a pianist with small hands is playing piano

Can You Play Piano with Small Hands?

September 26, 2020 Selin Gökova 6 min read No Comments

Can you play the piano with small hands?

So you want to start learning the piano but have some doubts in your mind that are preventing you from starting such as having small hands. You might be wondering if it is even worth starting the piano if your hands are small.

Or, you may be a piano player starting to think that your small hands are actually a disadvantage and hindering your progress.

The truth is, you can play the piano with small hands as well as anyone with large hands. Most of the easy and intermediate piano music repertoire is suitable for hands of any size, so you won’t have any problem learning most of the piano pieces.

However, there are some differences between what small and large hands are better at accomplishing, which I will elaborate on in this article to clear any doubt you might have because of your small hands.

Does your hand size even matter?

Whenever I tell someone that I’m a piano player, I hear very similar things.

“I’ve always wanted to play the piano but I have never started because I have small hands.”

I always get quite surprised when I hear this, because I never thought about it before starting piano lessons, and I have insanely small hands. However, it is not to say that I have never experienced any drawback of having small hands, but it was never a big issue. As I told you, most of the easy and intermediate piano music repertoire is suitable for hand in any size.

What are the disadvantages of having small hands when playing the piano?

Let’s get a little bit deeper and see in which cases your small hands may cause difficulty and restriction to your piano playing.

Right now I’m thinking, and I couldn’t even find disadvantages except one, which is playing octaves and larger chords.

If you have small hands, it might be a little bit tricky to stretch your hand to play large chords like octaves, ninths, and tenths. If you don’t know what a ninth chord is, you may find this video helpful:

While pianists with larger hands can play the largest chords with ease, it might get challenging for players with small hands. The problem you will have is that your hands won’t be able to stretch wide enough to reach larger chords. Plus, when you try to reach those chords, you will feel a strong tension in your hands, which is a big no-no.

Don’t ever try to stretch your hands to reach those chords. While playing the piano, it is crucial that you feel no tension and your hand plays based on its natural position and capacity.

But, does it mean that you can never play the pieces with large chords?

The answer is NO because actually there are many different ways you can play those large chords without having to stretch your hand. I’ve created a list of solutions that I and many other small-handed piano players follow to play challenging passages for our small hands.

Let’s go through them!

How can You Overcome the Small-Hand Problems on Piano?

Arpeggiate the Chord

If you are a beginner, you might not know what arpeggiation is. Arpeggiation means breaking the notes of a chord to play all the notes one after another rather than playing them all at the same time.

Here is an example of how a chord is arpeggiated:

Let’s assume that there is a passage where you have to play a ninth chord with your left hand. What you may do is to arpeggiate the notes of that chord by quickly playing all the notes of that chord on after another.

While doing this, however, you should be careful about your timing. By the time you play the next beat, you should have already finished arpeggiating that previous chord and be ready to press the notes of the next beat in the measure.

While arpeggiating a chord, you might want to press the sustain pedal to make the arpeggiation sound smoother! Otherwise, you may break the unity of the music, so try to make the arpeggiation sound as soft as possible.

Get Help from your Other Hand

Another very efficient solution might be to use your other hand to take some of the notes that the other hand can’t handle alone.

This solution would work if two hands need to play at a close distance to each other. Most of the time it will be your right hand that will be helping your left hand. The reason for this is that the large octaves and chords are almost always played by the left hand because they are mostly accompaniments and it is the role of the left-hand to play those parts.

While this solution does not apply to every situation, you may still keep this in mind in case there is a chance to get help from the other hand.

Omit Some Notes from The Large Chord

Without applying the first two solutions, you can just omit some notes from the chord if doing so doesn’t melodically and harmonically ruin the music.

If a chord has too many notes or it is too wide that it is impossible to stretch your hand enough, it is possible not to play the whole notes of the chord and still make it sound right.

You can play only the root note, or just try different combinations of a chord until you find the most comfortable position for your hand by taking out the least amount of notes.

Choose More Suitable Music

While this solution doesn’t exactly solve the small-hand problems, it is still worth considering. It saves you more time to play the songs that have a better match with your hand size rather than struggling with Rachmaninov or Lizst pieces if you have small hands.

Related: How To Pick The Best Songs To Practice: 6 TIPS

If you want to play classical music on the piano with small hands, I suggest looking at Baroque and Classical pieces first. However, if you do good research, you can definitely find some suitable pieces for your hands from the Romantic music repertoire as well.

This post may help you find the best beginner classical pieces:

Can you be good at the piano with small hands?

So far we’ve talked about the challenges you might have with small hands, but do those challenges actually prevent you from becoming a good pianist?

The answer is no, because if you constantly practice while following the tips above, having small hands won’t be an issue for you anymore.

In fact, there are many professional concert pianists with small hands such as Alicia de Larrrocha, who is known to have extremely small hands. Look at how she rocks!

Also, when you think about the child prodigies who can play the most difficult songs with ease, you might get convinced that having small hands is indeed not a barrier to better piano technique and playing.


Having small hands isn’t something that should stop you from playing the piano. Though there are some challenges playing the piano with small hands, they are not difficult to overcome.

Both having small and large hands have disadvantages and advantages to them. The best thing you can do is to follow the tips in this article, and focus on your improving your weaknesses!

Selin Gökova

Selin Gökova is a neo-classical composer and pianist from Istanbul, Turkey. Holding an ABRSM certificate on piano performance, she's been playing the piano and composing for ten years. Wandering Tunes is her side project where she combines her two passions: writing and music. Whenever she doesn't have assignment deadlines approaching at university where she's majoring in psychology, you'll likely find her here researching everything about piano playing to help other piano players alike.

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Hi, my name is Selin. Playing the piano and composing are my biggest passions. I've founded this blog to share everything I've learned throughout the years about piano playing and learning. I hope you stick around! Read More

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