Can you make it professional with small hand?

April 19, 2012 at 02:28 PM · I probably have the TINIEST hands in the world and it's kind of a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing is that my fingers are so skinny that intonation is more precise. However, I'm afraid that because I have small hands, the higher positions like 6th- 12th are going to be hard for me. I really love the violin so I hope this doesn't bother me. :(

Update* my hand is 3 1/2 inches wide (about) and 5 1/2 inches long (about from hand to fingers)

Replies (34)

April 19, 2012 at 02:58 PM · http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVPI1RatI2c

Tiny hands + full-size violin=can be done

The proportion, rather than absolute size, is probably much more important. People with very short pinkies may have issues (or learn to compensate). Besides, you don't have to play a large fiddle. You can look for a smaller one or have one made with slightly smaller dimensions.

April 19, 2012 at 04:15 PM · Yeah my hands are small but my fingers are really really long!

April 19, 2012 at 04:43 PM · "Yeah my hands are small but my fingers are really really long!"

Then I guess I'm not sure what the problem is.

April 19, 2012 at 06:14 PM · Well they are long but compared to an averaged sized hand it looks tiny.

April 19, 2012 at 06:37 PM · ask Chloe Hanslip

April 19, 2012 at 08:07 PM · In my mind, Ricci and also later on, Leila Josefowicz as a child prodigy (11-12 yo) had stronger and overall bigger hands than many adults with small hands.

I have very small hands myself as an amateur and have not seen many pros with such small hands (often what people call small is still bigger...)but I've seen some quite close!!

Midori and a lot of Japanese woman soloists (some have long fingers but their hands are very narrow)

Here (Canada), I've been lucky to hear the canadian soloist Andrea Tyniec whom I admire very much for her playing and also, to be able to do that playing! Her hands are really tiny yet she made it as a professional player and won prices!

http://www.canadacouncil.ca/prix/musical_instrument_bank_fr/BIM2009/yd128971675746419130.htm

April 19, 2012 at 08:35 PM · My teacher has very small hands and he was the associate concertmaster of one of the world's greatest orchestras for 40 years. He's retired now, but he still plays like a top-grade champion, so I don't think small hands will hold you back.

April 19, 2012 at 09:02 PM · Saw Chloe Hanslip perform twice and she is petite, and plenty famous and talented. :)

April 19, 2012 at 09:55 PM · Cool I'll go check her out on YouTube :)

April 19, 2012 at 11:11 PM · I also have very small hands (just to give you an idea my pinky is just barely 2 inches long) so I totally know where you are coming from. There are definitely things you will have problems with but it shouldn't hold you back too much. You just need to realize that sometimes you will have to accommodate for the size of your hands (whether it means holding your instrument differently or doing something different with your thumb when in higher positions). Mostly, I have found, you just need to work at it. At my college we all have to do 3 octave scales and arpeggios and I never imagined being able to play F# and other high scales but after a lot of work I am finally able to do it! I hope this helps :)

April 19, 2012 at 11:22 PM · Small hands? Here's one for you!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd6MhhP0dT0&feature=share

Back in 1973 I participated in a master class and the bulk of the USC Heifetz Master Class fiddlers were in it too.

I remember one "little" 18 year old Vietnamese girl whose hands appeared to be about half as thick as mine. She had only been playing for about 5 years, and after she had been put through 3 and 4 octave scales, and scales in octaves, fingered octaves, and tenths, she performed the entire Bruch concerto with as well as I'd ever heard it. (I wish I knew her name and what she is doing now.)

The leader of the class was Clair Hodgkins, who was Heifetz' USC assistant at the time (by the way she appears in the Heifetz Master Class video.

Andy

April 19, 2012 at 11:23 PM · Small hands? Here's one for you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd6MhhP0dT0&feature=share

You can see how it can be done!

Back in 1973 I participated in a master class and the bulk of the USC Heifetz Master Class fiddlers were in it too.

I remember one "little" 18 year old Vietnamese girl whose hands appeared to be about half as thick as mine. She had only been playing for about 5 years, and after she had been put through 34 octave scales, and scales in octaves, fingered octaves, and tenths, she performed the entire Bruch concerto with as well as I'd ever heard it. (I wish I knew her name and what she is doing now.)

The leader of the class was Clair Hodgkins, who was Heifetz' USC assistant at the time (by the way she appears in the Heifetz Master Class video.

Andy

April 19, 2012 at 11:24 PM · Small hands? Here's one for you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd6MhhP0dT0&feature=share

You can see how it can be done!

Back in 1973 I participated in a master class and the bulk of the USC Heifetz Master Class fiddlers were in it too.

I remember one "little" 18 year old Vietnamese girl whose hands appeared to be about half as thick as mine. She had only been playing for about 5 years, and after she had been put through 34 octave scales, and scales in octaves, fingered octaves, and tenths, she performed the entire Bruch concerto with as well as I'd ever heard it. (I wish I knew her name and what she is doing now.)

The leader of the class was Clair Hodgkins, who was Heifetz' USC assistant at the time (by the way she appears in the Heifetz Master Class video.

Andy

April 20, 2012 at 12:32 AM · Wow Andrew! Your right she is amazing!

April 20, 2012 at 12:35 AM · And wow Chloe is amazing too and she is petite! Thanks guys :)

April 20, 2012 at 04:11 AM · Is Soo-Been Lee playing a full sized violin?

If so, one thing to watch is her left thumb as she reaches for very high stuff on the fingerboard. Doesn't solve the problem of tenths though.

April 20, 2012 at 10:03 AM · John's quite right. Over time your hands will develop with use, and if you're a string player the left will likely develop more than the right. I'm right-handed but my left hand is measurably larger than my right in width, finger length and finger thickness, and I have reason to believe this development , includiing flexibility, has continued since I changed over from the cello to the violin a few years ago. I'm in my 70s, btw.

April 20, 2012 at 12:34 PM · I attended Rachel Barton Pine's recent recital in NY of all of the Paganini caprices. Afterwards I went up to congratulate her and saw up close that she has small hands. Yet she did it all in the Paganini, including 10ths, etc. So, yes, do find a violin with good proportions for you, and practice diligently but gradually, w.o. forcing for the proper angle of the elbow, finger stretching etc. and you'll be OK.

April 20, 2012 at 05:34 PM · My violin teacher has small hands -- and a DMA from Eastman School of Music. She gets around the upper fingerboard a little differently than I do with big hands, but she's waaay better.

April 20, 2012 at 07:18 PM · Small hands are actually more advantageous when playing on higher positions (easier to play in tune). However, your thumb may need to move from the neck to the side of the fingerboard to play those high notes. It's playing double stops/chords that require wide spread or thicker fingers that are the problems.

As to your question - having small hands is not a problem IF you are more talented and hard working than the "professionals" (whatever that means to you) who have average-sized hands...

April 21, 2012 at 02:38 AM · a friend of mine, soyoung yoon, has really tiny hands, and she's a great violinist, she just won the wieniawski competition.

what i notice is that it's not so much the size of the hands, but rather the length of the pinky as compared to the other fingers. people whose pinkies are closer to the length of the ring finger will have an advantage.

April 21, 2012 at 11:36 AM · @Joyce, moving the thumb up to the side of the fingerboard is what I was alluding to in my comments regarding the wonderful video of the little Asian girl that was linked in a previous post. Can that be managed without a shoulder rest? How are you holding up the violin then?

April 21, 2012 at 03:41 PM · @Joyce Yeah last night while I was practicing I was curious and tested that out. Turns out i do need to move my thumb. Its easier on the e string but on the others, its tough.

April 21, 2012 at 08:15 PM · Paul, I do use a shoulder rest, but I just tried playing without, and it's not much of an issue - the tip of the thumb can be under the fingerboard just a little to hold the violin up (It really doesn't take much) so the violin is still supported by the shoulder, head weight (chin), and the thumb - it feels very secure.

Angelica, it would help to move the violin more to the left when playing high position notes on lower strings, so your left arm doesn't have to contort so much.

Disclaimer: I'm a lowly adult student who has only been playing for less than 3 years, so listen to me at your own peril. ;)

April 21, 2012 at 11:31 PM · Well just to let everyone know, I just measured my hand I

And this is it's size:

Width: 3 1/2 inches (about)

Length: 5 1/2 inches (about

April 23, 2012 at 04:00 PM · I'm 13 at the moment and mostly everyone my age as a fullsize violin so I'm scared it's too late for my hands to grow (i have a 3/4)

April 25, 2012 at 12:54 AM · Today I checked a glove manufacturing site to see what size I would be and I'm not even xsmall! :'( do hands grow after you turn 13?

April 25, 2012 at 02:10 PM · Is the rest of you still growing? If so, your hands might not be done growing either. Some girls do finish growing by 13, but some late bloomers like I was take longer.

If you're still growing, look at the hands of your family members - are they big or small? My hands ended up being pretty similar in size and shape to my mother's.

April 25, 2012 at 10:01 PM · Well it's been a while since I have measured myself so I hope so. (last time I measured myself I grew half an inch. It's not much but at least it's something. But by the time I get older and start going professional maybe I'll grow right? :(

April 25, 2012 at 10:27 PM · Angelica,

I think you're worried about nothing at all. We're not talking about a thumb severed in a horrible mining accident, or missing three fingers from a birth defect or something. Any limitations on your ability to be a professional are more likely to be mental. You're already imposing limits on yourself.

Just for comparison, my hand is 3 1/2 inches wide and only 4.25 inches long (not counting fingers). And I have no problem with 10ths or reaching in the upper positions. It sounds like you have bigger hands than I do.

April 25, 2012 at 10:43 PM · Kinda begs the question as to what is the ideal hand size/shape? From what I've read (seen in pictures?) Paganini had long slender fingers but Perlman has enormous sausages. Perhaps what you win on the reach you loose on the nimbleness. I've got rather large stubby hands (though not in Perlman's league - speaking of ,I'm gong to see him play sunday!). The other advantage to stubby hands is lots of skin pad for vibrato...

So what IS the ideal hand size - or maybe there is a big ideal range that can be accomodated by different violin designs...

April 25, 2012 at 11:25 PM · Wow really Scott? And can you play a full size violin without any problem? Well I guess I'm worried about this cause I really badly want to become a good violin player. I love the violin and I really want to make it my life. I want to grow up and smile because I have a class of orchestra students to teach or I want to practice like mad to solo it out on a symphony orchestra. :)

April 26, 2012 at 12:22 AM · Angelic,

I don't really have tiny hands--I think you may have measured yours differently.

Anyway, stop beating yourself up and predicting failure based on your hands. You had another post concerning some other physical aspect--it almost seems like you're looking for excuses to fail.

Just play and work hard. Just being someone who doesn't rush will set you apart.

April 26, 2012 at 02:13 AM · Yeah I definately measured wrong. I measured from my hand to my fingers so really my hands are way much smaller than that. To tell you the truth my hands are probably about the same and if not, smaller than an eight year old.

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