The Doc Project

Right hands, wrong piano: a game changer for small-handed pianists

The piano, as we know it, was built for the larger hands of a man, and that leaves a lot of women and smaller-handed men struggling to play. But with an idea from one Canadian, and the help of one American, everything could change.
David Steinbuhler (left) poses next to a rack of keyboards in his living room in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and Chris Donison stands next to his Steinway Concert Grand, currently housed in a performance hall on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The piano, as we know it, was built for the larger hands of a man.

That leaves a lot of women and smaller-handed men struggling to play.

Now maybe for an after school piano lesson at the rec centre, this doesn't really matter. But when it gets to the big leagues, how pianos are designed is a big deal — it makes and breaks careers, and it's a debate that's happening in the world of classical piano right now.

With the help of one Canadian, everything could change: he thought of a piano that could level the playing field for small-handed pianists around the world — and thanks to the hard work of one American, that's a step closer to reality.

So why have you never heard of it?

Producer's Notebook

Why I had to make the trip to Titusville, PA

By Andrea Bellemare

Travelling for a story is important but it's also time-consuming and expensive. I had already flown across the country from Toronto to Victoria to interview Christopher Donison (the other half of the DS Standard) and Linda Gould (a pianist who had to stop playing due to injuries). Another trip might be out of the budget, which I had already exceeded. But, it just had to happen. Continue reading →

About the producer

Andrea Bellemare
Andrea Bellemare is a reporter and producer with the CBC Kitchener­ Waterloo radio and digital station, where she's worked for the past three years, focusing on tech and transit stories.

Before joining CBC K­W, she worked online with the CBC Trending team, where she produced the award­-winning Human Library interactive national video chat, and in TV at CBC News Network as a chase producer, writer, story editor and control room producer. Andrea has also reported for the wire service Agence France­-Presse.

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