Born into a devout Catholic family in Renescure, France, Charles Louis Hanon (1819-1900) studied music with a local organist. He settled in Boulogne and worked for a while as a choirmaster and organist. He taught singing and piano privately and eventually started to publish his own compositions. Hanon led a devotedly religious and charitable life but at the same time showed a marked aptitude for business. His works all have a didactic or sacred purpose.
It is for Le piano virtuose (The Virtuoso Pianist), a set of 60 technical exercises, that he is chiefly remembered. Published in Boulogne in 1873 this work has been frequently reprinted and is still widely used. The exercises are arranged in three parts – preparatory exercises, further exercises and virtuoso exercises – and are meant to be played consecutively in the sections they are placed in, to help increase endurance as well as technical ability. After all three parts are mastered, Hanon recommends all exercises be played through daily to retain technique.
Piano Sheet music by Charles Louis Hanon
I'm am sure this topic has been discussed before but I wanted to throw it out there of who is pro-hanon and who is anti-hanon and why?
Personally I discarded hanon for a couple of years, where before I was playing hanon exercises as warm-ups. I am not sure why but I have gone back to them but I have started going through the exercises slowly, HS as part of my practice routine. I know they don't have a great deal of musical value, I believe if approached in the right way can build endurance and finger strength.
I felt compelled to post this for Beginners who might be influenced by some more experienced pianists saying piano exercises are useless. I have read numerous posts saying Hanon is a waste of time, but really it is essential for developing fingers which haven't had much/any experience playing the piano. I cannot think what I would do when I teach beginners if I didn't have some simple exercises for them to play. At least some exercises along side an actual piece to develop strength/control in their fingers/hand.
I think that once you have found your ground in playing the piano and are confident in general procedure, piano exercises become somewhat obsolete. We find it much more efficient and effective practicing difficult technical problems we face in pieces by actually playing the piece over and over again. We strive control the quality of sound rather than focusing on physical control of the fingers as beginners cannot help but constantly consider.
So for a second reason to push beginners to study Hanon is to make them start to forget about the physical action of individual notes and learn to control a complete pattern as a whole. This helps them to understand what it means to forget about the notes and just listen to themselves produce sound instead. They can apply this understanding of "automatic" playing in pieces they learn, as well as apply balance of their fingers when it it is asked for a string of notes.