Sirius 6.0

    a piano that grows your hands


    Sharing experiences with Sirius 6.0 ...

    YouTube Playlist


    Since 2020, the future initiative Sirius 6.0 at the HMDK Stuttgart has been dedicated to the distribution and further development of reduced-size keyboards for pianos. Sirius 6.0 is the first grand piano at a European university of music with a 6.0 inch keyboard, which grows one’s hands by 12 mm per octave. Our prototype is a Yamaha baby grand piano with an optimized 6.0 keyboard from Laukhuff.

    Playing feel & adaptation
    Pianists with medium and smaller hand spans describe the playing feel on Sirius 6.0 as „freer“, „ less strenuous“ and …

    “... that it is possible to focus entirely on the music, on sound and expression while playing. The hands almost never get into positions that entail limits in balancing and differentiating sound.”

    “In my first encounter with Sirius 6.0, I felt physically freer. I could focus more on artistic things like colour, chord balancing, phrasing, extra-musical imagination, etc., instead of analysing how to reduce physical tension during particular technical challenges."

    “It's not just about reaching tenths easier now - but most importantly, about playing the other fingers more freely whilst playing octaves.”

    Most pianists can spontaneously adjust to the new size or adapt within a few minutes. This is hardly surprising when one thinks of violists who play the violin, or pianists who switch back and forth between different historical keyboard instruments. Surprisingly, many pianists can transfer the greater ease to the standard keyboard after having practiced on Sirius 6.0. Presumably, the sense of touch is refined by the differential experience on the keyboard relief. An exciting effect, even if one does not (yet) have a 6.0 keyboard available on the concert platform.

    Our scientific basis are data from pianists with more than 50 hand characteristics (span widths, rotation angles, etc.)1 as well as on causal relationships between small span widths and playing-related musculoskeletal overuse syndromes such as overstrained tendons, ganglions, fingers falling asleep etc.2

    On the one hand, we are continuing the research in music physiology of Christoph Wagner with a piano-specific focus. On the other hand, we carry on with the concept of individual keyboard sizes, which started in the 1990s in the USA with Steinbuhler keyboards in 6.0 and 5.5 size, which are already spread across several American universities.3

    Daniel Barenboim is also playing a keyboard with approx. 7 mm shorter octaves since at least 2008.4 This keyboard size corresponds approximately to historical keyboard instruments around 1800–1850.5

    Individuality & Equal Opportunities
    “Equal opportunities are an essential quality of a future-oriented university" – as stated in the structure and development plan 2022-2026 of the HMDK Stuttgart. We are pleased about the growing awareness in society, arts and research for individuality, diversity, gender, equal opportunities etc. and grateful for the support of the Equal Opportunities Commission of the HMDK Stuttgart.

    Equal opportunities for pianists begin on their daily playing field. Who still wonders about the fact that piano competitions are more often than not, won by men than by women? Data from pianists show individual differences of up to 10.9 cm in the span width 1-5. Thereby the mean value of women is 2.1 cm below that of men (... almost one piano key). The mean of e.g. Asian women is 6 mm below the mean of European women. Thus, is the DIN standard for piano keyboards, existing since 1880, primarily intended for large European men's hands?

    Children and adolescents would also benefit from smaller keyboard sizes, as would seniors, since joint mobility decreases with age. So the intriguing perspectives from all target groups are extremely diverse, both in the field of professional arts, and professional pedagogy. 

    Worldwide Network
    The future initiative Sirius 6.0 cooperates with the global initiative PASK (Pianists for Alternatively Sized Keyboards), and we warmly welcome guests from near and far. Sirius 6.0 is present at (inter)national conferences on piano pedagogy and musician' s medicine. We are happy to advise universities and pianists who would like to fit a grand or upright piano with a reduced-size keyboard.

    In February 2022, on the initiative of Silvia Molan and in cooperation with the DS Foundation (Pennsylvania/USA), a Yamaha C7X concert grand piano of A Loja de Pianos in São Paulo/Brazil has been equipped with a DS6.0 keyboard – available for practicing, rehearsing and performing. It is the first grand piano with reduced-size keyboard in South America – at a meeting point of the pianistic community.

    Under the motto Narrow Keys ... Broad Minds ... No Boundaries, the International Stretto Piano Festival has been taking place on the virtual stage MUSEA on the New York platform since 2021. Sirius 6.0 and the HMDK Stuttgart will be represented again with three recitals in June 2022, as will the grand piano in São Paulo. About half of the 30 pianists are playing a 6.0 keyboard, and the other half on a 5.5 keyboard (octave 24 mm shorter). With the latter, tenths become ninths and ninths become octaves.

    1 Wagner, Christoph: The pianist's hand: anthropometry and biomechanics, in: Ergonomics 31 (1988) S. 97-131; Boyle/Boyle/Booker: Pianist Hand Spans: Gender and Ethnic Differences and Implications for Piano Playing; Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference Proceedings 2015.
    2 Wagner, Christoph: Hand und Instrument: Musikphysiologische Grundlagen, praktische Konsequenzen, Wiesbaden 2005; Wohlwender, Ulrike: Riskante Winkel. Ursachen von Overuse-Syndromen auf der Spur; in: Üben & Musizieren 5-2019, S. 14-20
    3 Leone, Carol: Personal touch, in: International Piano, 1/2 2017, S. 32f; Leone, Carol: Size is key: Ergonomically scaled piano keyboards, in: Clavier Campanion 9/10 2015, Vol. No. 5, S. 11-21
    4 Kimmelman, Michael: A Whirlwind Named Barenboim; in: New York Times, 23.11.2008
    5 Sakai, Naotaka: Keyboard Span in Old Musical Instruments Concerning Hand Span and Overuse Problems in Pianists; in: Medical Problems of Performing Artists 23(4):169-171, 12-2008


    Symposium: SIRIUS 6.0 in Context | 19.11.2022

    Keyboards with narrower keys

    Artistic, historical, physiological, psychological, pedagogical, social and piano construction perspectives.

    Flyer Sirius Symposium      Program Sirius Symposium


    Increasing Performance Potential – Lecture | 02.07.2022

    Zoom with “public viewing” / room 7.17

    Prof. Dr. Carol Leone (Dallas/Texas) at the HMDK Stuttgart
    A passionate and informative lecture by Dr. Carol Leone, Professor of Piano and Chair of Piano Studies at SMU Dallas. The performer, innovator and teacher Dr. Leone shared her 22 years of experience with narrower keyboards (6.0, 5.5) at North American universities of music and in professional pianism: from adopting a new idea and starting a grass roots movement, to experimentation and study, international outreach, trials and rewards, and new endeavors.
    Repeatedly in the focus during the following discussion: the liberating and inspiring impact on playing technique, sound and performance (not only!) for pianists with medium and smaller finger spans.

    Concert & Get Together | 21.04.2022

    OPR | HMDK Stuttgart


    Sirius 6.0 in context: alternatively-sized keyboards for individual pianist's hands

    Short lecture by Prof. Ulrike Wohlwender

    Round table 1
    Exchange of experiences among the Sirius 6.0 pianists about playing feel, adaptation and repertoire
    with Jinzi Ju, Silvia Molan, Prof. Hubert Nuss, Amelie Protscher, Mami Shikimori, Yu Tashiro, Sophia Weidemann, Sine Winther

    Round table 2
    about (future) perspectives of alternatively-sized keyboards in regard to artistic potential, historical piano making, modern piano making, music physiology and pedagogy with Alexandra Müller (music physiology), Henning Reichstatt (previous owner of Sirius 6.0), Harald Schlecker (piano technician) and Sonia Achkar (piano)

    Prof. Ulrike Wohlwender (direction), Silvia Molan (assistance)