Standard Pianos a Big Problem for Musicians With Small Hands, But SMU's Trying to Change That

Eliana Yi dreamed of pursuing piano performance in college, nevermind that her fingers could barely reach the length of an octave. Unable to fully play many works by Romantic-era composers including Beethoven and Brahms, she tried anyway — and in her determination to spend hours practicing one notoriously "stretchy" Chopin concerto, wound up injuring herself.Aware of the limitations of her short hand span, competitions were even worse for Yi."I would just go to pieces," the Southern Methodist University junior recalled. "There were just too many octaves. I remember asking one piano teacher, `Am I just going to play Bach and Mozart for the rest of my life?'"The efforts of SMU keyboard studies chair Carol Leone are changing all that: Seventeen years ago, the school became the first major university in the U.S. to incorporate smaller keyboards into its music program, leveling the playing field for Yi and other piano majors.The first time Yi, 21, tried one of the smaller keyboards, "I remember being really excited, because my hands could actually reach and play all the right notes," she said. Ever since, "I haven't had a single injury, and I can practice as long as I want."  Continue reading...

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