David Hicken ~ Classical Crossover Pianist

Q&A Forum

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Mr. Hicken

First off I would like to say I am a great admirer of yours. I have been trying to teach myself to play piano for a little more than a year now and stumbled upon your YouTube channel. I must say I am thoroughly impressed by your talent and mastery of the piano, so much so that I purchased your book on learning the subject as a reference and guide.

I do however have a question regarding something I daresay most pianists don't usually have to face, the issue of having smaller hands. I have done a bit of research on the matter and most resources I have found say that having smaller hands is generally a disadvantage to piano players and that it will limit your repertoire. My hands extend only a few keys larger than an octave and already I have found that even some of the pieces that I wish to learn require longer stretches.

Thus my question is this; is it advisable to attempt moderate stretching in an attempt to increase the distance I can reach, if so, how would you recommend going about it, and if not, what are a few pieces that can be played relatively easily with a shorter reach?

yours musically,

Jacob L. Haapoja,

Piano Student


Hello Jacob,


I’m delighted that you discovered my work and that you have already purchased my book.

Don’t believe any of the nonsense that you are reading online about hand size.

The true measure of the span between the thumb and fifth finger is what interval you can play “over” the notes.  I have short, fat, stubby fingers, and my true stretch is only a ninth.  I can stretch a tenth, but not over the notes - only by playing on the edges of them.  It is not really necessary to have a stretch of much more than an octave. Ninths sound ugly and are never used anyway.  However, tenths are used a lot in the left hand because they sound good.  However, most of the time, the tenth is not played at the same time, but one note after the other.

In instances where the tenth is actually played together, the notes can be “run” together very quickly so as to give the impression of the notes being played together.  Some pianists such as Liszt, Rachmaninov and Ravel had long fingers and wrote some pretty crazy stretches in the left hand, however, modern concert pianists who cannot reach those stretches simply run the notes and nobody is any the wiser.

What you have read about your repertoire being limited is absolutely false and written by people who don’t have a clue.

If you could only stretch an interval of a sixth, that would be something different, but it sounds to me like your span is the same as mine and I reckon I’m playing ok.

Finally, I urge you to find a good teacher.  It’s great that you ask questions like this, but this is not something you can ever hope to fully master on your own.

I wish you lots of success.


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