In 1996 David Steinbuhler made a 5.5 inch octave keyboard for my acoustic grand piano. I can barely reach an octave on the standard 6.5 inch octave piano. I received my ARCT and BMus with distinction by creating workarounds for my small hands. Most of the piano literature I wished to play was not within my grasp, literally.
Playing loud octaves used to be painful. My hand was stretched to the max and every strike on the piano hurt. On the narrow keys I am pain free!
I can still play a regular sized piano, but the old tension returns. Going back and forth between the different sizes of keyboards is not a problem, but not being able to easily reach a 9th remains a problem on the standard keyboard.
Playing on narrow keys is exhilarating! To be able to play the piano the same way is impossible on the big keys. I did it for many years, but ignored the pain and paid for it in my twenties when I developed chronic pain. My right arm was in a cast for three years. Any movement of my wrist was debilitating. Surgery found a cyst embedded in my wrist bones, pressing up against a nerve.
I was playing on the wrong size piano keyboard.
In 2005 I moved my grand piano with narrow keys to perform "Rhapsody in Blue" with the Sooke Philharmonic orchestra . It was something I could never do on the big keys.
In 2021, my dream of having a digital piano with narrow keys came true. Now I have a portable instrument for my jazz gigs and other performances. We will soon offer these keyboards for sale so others can have this option, too.
I started piano lessons when I was in my mid forties. We had gotten a piano for my young daughter to take lessons and since it was there in the house, I decided to take lessons, too.
My teacher's recitals put me in with her other adult students--all women and all more advanced amateurs than myself. I remember my teacher talking about their more advanced pieces with 4-note chords. Her mantra to them was, "Throw those notes away!" and play 3-note chords instead. So I Iearned early on that I would likely not be able to play advanced pieces as they were written.
A few years later I learned about narrow keys on acoustic pianos and bought a set for my piano as my mid-life crisis splurge. I connected with the PASK online community and have enjoyed making my meager contribution to music by trying to bring these narrow keys to the digital piano community. Without the narrow keys, I probably would have given up playing piano. It just wouldn't be enough fun.
Once, when thinking about piano and hand size, I remembered an incident from many years earlier. I was in college and visiting my older sister. She, her husband, and I could hear my 10 year old niece practicing piano in another room. They lamented that she was trying very hard, but her playing had gotten as good as it could and would not improve until she (and her hands) grew a bit more. My sister and brother-in-law both played piano and knew full well that the large keyboard holds children back. Boys and girls could learn piano faster and better on narrower keys.
We all deserve an affordable instrument that let's us play piano at our best. We are working hard to put manufacturing in place to bring that to you.
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