Pinkham Piano with smaller keys
It is little wonder that so many of us struggle with our piano playing. Piano keys were much smaller during the early days of piano making. Composers like Beethoven and Chopin were writing music for a very different size key, also for a very different piano to what we know today.
I discovered that I was not alone having small hands. Many amateur and professional pianists tell me there hands are not big enough to stretch and prepare groups of notes which are essential for fast piano playing. Many have told me they suffer pain and injury from the modern keyboard. Although I have never suffered from injury myself, I used to think the agony forcing the hand to stretch was normal. Investigating further I have also found talented young pianists with small hands not being able to play many of the big repertoire pieces.
It is true that the size of key is not always the reason for injury, bad technique and lack of knowledge of how our muscles work and subsequent controlling those muscles during playing is often a contributing factor.
I thought of making a smaller keyboard many years ago, but I had worries regarding how one would react to the smaller keys. So for many years I did not pursue the idea. Eventually I took the plunge and tried smaller keys. I found no difficulty, it was very quick and easy to adapt. Because of this I now make my pianos with the option of having smaller keys. I also make the keys using white bone or beautiful wood coverings from many British and European trees. I find the natural material gives a far nicer feel.
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