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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:40 pm 
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[quote="robert]Heck, now when I try, I can reach an octave with any finger combination but for 4-5 and 3-4 (yes I reach with 2-3).[/quote]
I'm sorry, but you'll have to post a picture of that, reaching an octave with 2-3. That sounds outrageous, you must have hands like the Rach :shock:

Actually I can do an octave with 4-5. But I can't take a picture of that for obvious reasons :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 8:18 pm 
I showed your posts to Alan Fraser himself, and here is his personal reply:

That is the MAIN COMPLAINT I have from viewers of the DVD: they all ask when will I do one for a small hand? But you all MISS THE POINT! I show very clearly in the video that these techniques will increase the functionality and capability of ANY hand, and ESPECIALLY a small hand. If you do what I show on the DVD, your hand will cease to feel small, will cease to behave like a small hand. "Small hand" is ALL IN THE MIND!

For instance, the rotation example is designed to introduce a new FUNCTION to your hand. Try the exercise again, and you'll have to admit, even if you can't stretch an octave from third to fifth, you CAN stretch one or two more notes rotated than you can with your hand laid flat on the keys. And try to sense the different FEELING in your hand when you do this, the new sense of flexibility and moveability! THAT's what it's all about, not about the actual interval.

Good luck and best wishes,

Alan Fraser


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 10:48 pm 
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Proof that despite stretching I will have small hands and cannot reach like a big hand. And I object to the opinion that small hands is all mental. We are given what we have from genetics and nothing will change the fact that people with small hands actually have small hands and no matter how many times they say "I have hands capable of playing like Rachmaninov-sized hands with a few simple stretches," they will only upset themselves down the road when someone points out that they have small hands and that's a sad fact of life.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:33 pm 
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Juufa, I just tried out. I have larger hands (I am 1.91m long), but I can't stretch my hands more like you do in the picture. You may be right, small hands remain small hands. The thing is only how they can be trained to be more flexible.
I have seen Chopin's left hand as original gypsum print in the musee de la vie romantique in Paris. He had small, really small, thin hands like a woman. Howevere the hands must have been unbelievable flexible. And enough to reach at least 10 keys with additional notes in between. That happens e.g. on the Nocturne 48/1 i am just working on a bit.
Your hands are bigger than Chopin's hands were. No need to whine about your hand size or length of your pinkies or whatever, really.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:52 pm 
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All this talk about hand size made me look at my own hands. Something I never thought about before, (well, I know it is sometimes more practical to use the fourth finger when playing octaves on black keys) but I wonder why I don't use fingers 4 and 1 on the white keys at all. I never do this but I can see that I have a longer stretch. I guess 1 and 3 would work if there weren't any notes in between. I'm so used to stretching 1 and 5 into octave length and do it without looking, but I wonder if with exercises I could make this 1 and 4 a viable or even a better alternative.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 1:25 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
All this talk about hand size made me look at my own hands. Something I never thought about before, (well, I know it is sometimes more practical to use the fourth finger when playing octaves on black keys) but I wonder why I don't use fingers 4 and 1 on the white keys at all. I never do this but I can see that I have a longer stretch. I guess 1 and 3 would work if there weren't any notes in between. I'm so used to stretching 1 and 5 into octave length and do it without looking, but I wonder if with exercises I could make this 1 and 4 a viable or even a better alternative.


Well, I could use thumb and any other finger to reach an octave, so thumb and index finger would go too. I think, for octave legato passages it makes sense to switch between fingers 4 and 5 while forming the octave with thumb together. On the g minor ballade there is a suggestion in my Peters score to use 3, 4, and 5 finger together with thumb for those crazy octacve passages in the middle part. It will take hours upon hours for me to get it finally on that passage :roll:

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 2:08 pm 
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juufa72 wrote:
Proof that despite stretching I will have small hands and cannot reach like a big hand. And I object to the opinion that small hands is all mental. We are given what we have from genetics and nothing will change the fact that people with small hands actually have small hands and no matter how many times they say "I have hands capable of playing like Rachmaninov-sized hands with a few simple stretches," they will only upset themselves down the road when someone points out that they have small hands and that's a sad fact of life.

Juufa, you have my greatest respect for playing the piano while only having 4 fingers :!: :lol:

It is true though that small but agile hands can be better that large clumsy ones. Size is not all that matters (you may have heard that one before :wink: )

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 2:26 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Juufa, you have my greatest respect for playing the piano while only having 4 fingers


The "ring" finger is there somewhere, it's just hidden. Behind a clumbsy middle finger.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 2:39 pm 
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juufa72 wrote:
The "ring" finger is there somewhere, it's just hidden. Behind a clumbsy middle finger.

Haha. It's a very good trick picture. Very nearly fooled me :wink:

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 Post subject: small hands
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 6:22 pm 
Ok, I had better explain exactly what I mean by "small hands are all in the mind." I find that my small-handed students all tense their hand when they need to reach a large interval. Hand extension and effortful stretching are inextricably linked in their perception. I have them do that part on the demo where I mash my palm down into the keys, and in the end their fingers lie stretched out on the keyboard without any of the usual effort associated with the position. And lo and behold, their fingers actually reach further than they did before. When they then go to play a large interval, I have them start from the 'mashed, super-relaxed' position and then depart from it minimally, so the inner tonus of their hand hardly changes at all.

Of course a small hand can't reach an 11th or 12th. But if you remove the set of reflexes commonly associated with a small hand, it does become more capable. And you really will feel that your hand is larger, and you really won't feel any more like you have a small hand. Your hand will even LOOK larger; I've seen it many times!

By the way, my student and employee Jovan doesn't exactly have shares in my company, but he does do a lot of the work developing the website etc.

Best wishes to all,

Alan Fraser


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 Post subject: that picture
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 6:25 pm 
I would be interested to know, juufa, does your hand feel totally bizarre and uncomfortable in that position, or does it give you an interesting sense of new movement possibilities on the keyboard?


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 8:25 pm 
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Mr. Fraser, I too have small hands but fortunately reaching an octave is no problem, nor a 9th. But I'm confused about the section where you explain the hand mashing technique which allows you to stretch further. Where is the arch in the hand when you do this? I thought the arch was the keystone in hand position.

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 Post subject: Re: that picture
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 1:05 am 
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alanfraserpiano wrote:
I would be interested to know, juufa, does your hand feel totally bizarre and uncomfortable in that position, or does it give you an interesting sense of new movement possibilities on the keyboard?


If I did not have a pinkey finger I would say that this position is comfortable; however, with a small 5th finger put into a position like this and with the pressure being placed on it from my hand, I can say that it is uncomfortable and restrictive.

Despite what Liszt (or the editor of my version) calls for during the octaves in the etude (also what you suggest on your DVD--the 5th and 3rd fingers spanning one octave), I can do the same with my 5th and thumb. Albeit the fact that this piece is much greater than my current skill level, I doubt that I could play it with accuracy and speed comfortably using my technique.


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 Post subject: where's the arch?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 7:47 am 
Dear Piano Lady, excellent question! We do seem to be dealing with a paradox here. It turns out that the arch doesn't have to be pronounced to be functional. If you are hyper-collapsed and you even begin to hint at an inner grasping action in the hand, the arch-generation function is already activated, and before your second finger's knuckle has even risen a millimeter, your hand already has the power and functionality that stems from the arch. In many situations the hand needs to be in extension, and it's simply not possible to have a high arch. But we can still benefit from its functional contribution.

Many hands are different from mine and won't, even when they are fully functional, assume the pronouced arch position easily. Perhaps I should have made that clearer on the video, but I had a lot of info to squeeze into 90 minutes and it was inevitable that some points be presented in rather abbreviated fashion.


Last edited by Anonymous on Sat Jan 06, 2007 9:44 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: 3-5 octaves
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 9:41 am 
Dear Juufa, remember the rotation and placing of the hand in that bizarre position is a kind of therapeutic exercise - you'll notice that when I actually play the passage in the demo, it doesn't really look like I am playing legato and actually joining those notes. However, something released somewhere in my hand and my wrist to make the movement not only more flexible but more functional. The moveability of each and every joint is available to the degree necessary. This is different from generic relaxation.

If you find the position uncomfortable, approach it by degrees. Never force. But gently ease your hand as far into the position as you can COMFORTABLY, and then while there, experiment a little with that rotation movement, see if by doing the rotation in tiny increments you can perhaps increase the ease with which you can sink into that position. It is NOT stretching. Feldenkrais taught us about the stretch reflex: if you stretch a muscle its automatic response is to shorten itself. No, here we are teaching the muscle neurologically, through sensation, how to lengthen more efficiently.


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