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Franz Liszt - 200th Anniversary

Today, October 22 2011, marks the 200th birthday of Franz Liszt, the greatest piano virtuoso of his time, inventor of the modern piano recital and one of the most influential composers of the 19th century. Piano Street here presents a collection of material and links to resources for you to enjoy in order to commemorate the great Franz Liszt. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Hanon  (Read 7781 times)
BoliverAllmon
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« on: October 17, 2004, 01:42:22 PM »

what are your thoughts on Hanon and why?

thanks
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piano sheet music of The Virtuoso Pianist Part 1 (1-20)
LaVirtuosa
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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2004, 09:53:54 PM »

well, i purchased the complete revised edition, and in the preface they promised all sorts of things one would gain from playing all of them(60). in this particular edition they also tell you how to practice each one. i found that after following the instructions, my playing was notably rhythmacally stronger. it also helps to make each finger completely independent. i think that hanon will have different effects on people. worked for me...if you want to spend $20 and just try, do, because if you do get  a result, it is a good one.
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mound
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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2004, 11:41:47 PM »

refer to this thread:

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4704.0.html
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chozart
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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2004, 11:54:25 PM »

I didn't really like the Hanon exercises (whatever they were, with the insanely repatitive things.. going up the piano, then back down.. then a bunch of others with basically the same technique.. maybe a variation in like 1/2 keys..)

They weren't really useful, IMO..

I mean, a few are ok ~ help with warming up, etc.. build some finger dexterity, but not really all that much. I think just a few are fine, but spending time on more than 5 or so is just sort of a waste, I think.

Rather do some etudes.. like Czerny's.
They're really quite nice, although sometimes annoying  Roll Eyes
but they're rather lovely for regular etudes (i'm not even gonna start with Chopin & Liszt on the other hand..), and they ARE useful because they emphasize techniques that often appear in many other works (like sonatas etc.).
Plus, they don't drive you insane with the repatitiveness.. they're just like 'songs.'
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2004, 12:05:18 AM »

ummmm......Hanon is a basically a dirty word here at Piano Forum.  lol  It's true.  Do a search.

(Personally, I play his book 2 almost every day ONLY as a warm-up, and to get the blood flowing!) I DO NOT play them according to the instructions written in the forward!  Thank goodness, I read the posts from the Hanon-haters here, before I read the forward.  So therefore, I would not do them as Hanon advised, if I were you.  (My opinion! Wink )
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2004, 12:31:37 AM »

ummmm......Hanon is a basically a dirty word here at Piano Forum.  lol  It's true.  Do a search.

(Personally, I play his book 2 almost every day ONLY as a warm-up, and to get the blood flowing!) I DO NOT play them according to the instructions written in the forward!  Thank goodness, I read the posts from the Hanon-haters here, before I read the forward.  So therefore, I would not do them as Hanon advised, if I were you.  (My opinion! Wink )

I use Bernie's style: hot water and 360 degree arm pendulum swings
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BoliverAllmon
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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2004, 12:41:53 AM »

hanon Haters? WOW. I knew alot of people didn't agree with them, but holy cow. I am up in the air. My teacher swears by them. He had to work with that year solely for 2 years while in school in Vienna. He says that nothing builds strength like Hanon. Rachmaninoff also swore by the book. He himself spent 5 years mastering the exercises. I have been doing a query of other instrumentalists about Hanonesque exercises for there respective instrument. Most have some form of finger exercises that they go through. Why the difference with piano is then my question? again I don't know. I am just investigating. has anyone been able to get up to speed on the exercises? I know the M.M is around 108 or so, but to get the thing done in an hour with repeats you have to get alot faster than that. 150 or so easy. I can do the first exercise so far, but the second one still needs speed.

boliver
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mound
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« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2004, 03:09:07 PM »

Quote
I have been doing a query of other instrumentalists about Hanonesque exercises for there respective instrument. Most have some form of finger exercises that they go through. Why the difference with piano is then my question?

When I was playing bass, I did alot of exercises that weren't part of any specific musical piece, rather, exercises for the sake of exercises. None however were founded on the principle that every finger should be as strong as the other and be completely independant of each other.  Such a principle simply couldn't be applied to an instrument where the hands work together (i.e. a single note is produced by using the left and right hand together.) This is the core of Hanon, that each finger can be developed to attain equal strength and complete independance.  Bernhard has gone at length (See the link I posted above) about why this fails with our current understanding of the physiology of the hand (it's physically impossible and could lead to injury to try), as well, he has written at length in other threads as to how you can spend your time developing the same technique working on actual repertoir.  I'll also note that since starting studying classical piano, and learning what I have learned about technique acquisition from these forums, from my teacher and from my own experimentation, I can tell you with certainty that when I go back to bass (I haven't given it up, it's still very much a part of me, I'm just focusing on piano now) I won't waste any more time doing worthless finger exercises.  (aside: I've learned so much about acquiring technique and efficient practice since diving into piano, I'm kinda excited about trying to learn some advanced bass repertoir just because I know how much easier it would be with these same techniques, than piano, what with 10 fingers to deal with  Cool

Quote
I know the M.M is around 108 or so, but to get the thing done in an hour with repeats you have to get alot faster than that.

That seems like a wonderful way to waste an hour to me!  Roll Eyes

-Paul
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faulty_damper
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« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2004, 11:50:42 PM »

hanon Haters? WOW. I knew alot of people didn't agree with them, but holy cow. I am up in the air. My teacher swears by them. He had to work with that year solely for 2 years while in school in Vienna. He says that nothing builds strength like Hanon. Rachmaninoff also swore by the book. He himself spent 5 years mastering the exercises. I have been doing a query of other instrumentalists about Hanonesque exercises for there respective instrument. Most have some form of finger exercises that they go through. Why the difference with piano is then my question? again I don't know. I am just investigating. has anyone been able to get up to speed on the exercises? I know the M.M is around 108 or so, but to get the thing done in an hour with repeats you have to get alot faster than that. 150 or so easy. I can do the first exercise so far, but the second one still needs speed.

boliver

Yes, there are a lot of anti-Hanon thoughts on this forum.  I provide some of them. Grin

Anyway, if you are playing them significantly faster than 108 per crotchet, then you are not following Hanon's directions.  Good for you!  Anyone who completely disobeys his directions can play the exercises faster than that.  There are other reasons, aside from speed, that Hanon is a waste of time.  But if you insist on playing them faster than 108, you must ignore his directions.
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Spatula
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« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2004, 12:06:16 AM »

Hanon is the baroque musical terminator.  He would be the "made for piano monkey training supervisor" of his age.

He'll be back.  Cool
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BoliverAllmon
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« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2004, 06:08:43 AM »

so today I asked my theory teacher about Hanon, finger exercises, and his experience with trumpet. He considers Hanon, Pischna, and Czerny as the Bible of piano technique. He says that in his 40+ years of working at the school he has learned to immediately recognize if someone studied with these exercises. He says you can't tell when they play a first piece, but if you give them something new there technique falls to pieces unless it is familiar or they have worked with these "Bibles". He says that when learning trumpet they everyone plays certain finger exercises to develop coordination and also lip and tongue exercises to develop those techniques. He says that it is a must to do these exercises if you want to be a good trumpeter. You have to be able to learn pieces at quick speeds and sight read very well. He believes the same goes for piano. If you want to be able to learn quickly and also be a good sight-reader. Exercise books are a must.

Some other food for thought. I read that Liszt was required to work for 4-6 hrs a day on finger exercises before he was allowed to touch a real piece when learning from czerny. Beethoven was concerned about his nephews piano playing and sent Czerny (who was the teacher) several exercises to give to his nephew. So though Hanon was written after these composers had passed. Technical exercises were still be used during there lifetime.

boliver
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Piazzo22
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« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2004, 06:06:33 PM »

Boliver is totally right. The thing is that there´s to much people now that say excercises are not good, but they´ve practiced hundreds of hours in their childhood (I´m talking about today teachers). And those who never did technical excercises, probably don´t have a good enough technique.
So, you don´t want to do it, don´t do it. But don´t expect agility will come faster just but practicing your pieces.
For example, Richter did never practice scales... he´s my favourite pianist, but please...
never in his whole life? So his fingerings were totally natural?
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bernhard
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« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2004, 12:08:52 AM »

so today I asked my theory teacher about Hanon, finger exercises, and his experience with trumpet. He considers Hanon, Pischna, and Czerny as the Bible of piano technique. He says that in his 40+ years of working at the school he has learned to immediately recognize if someone studied with these exercises. He says you can't tell when they play a first piece, but if you give them something new there technique falls to pieces unless it is familiar or they have worked with these "Bibles". He says that when learning trumpet they everyone plays certain finger exercises to develop coordination and also lip and tongue exercises to develop those techniques. He says that it is a must to do these exercises if you want to be a good trumpeter. You have to be able to learn pieces at quick speeds and sight read very well. He believes the same goes for piano. If you want to be able to learn quickly and also be a good sight-reader. Exercise books are a must.


boliver

Your teacher is quite clearly approaches music study in a  “religious” way. And a religion person “believes” and follows whatever they regard as “Bibles” (or Korans, or Vedas), no matter what.

I do not regard these matters with a religious attitude. I have no particular “devotion” towards any of these methods. Nor do I rely on hearsay. The only things that matters to me are: “Does it work?” “Will my playing improve?” “Are there better alternatives out there for me to try?”. I suggest that it is in your best interests to adopt the same attitude. Do not concern yourself with who said what. It is of no relevance what your trumpet teacher said, or even if he has any authority to say it. It is of no relevance what I say or if I have any authority to say it. Instead, look at the moon, and not at the finger pointing to it.

Do you want to spend 3 hours a day doing Hanon? Sure why not. It is your life, what do I care?

Also keep in mind that I have never said that one should not work on technique. Technique is a must. But Hanon, Czerny and Pischna are very misguided ways to go about it. Has your trumpet teacher selected two groups of students (randomly sampled), and then proceeded to teach one group using Hanon, Czerny and Pischna and the other groups according to a different method? Has he done the necessary statistical analysis and compared results? Somehow I doubt it. So his opinion is based on tradition, hearsay and superstition.

Quote
Some other food for thought. I read that Liszt was required to work for 4-6 hrs a day on finger exercises before he was allowed to touch a real piece when learning from czerny. Beethoven was concerned about his nephews piano playing and sent Czerny (who was the teacher) several exercises to give to his nephew. So though Hanon was written after these composers had passed. Technical exercises were still be used during there lifetime.

Yes, human stupidity assumes many forms and guises. The important question here is not how many hours of finger exercises Liszt was required to do (something we will never truly know), but rather if it was necessary. As for Beethoven’s nephew, what good did all those hours of Czerny exercises ever do to him? A suicide attempt and never got near a piano (or Beethoven for that matter) again.

In March 1750 J. S. Bach had both his eyes operated from cataracts. The English Oculist John Taylor was touring in Germany and did the operation. The operation began with the application of hot boiled apples to Bach's eyes to soften the cornea. Bach was then tied to a chair. Taylor's assistant  - a pretty strong guy - clamped Bach's head in his arms so that he would not move it. There was no anaesthtic or sterilisation of any kind. Taylor lanceted Bach's eyes. But this was nothing compared with what followed. Post-surgery treatment consisted ot blood letting (using suckers), and laxatives used in conjunction with Belladona (The deadly night shade) to combat the evil humours. Bach was left to convalesce while Taylor continued his tour of Germany. In April Taylor returned and realised that the operation had been unsuccessful. So he operated again and applied the same follow-up treatment. Bach was blindfolded for the next four months, and basically blind. On July 18, he could not take it anylonger and took the blindfold away. He could see again. The operation had been a success. Ten days later he died from the effects of the follow-up treatment.

So, if you have eye problems are you going to submit to the same treatment? I doubt very much. You are going to take every advantage of the advancement of medical science since then. So why should Liszt's practice regimen be adhered to blindly? (if that indeed was his practice regimen)

Understand that I am always prepared to go out of my way to  explain something that I may have not been very clear about. I have no interest whatsoever in a purely intellectual discussion based on “my teacher said the moon was made of cheese”. Or “during Liszt’s times everyone believed the earth was flat”. Contrary to religious people – and publishing houses who have a vested interest in selling copies of Hanon and Pischna – I have no interest whatsoever in convincing you of anything.

Try it out. Then come back with some real data. Wink

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

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BoliverAllmon
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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2004, 09:23:35 PM »

sounds good. i will work on hanon for the next say 3 months? (or you can give the time table) I will then give you the results? I would be curious though as to what you would consider good results.

boliver
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BoliverAllmon
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« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2004, 09:32:48 PM »

have you even worked and found the effects of Hanon besides what logic would elude too? I mean you have shown on many occassions that logic isn't always correct.

boliver
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glBelgedin
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« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2004, 09:58:58 PM »

Hanon IS the logical thing to do.
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BoliverAllmon
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« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2004, 10:21:41 PM »

Bernhard has used logic to disprove its value. Logic would tell us that we should have learned something better regarding technique since Hanon was created (though in a related field no one has been able to produce greater counterpoint writing than Bach). he mentioned other things also, I just mentioned that one first.

boliver
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Rach3
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« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2004, 10:58:21 PM »

1) Hanon is not a 'related field' to J.S. Bach and his contrapuntal writing... I am personally offended by the analogy.

2) Not to continue our second-guessing of Bernhard, but I think he meant that, as opposed to have an intellectual discussion and using 'logic', we should actually try Hanon and see for ourselves how helpful it is?
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« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2004, 11:01:59 PM »

Sorry, that came out kind of argumentative. I do see what you're saying, logic with logic as it were. In my mind there are two kinds of logic, the kind of logic that makes sense right awat and the kind that makes no sense until you understand it.

When I first began learning I rarely touched a piece, instead I'd play scales and later Hanon(only for a very short period), to me it made perfect sense to do this(). Then I read Dr. Chang's book and found this forum, and the ideas put forth, although strange in some ways, made a lot of sense.

I'm really not qualified to be arguing on either side of this discussion, I really shouldn't have replied, but I've had successes with the methods Bernhard and CC describe.

I prefer Dr. Chang's description of "intuitive" regarding Hanon

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BoliverAllmon
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« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2004, 11:06:05 PM »

1) Hanon is not a 'related field' to J.S. Bach and his contrapuntal writing... I am personally offended by the analogy.

2) Not to continue our second-guessing of Bernhard, but I think he meant that, as opposed to have an intellectual discussion and using 'logic', we should actually try Hanon and see for ourselves how helpful it is?

it is related in that is music that or at least notes that were written hundreds of years ago. bach is a billion times a composer than the hanon exercises. No offense intended.

I do plan on trying Hanon myself. I admit I haven't read Chang's reasoning against Hanon, but have listened to Bernhard.
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sznitzeln
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« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2005, 11:31:46 PM »

I also started doing Hanon. I think it seems good. It makes my playing more even and comfortable. I think this along with scales is excellent for technique. Lhevinne recommends practicing a lot of scales, and for young players 2 hours of technique each day. Scales, Hanon, etc is certainly not bad, since we have many great pianist that developed good technique this way (I have heard the arguements that they succeeded "is spite of Hanon, etc"). Maybe there are better ways, who knows, I agree with Bernards trial and error approach...

One very important thing about Hanon, as most of you probably have thought about:
Play it in all tonalities... And stop if you notice exessive fatigue, feel your muscels and figure out why you are tensing them too much. Its important to be instructed by a good teacher about how to use your body...

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sznitzeln
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« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2005, 11:33:22 PM »

[this was part of the first post, but I was a bit wordy, so I split it]

Another thing... many wise people say "you always have to use your brain while practicing" ... I think its true, but you dont always have to use your conscious part... the subconcious can (and should) take care of a lot of things... and no-body has a complete intellectual view over their reflexes... In my opinion the reflexes are a mysterious link between the musical idea and its execution, thinking too much about them can infact impede the motions. One example... a trill is often easier to do if you think about something else. The important thing is to know what things you have to think about and what should be taken care of "automaticly" by the nerves and subconcions. In Hanon I think that the brains simultaneos-capacity will not be overloaded...I dont think you have to worry very much about your tone, etc...
 Hanon has some meditational effects... I pretty much enjoy it...
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mikeyg
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« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2005, 12:04:45 AM »

Hanon lovers unite!  Grin Wink Cool Tongue
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c18cont
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« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2005, 06:09:04 PM »

Friends,

Whatever,.. you will have some who see through a glass is if it were empty... Wink But I say to you from 60 years of high school and university work,

Don't discard your Hanon or other older methods book too quickly, on the basis of a false pretense of someone knowing what is best for you....

You may well be sorry, as the entire area of rigorous training has slipped in the last few decades, as noted by many...check them out yourself; don't ask me to do so...

John Cont
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thalbergmad
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« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2005, 07:34:05 PM »

Friends,

Whatever,.. you will have some who see through a glass is if it were empty... Wink But I say to you from 60 years of high school and university work,

Don't discard your Hanon or other older methods book too quickly, on the basis of a false pretense of someone knowing what is best for you....

You may well be sorry, as the entire area of rigorous training has slipped in the last few decades, as noted by many...check them out yourself; don't ask me to do so...

Well said sir. I have used it for 30 years and i will continue to do so.

John Cont
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« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2005, 07:39:26 PM »

Mr. Cont,

So far I see that you have replied to two threads on the subject of Hanon. But your replies have been vague at the least and condescending, if I am to be more harsh.

And that may be excusable. If you do indeed have 60 years of teaching backing you up, you're a whole lot further ahead of me, an 18-year-old kid who just graduated high school.

However, there are certain parameters that one just follow if good discussion, debate, and argument is to be upheld. So far all you have done is respond in vague generalities and prophetic-seeming warnings to all the Hanon naysayers. I think that Bernhard, and xvimbi, and many others (and myself, if I may say so - I wrote a short paper on Hanon and Pischna and started a thread somewhere on these boards) have provided some really good arguments as to why Hanon may indeed be a big waste of time.

You've provided nothing.

Would you care to state your position with a little more behind it? If you're right, you should be able to verbally defend yourself, especially if you have the experience backing you up.

Sincerely,
Mike
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« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2005, 11:18:19 PM »

I havn't any idea Mike,,

My friend, why you find my comments to be a problem. If you dislike Hanon that is fine, however I have covered as well as the other respondants here, and answered well the comments they took issue with. You simply happen to be on the other side...

I  have studied with many persons versed in Hanon as well as many other methods, and my only suggestion is that some do very well indeed on Hanon; I was one, and I once played very well in major recitals. I used Hanon for many SELECT students, many of whom have completed university programs...

Holding a masters and having been taught by persons with credentials from the major music schools in this country, I believe I have a good understanding of the issues..I have been clear in reminding, that OTHERS listing here, (and also including historical subjects that there would be no purpose in my repeating), show the success of Hanon. I needed no support for the material..it is here already...within this forum...

Frankly I suspect you are unable to back your material any better than the others I have read; All depend on non specific material gleaned from other writers on this forum, and from surprising sources, showing something else altogether..(an example is the sheath of the three smaller fingers cited by one as the tendons....(zvimbi) Smiley)

But even more important is where you are coming from, and I suggest that you might have just ignored my posting if it was not important to you: instead you choose to denigrate me, in spite of my education and background...When you say I have provided nothing you do yourself and others a disfavor...I provide from the same types of sources, just the other side of the arguement...None I have seen is convincing, that Hanon is wasted energy, and I have proved otherwise in my career.

I wonder that you are pleased to your response under those conditions, but suspect you simply have had a problem with respect. In fact, I have a minor in debate, and have no problem in presenting myself; it simply is no longer worth the effort here...as just as you cannot know my background, I cannot know that of the ones who denigrate Hanon either...Few of us are willing to meet on common ground, but I do accept private messages should that interest anyone....

In any event, it is not necessary for you to answer...you will not be further acknowledged by me should you reply in this thread, nor am I likely to continue as a respondant.

John Cont
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« Reply #27 on: June 14, 2005, 01:01:01 AM »

Eek.

Perhaps I do have a problem with respect.

Or maybe my problem lies in getting myself across in a manner that is both effective and does hurt anyone.

I did not mean to insult, overlook, or otherwise devalue all your years of music- I hope 50 to 60 years down the road I can say I've led a musical life full of teaching, performing and creating, as you have - and perhaps you will consider forgiving me. It's obvious that I'm new to these forums by my number of posts, and I didn't know that you have defended Hanon elsewhere. I am a very skeptical and meticulous person by nature, and I place great value on logic and evidence, for only with both combined can we ever arrive at anything that is more than anecdotal.

I have a friend named Yi-Ju Lai from Taiwan - sixteen years old and playing brilliantly Chopin's fourth ballade, Rachmaninoff's Corelli Variations, and so on. She is an incredibly accomplished musician, and very good at what she does. She started her musical journey at age five, playing only Hanon for the first six months.

The point is, I am aware of the anecdotal evidence out there that Hanon is indeed incredibly beneficial. My previous piano teacher swore by it - but he and I had so many issues that oftentimes it is difficult to differentiate between pianistic, philosophical, and personal problems there. I got truly serious about the piano two years ago and started taking lessons with him. He assigned me an amount of Hanon and Pischna that required me to use about a third to a half of my available practice time to have it ready to play for the next week.

Now that I have freshly graduated high school (and therefore know everything about  everything  Wink) I am no longer held to those standards. I find that the time spent learning repertoire instead of playing repetitive exercises is much more rewarding, satisfying, productive, and helpful. I feel that my technique is getting better daily because I can spend time on the Bach preludes and fugues, Mozart and Haydn sonatas, and other great works.

The thoughts of Bernhard, xvimbi, and all the other people on these boards that have ever cried out against Hanon have only gone to support the conclusions that I came to on my own. Of course, I didn't get everything on my own the first time around, and others' opinions have sort of filled in the gaps.

If my response was harsh, Mr. Cont, it's only because I'm actively searching for something universal out there that we can all apply to this thing called piano playing. I want to know, you see...and shame on me if I will ever defend any opinion of mine so strongly that I will not listen to anything that anyone else might say contrary to it. (Especially at age 18!) I know what my choice of opinion is at this moment, and it is derived from a combination of personal anecdotes, research, good thinking of others, and my own experience at the instrument.

So please, forgive me! Sometimes my thirst for knowledge makes me forget that there are people behind the names and the posts, and that the written word is a powerful thing indeed.
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xvimbi
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« Reply #28 on: June 14, 2005, 01:41:14 AM »

I havn't any idea Mike,,

My friend, why you find my comments to be a problem. If you dislike Hanon that is fine, however I have covered as well as the other respondants here, and answered well the comments they took issue with. You simply happen to be on the other side...

You should have more confidence in us. We can easily be convinced of something when there are good arguments. Sadly, you have indeed provided little in this respect. You only keep mentioning that Hanon has worked for you and that one would be wise to do Hanon, Czerny, etc.

You mentioned that one needs to have proper education and a solid background. So then please explain how to approach Hanon to get good benefits from it without getting injured. Make a case why Hanon is superior to Bach and Scarlatti.

Quote
I  have studied with many persons versed in Hanon as well as many other methods, and my only suggestion is that some do very well indeed on Hanon; I was one, and I once played very well in major recitals. I used Hanon for many SELECT students, many of whom have completed university programs...

Now I need to become a bit more assertive: I have seen many people who complete university programs do the stupidest things one can imagine. I speak from personal experience. The bottom line is that students completing university programs does not validate a teaching method per se. This does not impress me at all. I am teaching at a University. I constantly ask myself whether my students succeed because of how I teach or despite of it. Do you know whether your students were successful because of Hanon, or despite of Hanon? Do you really know the answer to that question? Do you know for sure that Hanon is superior to alternative approaches as outlined by Bernhard, me and others? If you do, tell us the reasons. Also, since you seem to have a lot of experience, please tell me how many of the pianists you have come in contact with have injuries, either minor ones that prevent them from practicing only for a short period, or serious ones. I would be very interested in an honest answer. Has ever anyone of those with injuries investigated the causes for their problems?

Quote
Holding a masters and having been taught by persons with credentials from the major music schools in this country, I believe I have a good understanding of the issues..I have been clear in reminding, that OTHERS listing here, (and also including historical subjects that there would be no purpose in my repeating), show the success of Hanon. I needed no support for the material..it is here already...within this forum...

I assume with historical subjects you mean the likes of, for example, Rachmaninoff. If Rachmaninoff told me that Hanon is good, I would point out the health status of his hands. If Gould told me that hunching is good, I would show him the X-rays of his back. Sorry, but you have not diffused any of the arguments presented against Hanon. Instead, you ridicule everyone who presents arguments against Hanon and call them an "expert". Yet, now you reveal yourself as an "expert", somebody with many degrees (even in debate), having studied with many masters with great credentials.

Quote
Frankly I suspect you are unable to back your material any better than the others I have read; All depend on non specific material gleaned from other writers on this forum, and from surprising sources, showing something else altogether..(an example is the sheath of the three smaller fingers cited by one as the tendons....(zvimbi) Smiley)

Sorry, I still have problems sometimes understanding what you mean. Can you explain? If I have presented any wrong facts, then I would be the first one who wants to know what my error was.

Quote
But even more important is where you are coming from, and I suggest that you might have just ignored my posting if it was not important to you: instead you choose to denigrate me, in spite of my education and background...When you say I have provided nothing you do yourself and others a disfavor...I provide from the same types of sources, just the other side of the arguement...None I have seen is convincing, that Hanon is wasted energy, and I have proved otherwise in my career.

See above about providing useful contributions. What concerns education and background, who knows, and it is quite irrelevant. Bernhard likes to bash the "educated" and their perceived superiority. And frankly, he is quite right, as knowledge, education and background are only good when they can be put to good use. The deed is more important than the certificate.

Now, you claim that Hanon is good because it worked for you. Great! What if I tell you that playing Bach has worked for me? What about the countless pianists before Hanon who never knew about his exercises? How did they get to be so proficient?

Are you running out of arguments that you have to play the "respect" card. Because nobody really knows anyone here, respect is earned by the contributions and how much they helped others on the forum. That is the type of credential that counts here, not someone saying they have played in major recitals.
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c18cont
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« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2005, 02:26:52 AM »

Xvimbi, ..Please see my apology elsewhere, if you wish....

And understand that secrecy is the enemy of conversance on the internet...no doubt you are teaching even as you say, and I find it reasonable following your astute writing style...Bernhard I have little knowledge of at this point...but I may well ask why it is not proper to be proud of one's education....

Even so, for me you represent the portion of myself I left behind long ago..I have been retired for 12 years....and I attempt not to elevate my position by mentioning long past "glory" but only as a means of suggesting I may have something to say...but then I forget,...we cannot know one another here; it is not feasible..so you must go on what I know, and I only know I found success with Hanon, (but not all of Hanon...)...My information is only that of limited experience...

As to Hanon or Czerny or Bach...it just as well be Scriabin, as to my ability to do well; I left keyboard for choral for a number of years, getting too little practice after I left teaching piano..., and only now attempt to restore my prowess...and I am old....it is a goal I will not reach, but I will once again improve....That alone is a goal.

However, I intend to leave this subject, as it is certain there is  much that's correct in using....or NOT using..any given method...I don't intend to lose sleep through harsh words as I am happy with my past, and hopeful for my short future...we shall see...

By the way, I believe of you will look at additional ref. showing the hand you will find a MUCH more complex situation anatomically than the one you referenced.....I have had to have limited correction for carpel tunnel, and memorized all of  the hand...so I can assure you there are more complete and accurate sites available...That is not to say you are incorrect, however.

Again I apologize, and wish to leave this difficult subject....

John Cont
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xvimbi
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« Reply #30 on: June 14, 2005, 03:06:08 AM »

By the way, I believe of you will look at additional ref. showing the hand you will find a MUCH more complex situation anatomically than the one you referenced.....I have had to have limited correction for carpel tunnel, and memorized all of  the hand...so I can assure you there are more complete and accurate sites available...That is not to say you are incorrect, however.

Again I apologize, and wish to leave this difficult subject....

No, no, don't leave, now that we are finally getting somewhere. As I mentioned before, we are all interested in good discussions about all things piano. So, I for one would be interested in your experiences, if you care to elaborate.

What concerns the hand, I am aware that it is much more complicated than what I touched on. It was however sufficient for the moment. I have plenty of good references available. In fact, if I want to I could simply look at a hand directly, but it tends to make me queezy Grin
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« Reply #31 on: June 15, 2005, 02:15:56 PM »

Alright, I have no idea why I'm getting myself into this (potentially nasty) debate but here goes.

What is the point of Hanon really?  Well, it's original intent was to work out all the fingers in various
movements so that they would get stronger together and you would have finger independence.  Okay, sounds good, there is the the anatomical reality however that everyone knows by this point and that is this:  You can't make your 4th finger  as strong as your index because anatomically it is weaker.  Ok, point taken...

Why is Hanon still useful?  Well, for me I use it as a way practice different touches and rhythms in both hands simulataneously.  In my personal experience it makes my fingers move easier and gives me better control.  I'm not a great pianist by far but I don't think Hanon is G*d's gift to pianist.  Why?

Because I could do the same thing I am doing now with any simply melody.  In fact I could do finger exercies with "mary had a litttle lamb" or the theme from "fur elise".  Why Hanon then?  Because the patterns are dead simple to memorize and they give a decent workout to all the fingers instead of just
the notes that an arbitrary melody might fall on.

I don't practice Hanon as indicated and I do have one major quarrel with it:  All the exercises I have
done (thus far) are in lock step.  Meaning the left hand mimics the right.  Obviously this can't lead to
virtuoso technique (IMO) because in real life the left hand doesn't just copy what the right  is doing.  At
some point when I feel like I've got all the technique I need out of Hanon I'll have to  devise an
exercie for myself that hits on this.  Maybe there's one already out there, I'm still new to this whole piano
thing.  For now the Hanon practice has helped me a lot with hand independence (w/r/t touch control) and finger agility in the pieces I play.

Exercises are useful to me and I think they are useful to anyone who does them regularly.  However religious clinging to one guy's method seems a bit over the top.  You can design your own "Hanon like"
exercises and as long as they were practiced properly you'd get something out of them.  I think exercises are good and I think people should do them.  But know ahead why you are doing them.  What are you going to accomplish, when have you gotten everything out of them?  Hanon is a TOOL plain and simple, put it in your pianist toolbox and use it  to your advantage.  Don't cling to it like a holy grail of piano however because there is so much more to work on after Hanon (including trying to make your pieces
sound more musical, a job that is never truly finished).


In Summary:
===============================================================
Do I think my 4th finger will be as strong as my others ?                                 
      No

Do I practice Hanon as indicated in the original instructions?                                 
      No

Do I practice Hanon with rhythmic variations?                                                         
     Yes

Do I practice Hanon with different touches (legato vs. stacato) in each hand?       
     Yes

Do I think that the "lock step" hand position of Hanon is a major disadvantage?   
     Yes

Do I think  exercises are a good idea?                                                                     
     Yes

Would I spend hours a day on Hanon?                                                                   
    Heck No!  with exercises a little more often is better than a lot all at once.   

Should pianists design there own exercises to overcome perceived problems
with their technique as long as they aren't harmful ?                                     
      Yes, why not?

Do people have a hard time seperating Hanon's usefulness as a tool                     
  from a "black magic" kind of mysticism surrounding its effectiveness?                 
     Yes, IMHO
                                                                           
Disclaimer:  I am not an expert on piano technique.  I'm just a rational guy
 who has some opinions based on my own observations and experiences (not just what
 people have said to me or I've read in books).  The intent of this post is   
 to iilicit more worthwhile discourse  on this very interesting topic.


~omnisis                                                               
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c18cont
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« Reply #32 on: June 15, 2005, 04:29:12 PM »

Indeed...Omnisis,..I am not very enthusiastic about this subject anymore either...,

However, I find your general thoughts to be much as mine, and I see no problem in them...I just hate to see Hanon discarded "out of hand" as it were; I believe it has served well for a measurable level of very fine pianists for a long time...It can be used if used well and with care...and new ideas utilized..

Let me mention at this point...If the problems could be overcome, it could be given a new and better use..if a new edition was prepared...I am aware that such is unlikely, but it would allow the very problems mentioned by many to be addressed, and the material to be perhaps added to, providing new ideas for our present age..

It is not possible, I assume, but the....NAME ...will be a magnet no matter how you look at the problem, so it really needs a solution...

For certain it is overstressed,..(and sometimes overdone..). I am pleased in general with your assessment...It is thoughtful and interesting!! I am unable to present as well as you have done. (And that is true for past posts from some members as well..)

(Well, ----, I said I was staying away from this...sorry,  ..But perhaps others can serve to resurrect, better than me, the important aspects of linear and non linear practice for some who are just beginning a strange and exciting journey...The pianoforte!!!..For those who hate to see a thread re-hashed, remember, some here ARE new to the piano, and it is all more exciting to them than perhaps to many of us from the past...)

Best (to all),  John Cont   
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xvimbi
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« Reply #33 on: June 15, 2005, 05:03:34 PM »

Indeed...Omnisis,..I am not very enthusiastic about this subject anymore either...,

However, I find your general thoughts to be much as mine, and I see no problem in them...I just hate to see Hanon discarded "out of hand" as it were; I believe it has served well for a measurable level of very fine pianists for a long time...It can be used if used well and with care...and new ideas utilized.

What Omnisis described is exactly how I and Bernhard and the other alleged "Hanon-haters" think. There is nothing wrong with technical exercises as long as they are carried out properly, as long as the expectations match the reality and as long as one doesn't do those that are clearly unhealthy. We have said this all along. The reason why we don't advocate Hanon is that there is so much "real" music out there that will give the same results in terms of technique while, at the same time, developing other aspects as well (e.g. musicality, repertoire). We promote those exercises/pieces over Hanon/Czerny/Pischna, etc.

Furthermore, if you carefully read through our previous posts, you will realize that it is the underlying misconceptions that we adamantly try to point out. And many people have those, i.e. reality does not match their expectations. We are not trying to deny the benefit of technical exercises. Playing anything will likely improve one's technique (if played properly).

The clashes that you see sometimes, happen when facts get mixed up and strong-willed people vice their opinions. May I remind you that your first post on the topic was a "clash" right there.

Again, what we are really promoting is an awareness of what proper technique is and what unhealthy technique is. It is then up to the inquisitive and critical person to decide for him/herself which music to play.

On another note. Concerning your injury (CTS), what do you think has caused it or contributed to it? What would you do differently if you could start over again?

Cheers!
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« Reply #34 on: June 16, 2005, 01:25:48 AM »

In actual fact, xvimbi,

Relating to the unfortunate student preparation entitled "The case against...."
It is not what you said at that point, and in fact that is where I came in on this sad commentary.

I hardly care where a student graduates, calling Hanon a liar is a bit much for me; I believe it shows little grace and understanding...

Regards, John Cont
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« Reply #35 on: June 16, 2005, 01:50:14 AM »

I hardly care where a student graduates, calling Hanon a liar is a bit much for me; I believe it shows little grace and understanding...

What in the world are you talking about? Who called Hanon a liar? And all of a sudden, you are accusing those who point out the flaws in Hanon's arguments of having no grace nor understanding? You got to be kidding! At first, I was mildly upset at your comments, but now I don't care anymore. Have a good day.
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« Reply #36 on: June 16, 2005, 02:08:23 AM »

I am sorry, xvimbi,

I was not intending to offend...but you need to refer to the entry under "TEACHING"...

titled "The Case Against Hanon And Pischna",

and read the rather long and somewhat overstated introductory material by Aerlinndan, and your response just below it..

You did point out my overreaction upon entry, and that material was the reason for my reaction.....I did in fact, admit clearly that I was a bit strong in my remarks..as I came in on this rather strong diatribe and was really a bit amazed, no doubt about it...It was indeed well written, but with no documentation other than reference to the wording used by Hanon; the reason given for calling him a liar....but such a small thing in the overall consideration of the exercises....after all.

Please don't leave the subject without some better understanding of where that material was supposed to be going, in a legitimate forum thread, to not expect someone to take exception to the whole thing...surely you jest in suggesting I have to be kidding...It was distasteful...

Go and read it again..

My Regards,   John Cont
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« Reply #37 on: June 16, 2005, 03:38:06 AM »

I was not intending to offend...but you need to refer to the entry under "TEACHING"...

I was just surprised to be accused of calling Hanon a liar (I hope he was not) and not having any grace and understanding.

So, how about we wipe the table clean and start over again in a civilized manner? I asked you a few very serious questions earlier that I am really interested to hear the answers to. For starters, I'd appreciate it very much if you could explain why you think Hanon is useful, how to approach it properly and how to avoid the repercussions that many pianists suffer from doing repetitive technical exercises? I am certain, answers to those questions would be beneficial to a lot of people who are not scared of technical exercises but approach them unknowingly from a wrong angle.
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« Reply #38 on: June 17, 2005, 01:09:16 PM »

Thanks for the post..I was in Tallahassee yesterday,

However, it makes little difference, as I am able to add only my personal experience and simple anecdotal material...it would serve little, as I was one who had no probs, and some real success with Hanon. I have started again, slowly..(Reminder...I bought a piano, and gave my sisters back to her...All is new again, so I am really trying to regain some of my previous ability and agility...)

Again, my complaint allows little satisfaction; it is the world...The new norm being the Fox news method, for example...of "In Your Face and kiss --..--- ......"..And when I complain, it is apparent I encourage the response..."get over it...!"... (Lets face it, its an age and time thing.... Undecided)

In any event, I don't want to fight, or even use strong language of conviction..but simply to see a "kinder, gentler America....".... Smiley

BUT.. in line with the issue, it would serve me and others much better to have some additional information...(which is probably in the past postings, if you or others would care to direct me,..I haven't seen all the old postings, I am sure....HOWEVER after all this discussion, it might serve well here to repeat...)...

I have used the EARLY exercises more...going to Czerny and Rep. for more adv. study..when I was much younger.  I would like info on the exercises, without going to the mish-mash of the web...by each BOOK. They are, of course books 1,2, and 3...Can you give some info, as you have seen fit to spend effort on, in examination of the exercises, and their usefulness or useLESSness..?

Starting with ex 1 thru 20..or book 1...
to wit...:

Which do you remove, alter, decry, reduce tempo and effort, attack with scissors etc..etc.. in reality? Are some of the first 20 given in your opinion, to excesses? This is of course, saying that you decide to USE Hanon to at least some extent...What would you DO with those sometimes touchy first 20? WHICH have problems in general thought?

Regards to all,  John Cont
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« Reply #39 on: June 19, 2005, 10:44:56 AM »

Wonder why there was no answer to this.... Lips Sealed,

I confess it was bait, but that was what seemed to be the format.... Wink. Maybe someone will answer it sometime for the ones who enjoy Hanon; It would perhaps serve to save someone........

John Cont
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« Reply #40 on: June 19, 2005, 12:26:09 PM »

Wonder why there was no answer to this.... Lips Sealed,

I confess it was bait, but that was what seemed to be the format.... Wink. Maybe someone will answer it sometime for the ones who enjoy Hanon; It would perhaps serve to save someone........

This was not a bait; you simply wiggled your way out of answering my questions first. I have voiced my opinions about technical excercises many times already and so have others. I don't have the time to repeat myself; there is a Search function that works well. Instead, I was interested if you had a new angle to present. Perhaps not.
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« Reply #41 on: June 19, 2005, 04:25:30 PM »

I have used the EARLY exercises more...going to Czerny and Rep. for more adv. study..when I was much younger.  I would like info on the exercises, without going to the mish-mash of the web...by each BOOK. They are, of course books 1,2, and 3...Can you give some info, as you have seen fit to spend effort on, in examination of the exercises, and their usefulness or useLESSness..?

Starting with ex 1 thru 20..or book 1...
to wit...:

Which do you remove, alter, decry, reduce tempo and effort, attack with scissors etc..etc.. in reality? Are some of the first 20 given in your opinion, to excesses? This is of course, saying that you decide to USE Hanon to at least some extent...What would you DO with those sometimes touchy first 20? WHICH have problems in general thought?

Sure, I'll keep this going.

My problem with Hanon has nothing to do with individual exercises. I cannot point to a given exercise and say "this one is helpful" or "this one is useless". To me, they are all "given to excesses" because they are superfluous. Developing a flawless Hanon technique makes you really good...at Hanon. I have seen it countless times. Consider a scatter plot in which the x-axis plots one's skill with Hanon, and the y-axis the quality of repertoire. Plotting all the pianists I've ever known will yield a graph with absolutely no line of best fit. There is no correlation.

I know this is a very statistical way of looking at it, but I still say that Hanon is useless in the purely theoretical sense as well, even with pianists very early on. The fingers are weak and nerve inhibition is undeveloped because the mind is still struggling to wrap itself around an entirely new concept and mechanism, and this is not effectivley ameliorated by the introduction of mechanical, non-musical exercises. Rather, a good, thoughtful, careful, attentive teacher, along with a devoted student, can learn all the fundamentals through a good piece of beginner's repertoire such as Invention No. 1.

Here is the way I perceive each book of Hanon, if you like:

Book 1 - A collection of finger exercises that do indeed cover a lot of movements used at the piano, but will not help in the playing of actual repertoire because of the non-musical context in which they are presented.

Book 2 - More of the same of Book 1 except a little more complicated; also the introduction of scales. The scales, however, are presented with such blinders on that one could easily arrive at a "mastery" of the mechanical element of playing the scales without ever truly understanding them enough to apply the knowledge in a piece of tonal repertoire.

Book 3 - Lots more piano mechanics, suggested to be practice with hands together. This makes the hands dependent on each other and thus the movements learned become again useless in repertoire. For example, if my right hand does repeated notes in a Scarlatti sonata while my left hand does an apreggio, I'm still going to have to learn the movement for the RH repeated notes all over again, because the LH is no longer moving in sync with the RH.
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« Reply #42 on: June 19, 2005, 06:06:02 PM »

Wonder why there was no answer to this.... Lips Sealed,

I confess it was bait, but that was what seemed to be the format.... Wink. Maybe someone will answer it sometime for the ones who enjoy Hanon; It would perhaps serve to save someone........

John Cont

Remember, you asked for it! Grin Wink Tongue

In defense of Hanon one could say the following:

“Hanon was a superb teacher. His book is simply a guideline of his teaching he used with his pupils. During the lessons, he would modify the exercises and assign them in accordance with the student’s abilities and technical inadequacies.”

This may well be the case, and I have no qualms with that, perhaps Hanon wrote one way but actually directed his students to do otherwise.

However, even if this was the case, the current reality is that we have no idea how Hanon actually used the book (and judging by the instruction he left us, the scenario above is highly unlikely). The way the book is used nowadays (when it is used) is simply to learn all the exercises following the instruction in the preface. Lazy teachers love it.

Having said that, let us see the shortcomings.

The main problem with Hanon is the hidden assumption that one should learn technique on its own.

Then, as a corollary, we have the second hidden assumption that the technique in Hanon covers all bases.

Both of these hidden assumptions are completely false. Hence Hanon’s uselessness.

I have written quite a bit on these issues, so rather than repeat myself here I will direct anyone interested to the threads below (just the tip of the iceberg). We can then go on from there, if anyone wants to.


First here are a few threads that argue that technique cannot be learned in isolation from real music (and if this is accepted, Hanon can go the way of the dustbin).


http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/board,4/topic,4880.3.html#msg46319
(discusses how to acquire technique and what technique actually is)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4385.msg41226.html#msg41226
(technique is personal and relative to the piece – Fosberry flop – the best books on technique)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4734.msg44770.html#msg44770
(how to acquire virtuoso technique – aiming at 100 pieces in five years)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,5352.msg50998.html#msg50998
(Exercises x repertory – why technique cannot be isolated from music)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,3677.msg32879.html#msg32879
(What is the best practice diet?  The key to practice is familiarisation with the piece.  Schumann’s Remembrance)

http://www.pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,8981.msg91081.html#msg91081
(repertory x purely technical exercises to acquire technique)

http://www.pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,8417.msg85259.html#msg85259
(when is a piece finished – why technique and interpretation cannot be divorced)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,1867.msg14268.html#msg14268
(Getting technique from pieces – several important tricks: hand memory, dropping notes, repeated note-groups)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2429.msg21061.html#msg21061
(Technical studies x pieces – the genesis of Studies and how Czerny derived his exercises from Beethoven sonatas - why scales are useless and at the same time essential – Chopin x Kalkbrenner story – Unorthodox fingering for scales).

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2948.msg25927.html#msg25927
(Czerny x Scarlatti to acquire technique – Ted gives an excellent contribution)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4880.msg46339.html#msg46339
(definition of technique: quote from Fink, Sandor and Pires – Example of the A-E-A arpeggio)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,3987.msg36197.html#msg36197
(etudes and alternatives to them)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4082.msg37362.html#msg37362
(one cannot learn technique in a vacuum. At the same time one cannot simply play pieces – comparison with tennis)

http://www.pianoforum.net/smf/index.php?topic=5995.msg58928#msg58928
(when to work on expression - change focus every 2 minutes – comparison with plate spinning)

The threads below deal specifically with Hanon (the first one in particular has a detailed criticism of Hanon’s preface):


http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2998.msg26268.html#msg26268
(Scales HT, why? – why and when to practise scales HS and HT – Pragmatical  x logical way of teaching – analogy with aikido – list of piano techniques – DVORAK – realistic x sports martial arts – technique and how to acquire it by solving technical problems – Hanon and why it should be avoided - Lemmings)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4182.msg38775.html#msg38775
(Hanon: pros and cons – Robert Henry’s opinion)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4887.msg47334.html#msg47334
(more on Hanon)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,5375.msg51272.html#msg51272
(Defending technical exercises – two different philosophies regarding exercises – chopstick analogy)

The scales in Hanon follow a less than efficient fingering that has become orthodox. In particular Hanon is a believer of the thumb under method. If you do the preparatory scale exercises that precede them you will never develop true facility in scales since they are based on the wrong movement. The threads below although they do not mention Hanon provide the most efficient fingering for scales as well as the movement known as “thumb over” which is essential for playing fast scales.


http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2619.msg22756.html#msg22756
(unorthodox fingering for all major and minor scales plus an explanation)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,1918.msg15015.html#msg15015
(Thumb under/over – detailed explanation – Fosberry flop)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,7226.msg72166.html#msg72166
(Thumb over is a misnomer: it consists of co-ordinating four separate movements).

Here are some threads that deal with the physicality of playing. Several of the anatomical and physiological facts described there are in direct opposition to Hanon’s instructions:

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4145.msg38568.html#msg38568
(beginner’s muscle development – anatomy of the hand forearm – true reasons for extremely slow practice)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2024.msg16583.html#msg16583
(how to aim the pinky – using the arm to move the fingers)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2033.msg16635.html#msg16635
(finger strength)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2502.msg21594.html#msg21594
(Independence of the 3rd and 4thfinger – it is impossible, one should work towards the illusion of independence: it is all arm work)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2507.msg21688.html#msg21688
(Round fingers – the role of fingers)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,1808.msg23879.html#msg23879
(Ultra fast arpeggios – slow practice x slow motion practice – good post by Herve – Abby whiteside is also mentioned)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2814.msg24872.html#msg24872
(How a student’s physicality affects teaching – discussion on arm x fingers – moving from the centre: tantien and taichi – Seymour Fink gets discussed as well)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2809.msg25013.html#msg25013
(Body movement – piano playing and martial arts)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,3726.msg33453.html#msg33453
(playing with curved fingers – worry less about movement and more about sound)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2079.msg17335.html#msg17335
(Hand tension – not using fingers to play)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2106.msg17587.html#msg17587
(developing both hands equally – repertory - why the LH is generally weaker – website for left handed pianos)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2359.msg20442.html#msg20442
(Fingering placement on the keys)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2477.msg21403.html#msg21403
(Double thirds – the movement)

http://www.pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,7887.msg79326.html#msg79326
(why the lifting of the 4th finger is a non-problem)

http://www.pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,7682.msg77042.html#msg77042
(hand independence: how to create a cue system and what is hand memory).

http://www.pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,8335.msg84684.html#msg84684
(circular movements to avoid co-contraction)

http://www.pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,8322.msg84686.html#msg84686
(speed and muscle tension – 3 important components of speed playing)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4282.msg39831.html#msg39831
(How to increase speed: slowly using metronome x fast with chord attack – juggling and skiping rope as examples)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4144.msg40259.html#msg40259
(improving speed of LH – move the whole LH not only fingers)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,5034.msg47829.html#msg47829
(The finger strength controversy – some excellent posts by xvimbi)

If one is to dump Hanon &co., what is the alternative? The threads below point the way:


http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,3625.msg32673.html#msg32673
(PPI –  comparison with body building – brief mention of movement and intellectual centre – comparison with babies walking and coma patients- muscle tension and nerve inhibition – how to investigate and test practice ideas – How to teach by using progressively difficult repertory)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4123.msg37829.html#msg37829
(How to investigate the best movement pattern: Example Scarlatti sonata K70 – How to work out the best fingering. Example: CPE Bach Allegro in A – Slow x slow motion practice – HS x HT – practising for only 5 – 10 minutes)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2893.msg25500.html#msg25500
(how to teach op. 142 no. 2 - Burgmuller studies – Lots of practice tricks – the pragmatical x logical approach using Boolean algebra and word processing as an example)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2864.msg25252.html#msg25252
(how everyone in the forum practises – the scientific method to decide what practice routine is good and which is not. Comments on Chang book)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2916.msg25572.html#msg25572
(Bad habits when playing/practising)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2076.msg17157.html#msg17157
(Speed – the 3 most important factors)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.









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« Reply #43 on: June 19, 2005, 06:28:17 PM »

Hi for the last time on this,

And, I am pleased to have been answered after all,...and in truth, it is not new; I went through all this in college....40 years ago...I heard many arguements for and against Hanon..., and even read scholarly papers on the subject...as I am sure most of you have heard...and probably read...

I await additional opinions, as I have always done...and I have always accepted that the use of any exercise may be taken to extreme...

I still have associates at a few major school music depts, and it seems to be a continuing area of interest, with later years tending away from exercises for solving problems...(And I know many already are aware...).

I still however, believe they can be useful, and as said above, perhaps Hanon in the flesh, as it were, did something different with his students...I don't want to discard them, as they helped my smaller fingers...whatever the result might have been with perhaps a better teacher in my early years...I do admit not using them in my university years...I was FAR too busy on repertoire and classwork, and had "X" amount of time on a piano as it was.... Sad

Thanks for your answers...I am going through the info suggest by Bernhard and others as I am able...

John Cont
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« Reply #44 on: June 19, 2005, 06:55:30 PM »

Hi Xvimbi and Aerlinndan,

Thanks for answering...No, I have already answered youir questions..:  (I didn't wriggle ( Smiley) out....) I have ONLY anecdotal answers to your questions.........BUT...I prefer for a short and to the point warm-up...#'s 4,5,6,7,9,11,12,13 and14....quite fast..But you see, that's just for me...I haven't any idea what another might like...and these may be less useful for others..

And aerlinndan, thanks for being willing as well...I am aware I am not going to sway any opinions here, and actually it was never really my attempt. I was interested in your preparation as an affront to Hanon and History. It was the reason I wanted more information, and took issue from the very beginning, as I thought it was rather strong in character, and perhaps not deserved by Mr Hanon...(Not that, as I have said elsewhere, am I unfamiliar with attacts on Hanon...I grew up with them..

However, I am inclined to accept the more than five decades difference in our ages as being a likely reason for my misunderstanding. (And actually, I decry my occasional attempts to interject my age as a defense... Wink!!!) I am sure you do as well.

Thank You,   John Cont
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« Reply #45 on: June 19, 2005, 10:50:18 PM »

"And because the hand lifts all the fingers equally there is no need to practise this or that finger."

I don't get it, Bernhard. The hand might lift them equally, but doesn't the finger press down?
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« Reply #46 on: June 20, 2005, 09:52:54 PM »

"And because the hand lifts all the fingers equally there is no need to practise this or that finger."

I don't get it, Bernhard. The hand might lift them equally, but doesn't the finger press down?

Exactly! Cheesy

You only have a problem with finger inequality (apart from their different lengths) when you are lifting them. The fourth finger is pretty much impossible, and no amount of exercise will change that in any appreciable way.

Bringing the fingers down (from the knuckle koint) on the other hand represents no problem. All fingers are equally adept at it. They are already perfectly trained and developped from ordinary daily activities. Therefore there is no need to exercise bringing down the fingers.

So the situation here is very simple: You do not need exercise to bring down the fingers, and exercise will do no good to lift them. So no need for exercise!

What are you going to do about lifiting the fingers? Don't. Lift the hand and the hand will lift the fingers. In fact, you are not really going to lift the hand. the arms/forearms will lift everyone. The most important movement in this respect is forearm rotation. From forearm rotation everything eventually comes. Unfortunately Hanon does not want you to rotate your forearm (try with a coin on top of your hands, and you will see what I mean). He wants you to lift your fingers in isolation. without anything else moving. But this is impossible. And even if it was possible, it wouldn't make much of a difference anyway.

To explore forearm rotation, have a look at the threads above on the thumb over method for scale playing.

Once you understand what real technical practice actually entails, Hanon becomes laughable. Wink

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
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« Reply #47 on: June 20, 2005, 10:00:22 PM »

I will add something to this discussion as well.

I have already written a fair amount of criticism on Hanon. I have not seen any argument in regards to my criticism that seriously undermines it.

However some people do love their Hanon (if you have been investing time on it for a few decades you will be very reluctant to face the fact that you might have wasted huge amounts of time).

Personally I could not care less if people wants to do Hanon or not.

What seems to me far more interesting is to discuss what to do instead of Hanon.

I don't believe in fighting against evil - you just give it energy -  so unless some surprising new argument appears about it, I will not be posting any more on Hanon.

Instead I will be devoting my energies to make resolute progress on the way of good. Cheesy

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
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The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)
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« Reply #48 on: June 20, 2005, 11:18:41 PM »

I don't believe in fighting against evil - you just give it energy -  so unless some surprising new argument appears about it, I will not be posting any more on Hanon.

Oh no! You are going to let me try to save all those misguided souls? I am wearing out too! Sad

Quote
Instead I will be devoting my energies to make resolute progress on the way of good. Cheesy

Alright! Let's have a good bottle and play some Bach Cheesy
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« Reply #49 on: June 21, 2005, 01:37:13 AM »

Instead I will be devoting my energies to make resolute progress on the way of good. Cheesy

I'll do that! Here's a contribution to such a discussion.

About a week and a half ago I started learning Mozart's Sonata K545. I had never learned it before and I do like the piece, so I figured I would give it a try. What I discovered surprised me. I discovered that I did not possess the skill of playing even stepwise melodic runs, such as the fifth bar of K545.

What was most interesting about this to me was that I had been playing Hanon religiously for the past two years under the tutelage of an incredibly strict, demanding, and merciless teacher. I played the exercises in all keys and in tons of rhythmic variations, and got most of them up to QN = 138. Every week I would be expected to come in to my lesson and play this Hanon first thing, and if there were errors the exercise would be considered "unlearned" and I would have to repeat it the next week. The reason I mention all of this is to explain that the study of Hanon I did was not just a smattering - it was a thorough, detailed, and relentlessly perfectionistic study of the exercises.

And I couldn't play K545.

The reason is, as Bernhard put so eloquently elsewhere, that evenness of sound is not produced by evenness of movement. I found that at the tops of the scales (around beat three of bar 5) I had to move my upper arm in such a way that my 3-4-5 fingers would be well supported by the weight of the shoulder-arm-wrist apparatus. It took me a week to figure this all out on my own. Hanon helped me with none of that.

So the point of all of this is as follows: in order to find a decent substitute for Hanon, we must first establish just what Hanon is trying to fix. The first of these is evenness in playing. His premise is that by developing the muscles in your fingers you can reach a point where the fingers can do the evenness all by themselves and you won't have to involve your arm, shoulder, or anything else. But this is clearly fallacious.

So what did I do? I practiced the scales in K545. I tried lots of different movements until I found the one that gave me sound and clarity most effortlessly. Does this mean I have forever mastered the art of playing even scales? Of course not. In the next Mozart sonata I play, I will have to start over in my quest for evenness. But the journey will be a lot shorter the next time around because I know exactly what to shoot for and exactly what movement-goals to have right from the start. I will have to adapt, of course, based on the key, the specific contours, the dynamic level, and other musical-context considerations.

The substitute for Hanon is patience, an open mind, and an unwillingness to accept anything less that perfect and easy in your quest to master a piece of music.
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