Musicians are often perceived as having a special gift that sets them apart from the rest of us. And while it's true that many musicians have a natural aptitude for their craft, there is also a great deal of hard work and dedication to becoming a proficient player.

One area where musicians often seem to have an advantage in developing their fine motor skills. A quick Google search will reveal countless articles and blog posts with titles like "Do Piano Players Have Better Hand-Eye Coordination?" But what does the research say about the relationship between Pianos and hands?

If you plan to learn piano playing, you will probably hear about Piano hands vs. Normal hands. However, there is no such thing as piano hands precisely when it comes to piano playing; individuals with average-sized hands can play piano.

On the other hand, piano hands can mean the well-developed hands of professional pianists. This can be achieved with the proper position of the fingers and increasing finger strength.

Here is all that you need to know about the hands of piano players and how these can differ from non-pianists hands.

Average hand sizes and the gender differences

At the 12th Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference in 2015, Rhona Boyle and 2 other researchers presented a study of 473 pianists' hand spans. A hand span is a distance between your index finger and thumb when your hand is extended.

According to the study, the hands' span was categorized based on race and gender. It is also related to hand strength. Following is the list made by Boyle.

  • The average hand sizes of Caucasian males can range from 9 cm to 22 cm
  • The average hand size of Asian males can range from 8.7 cm to 22 cm.
  • For Caucasian females, the average hand size can range from 8 cm to 20 cm.
  • The average hand sizes of Asian female pianists can range from 6.2 cm to 15.8 cm.

Thus, the hand sizes differ based on gender and race. However, hand span usually only affects playing the piano. The only factor you will find necessary is finger flexibility to play the entire octave.

For women with smaller hand spans, it becomes difficult playing complicated pieces. Nevertheless, there are sever more factors important than hand span when it comes to playing the piano.

Playing the piano with consistent practice and improving hand play.

You will need to develop your hand muscles when playing piano to ensure you can play faster. Pianists' hands need practice like musicians' vocal cords to be developed. Here is what you need to know about hand position when you learn to play the piano:

Length of fingers

The finger strength often depends on the length of the fingers. Most pianists have long piano fingers, which helps them while playing piano. Pianists have longer fingers than nonpianists; this enables them to reach specific notes on the piano with ease and fluidity.

Sometimes they also use their index fingers to cover up certain sounds to prevent the sound from becoming too harsh or sour.

The curvature of the wrist

Pianists learn to use their middle and middle fingers equally while playing piano. You will find that even with smaller hands and ranges, pianists' wrists are curved, whereas nonpianists are straight.

This allows them to make quick changes and play them faster. Even with larger hands, a pianist needs to have highly developed muscles on the wrist and even learn to bend backward while playing the piano.

Wrist and finger coordination

A pianist's fingers must have better coordination with his wrist than a nonpianist's hand. The fingers, be it the fourth fingers, his thumb on his right or left hand, should work together.

The piano player's hands play most piano music, and the fingers have to work in coordination with the wrist.

When you compare female hand sizes and child prodigies' hand spans, you will find that they have smaller hands than the ideal hand side.

However, they still play piano faster or even play most composers' music. It would help if you did not think that larger hands and longer fingers make piano playing easier. To play the piano with expertise, you need to practice playing piano music.

Ideal hand size and hand positions - Choice of Repertoire Limit One's Playing Capability

This might seem contrary to the opinion already made because, as mentioned earlier smaller hand span does not mean you cannot play certain pieces. However, racing all the keys of the octave with your right hand can be challenging if you do not have a large hand span. Hence, sometimes you should consider playing music that is ideal for shorter fingers. Here are some factors that you need to consider if you have shorter fingers:

  • You must choose simple pieces if you have short fingers and average hands. You can play great music. A pianist's hand needs to be coordinated with his fingers, eyes, ears, and brain. A pianist's and a nonpianist's hand does not differ in appearance.
  • The only difference is that a nonpianist will have different coordination. However, while choosing the pieces, you must select ones that do not have to move your fingers farther, as these pieces are ideal for people with large hands.
  • You should choose pieces designed for larger hands if you have larger hands. Moreover, if you have difficulties playing with closed-hand positions because you have large hands, you should choose musical instruments with more open-hand positions.
  • If your fingers are longer, you will find that you can play the white and black keys with equal ease. You can choose complex music pieces, but you will also need excellent coordination between your hands, fingers, wrist, brain, eyes, and ears to play the piano.

Nevertheless, an expert pianist does not need fingers longer than the average just because he can play all keys easily. A pianist who can finger chromatic octaves with 5–1 on white keys and, astonishingly, 4–2 on black keys need not have fingers longer than you. Still, he needs finger flexibility which is more than average. You will find that there is almost no difference in the length and size of fingers between experts.

Importance of modifying passages to avoid hardest finger twisters

Some music pieces require significant finger flexibility and can be played only by expert pianists. The "Hammerklavier" Sonata by Beethoven, which contains a fugal last movement, is notoriously one of the most difficult pieces to play. If you have fat fingers, good luck- you'll need it.

You will need your fingers always to be curved, and they should never bend backward at the joints while playing the piano.

Moreover, you can never play the piece with one hand. Hence, sometimes the passages should be slightly modified while playing this piece. For instance, you can leave out the B-flat part, and very few will notice the change.

Usually, it's just a single note in the chord that you need to change to make all the difference. In such cases, we should use our musical judgment. Rather than disrupt the musical flow by just trying to obey the composer's orders, it's at least worth seeing whether we can find a more musical solution to that spot. Moreover, it does not make much difference to the original composition.

Does playing the piano change the size of your hand span?

Your hand will remain the same size even if you play the piano regularly. Your fingers will only grow if you become a pianist.

Many people think your hands will become veiny and long if you become a pianist. However, compared to the hand of an average individual, there is hardly any difference in the piano players hands

Some individuals are born with a pianist's hand, which means they have wide hand spans and longer fingers. This makes it easier for them to play different pieces. However, it would be best to practice playing the piano regularly to develop better coordination, even with a wide hand span and long fingers.

Piano playing requires hand, eye, ear, and finger coordination. You will have to ensure that your fingers move smoothly over the keys; this only depends partially on the length of your fingers or the span of your hand.

Are there differences between a pianist's hand and an average person's hand?

Compared to other people, Chopin's hands have some distinct differences. For example, his palm has an extremely developed muscle to his constant playing and composing throughout his life. Therefore, you shouldn't expect your hand to be as flexible.

It would help if you had years of practice to make your hands flexible, and for that, it is not always the size of your hands or fingers that matters, but how well coordinated your hands and fingers are.


Much like singers, pianists need to work with what they have; if you have shorter fingers, you must work with these to your advantage in your Piano journey. Even if some pianists have what seem to be natural "piano hands," all concert pianists' hands come in various shapes and sizes. With time and practice, you'll realize that your hands are pretty flexible. Frequently, the best solution is simply picking the right repertoire.

The main difference between a pianist's hand and a nonpianist one is that a pianist's hand can execute specific actions with ease. In contrast, it would take many attempts for a nonpianist to perform the same action. Therefore, you should work towards developing the hand of a pianist, and you will find that you can play nearly all musical pieces.

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Harlan Kilstein began playing piano during covid with no piano background at all. He taught himself how to play learning what to do and what not to do.
Today he's an advanced intermediate player and can help you grow in your skills because he learned all this on his own.