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#568289 - 07/28/07 08:32 PM Dohnanyi Exercises  
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I've switched teachers this summer and for the rest of the year. This week she gave me the Dohnanyi "Essential Finger Exercises for ObTaining a Sure Piano Technique" I started number 40 today (octave cromatics) , it scared me at first but i mastered it in about 20 minutes.

Do any of you use these exercises?
What do you think of them?

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#568290 - 07/28/07 08:55 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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I think most forumers (at least who advocate technical exercises!) will agree that Dohnanyi's exercises are top-knotch. I used to do these exercises on a regular basis myself, and strongly recommend them. I love how concise and down-to-earth they are: they rarely involve things that seem unrealistically in depth or challenging considering the technical demands of most literature, but they will definitely help secure you FOR the bulk of that literature, I feel. You may also like to explore Dohnanyi's concert etudes (there is a famous set of 6, from which we have the notorious "Capriccio" but I think there is another set or two as well), as they are wonderful works and complement the exercises very well. In particular, check out no.'s 4-6. 4 is a bb minor "bell" piece that reminds me very much of Rachmaninoff--an excellent opportunity to impress an audience with a little known work!

I would also suggest, if you're interested, exploring Brahms' exercises for a nice complement, not to mention a very original and extremely effective way to expand your technique in ways I haven't seen elsewhere. That, mixed with the Dohnanyi, would be a sure combination, I would think.

#568291 - 07/28/07 11:07 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Thanks for your reply Goldberg.

Are the Brahms' more difficult than the Dohnanyi?

Matt

#568292 - 07/28/07 11:34 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Quote
Originally posted by Debussy20:
Are the Brahms' more difficult than the Dohnanyi?
Absolutely not. Exercises 9, 10 and 11 in the Dohnanyi are almost transcendentally difficult, and you really need to be careful when practising them. At the first sign of fatigue, stop.

Overall, I find the Dohnanyi much better organized than the Brahms, and would humbly submit that if the magic of the name "Brahms" was not attached to those studies, I doubt they would be as well known.


Jason
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#568293 - 07/29/07 03:36 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Thanks for the tip, Jason. Are there any negatives about these exercises?...


Matt

#568294 - 07/30/07 12:24 AM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Quote
Originally posted by Debussy20:
Thanks for the tip, Jason. Are there any negatives about these exercises?...
Well, IMO, none if they're practised correctly. You may need to consult with your teacher- otherwise be careful not to strain.

Dohnanyi groups his exercises into three categories. Read his preface carefully and follow the advice. In the beginning you will be instructed to only practise selected examples. Make a note of them.

Cheers and good luck!


Jason
#568295 - 07/30/07 01:48 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Yes, I definitely agree that one of the biggest positives of Dohnanyi's exercises compared to almost every other popular exercise book I'm familiar with, is the organization. I like how, although the exercises themselves are not put into any real order (that is to say, they don't proceed from easiest to most difficult in the book), Dohnanyi does a great job of suggesting how to best advance through the entire book. I like this approach because it acknowledges that some exercises might be easier for some people, or vice versa, so it's better to follow a rough outline rather than go strictly through the book like other technical exercises are designed.

Those are some interesting thoughts on the Brahms exercises, argerichfan. I agree that they are quite disorganized, but at the same time I think you may be underestimating their value. I personally find them to be very unique studies in cross-rhythms, hand stretches, and overall technical control, which if studied correctly, can lend itself nicely to developing color and tone (moreso, I argue, than something like Dohnanyi). I certainly see the counter-argument, however, that once a stage is reached where a student is exploring these fields, repertoire is more sufficient--but nevertheless, as exercises I think they are very effective. The fact that they are from Brahms, to me, lends credibility to their use, because as a highly respected composer and formidable pianist himself, it's clear Brahms understood both musical and pianistic aspects of performance. Personally, I can see evidence of building blocks in the exercises that indicate his imagination and thoroughness. Dohnanyi is, of course, a similar case; alternatives, such as Hanon, Herz, and arguably Tausig, I consider much weaker.

However, to be fair, I should say that I myself have, in the past two or three months, switched to Godowsky and Ganz for exercises (sometimes with Dohnanyi still), which suit my purposes the best out of everything else I've tried. And now that I mention it, I would encourage anyone else to try these exercises as well!

#568296 - 07/30/07 01:51 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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I'm not familiar with Godowsky or Ganz excercises, are they similar to Dohnanyi? I've only seen a few stretching excercises from Godowsky, and a short article on octave playing and how to develop it.

#568297 - 07/30/07 04:06 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Godowsky's exercises are somewhat similar to Dohnanyi's in how they aim to develop finger independence using held notes and different rhythmic patterns, etc. But they also have marvellous cross-rhythm exercises that work within the same hand! Also, Godowsky has some very unique scale exercises which involve triads and development of weak fingers and awkward hand positions, without being dangerous. The stretching exercises have worked very well for me, as well, helping me understand how to make my hand flexible and adapt to demanding, well, stretches. I've read that Godowsky himself had small hands compared to many other virtuosi in history, yet his amazing suppleness and flexibility accounts for his renowned technique (among other things). They say his hands had a rubbery appearance during the most difficult of passages, testament to his incredible relaxation, which is vital for mastering his difficult exercises.

The Ganz exercises focus on more "intellectual" aspects of piano technique, such as tone, dynamic, and rhythmic control. They deal with a few complicated issues along those lines, particularly in the voicing exercises. And Ganz is most famous for his detailed explanation of and preliminary exercises in "Symmetrical Inversion," a mirror-image form of practising a single passage in both hands. Although I'm very much an amateur in this practice, Symmetrical Inversion is already improving my technique in both hands, as well as the mental technique required of demanding works such as Bach fugues, etc. They are well worth the effort of tracking them down.

#568298 - 07/30/07 04:07 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Dohnanyi exercises are great.
Don't overdo it. keep your fingertips as close to the keys as you feel comfortable with.

#568299 - 07/30/07 04:35 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Goldberg :

Would you please give the specifics re: Godowsky and Ganz exercises. I'm trying to find them on sheetmusic.com, and I'm drawing a blank, so far.

Thank you.

Regards,


BruceD
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#568300 - 07/30/07 04:48 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Quote
Originally posted by Mr_Kitty:
Dohnanyi exercises are great.
Don't overdo it. keep your fingertips as close to the keys as you feel comfortable with.
I like to do them with high finger action too sometimes, slowly and forte. Then I do them with the fingertips closer, faster and piano.

#568301 - 07/30/07 04:59 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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high finger action, imho, is a bad call. very inefficient. very dangerous. very rarely do you see the great pianists flapping around above the key surface.
HOWEVER. do what works for you.

#568302 - 07/30/07 05:05 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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dangerous, how? dohnanyi himself RECOMMENDS it in his preface. it's not meant for performance, ONLY for practice, and it has helped me lots in numerous speedy pieces.

#568303 - 07/30/07 05:41 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Bruce: I realize now that I implied in my above post that the Godowsky exercises are hard to find. In fact, it is quite the opposite. They are free domain, and can be found simply by downloading the files here: http://www.leopoldgodowsky.com/downloads.shtml

I use all of the exercises at this page, and also am fond of many of the pre-etude exercises by Godowsky, found in Carl Fischer's publication of the Chopin transcriptions. I'm nowhere near good enough to tackle Godowsky's etudes, but the exercises for some of them are occasionally even more technically exhaustive than the pieces themselves, and deserve to be studied even if one is not interested in the etudes; the exercises alone will likely prove invaluable in technical development. Remember that Godowsky is considered by many scholars, myself included (not that I'm anything of a scholar!), to be an essential pioneer for the modern age of piano playing, and although his works are notoriously difficult on a technical level, one should remember that he was a master of efficiency, and advocated the use of gravity, relaxation, and advanced methods of fingering, articulation, and pedal usage that are rarely practised even today, probably because they are so mentally rigorous. I think anyone can benefit from such exercises, which I always liken to chess strategizing on the piano.

The Ganz, I'm sorry to say, are much harder to come across. They are out of print now, and have been for I-don't-know-how-long. A few years ago, a friend sent me the exercises in an email attachment and suggested that I look them over, which is something I haven't had much interest in recently. It sounds unlikely, I know, but the file he sent me doesn't even have publisher information so I can't tell you more about it! And an even more unlikely twist involves a hard drive crash not long ago, so now I don't have the file or a scanner, although I fortunately printed out the sheet music before it happened. I'm sure you can find these exercises somewhere online in a downloadable form, but I have never had such luck, and I can't promise that there are no copyright laws still in effect. Although, I have seen on rare occasions the exercises posted on eBay for auction. If you ever chance to find such a thing, know that it's worth the effort and some money to get a copy, in my opinion. This topic has made me revisit the exercises with even more enthusiasm than before, and the wonderful part about them is they give you just as much as you put in.

#568304 - 07/31/07 01:04 AM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Goldberg :

I am much obliged to you for providing the link to the Godowsky exercises. They remind me somewhat of the principles involved in the Dohnanyi. While I have more exercise books that I regularly ignore rather than use - I'm ashamed to admit - I have nevertheless printed out the Godowsky and am trying them as a variant on the Dohnanyi.

Thanks again.

Regards,


BruceD
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#568305 - 07/31/07 11:54 AM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Bruce: I'm glad to hear that! I hope the exercises will be as helpful for you as they have been for me. Let me know how they work out for you, as I'll be very interested to know.

#568306 - 07/31/07 02:44 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Goldberg: thanks for your contributions here. I'm interested in anything regarding Godowsky and your links were fascinating to study. (I've worked on some of the Godowsky-Chopin, but most of them are simply beyond me.)

That said, I didn't see anything in his studies not "essentially", so to speak, covered in Dohnanyi. Unlike Tausig, Joseffy and Godowsky (I'm not familiar with the Ganz), Dohnanyi's exercises always relate directly to what one will encounter in the actual repertoire. (Not counting, of course, atonal or serial music.)

Joseffy, in particular, has some murderous exercises of which I question their usefulness outside of simply trying to master Joseffy's own technical hurdles.


Jason
#568307 - 07/31/07 05:00 PM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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That's true, the Joseffy exercises are good examples of challenges containing overwhelming difficulties that are of dubious necessity. I can also very much see your point about Dohnanyi vs. Godowsky. Yet I personally find that Godowsky makes a very valid substitution for Dohnanyi; I like how the former fits my hand a little more (even though many exercises are quite similar) and it gives me satisfaction to study them in depth after already researching the foundations of Godowsky's own technique and pedagogical method. I think that at the end of the day, thorough study of any reputable set of exercises will yield quite a similar result, so in the end, just as with piano recordings, it comes down to personal tastes. Maybe I'm just getting a little absurd, but even though they are virtually the same, I prefer Godowsky because of the mindset it puts me in while I practice. Mind, I have great admiration and respect for Dohnanyi's pedagogy and pupil history, but I have always wanted to capture what I can of the essence of Godowsky's style. I don't know if that makes any sense. The Ganz is a similar experience!

By the way, which Godowsky-Chopin have you worked on? I've actually played three of the etudes myself, mainly however, the 10/5v.1 Black Key, with which I was confident enough to actually perform live! That was harrowing...I've decided to give them all a rest for a while, though, because they're truly muderous on the whole, especially since my technique is nowhere near what it should be. However, for my upcoming recital I'm toying with the idea of playing one of the Waltz transcriptions. Those are quite beautiful, although there's nothing wrong with the original Chopin ones either!

#568308 - 08/01/07 10:40 AM Re: Dohnanyi Exercises  
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Quote
Originally posted by Goldberg:
By the way, which Godowsky-Chopin have you worked on?
Well, it's been a few years. I managed to get the opening C major fairly (relative word here) up to tempo, also the Eb minor for left hand alone- truly a miniature masterpiece. I slaved away at Badinage, but never could get it accurate enough for performance. Like Feux follets it just never yielded, no matter how much practise I threw at it.

Ultimately I felt I should try to master the Chopin originals (which I emphatically have not done) before messing with the Godowsky.


Jason

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