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Thanks for the very helpful answers here smile

I'd like to note that my plan is to use Hanon and perhaps other exercises to improve techniques. I am not sure if a warming up means the same. Reading your comments gave me a very good idea how to approach Hanon, among the answers I realised that I should:

1. be creative
2. use variations
3. isolate the problems; not necessarily use all exercises but those which are important for current demands
4. not to over practice and do listen to my body smile
5. not necessarily "lift the fingers high" smile

Just a few more questions.

When I practise Hanon in different key than C Major, shall I use the same fingering? I am asking about because while playing scales such as C Major and Bflat Major, for instance, fingering is very different.

Should I use Hanon "linearly" starting from the exercise no. 1? I downloaded it from IMSLP and I can see there are three parts. I noticed third part particularly is about thirds, sixths and octaves. This would actually help me now as I have a pieces which require playing thirds quickly.

Thanks


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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
I agree that Hanon has value as a warm-up, which not only does not injure the hands but protects them from injury, as long as the silly instruction about "lifting the fingers high" is disregarded.


But surely this is the problem with Hanon. There is NO instruction to ignore the 'lift fingers high' direction and some people will follow that, believing it to be true, putting extra strain on their tendons and ligaments which leads to injury. It may also encourage an incorrect mindset to the player that they are there for a workout in the same way that one may go to the gym.

That in itself means that Hanon should be avoided UNTIL it's instruction and ethos are revised.

I agree that the exercises in itself aren't necessarily harmful but, as with anything, the WAY they are played is the most important factor.

I speak from personal experience on this one.

One thing I'd like to ask (and sorry if this is a slightly different Hanon question) but it always made me wonder how one could play all those exercises in just an hour as the way the book is written seems to suggest that each exercise is repeated 4 times (I'd need to dig my copy out to check that actual wording) It often took me 10-15 mins to get through just the first two exercises, due to all the repeats!

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Hanon provides certain musical building blocks, but it is one of many sets of exercises all setting out to achieve the same thing.

The idea of finger independence is the problem here, and the way in which Hanon understood it is also a problem. So, while the actual notes of the exercises themselves are fine, his idea of repeating things over and over (echoed by Czerny), and of over-lifting the fingers is dangerous.

Yes, you can injure yourself playing the piano, and you can find that you're as likely to injure yourself playing arpeggios, or a Mozart sonata, or a Bach invention, as you are a Hanon study. Injury is caused by incorrect use of the hands and not by the actual notes you are playing, although over use (which Hanon can cause if you do ALL the repetitions every day from the outset), can hurt you quite badly.

It's important to take things slowly, don't practise for too long, and enjoy yourself. Good luck.

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Originally Posted by Celdor


When I practise Hanon in different key than C Major, shall I use the same fingering? I am asking about because while playing scales such as C Major and Bflat Major, for instance, fingering is very different.



Use the same fingering for all the keys.

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When I started relearning piano I found Hanon useful because it was familiar, and gave me an easy metric to measure. And it's kind of fun. But I have to admit a couple years in I don't look at Hanon too often these days. I kind of used it as sand under wheels to get moving again.


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Frankly, the main question I ask is what is particularly special about it?

Unless I'm missing something, there isn't anything particularly noteworthy about the design of any of the exercises that makes it worth doing over other things that take up our time.

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Originally Posted by anamnesis
Unless I'm missing something, there isn't anything particularly noteworthy about the design of any of the exercises that makes it worth doing over other things that take up our time.

Perhaps the question should be what your expectations are, what do you want to achieve in long distance. People have different goals and exercises suit only those who want to achieve something such exercises are designed for.

I know what I want. My main question rather is if Hanon's book is particularly worthy its time.


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I suggest you concentrate not only to the mechanical aspect of piano playing, but also to the spiritual (or musical).

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In the current issue of Keyboard magazine there's a column by Jeffrey Biegel with some exercises that I found surprisingly helpful.


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Originally Posted by coaster
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King

Hanon isn't boring, boring pianists are boring.


My mother always said something similar. "Only boring people get bored"... but I dunno... doing the same thing - Hanon, nonetheless - every day for over 75 years might get a little boring.


Well, everyday for 75 years, I can agree. And I'd recommend over time switching to other exercises to keep things fresh and different. I guess I should have said "technical exercises aren't boring, boring pianists are boring." But I think there is great value to Hanon, including practicing it in other keys, and making sure to not lift the fingers high and deliberately

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Originally Posted by Brian Jenkins


Have you ever had a student get really good at playing octaves by not practicing octave exercises?


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Originally Posted by Brian Jenkins


This falls in line about how I feel about such things. I'm not against technical exercises per se and there can be some good on targeted practice with specific goals - e.g. evenness, different articulations, transposition. I also feel any student spending an hour a day on Hanon is wasting their time. It could be better spent working on real music.

I suppose if a student's goal is to "get really good at playing octaves" then some technical exercises and drills are in order. On the other hand isn't it good enough that they become proficient in executing octaves in passages only where its required in the music? Maybe that's not possible. I don't know.


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Originally Posted by Vid
I suppose if a student's goal is to "get really good at playing octaves" then some technical exercises and drills are in order. On the other hand isn't it good enough that they become proficient in executing octaves in passages only where its required in the music? Maybe that's not possible. I don't know.
Actually, it is quite possible. smile


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OK. You have got me thinking now. Last posts by Brian Jenkins (I also read the article), Carey, and Vid, incline that technical exercises are redundant and not worth spending time on. This is somehow contradiction to what I have been advised to do: to take exercises everyday and do hard work. Later, when approaching more complex pieces, one would only need to spend little time on technical part of a piece and focus on interpretation and expression because technical part would already be done. It doesn't mean one would not have to learn pieces at all, there are always parts that have to be learned. I understand exercises can't cover everything but the more one does, the better one would be prepared. I think that's what student in colleges or conservatories do, don't they? This is what pro pianists do everyday. I am not experienced enough so this is more like a question, rather than a statement. And common sense tells me that e.g. Yuja Wang, not only but one having the fastest hands and fingers, would not achieve what she has without exercises. What do you think?


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Celdor, I too struggle with the same issue. When I have practiced on hanon, my playing on new pieces improved. However, as an adult student with full time job, unless I win the lottery big time, time I have tends to be used for practicing pieces of music, little time for hanon. However, my teacher will point to certain lessons like thumb under 3Rd finger to work on...more focused. My aim is to do the scales and apeggios at 100..hmm, my 2017 resolution 😨


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Originally Posted by Celdor
It doesn't mean one would not have to learn pieces at all, there are always parts that have to be learned. I understand exercises can't cover everything but the more one does, the better one would be prepared. I think that's what student in colleges or conservatories do, don't they? This is what pro pianists do everyday. I am not experienced enough so this is more like a question, rather than a statement. And common sense tells me that e.g. Yuja Wang, not only but one having the fastest hands and fingers, would not achieve what she has without exercises. What do you think?

I tried to learn good technique without using exercises. I was really down on Hanon. And I was learning, I had a method. Then one month, as I was slowly getting through a fast, complex piece, each measure with its own complex pattern, I said to myself, "I am learning this, but it is going so slow. If only there were a place where I could practice many different key patterns so my hands could learn to play all of them." I had so vociferously blocked Hanon from my mind, that I didn't realize at first that it matched the description of what I was asking for. But eventually I realized, and apologized for my earlier vociferousness.

Again though, I can't imagine anyone getting good octaves without focused octave practice. Maybe they can.


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Originally Posted by Celdor
OK. You have got me thinking now. Last posts by Brian Jenkins (I also read the article), Carey, and Vid, incline that technical exercises are redundant and not worth spending time on. This is somehow contradiction to what I have been advised to do: to take exercises everyday and do hard work. Later, when approaching more complex pieces, one would only need to spend little time on technical part of a piece and focus on interpretation and expression because technical part would already be done. It doesn't mean one would not have to learn pieces at all, there are always parts that have to be learned. I understand exercises can't cover everything but the more one does, the better one would be prepared. I think that's what student in colleges or conservatories do, don't they? This is what pro pianists do everyday. I am not experienced enough so this is more like a question, rather than a statement. And common sense tells me that e.g. Yuja Wang, not only but one having the fastest hands and fingers, would not achieve what she has without exercises. What do you think?
We're all different. Do what works for you. I personally have no experience with Hanon - but I didn't mean to imply that technical exercises of any kind are redundant and not worth spending time on. I personally enjoyed Czerny. I also learned to make up my own "exercises" using challenging passages in the repertoire I was studying. Other folks here - who I respect - apparently have had good experiences with Hanon. Go ahead and start out with a few Hanon exercises and see how things go. As long as you are careful not to strain yourself, you have nothing to lose. smile

Last edited by Carey; 09/13/16 12:02 PM.

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"...Frankly, the main question I ask is what is particularly special about it? Unless I'm missing something, there isn't anything particularly noteworthy about the design of any of the exercises that makes it worth doing over other things that take up our time..."

It has done a good work for me; that is its special appeal in my case. I would not claim that it is right for everyone, and particularly not if it is being force-fed. I have found it scales well to various levels of proficiency. Though it is not a piano method book, it fleshes out material which has been introduced through lessons or study as piano technic. Very often, what you know after studying a book or hearing it from a teacher is one story--- and well and good, as far as it goes. But it never comes to life until you practice it on the keyboard, and enough that it becomes part of your innate and almost reflexive response.

It has a lot in common with learning to drive a car.

One special thing about it is, that having been published in 1900, it has been in print for 116 years. Though it is a product of its times, it has not become fossilized, so far. When there was no TV, no recorded music, and radio just barely existed, people had a lot more time to work on their piano technique. Being able to play the piano made one's stock rise in the marriage market, if you want an excellent motivation. Then again, some skills which are illustrated in Hanon are not really suited to how people play today.

So what. Use them, don't use them, move on to something else if you become bored [not a bad idea, actually]. Variety is the spice. Return to them when you return to the piano, after time away. Hanon is not a bad place to start, or to start over.


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I never did Hanon, but it seems that the end goal of the Hanon exercises is to get students to be able to play Scales & Arpeggios. Would you say that's true?


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