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Adjusting and swapping between keyboards

Many pianists have commented on the ease of initial adjustment and ability to swap between keyboards.  Many pianists have preconceived ideas about  the supposed difficulties:

‘Our expectation was that it might take days or weeks to adjust to this keyboard. In fact, we found that it generally takes a pianist less than an hour.’

‘Those who regularly play both keyboard sizes, as I do, are familiar with both, much as one might be if driving two family cars. Organists and harpsichordists regularly deal with this phenomenon without problems, Violinists who also play the viola experience the same type of dual ability.’
Dr. Carol Leone, Chair of Keyboard Studies, Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA, 2003.

‘My first attempt at playing the new keyboard resulted in over-shooting octaves, but this tendency was much reduced after 30 minutes or so. Within an hour, I felt reasonably comfortable and was able to play existing repertoire with no great difficulty. The narrower black keys were not an issue. With some repertoire, I am now able to play previously omitted notes or use more appropriate fingering. Becoming secure with such changes requires just a few practice sessions, as is normally the case when making these sorts of changes.’  Rhonda Boyle, Melbourne, Australia, 2009.

The amount of time needed to feel comfortable with the smaller keyboard varies among individuals; with some, adjustment is almost immediate. Adjustment time does not appear to relate to hand size – some large-handed male pianists have been observed to adjust very quickly.

​Pianists often assume that it would be difficult for a pianist to sit and play a ‘normal’ piano having done substantial practice on one with smaller keys. But the opposite is the case. According to Linda Gould, Steinbuhler & Company’s first customer for a DS5.5®:

‘Practising on the narrower keys actually makes it EASIER to play a large key piano (but you won’t want to anymore, unless you have to). Playing a piano that ‘fits your hand’ allows the pianist to release a tremendous amount of subconscious tension. It simply changes the way you approach a piano. This new knowledge is transferred to the large keys and you play with much less tension and more accuracy. The notes you can’t reach… you let them go.’

See Professor Carol Leone swapping easily between the conventional and DS6.0® keyboards in this video.