehearse and perform such works. Such engagements involve a greater amount of practice and preparation, as I spend time determining how to negotiate passages or avoid mistakes that larger hands could easily solve. Nevertheless, despite my best efforts, it is not always possible for one with smaller hands to play exactly what is written by the composer, and one may end up becoming injured by too much stretching of the fingers or hands, which can lead to stress and tension on the arms. This paper will be discussed certain passages from frequently-performed pieces that can be difficult for smaller hands, what makes each passage so awkward or uncomfortable, and provide several solutions that yield musical results without compromising the composer's original intentions. This paper will not only examine orchestral reductions such as concerti, in which the reductions are a mere representation of the composer's true intentions and therefore easier to adjust, but also repertoire originally written for the piano. Three methods will be offered that, while occasionally straying from the printed score, stay as true as possible to the composer's artistic intensions, all the while allowing these collaborative pianists the possibility to approach this repertoire in a realistic fashion.