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To Hanon or not to Hanon
#3048985 11/24/20 12:40 PM
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Hello everyone.
I'm an intermediate level student (currently looking for a teacher in the Twin Cities area). I'm trying to improve and get better on the piano. I saw a teacher last week for a trial lesson. I didn't like him so am not going to continue with him. But, he wanted me to start doing Hanon exercises. This is the second teacher that recommended doing Hanon. I researched the exercises a bit and got mixed reviews. Some people swear by them and some say do not do them as the can cause injury. I wanted to get everyone's opinion. Do you think Hanon exercises will help one gain better skills or are they to be avoided? Good article below arguing against them. Also, if anyone recommends exercises that DO help one improve their skills please let me know. Also, any piano teacher recommendations in Minneapolis/St. Paul or suburbs area of Minnesota?

https://www.pianistmagazine.com/blo...-a-waste-of-time-and-possibly-dangerous/

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Re: To Hanon or not to Hanon
ZanderChicago #3049056 11/24/20 03:59 PM
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I am not a teacher and have not done Hanon exercises but they are discussed a lot online. I have a middle line on these in that they can be useful if done correctly with support. They are only finger patterns so can you also make up your own and use real music. I had a piano teacher that gave me a few czery exercise and it was only a couple a week with very short patterns of 8 bars. When I asked my piano teacher he explained it was better to make exercise with music. We are at the moment using the bach invention 12 to practice a playing small groups at high speed evenly. He said only play this max 5 mins. Actually my other teacher also said this with the czery and often it was to practice something specific. The difference from this and what some teachers advice is they just tell students to practice exercises without much though. I have heard many playing hanon patterns for very long times like 30 mins which can cause repetitive strain injuries. Well I'm no teacher just sharing my experience. I have not been practicing these much and normally just play pieces but finding it more useful to do this sort of thing when getting more advanced. If you really dont want to do these then there are plenty of teachers who dont advise this and as I said I have never spent 1 minute on hanon exercises so definitely not a requiremt to learnt. I do hope you find a good teacher.GL

Re: To Hanon or not to Hanon
ZanderChicago #3049083 11/24/20 04:52 PM
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Sounds like you don't really know why or how you would use them.

Better to stay away from it.

IMHO The only way to recommend exercises like this is to know which issue you have and which exercise is best, and how to apply the exercise, to address it. In short, it takes a good teacher to handle that.


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Re: To Hanon or not to Hanon
ZanderChicago #3049113 11/24/20 05:51 PM
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Easy decision for me: I have a teacher whom I trust, so if he said to Hanon, there would be a reason for it, so I would do it.


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Re: To Hanon or not to Hanon
ZanderChicago #3049209 11/25/20 01:22 AM
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You can't know if an exercise helps you or not until you try it. Every exercise is an opportunity to improve quickly, because you don't need to learn notes in order to benefit from it, but different stages of piano learning have it's own sets of exercises that you can benefit from. So my advice would be to try it for a week or two. If you can play Hanon's exercises fairly well at your current comfortable tempo, drop them, there is no need to spend hours on them in that case. But if you struggle with them, if they sound badly rhythmically or dynamically, then it's your opportunity to improve quickly and it would be silly to waste it. Just remember to keep your wrists as relaxed and flexible as possible when playing.

Re: To Hanon or not to Hanon
ZanderChicago #3049465 11/25/20 05:27 PM
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ZanderChicago - You need to put this question and your concerns to the teacher that you are considering hiring. The concerns about Hanon are mixed in with ways of doing that exercise, esp. the lifting of fingers way up high. Add to this a tendency some may have to keep their forearms rigid, the wrists locked, doing it in a "fingery" kind of way. The bottom line is why the teacher wants you to do such exercises, and HOW they will teach you to do them. Most decent teachers will be aware of those concerns, and should have an answer about this.

In regard to the advice to just try to do the exercise (on your own) - I quite disagree with this. Exercises in and of themselves don't do things: it is how they are done that makes the difference. Any exercise that repeats similar motions can be especially bad, in that they can compound harm; or especially good if they establish a habit you want to have.

I remember being advised to try Hanon by someone who was not my teacher, and who could not see me playing (I did not have a camera setup at the time), and I did not touch them for the same reason as your trepidation. I think it was the right move.

Re: To Hanon or not to Hanon
ZanderChicago #3049578 11/26/20 03:49 AM
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I am not a piano teacher.
In the past, my teacher also asked me to do Hanon and Czerny. I did 10 min/day for 4 months Hanon and 10min/day for 3 months Czerny and it is all done. Maybe he noticed that I am not a fun of this kind of exercises, or we just did it as a necessary conservatory academic step.
But I believe if someone plays Hanon or Czerny 2h per day for 2 or more years, it could be the beginning of a very serious issue.

Re: To Hanon or not to Hanon
ZanderChicago #3050027 11/27/20 07:01 AM
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Last year my teacher got her students into Hanon 60 exercises. She didn't go through the whole book from top to bottom. We'd play 1 Hanon exercise at the beginning of each lesson for 10m up to 20 max. The pieces that we played were for warm-up so she got everybody to play under tempo.

I have nothing against Hanon exercises as long as you don't overdo them. Play only 1 exercise at the beginning of a practice session and limit yourself to only 20m at most.

The books that we got recently:

1. Joanne Haroutounian's Palette of Touches
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2. Czerny-Germer: 50 seleted Studies Volume 1, Part 1
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The first is a mixture of simple exercises and a short piece after each exercise. The pieces in the book are in slow tempo. The focus is on wrist rotation and hand relaxation.

The second is a book of Czerny Etudes. These are intended to be exercises but at the same time sound like repertoire pieces you would perform.

Re: To Hanon or not to Hanon
thepianoplayer416 #3050129 11/27/20 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
We'd play 1 Hanon exercise at the beginning of each lesson for 10m up to 20 max.
You mean playing the first Hanon's exercise for 10-20 minutes?

Re: To Hanon or not to Hanon
Iaroslav Vasiliev #3050136 11/27/20 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
You mean playing the first Hanon's exercise for 10-20 minutes?

There were 5 Hanon exercises my teacher got her students to practice. These have up to 2 sharps / flats including C, F, Bb, G & D. We'd just do 1 of the 5 in the beginning of a lesson for warm-up at a moderate tempo.

Re: To Hanon or not to Hanon
ZanderChicago #3050201 11/27/20 04:13 PM
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I hope some of the piano teachers here weigh in on this: not only what do they recommend for their students but what would they recommend for someone self-studying. I’m not sure the OP wants to only hear what non-teachers think.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: To Hanon or not to Hanon
ZanderChicago #3050299 11/27/20 10:42 PM
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ZanderChicago, I'm a piano teacher. I take a middle-of-the-road approach to Hanon -- to me, it's neither "You MUST do it" nor "You must NEVER do Hanon."

Technique work should be done with a specific goal or set of goals in mind. If there is a specific Hanon exercise that helps with acquisition of a needed technical skill, then Hanon is fine (in moderation and with careful attention to the signals your body is sending as you play them).

But to study all sixty exercises and keep at them repeatedly (and mindlessly) is overkill and likely to lead to repetitive strain injuries.

There is a resource published by Alfred that I find useful: Burgmuller, Czerny & Hanon: 32 Piano Studies Selected for Technique and Musicality. Available in three levels, the books are divided into units that focus on various technical and artistic skills. I'm looking at the Level 3 book's Table of Contents, which has as its focus for Unit Three, "Voicing double-note and double-stemmed melodies and accompaniments," as well as "Control and continuity of melodies involving hand cross-overs." One of the ten exercises in this unit is by Hanon, his No. 54, described as Four-Note Trill in Thirds for Both Hands by the editor of the collection, Ingrid Jacobson Clarfield.

That is a case where doing a particular Hanon exercise can benefit a player working on a particular skill.

I also like the Kjos resource Palettes of Touches thepianoplayer416 linked above. There is an elementary and an intermediate level in that series. No Hanon in there! Simply exercises developed by Joanne Haroutounian, followed both by three excerpts and one full-length piece of standard repertoire for each of the featured technical touches.

Doing pure technique -- scales, chords, arpeggios -- should be part of every piano player's routine. It doesn't have to be a long time each day. Less is more, in my opinion.

Doing applied technique, like exercises from Hanon, Czerny, etc., though, is something I feel does not need to be a daily regimen. Use exercises when/if they are helpful in establishing a skill needed for, say, a certain challenging passage in your repertoire. (Or just work concurrently on other repertoire that develops that same skill!)


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