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Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity

Posted By: alu1

Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/04/19 09:40 PM

Hi guys, im thinking about buying this book to work on my technique, i already have the op.139 which i use for sightreading. Do u guys think it's worth to buy it? Or there are better books?
Posted By: NobleHouse

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/04/19 10:26 PM

It can be downloaded for free at many sites.
Posted By: arc7urus

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/04/19 10:31 PM

Download the book and evaluate it before buying it... or just read it on a tablet computer...

https://imslp.org/wiki/The_Art_of_Finger_Dexterity,_Op.740_(Czerny,_Carl)
Posted By: MikeN

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/04/19 11:00 PM

I played a fair amount of the School of Velocity and The Art of Finger Dexterity and I think it's a waste of time unless you see them as viable pieces for public performance.
Posted By: alu1

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/04/19 11:12 PM

I rather have the physical edition, i just wanted to see if anyone that has work with it knows if it really helps with technique.

Originally Posted by MikeN
I played a fair amount of the School of Velocity and The Art of Finger Dexterity and I think it's a waste of time unless you see them as viable pieces for public performance.


Didn't u feel any improvment at all in your technique? What would u suggest for me then?
Posted By: anamnesis

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 12:34 AM

Originally Posted by alu1
I rather have the physical edition, i just wanted to see if anyone that has work with it knows if it really helps with technique.

Originally Posted by MikeN
I played a fair amount of the School of Velocity and The Art of Finger Dexterity and I think it's a waste of time unless you see them as viable pieces for public performance.


Didn't u feel any improvment at all in your technique? What would u suggest for me then?


Technique comes from actually paying attention to what you're doing, choreographing, making predictions, and evaluating the results. This can occur in exercises or repertoire, but if you're actually doing the real mental work needed with the correct amount of attention to detail then you'll realize that you'll save much more time doing it on repertoire. (Note that I'm talking about technique in physical terms, and I'm not referring to technique in terms of practical musicianship, which people often conflate.)

Exercises more judiciously used for technique are when you want to systematically investigate a problem, but you'll learn more by choosing the variables yourself and figuring out the underlying issues and solutions rather than just mindlessly reading those written by someone else.
Posted By: alu1

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 03:17 AM

Interesting thoughts youve made, my teacher told me that czerny helps with technique and i was figuring which one should i buy to get it improved but now that you said that, im having a different thoughts about exercises at all. And you are telling me the exactly thing that i wanted to know, technique in physical terms. That being said, i could actually work in harder pieces than my level now and it would be fine as long as i could manage the difficulties of techniques i would encouter?
Posted By: BruceD

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 06:00 AM

Originally Posted by alu1
[...] That being said, i could actually work in harder pieces than my level now and it would be fine as long as i could manage the difficulties of techniques i would encouter?


I don't see that it would be necessary to work on harder pieces than those at your current level. Perfecting the technique required in your current level pieces should be your goal and probably should be more effective because, potentially, you should be able to do it. Just because Czerny exercises didn't work for one pianist doesn't necessarily mean they won't work for you.

Why not try and find out, first by downloading free copies from IMSLP.

Regards,
Posted By: SiFi

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 06:01 AM

Originally Posted by alu1
Hi guys, im thinking about buying this book to work on my technique, i already have the op.139 which i use for sightreading. Do u guys think it's worth to buy it? Or there are better books?

I think Op. 740 would be a good investment. Go for it.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, Czerny was a significant musical figure and a much-maligned genius. I deeply regret some of the published comments I have made about him. I was born and raised as a piano student on Op. 261. Op. 299 has its uses, but is generally second-rate music IMO. But Op. 740 is a different animal. When I play or listen to these pieces, I hear hints of Hummel and embryonic evidence of the creative processes that enabled Chopin to effectuate the quantum leap that transformed etudes into great art. I know that sounds like pretentious pseudery, but I think it's true.

Just for instance, here's a charming and rather fascinating sample of Op. 740:
Posted By: BruceD

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 06:11 AM

Originally Posted by alu1
Interesting thoughts youve made, my teacher told me that czerny helps with technique and i was figuring which one should i buy to get it improved but now that you said that, im having a different thoughts about exercises at all. And you are telling me the exactly thing that i wanted to know, technique in physical terms. That being said, i could actually work in harder pieces than my level now and it would be fine as long as i could manage the difficulties of techniques i would encouter?


I fail to see why you wouldn't trust your teacher's judgment on what might help your technique. You are going to be swayed by the opinion of one poster on an internet site who claims that Czerny was a waste of time (and it well may have been for that person!) rather than accept the suggestion of your teacher.

Why are you paying for your teacher's expertise (unless s/he is a charlatan) if you feel you can't trust what s/he recommends?

Regards,
Posted By: SiFi

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 06:15 AM

Originally Posted by BruceD
I fail to see why you wouldn't trust your teacher's judgment on what might help your technique. You are going to be swayed by the opinion of one poster on an internet site who claims that Czerny was a waste of time (and it well may have been for that person!) rather than accept the suggestion of your teacher.

+1
Posted By: alu1

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 06:47 AM

There are a lot of controversial thoughts about Czerny in the internet and i want to make sure i'm taking the right path to be a better player, maybe there is something else that could work for me too, not only czerny, im looking at every options. I mean, wouldnt you be skeptical too if you search in the internet a LOT of people saying that czerny isnt that good, and others saying it could work.. i'm just looking for the most viable ways for me to study.
Posted By: MikeN

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 08:14 AM

Originally Posted by alu1
I rather have the physical edition, i just wanted to see if anyone that has work with it knows if it really helps with technique.

Originally Posted by MikeN
I played a fair amount of the School of Velocity and The Art of Finger Dexterity and I think it's a waste of time unless you see them as viable pieces for public performance.


Didn't u feel any improvment at all in your technique? What would u suggest for me then?


You'll excuse me, but my point wasn't so eloquently made and I take full responsibility for that.

Truth of the matter is yes, I DID learn things from my teacher introducing me to certain aspects of piano technique through Czerny, but it wasn't the Czerny doing the teaching. It was a tool that just happened to be apart of my first teacher's arsenal and for a good teacher who understands how to teach piano technique, ANYTHING can be used as a tool. My issue with that opus of Czerny, though, is that these long 2-5 page pieces take quite a bit of time to prepare that could be used on something more musically rich, it's generally the same technique over and over again and the patterns feel very derivative of the music of that time which is great if your going to play nothing but classical music, but a bit lacking IMO for introducing one to the techniques involved in virtuoso music spanning to the present time while also providing adequate ground to teach musical concepts.

I recognize most pianists generally need less demanding material to start out with unless they're some sort of prodigy. I'd recommend Kabalevsky Op.27 which I think is generally more succinct, more varied, and more musically successful. I think the Bartok Mikrokosmo can also be quite a successful tool depending on one's level, but this is all my opinion based on what I've known other teachers I think highly of to recommend.

THAT SAID, it's only upon reading subsequent posts that you mentioned your teacher suggested the Czerny. In that case, I'd suggest you get it and hear them out. If they just have you mindlessly plow through the book, I'd suggest a different teacher if available. If they use it intelligently and introduce different concepts of movement like: Hey you move your body this way to play this passage. Look, this you should play with rotation, that sort of thing, your probably fine.

THAT SAID!!!!! I'm a random person on the internet. PLEASE, don't mindlessly take advice from a random person on the internet.
Posted By: joe80

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 08:43 AM

I love doing Czerny, I do it really slowly and carefully, playing very softly and expressively, paying attention to each note. The reason I do this is because I find it therapeutic. I don't think that it's a cure-all or even necessary, but I enjoy it, and actually it has improved my playing. Mind you I don't know if it has really improved my playing or if I just feel more ready, I don't have a 'control' version of me that hasn't done it....
Posted By: Sidokar

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 08:57 AM

Originally Posted by alu1
There are a lot of controversial thoughts about Czerny in the internet and i want to make sure i'm taking the right path to be a better player, maybe there is something else that could work for me too, not only czerny, im looking at every options. I mean, wouldnt you be skeptical too if you search in the internet a LOT of people saying that czerny isnt that good, and others saying it could work.. i'm just looking for the most viable ways for me to study.


That is the issue with Internet or YT; you will find just about any opinion, not knowing who is speaking, his level of experience or success; sometimes the context is not always clear or the exact audience is not specified. So I am always very carefull about opinions of people I do not know.

That said I have used Czerny in the past, though not that particular book. The main issue is that many of his books are redundant and they are not built as a method. This one in particular is long (more than 100 pages) so you will very unlikely use more than a few exercices in there, unless you are already so advanced that any of them would not take you more than a few days to nail down. So usually you would focus on a selection of those, made by your teacher.

Is Czerny usefull ? Some of his exercices are, so well chosen for a particular purpose yes. But there is a ton of piano exercices out there by Czerny and others talented pianists. Moszkowsky wrote some that are extraordinary, Brahms also and many others. Sometimes they would address specific areas like for example double thirds. So that is where the teacher is usefull; his job is to select the relevant exercices/pieces that are needed for your particular case to make you improve your skills. There is nothing wrong using Czerny if that is done as part of a well planned teaching approach.
Posted By: joe80

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 02:13 PM

+1
Posted By: NobleHouse

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 02:34 PM

Originally Posted by SiFi
Originally Posted by alu1
Hi guys, im thinking about buying this book to work on my technique, i already have the op.139 which i use for sightreading. Do u guys think it's worth to buy it? Or there are better books?

I think Op. 740 would be a good investment. Go for it.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, Czerny was a significant musical figure and a much-maligned genius. I deeply regret some of the published comments I have made about him. I was born and raised as a piano student on Op. 261. Op. 299 has its uses, but is generally second-rate music IMO. But Op. 740 is a different animal. When I play or listen to these pieces, I hear hints of Hummel and embryonic evidence of the creative processes that enabled Chopin to effectuate the quantum leap that transformed etudes into great art. I know that sounds like pretentious pseudery, but I think it's true.

Just for instance, here's a charming and rather fascinating sample of Op. 740:


+1 Czerny is a much maligned genius!
Posted By: Hatchestron

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 03:14 PM

Originally Posted by SiFi

But Op. 740 is a different animal. When I play or listen to these pieces, I hear hints of Hummel and embryonic evidence of the creative processes that enabled Chopin to effectuate the quantum leap that transformed etudes into great art. I know that sounds like pretentious pseudery, but I think it's true.


Opus 740 was written some 15 years after Chopin wrote this studies. And 7 years after Hummel died!

Each to their own, but for me, it is a case of the bland leading the blind...
Posted By: Hakki

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 03:19 PM

Alu1 the title is spot on. It is really about finger dexterity. I have worked on it a lot when I was a teenager and it really developed my dexterity.
You will benefit from studying op.740 when you play Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Haydn and to some extend Liszt in the future.
However it won't help for some Chopin. Where you would have to adopt a different technique.
IMO it is not a waste of time. Go for it.
Posted By: BruceD

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 05:22 PM

Originally Posted by alu1
There are a lot of controversial thoughts about Czerny in the internet and i want to make sure i'm taking the right path to be a better player, maybe there is something else that could work for me too, not only czerny, im looking at every options. I mean, wouldnt you be skeptical too if you search in the internet a LOT of people saying that czerny isnt that good, and others saying it could work.. i'm just looking for the most viable ways for me to study.


Although I am repeating myself, I still don't understand why you are trusting information from Internet unknowns against that of your teacher. Why are you seemingly so trustful of Internet posts from people whose skills you know nothing about?

It is not making any sense to me when you have a teacher whom you are paying for instruction and with whom you could discuss this. What will your teacher's reaction be when you say: "Well, people on the Internet tell me ..."?
Posted By: MikeN

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 05:36 PM

Originally Posted by SiFi
Originally Posted by alu1
Hi guys, im thinking about buying this book to work on my technique, i already have the op.139 which i use for sightreading. Do u guys think it's worth to buy it? Or there are better books?

I think Op. 740 would be a good investment. Go for it.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, Czerny was a significant musical figure and a much-maligned genius. I deeply regret some of the published comments I have made about him. I was born and raised as a piano student on Op. 261. Op. 299 has its uses, but is generally second-rate music IMO. But Op. 740 is a different animal. When I play or listen to these pieces, I hear hints of Hummel and embryonic evidence of the creative processes that enabled Chopin to effectuate the quantum leap that transformed etudes into great art. I know that sounds like pretentious pseudery, but I think it's true.

Just for instance, here's a charming and rather fascinating sample of Op. 740:


Not to stray too far off topic, I haven't looked into Czerny's output enough to really comment on the quality. I will say that your not alone in finding quite a few pieces from Op. 740 quite charming if played very well:



If one has the patience to skip to 7:20 and hear a bit of conversation there's quite a fun performance:



Posted By: alu1

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 06:27 PM

Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by alu1
There are a lot of controversial thoughts about Czerny in the internet and i want to make sure i'm taking the right path to be a better player, maybe there is something else that could work for me too, not only czerny, im looking at every options. I mean, wouldnt you be skeptical too if you search in the internet a LOT of people saying that czerny isnt that good, and others saying it could work.. i'm just looking for the most viable ways for me to study.


Although I am repeating myself, I still don't understand why you are trusting information from Internet unknowns against that of your teacher. Why are you seemingly so trustful of Internet posts from people whose skills you know nothing about?

It is not making any sense to me when you have a teacher whom you are paying for instruction and with whom you could discuss this. What will your teacher's reaction be when you say: "Well, people on the Internet tell me ..."?



Well, i actually listened to a performance of MikeN playing a Rachmaninoff prelude which i really liked and i was interested to know his thoughts. I'm paying my teacher for instructions, it doesn't mean that he knows everything about everything, no one does, which is why i use internet for discovering things and gathering information. I don't blindly follow suggestions or instructions, i try to do researchs, and i come with something that could work for me, and refreshing thoughts are always welcome, that's all.

Originally Posted by Hakki
Alu1 the title is spot on. It is really about finger dexterity. I have worked on it a lot when I was a teenager and it really developed my dexterity.
You will benefit from studying op.740 when you play Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Haydn and to some extend Liszt in the future.
However it won't help for some Chopin. Where you would have to adopt a different technique.
IMO it is not a waste of time. Go for it.


Thank you, i think i will buy this, i just wondering, what would be good to help with chopin?

Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by alu1
There are a lot of controversial thoughts about Czerny in the internet and i want to make sure i'm taking the right path to be a better player, maybe there is something else that could work for me too, not only czerny, im looking at every options. I mean, wouldnt you be skeptical too if you search in the internet a LOT of people saying that czerny isnt that good, and others saying it could work.. i'm just looking for the most viable ways for me to study.


That is the issue with Internet or YT; you will find just about any opinion, not knowing who is speaking, his level of experience or success; sometimes the context is not always clear or the exact audience is not specified. So I am always very carefull about opinions of people I do not know.

That said I have used Czerny in the past, though not that particular book. The main issue is that many of his books are redundant and they are not built as a method. This one in particular is long (more than 100 pages) so you will very unlikely use more than a few exercices in there, unless you are already so advanced that any of them would not take you more than a few days to nail down. So usually you would focus on a selection of those, made by your teacher.

Is Czerny usefull ? Some of his exercices are, so well chosen for a particular purpose yes. But there is a ton of piano exercices out there by Czerny and others talented pianists. Moszkowsky wrote some that are extraordinary, Brahms also and many others. Sometimes they would address specific areas like for example double thirds. So that is where the teacher is usefull; his job is to select the relevant exercices/pieces that are needed for your particular case to make you improve your skills. There is nothing wrong using Czerny if that is done as part of a well planned teaching approach.


I wanted to buy Mikrokosmos and Moszkowsky but it's hard to find in paper where i live.
Posted By: Hakki

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 06:51 PM

Originally Posted by alu1
Thank you, i think i will buy this, i just wondering, what would be good to help with chopin? 


Basically your teacher. Finger dexterity alone is not enough. He will show you the proper finger, hand, wrist, arm, body, mindset technique needed to play Chopin.
Posted By: alu1

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 07:12 PM

Originally Posted by Hakki
Originally Posted by alu1
Thank you, i think i will buy this, i just wondering, what would be good to help with chopin? 


Basically your teacher. Finger dexterity alone is not enough. He will show you the proper finger, hand, wrist, arm, body, mindset technique needed to play Chopin.


Thank you!
Posted By: anamnesis

Re: Czerny - Art of Finger Dexterity - 05/05/19 07:14 PM

Originally Posted by alu1
Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by alu1
There are a lot of controversial thoughts about Czerny in the internet and i want to make sure i'm taking the right path to be a better player, maybe there is something else that could work for me too, not only czerny, im looking at every options. I mean, wouldnt you be skeptical too if you search in the internet a LOT of people saying that czerny isnt that good, and others saying it could work.. i'm just looking for the most viable ways for me to study.


Although I am repeating myself, I still don't understand why you are trusting information from Internet unknowns against that of your teacher. Why are you seemingly so trustful of Internet posts from people whose skills you know nothing about?

It is not making any sense to me when you have a teacher whom you are paying for instruction and with whom you could discuss this. What will your teacher's reaction be when you say: "Well, people on the Internet tell me ..."?



Well, i actually listened to a performance of MikeN playing a Rachmaninoff prelude which i really liked and i was interested to know his thoughts. I'm paying my teacher for instructions, it doesn't mean that he knows everything about everything, no one does, which is why i use internet for discovering things and gathering information. I don't blindly follow suggestions or instructions, i try to do researchs, and i come with something that could work for me, and refreshing thoughts are always welcome, that's all.



This is a healthy epistemic attitude to take that allows one to grow even in folly because "updating your model of the world" isn't such a strange concept. Appeal to authority as a heuristic to streamline a process can be helpful in the beginning, but too many people "stay there".

And to clarify, I myself am not too "anti-Czerny" or "anti-exercise", but I have a completely different mindset about how and when to use them because I don't directly equate what underlies a technique (direction, physical execution, timing, aiming, aural cuing, proprioceptive cuing, proportion of movement) with musical textures.

If you're actually practicing correctly, you'll be practicing "technique" all the time, exercise or not.

Exercises usually (but not always) tend to systematically provide problems to solve, but they themselves aren't the solutions (or more importantly the thought processes and physical sensations underlying the solutions).

----------------------

On another forum, I wrote on this same topic with regards to Hanon and mechanical drilling. (Again, I'm not against any exercise per se, but the usual thought processes behind using exercises):

If you're trying to improve strict, physical technique, Hanon doesn't offer anything intrinsic to itself that makes it better than any other material because it is simply a set of "problems" to be solved (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrees_of_freedom_problem).

People are far from lacking in problems, but rather lack an algorithm to figuring out their and consistent executing the required solutions.

The body can solve these problems intuitively, to a certain point just from sheer effort and vague endpoints, but there's a point of limiting returns that prevents notable, sustainable improvement after a certain point. This is because further improvement requires creating a mental-physical model of what it takes to improve with distinctive sensations and endpoints. When actually practicing, the amount of concentration and mental modelling needed far exceeds what repetitive drills encourage. This type of work and concentration, which is what actually makes us improve, is actually something that should be done at all times, and isn't intrinsic to exercises.

For example, to practice Hanon or anything really, in an ideal sense, you need to know exactly where on the key you have to be to smoothly optimize and gradate the leverage between the different fingers that accounts for their different fingers lengths and placement on the hand. Related to that is precise height and forward/backward balance. Knowing what fingers to press on what key doesn't cut it. And then there's the precise timing and interaction with the keys such that you work with hammers so that you are truly aligned behind each key, but maintain forward momentum ballistically (like a series of dominoes) that is spaced out correctly.

If we are actually practicing deliberately, there is almost no time to waste it on drills meant strictly for physical technical purposes (as opposed to musicianship/aural/theoretical drills). The actual physical aspects are usually best done with actual repertoire, which presents more than enough problems that have to be solved. If you need to systematically investigate a particular problem, you're almost always better off coming up with the exercises yourself as you try to analyze the problem. Some sets of exercises can be useful to study as a model to learn from to come up with your own.

I think John Bloomfield's lecture on "How to take a Lesson" is a good introduction to this sort of mindset:

https://www2.golandskyinstitute.org/blog/how-to-take-a-lesson-effectively
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