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Performer's Perspective: Hand Size vs the Standard Piano Keyboard

Christopher Donison
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 15 Number 3: Page 111 (September 2000)

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Abstract: Last year at the Performing Arts Medicine Association's annual symposium in Aspen, one of the topics focused on was piano performance-related injury. I was invited to attend the symposium and give a talk on the issue of hand size and keyboard size as they may relate to injury. Although my mission to bring about the adoption of a second smaller standard size for the piano keyboard has been primarily motivated by the idea that there is great loss of potential achievement and enjoyment at the instrument for the smaller-handed pianists of the world, the idea that injury may be a greater risk for smaller hands seemed like one more reason to promote the concept. In recollecting my experience as a full-time student in a piano performance program, instances of tendinitis and other repetitive strain injuries were practically exclusively the problem of smaller-handed pianists (mostly female, of course), and it seemed to be generally accepted by students and teachers alike that this was a greater risk for these players. Yet this information is completely anecdotal, and to my knowledge, no conclusive experimental study had proved this to be true. It just seemed obvious to everybody and nobody required proof.

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