Pianists with small hands have to overcome considerable physical challenges in order to be able to play great literature for the piano. Oftentimes those challenges lead to muscle strain and even career-ending injuries. To address the unique needs of smaller hands, engineer and business owner David Steinbuhler collaborated with pianist Christopher Donison in 1991 to develop a new set of standard sizes and prototypes of smaller piano keyboards.
The magic for creating these smaller keyboards takes place in David Steinbuhler’s Titusville, Pennsylvania ribbon factory, a family-run business that has been around since 1897 . Step inside and you’ll see thousands and thousands of spools of ribbons and rolls of string made to create those ribbons, along with an endless array of machinery, much of it custom built by David’s grandfather and uncle. Because they need to make their own parts and tools, David’s factory uses a number of specialized machines called CNC, or Computer Numeric Control machines, which use computers to precisely design and cut out parts from wood.
David’s piano keyboard workshop can be found on the second floor of his factory, surrounded by old pianos and tools used to create his custom Donison Steinbuhler smaller sized keyboards.
Note: This episode was originally produced as a video documentary. View the full video below:
Steinbuhler & Company Website: http://www.steinbuhler.com/index.html
PASK Pianists for Alternatively Sized Keyboards website: http://www.paskpiano.org/index.html
PASK Resources for Pianists with Smaller Hands: http://www.paskpiano.org/resources-links-and-getting-involved.html
Video of Dallas International Competition 3rd place winner Anna Arazi performing on a D.S. 6.0 keyboard: https://youtu.be/tj1RNLn8K6g