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How to stretch your finger webbings to play wide intervals on piano comfortably

Mizue Murakami

Wide open hand with arrows between fingers

Today, I would like to talk about how to play octaves more comfortably, especially if you have small hands. If you have big hands and still want to reach wider intervals comfortably, you can also benefit from this blog.

Some classical musicians who were also great composers in the past cut their finger webbings. Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt, Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann, and Niccolo Paganini did that. And I've heard that some serious concert pianists still do that. But I'm guessing and hoping that there are only a few in the world who do such a thing. In my personal opinion, that's gross, scary, dangerous, and totally unnecessary.

I have relatively small hands. But I can reach octaves very comfortably, even for an extended period repetitively. And I can also reach the interval of 9th fine. But for people who don't play the piano, there is no reason for them to open their hands and stretch between the fingers in their daily life. So, if you want to be a good pianist, you just have to get used to stretching your hand, especially the webbing areas between the fingers. Do the gentle stretching exercise, just like athletes need to do a fair amount of stretching.

You can do the stretching anywhere anytime. You don't have to be at a piano. You can pick two fingers that are next to each other, for example, finger-2 and finger-3. Separate those two fingers with the other hand's fingers and try to stretch the webbing. Be careful. Try that gently, and don't do it too hard. You need to expect very slow progress. And you need to continue doing this all the time until you decide to quit playing the piano. If you are going to play the piano forever, you should do the stretching regularly forever as well. Eventually, all of your webbings will be very stretched comfortably. The best time to do the stretching is after the shower or bath. Your webbings are more warmed up and moisturized, then. Take it easy and good luck!


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