How to play piano with small hands

In today’s quick lesson, I’ll cover the myth that you have to have long, skinny fingers to play the piano well. It’s simply not true! Even if you have small fingers, I’ll provide you with some simple but effective ways to play smoothly on the piano.

Most students begin to have trouble when they are trying to add a fourth note to a chord. A common habit and misconception I’ve seen in students is that they believe they have to play the notes towards the edge of the keys. All you have to do is simply move your hands up the notes, closer to the piano. You should never have to have your hands twisted or wrenched around to play a chord!

This problem also occurs when you are trying to split a chord over two measures. That can sometimes be a very long stretch. If you are ever stretching longer than you can reach, you can “rock” up to them from the bottom. This is called “to arpeggiate.”

Finally, if you are still really struggling, you can invert a chord. For example, in the video, I use a c7 chord to show that you can move the lowest note and move it up an octave and put it on top. That is typically a much easier way for students to play because it is a closer hand position.

No matter the size of your hands or fingers, you too CAN play the piano well!

– Scott Houston

  • Lee
    Posted at 17:25h, 21 March

    Very helpful information ! Use it right away!!

    Posted at 13:58h, 24 March

    Thank you for those tips. i’m about to buy a piano keyboard to practice your lessonsJoy on. My question is: Does it matter how many keys it has? They sell them with 44, 61, or I believe 81. I have limited space in my apartment so smaller is better for me.

    • Geraldine Allen
      Posted at 03:59h, 07 May

      Go for 88 keys minimum. I have a 61 keyboard and I run out of keys when I am playing my favourites pieces, and even some exercises. Also go for weighted keys. I have to buy a new keyboard now because mine doesn’t have weighted keys and it makes a big difference to how well you can play.

    Posted at 14:02h, 24 March

    If i practice on a keyboard are there any requirements as to the size or number of keys it has? I have limited space so smaller is better for me.

    • Ryan Eldridge
      Posted at 08:43h, 26 March

      Hi Joyce – I would suggest at least one with 61, but whatever works for your space, go with that. 44 should suffice if necessary. Let me know if you have any more questions!

  • irwin schwartz
    Posted at 20:55h, 24 March

    Hi Guy…I have played the piano for many years now.
    But for some reason I stopped playing a few years ago because of work and whatever….Now I would like to resume playing again….What are my chances of playing more of the music now than before?..How do I begin again besides taking lessons from the beginning?
    Truly yours
    Irwin Schwartz

  • Al
    Posted at 17:20h, 25 March

    Finally, a problem solved for my small hand. Thanks.

  • Ryan
    Posted at 07:42h, 22 January

    Great post for those with small hands! Like a lot of others have said – it definitely helps having a teacher but it’s not 100% mandatory. The awesome thing about learning on your own is that you can devote much more than 2-3 hours of your time on a daily basis.

    Besides, it’s less pricey. Personally, my eldest daughter felt she was getting nowhere with all the different YouTube channels though until she tried Piano in 30 Days at

    I think following a structured course like this one is the way to go, you can learn for free on sites like Youtube but it’s all over the place and you’ll mostly be learning specific songs rather than techniques and methods that can accelerate your learning. A step by step approach is better than just learning random songs IMO. Good luck learning the piano people! 🙂

  • Jenles
    Posted at 21:45h, 04 February

    Dear Ryan & Scott…
    I believe I just really accidentally completed a blog. Explaining in detail my situation & dilemma I have been running into. If this reaches you. And, for some reason my last one didn’t make it though. Can you please just respond back. With Dear Jenles… your blog too failed miserably. Could you please explain again? I’m the one begging for mercy! Before I go and search for a light up digital tambourine! I have an ear for music, I write my own lyrics all the time. I can’t keep up. The orgin of my name means (UNIQUE) yet the Root ( MELODY) Comical how I’m failing at just about every instrument you can imagine. Thank you so much for your time. I pray at least one of these blogs makes it. Signing off… I am my magical band with no musical instruments.

    • Ryan Eldridge
      Posted at 10:41h, 05 February

      Hello – I’m not sure how else Scott can explain this concept. Give the exercises and tricks he shows a couple of tries. You are also more than welcome to google “how to play piano with small hands” to see if other resources pop up that might help.

      Piano In A Flash

  • Mary Ann Moss
    Posted at 15:26h, 27 March

    Thank you, I have always struggled with chords (notes) that have been more than an octave apart playing hymns. This has really helped me a lot. Thank you.

  • Mary-Anne
    Posted at 19:16h, 12 December

    Honestly, Scott, you are SUCH A SWEETHEART!
    Many thanks for your neverending encouragement.
    Greatly appreciated on Vancouver island, British Columbia.

  • Ray Garafano
    Posted at 08:48h, 22 October

    Hello Scott,
    Great idea, yes a C7 could be much easier played with the 7th at the bottom.
    Although I did not take ur course, I want to thank you very much for telling me
    about what some call a fake book, just the upper cleff and the chords to go
    along instead of having to read both clefs, I do this with non-classical, but still
    work with Chopin and Beethoven, so that means w your method I can learn
    some pieces quicker, giving me time to work on some classical as well.
    I want to send greetings and good wishes to your staff.

    Ray G.