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So I have a teacher, I'm learning a lot, things I could probably learn from books and YouTube, but the most important thing is being able to ask for clarification and also being forced to use the right fingering and technique. The songs in the Faber book are okay. I don't mind them. And the ones from the classical book are good and pretty easy. I know playing pieces will help me improve, but I feel like this is only helping me improve a little. My fingers stumble over certain passages and I'm not that fast. I can read way more complicated music, and play it, but I can only play it badly. I'm very good at reading music, but really bad at playing certain things.

Would my time be better spent practicing scales and arpeggios more and doing Hanon and cut down a bit on learning so many new pieces? Or am I just being too impatient?

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Hanon will help finger strength, but only learn with teacher feedback as you don’t want to hurt your wrists. Some exercises are looking for wrist rotation. It was a question I had, but you learn just as much with playing pieces of music. The key is to make sure you really play each bar/measure well before you move too quickly though the rest of the score. Slow practice is critical, rhythm and dynamics. You are only b]playing badly as you might be rushing through the score too quickly without mastering each bar. There is. Lot of studying of a piece of music: like the scale it is is, the beat. You might want to start theory. It is important to understand the language.

Be patience and make sure you really play it as well as your ability before moving on. Often you may not reach the tempo if the piece is a little advance. That is okay as you are learning other techniques. Scales and arpeggios - look,at some of the exams layout as they show you the progression.


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You have to play the material at a speed at which you can maintain the rhythm. That will be just as true of Hanon exercises as the music you are playing. Speed will come. Improper fingering is will slow you down.

Playing composed music offers the opportunity to grow musically in other ways in addition to developing technique. Hanon exercises offer that much less so.

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I think it's best to play both pieces and exercises.

Don't forget about exercises for finger independence, where some fingers hold down notes while other fingers play, these exercises are very important.

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You can make little exercises out of difficult passages in your pieces. That is actually the best way to master them IMO.

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Originally Posted by Csj24
My fingers stumble over certain passages and I'm not that fast. I can read way more complicated music, and play it, but I can only play it badly. I'm very good at reading music, but really bad at playing certain things.

Would my time be better spent practicing scales and arpeggios more and doing Hanon and cut down a bit on learning so many new pieces? Or am I just being too impatient?
I suggest you consider supplementing your pieces with specific non-musical short exercises from this book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Foundations-Pianoforte-Technique-Geoffrey-Tankard/dp/0853605793

They are designed for students Grade 2-8 (ABRSM) and each exercise targets a specific technical weakness. And they are just exercises 1-2 bars each. You should continue with scales & arpeggios too, of course. Improvement will still be very slow & gradual, like all technical gains on piano.

Bear in mind that these are the equivalent of tennis drills, or (my own sport) interval training and fartlek for runners. Most (recreational) tennis players never do drills, and most runners never do interval training.


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It's not an either-or approach. You can learn technique through pieces and through exercises. If you feel your technique is not improving as rapidly as you'd like you can discuss that with your teacher. There is no exact percent of exercises one could/should do compared to percent of work on pieces. If you practice and hour/day you could spend ten minutes on purely technical exercises or a lot more if you or your teacher think that would be helpful. I certainly don't think you should ever spend more than 50% on exercises and would usually think much less than that would be appropriate for most people. Many people would find spending a high percent of time on exercises boring.

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The ideal time to spend practicing Hanon exercises is 0.00000%

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Originally Posted by Csj24
I know playing pieces will help me improve, but I feel like this is only helping me improve a little. My fingers stumble over certain passages and I'm not that fast.

In my experience speed is difficult to work with for a beginner - unless your lack of speed depends on lapses in your technique. But once you play with correct technique, and you reach your final tempo, there is not much more you can do to play faster. With diligent practice, speed will come by itself, gradually.

However, the stumbling in combination with improving only a little is a warning sign. You need to practise a piece until you don't stumble in any passage any more, and when you go from stumbling to playing smoothly, usually you feel that you actually have learned something, that you have improved. Maybe you need to improve your technique in those passages, maybe you'll need to also play even slower. But certainly you'll need to practise those passages much more. (And I guess you know that you should not play a whole piece over and over again when there are passages where your fingers stumble. You practise those passages, slowly and accurately. Sometimes only a few notes at the time. smile )


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People often go on and on about exercises, but I think this is a meaningless distinction. What really matters is that you have a teacher who can teach and demonstrate *technique*, pure, unadulterated piano technique lol. There are several different approaches, the French school, the Russian school, etc. What's most important is that you learn at least one of them, once you understand how to coordinate the fingers, you keep learning different approaches later on.

Look at this video for example. This is not the only way to play (and what I do is a bit different as well), but this is roughly how I'd expect a competent teacher to teach. Am incompetent one will be happy to give you exercises and call it a day wink



It may not truly matter whether you learn from exercises or pieces. What matters is that you internalize the underlying principles.

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Originally Posted by Animisha
In my experience speed is difficult to work with for a beginner - unless your lack of speed depends on lapses in your technique. But once you play with correct technique, and you reach your final tempo, there is not much more you can do to play faster. With diligent practice, speed will come by itself, gradually.
Playing fast is part of the technique. Also, there are specific ways to work on speed. IOW you don't have to just wait for it to come by itself which it may or may not do. This doesn't mean one can, for example, work on some way to improve scale speed and that will come in just a few days.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
I suggest you consider supplementing your pieces with specific non-musical short exercises from this book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Foundations-Pianoforte-Technique-Geoffrey-Tankard/dp/0853605793

They are designed for students Grade 2-8 (ABRSM) and each exercise targets a specific technical weakness. And they are just exercises 1-2 bars each. You should continue with scales & arpeggios too, of course. Improvement will still be very slow & gradual, like all technical gains on piano.

I just got this book earlier this week based on a very old (possibly 2010) post of yours. I'm glad you still endorse it and look forward to starting the exercises.

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Thanks for all the helpful suggestions. Thanks especially for the book recommendation, Bennevis. I will check that out.

After reading this I wonder if part of my problem is actually trying to play too fast. Everything just sounds better faster. The first time I play anything through I play it slowly, but generally try to play at a faster tempo after that. The pieces I'm playing also seem really easy so it's frustrating when I make mistakes. To be honest, they all seem like pieces I should be able to play perfectly after a day or two. I guess I'm just being prideful and impatient. 😄 Definitely once I get the fingering down I make way fewer mistakes, but I can tell my fingers just aren't used to some of this stuff and it seems like exercises would help, especially with my left hand which is way less agile than my right. It's much harder to be fast with my left hand.

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There is no exact formula, and there is no consensus, about how much you should practice each.
My personal experience at age 67 is that if I stop doing my Hanon exercises, my left hand suffers in terms of speed and accuracy.
My right hand does not notice a difference either way.

The sports analogy mentioned above is apropos. No matter how good a tennis player, soccer player of any other sport participant is, they don't just play in games only. They drill, rehearse, and repeat until it is all second nature to them...then they advance to more difficult drills.


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Originally Posted by trooplewis
The sports analogy mentioned above is apropos. No matter how good a tennis player, soccer player of any other sport participant is, they don't just play in games only. They drill, rehearse, and repeat until it is all second nature to them...then they advance to more difficult drills.

+1. A good term for that is "internalizing".

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Originally Posted by Csj24
After reading this I wonder if part of my problem is actually trying to play too fast. Everything just sounds better faster. The first time I play anything through I play it slowly, but generally try to play at a faster tempo after that. The pieces I'm playing also seem really easy so it's frustrating when I make mistakes. To be honest, they all seem like pieces I should be able to play perfectly after a day or two. I guess I'm just being prideful and impatient. 😄 Definitely once I get the fingering down I make way fewer mistakes, but I can tell my fingers just aren't used to some of this stuff and it seems like exercises would help, especially with my left hand which is way less agile than my right. It's much harder to be fast with my left hand.

This sounds absolutely right. Also, even when you can play faster, my advice is to alternate with playing slower, because when playing slower you can pay more attention to your technique. I have heard a piano teacher (not mine) that everybody has a tendency to lose some of their fine technique when playing fast, even professional piano players, and therefore you should always alternate with a slower tempo. Well, of course not when the piece is slow.


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My teacher is pushing me through the Aaron exercises and "etudes" and one or two pieces in between every now and them .Even though the Aaron exercises sound good, I get bored of them while practicing one entire week.

I personally would rather learn more new pieces, even non-piano repertoire and non-classical pieces. Gives me better motivations.


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I believe that both plays and exercises should be enacted. Slow tempo with correct fingering first, then play faster. Easy beginner songs can be used.


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I tend to spend a lot more time with the repertoire pieces (even 1 page of an advanced piece). My teacher would squeeze 10m of Hanon into an hour practice session and usually not more than 20m unless absolutely necessary. A lot of advanced pieces require you to do big jumps, chords & octave stretches that you'd find in exercise books. It's ok to do exercises for warmup but the focus should be on mastering repertoire pieces.

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Found warm-up exercises that sound like songs...

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