Posted by: ElizabethC

Steinbuhler - 04/30/06 09:36 AM

Has anyone played, know of research, or in the process of researching Steinbuhler pianos?

I am interested in these pianos and what kind of effect it could have in pedagogy and performing.

Any thoughts?
Posted by: Manon Troppo

Re: Steinbuhler - 04/30/06 11:40 AM

Yes, I've checked out the website last year. I found out about it from the American Music Teacher journal. It was advertised there. Very promising stuff. One day, when my finances are better, I'll definitely snap this thing up. \:D

I think Steinbuhler is a godsend, especially for us female pianists. Women tend to be smaller than men (and I have the misfortune of having some of the tiniest hands of all the people I know! ), so this will enable small-handed pianists to tackle major works, especially concerto-type pieces (such as those of Liszt with incredible hand spans plus finger acrobatics. Do you notice that many pianists who perform those pieces are men?). Such pieces have always been IMPOSSIBLE for me to play, but I think help has arrived for us. \:D Now advanced pieces are within EVERYONE'S reach (both figuratively and literally!). This definitely widens one's pedagogical and performing horizon.

Steinbuhler even helps men or anyone with average- or large-sized hands. (After all, the keyboard was designed by a man with small hands!) The website says that the smaller keyboard size helps reduce muscle strain, which usually contributes to injuries. There's actually an extra-large Steinbuhler keyboard for those with larger-than-average hands (yes, those people exist!). It's difficult for them to play on a standard-sized keyboard. (I used to have a student with large hands with that complaint.)
Posted by: Susan

Re: Steinbuhler - 05/01/06 01:43 AM

I went a workshop where a woman professor is testing this keyboard at her university. She said there seemed to be no problem going from this one to a regular size. I would change mine over in a minute, but what bothers me is my students. If I teach them festival pieces on a smaller keyboard, how will they do when they go to festivals? There is also the cost. It's very expensive.
Posted by: Manon Troppo

Re: Steinbuhler - 05/01/06 02:05 AM

Yes, starting at around 10K a pop, it's a pricey gadget, but then again, a keyboard constitutes a pretty big part of a piano (especially a grand piano), so in relation to the rest of the piano parts, the price is pretty reasonable. The website says that the keyboard is removable and it can be installed on any piano (something like that). The thing is that this keyboard isn't the standard yet. (Well, hopefully one day it will!). Having everyone play the same-size keyboard is like having everyone wear the same-size shoes or clothes.
Posted by: VioletBeauregarde

Re: Steinbuhler - 05/17/06 06:57 AM

It is an interesting concept, but is this really necessary??? I have small hands for a piano player and have never had a problem on a standard sized keyboard. I personally wouldn't spring for one for personal or studio use due to the cost and nonessential nature of it. I think students with smaller hands naturally just learn to compenstate the difference in other ways- much like individuals who have one arm or are missing a finger, etc.. They learn to compensate for daily tasks to make them happen. JMO.
Posted by: Manon Troppo

Re: Steinbuhler - 05/17/06 04:07 PM

Since I have extremely tiny hands, I've been also actually doing the same thing to compensate for them (rolling the chords, taking out a few select notes, redistribution of notes between hands), but there are some pieces out there with chords that cannot be rolled or have notes omitted out of them (they must be played as written). Yeah, like some of Liszt or Ravel (but especially Liszt!) pieces. And then there are concerto-type pieces with those things going on. They're totally IMPOSSIBLE for me to perform because of that. So this is when the Steinbuhler would be helpful, IMHO. \:D
Posted by: pianoannie

Re: Steinbuhler - 05/17/06 04:56 PM

I find myself wondering if there are things I could play without pain on a Steinbuhler. I bet so. There is a lot of music (big chords, lots of forte octave work) my hands just can't take anymore.
Posted by: Manon Troppo

Re: Steinbuhler - 05/17/06 10:09 PM

Actually, if you check out the Steinbuhler website, it explains that another purpose of that keyboard is to reduce strain and prevent injury, especially when it comes to those pieces with big, loud chords and octaves that are taxing to the joints and muscles.
Posted by: Susan

Re: Steinbuhler - 05/18/06 02:08 AM

Manon, I'm like you with very small hands. They are actually children's size, about the size of my 10 year old's. I can play an octave if I stretch. I have to buy gloves in the children's department. My teachers in college were always able to find pieces for me. However there are so many pieces that I just can't play that I would love to be able to play. I put my hands under a lot of strain. I've heard small women say wonderful things about the Steinbuhler.
Posted by: Manon Troppo

Re: Steinbuhler - 05/18/06 04:38 PM

I'm glad I'm not the only freak of nature out there, Susan. LOL. :p (Yes, even small adult gloves are kind of loose-fitting on me!) I also love the guitar and I've been playing it on and off, but it's more frustrating to play because the stretch required is even worse than the piano. (Not only you have to stretch, but you also have to hold the strings down! So, considering the span, jazz guitar is pretty much off-limits for me.) The only comfortable span for me on the piano is an octave. I can stretch 9 notes max and that's about it. Even so, I can only do that (somewhat uncomfortably) with slow pieces. There's no way I can do that with fast ones. The main reason I couldn't seem to completely finish quite a number of pieces I learned back in college was my hand size. A good amount of lesson time was spent on figuring out fingerings and hand positions.

(BTW, the Steinbuhler actually was designed by a guy who has small hands.)
Posted by: Susan

Re: Steinbuhler - 05/19/06 01:25 AM

It's not fair, Manon. I've suffered through small hands all my life. When I was young, my mother couldn't find a piano teacher who would take me because of my small hands. When I took ballet, they didn't make shoes small enough. When I was in 3rd grade I weighed 38 pounds. I'll never forget because we did some sort of class project and everyone laughed at my weight.
Not only are my hands small, but the bones are thin and my thumb doesn't open very far. If I had larger bones, I believe my reach would be better.
And yet I love the piano and I always have. To me it's the perfect instrument. One of these days when I win the lottery I'm going to get a Steinbuhler and finally play all those pieces I've wanted to.
Right now I'm afraid to teach on one even if I could afford it, because how can I help my students perform on regular pianos if I teach on a smaller keyboard. You would have to have 2 pianos in your studio, I guess.
Posted by: Manon Troppo

Re: Steinbuhler - 05/22/06 11:07 AM

Ahhh...the joys of having tiny hands...haha. My fingers also don't open far enough. I'm kind of disproportionate since I'm small up there (hands included, of course), but big and wide in the middle and I have long legs. (Wish they were fingers instead...)

How many pianos do you have in your studio? (I have one grand, one upright, and a synth.) If you have two pianos, you can use one regular one and you can fit the Steinbuhler on the other. (Yes, you'll still keep your original piano--you only change the keyboard since it's removable. The technician does that kind of stuff. I believe that's what I read on the website.)