Seventeen of the 22 respondents in the survey of pianists (Boyle, 2012) reported some change in their repertoire since beginning to play the reduced-size keyboard. All reported improvements with at least some existing repertoire. Romantic works were frequently mentioned as being tackled for the first time or becoming much easier. These included Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov Etudes, other Chopin repertoire such as the opus 53 Polonaise and Ballades, and works by Brahms, Debussy and Ravel. As Linda Gould (Canadian pianist and the first purchaser of a DS5.5® (7/8) keyboard) says:
‘I couldn’t ever get a Chopin Etude to performance level. Now I can!’
Others nominated any repertoire with large chords or octaves requiring a fast tempo or legato playing, as well as Bach (where inner voices needed to be held), Beethoven, and some 20th century composers. One mentioned improved security even with Mozart.
The restriction on repertoire choice is illustrated in this story from Dr Carol Leone from Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Texas): ‘Yesterday I gave an audition lesson to an incoming graduate student. She played a challenging Romantic work with a lot of struggle, even though she intentionally left out many notes to accommodate her small hands. I then found out that she is an injured pianist, with chronic carpal tunnel and also nerve damage in her right arm. Then she told me that she came to SMU specifically to study on the DS5.5® keyboard. So, over to the DS5.5®Steinway we went and she proceeded to play passages from her piece perfectly with all of the notes! She looked at me incredulously and burst into tears, apologizing over how emotional she felt and exclaiming how she has been trying for years to “discipline myself to stay away from Romantic repertoire”.’