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Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT (Read 66607 times)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
« on: October 29, 2005, 06:53:03 AM »
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.

Any support or refutations most welcome ;)
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Online thalbergmad

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #1 on: October 29, 2005, 12:16:18 PM »
I do exercises regularly and have done since i was 3.

There have been many interesting posts about practising actual pieces instead of exercises and yes, if you come across difficult passages, play them over and over again until it is right. However, i submit that if you do drill your fingers, you will solve a lot of problems before you even encounter them.

If you have to continually play the same phrase over and over , what is that if not an exercise.

This is only my view and i am not a professional pianist or teacher.
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Offline cfortunato

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #2 on: October 29, 2005, 01:02:42 PM »
Personally, I find Schmitt's exercises to be better than Hanon's, and useful for pianists at almost all levels.

Offline allthumbs

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #3 on: October 29, 2005, 05:43:54 PM »
Greetings

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 would have to agree with you here. I believe the same applies to scales and other technical exercises. A beginner needs some reference point to start developing finger independence and strength. While I agree that actual pieces do contain technical problems that a student  has to master in order to paly the piece successfully, it would take quite the repertoire to cover all the difficulties one may incounter in piano repertory.

Hanon and other methods of exercises allows the student to focus on a particular weakness, thus decreasing the time needed to overcome the problem.


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.

I find that if I neglect my scales and other technical exersises, my technique and stamina drops somewhat even if I am playing my repertoire consistantly. I find that although parts of any one piece may challenge my technique, there is to sustained effort needed as the difficult passage is transitory.

One exception that comes to mind is such pieces as Fantasie Impromptu where one is getting a good workout throughout.

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.

Any support or refutations most welcome ;)

I think that this is the one of the other main benefits to playing technical exercises for the beginner. They start to be able to transfer what they are working on in the exercise to a piece in terms of phrasing and melody line along with the greater strength and finger independence.

The bottom line is use Hanon if it works for you and discard it if it doesn't.

Cheers

allthumbs :)

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Offline rlefebvr

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #4 on: October 29, 2005, 06:17:18 PM »
Well, what is your definition of Beginner. I do not disagree that exercises is important cause it is. Scales of all sorts, Chord and arpeggios should be the basis of all practice routines, especially for beginners.

The problem is some teachers use Hanon to often and for the wrong reason. Having students spent a half hour doing Hanon exercises is stupid and useless.

However, if a student is having trouble moving fingers in a certain way, there are plenty of Hanon exercises that can be used in a limited fashion to help matters.

The problem lies with teachers who use Hanon as some sort of bible one must master to play . This is totally wrong.

I do believe once a student is able to play some Bach minuets and preludes with some scalatti in the mix, Hanon and other sorts become more or less irrelevant and should only be used  in very specific situations.


As a piano musician, I have used Hanon and the likes sporadically threw the years and always to alleviate quickly certain problems with my playing, but never as a teaching ritual to be mastered instead of playing pieces.
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Offline xvimbi

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #5 on: October 30, 2005, 03:06:25 PM »
Many teachers (any kind, not just piano teachers) are often convinced of one particular approach and try to dogmatically force their students to follow that approach. Rarely do they taylor their methods to the individual personality of a given student. There are many roads to success, and one is not necessarily better or worse than another. So, as long as one shows what the proper movements are, one can teach how to play anything. I would then leave it up to the students to decide whether they want to learn technique through exercises, through pieces, or a combination thereof. It's of no use to make a student go through exercises who absolutely hates them; other students like them a lot and thrive. It is the teacher's task to find out how to get a student to solve pianistic problems efficiently, and eventually on their own.

Offline violinist

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #6 on: October 30, 2005, 09:16:00 PM »
For what it's worth.  I strongly believe in practicing exercises to build technique.  It helped me tremendously on the violin, but I had to pick and choose the right exercises to help me develop.  On the violin I was able to develop my own exercises.  The piano is a different story - I'm just happy hacking thru some pieces at this time - it's still pretty new for me.

I'm thinking that exercises would help me for my weaknesses (I have a few  ;)) on the piano.

I'm going to try that Octave study on Czerny art of finger dexterity.  I need help with those octaves. 
Practice!

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #7 on: October 31, 2005, 10:03:03 AM »
I am a beginner, have been taking lessons for a year with my daughter.  At my age (50's) naturally I learn a little more slowly, but I have a background on other instruments so I understand a little of the basics. 

Here's the thing.  While I'm sure I don't have the finger dexterity of an advanced piano player, I've never had a lesson piece that was a dexterity challenge.  They are hard because of coordination or interpretation or big leaps or other issues, never because I can't move my fingers fast enough. 

So on the one hand, practicing Hanon will do me zero good, because there is no opportunity to apply the improved technique that will presumably be obtained.

On the other hand, it also seems that my lesson material alone would not build a great deal of dexterity at this time. 

If the dexterity is a requirement (I'm not at all clear that it is) then it seems logical to supplement pieces with exercises.  But exercise obtained dexterity seems to be highly perishable, judging from experiences with wind instruments, so these would have to be done more or less forever. 
Tim

Offline bernhard

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #8 on: November 01, 2005, 12:06:33 AM »
Quote
I felt compelled to post this for Beginners who might be influenced by some more experienced pianists saying piano exercises are useless.

Actually, Hanon and similar exercises are not important at all. Beginners should be made aware of this so that they don’t fall into the “tradition” trap and blindly follow instructions without questioning them, wasting a lot of time in the process.

It is easy to show how unimportant Hanon is: Hanon first published his exercises in 1873. There are plenty of keyboard virtuosos (Handel, Bach and his sons, Scarlatti, Liszt, Chopin, etc. etc. etc.) who acquired their technique well before Hanon published his book. I rest my case. :D

Quote
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.

Well, if you read my posts on the subject, you may be aware that I am not just “saying that Hanon is a waste of time”. I am providing (I believe) some pretty good arguments supporting such view. At the moment I have not read any counter argument that would convince (or even persuade ;)) me to change my opinion on the matter. In any case I will put my case forward again (see below).

Quote
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.

The easiest answer is to design exercises based on the piece’s passages and related to the necessary movements for those passages. There are of course many other things one can do when teaching beginners – none of which involves Hanon. For instance:

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)

At least this serves some purpose. One lengthy argument is supplied in this thread:

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


Quote
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.

I agree in part. I disagree that piano “exercises” become obsolete as one progresses. Any piece that presents any passage that is challenging/difficult/impossible will always present right there an “exercise” for the pianist. However, abstract exercises – that is not in any way related to a particular piece – (Hanon, Pischna, Schmidth, Dohnanyi, Cortot) in my opinion have no place ever in one’s practice.

There is a world of difference between the very valuable exercises in Cortot’s “Editions de travail” of the Chopin etudes, for instance, and the complete useless exercises in his “Rational Principles of Piano Technique” (there is nothing rational about them). The difference is that in the first case the exercises address specific difficulties in specific pieces, while in the second case, they are abstract exercises: Cortot succumbed to the allure of the logical method, blinded by his pragmatical success.

See here for more on the logical x pragmatical approach:

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2192.msg21823.html#msg21823
(How to teach very young students – the historical method, the pragmatical  x logical method and total exposure as the best way for under-5s)

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,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)

Quote
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.

I see of no reason why this could not be accomplished in a much more efficient way by working on the repertory.

Now for the reason why Hanon (and like exercises) should be avoided (italics are quotes from Hanon himself):

1, Hanon, basic anatomical premise is totally false: “The central problem of piano playing is to make the fingers equal and independent”.

Not only this is most definitely not the central problem of piano playing, as it is impossible to achieve it. Therefore Hanon is a waste of time in an absolute sense because you will be employing your energies trying to solve a non-existing problem by pursuing an impossible procedure. This is akin to say that the basic problem in car driving is to be able to fly, and the way to be able to fly is to practice flapping your arms vigorously. Not only the ability to fly is not related to car driving, as flapping your arms vigorously will not get you there, even if you do it one hour a day. If you want o read in more detail about the anatomical issues involved, read all of xvimbi’s posts, and these ones as well:

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,5034.msg47829.html#msg47829
(The finger strength controversy – some excellent posts by xvimbi)

But actually all one needs to do is a bit of independent thinking (I know it is hard for some of you, but try it you will be surprised at the results). For instance, the fingers have different sizes. How are you going to make this equal? The thumb opposes the other fingers. How are you going to make them equal? The hands are symmetrical. How are you going to equalise them? The fingers 3/4/5 share tendons, how are you going to make them independent? Any method that promises to make your fingers equal and independent (Hanon's basic - and clearly stated - aim) is already showing such basic ignorance of the fundamentals of anatomy that the actual exercises are likely to be useless.

[to be continued...]

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Offline bernhard

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #9 on: November 01, 2005, 12:10:14 AM »
[...continued from previous post]

2.   Hanon’s instructions are wrong. He tells you to:

a.   Lift the fingers high keeping everything else immobile.

Why is this wrong? Because lifting the fingers high is the wrong technique to use and leads to injury. The correct technique is to use – for instance -  forearm rotation to bring the fingers up. Pressing the fingers down is never a problem and your fingers can already do it (from daily living) without any need for any further exercising. The situation is similar to the high jump. Jumping forwards is the wrong technique. Jumping backwards is the way to go. Practising the forward jump will never get you in the Olympic team, even if it was what everyone was doing before Dick Fosberry came up with the backwards jump, And if you want to read about this in greater detail, go here:

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)

b.   Keep your hands quiet, fingers parallel to the keys.

There is no piece of music that can be played in this way. In fact, as far as “technique” - that is movement patterns - is concerned, in order to play even the most elementary repertory one needs to slant the hand (amongst other things to negotiate passing of fingers). By the way, this is a huge problem with Czerny as well. Anyone who spends the first three years learning just Hanon and Czerny, in order to “save time” by “acquiring technique” in isolation, will have wasted those three years, because the “technique” they acquired will be unsuitable to most pieces, and for the pieces they can get away with such “technique”, they will sound laboured and unmusical because there are far better techniques to play them. Perhaps the best example (and also the best alternative) are the Scarlatii sonatas which require for their proper playing, arguably the largest range of movement patterns. In some sonatas you need to play with your arms parallel to the keyboard, the fingers “walking up and down the keys. Where, on Hanon will you learn to do that? Faced with a Scarlatti sonata, all a Hanon aficionado can do is throw his hands up in despair and start all over again from scratch, but now having to fight all the bad habits acquired from playing Hanon. If you want to read about real technique and how to go about getting it in greater detail, go here:

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,2948.msg25927.html#msg25927
(Czerny x Scarlatti to acquire technique – Ted gives an excellent contribution)

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://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,5352.msg50998.html#msg50998
(Exercises x repertory – why technique cannot be isolated from music)

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

c.   Practise hands together to save time.

Well, you won’t. Instead you will be overtaxing the left hand (if that happens to be your weaker hand) and under working the right hand. The right hand never gets a chance to go tot its limits, the left hand is constantly struggling and usually gets injured in the process. Because hands together speed is always the speed of the slowest hand, what really saves time is to work with hands separate so that you give a chance to your weak hand to catch up with the strong hand. Of course this means that instead of spending one hour with Hanon every day (as he recommends), you will be spending 3 hours (one hour RH, one hour LH, one hour together). If you want to read more about the Hands separate x Hands together controversy, have a look here:

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2802.msg24467.html#msg24467
(When to join hands)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,3039.msg26525.html#msg26525
(how big are your hands, and does it matter?  7 x 20 minutes – exercise/activities to strengthen the playing apparatus – ways to deal with wide chords – the myth that Richter was self-taught – 3 stages of learning – Example: Chopin militaire Polonaise - scientific principles for testing practice methods – Example: Prelude in F#m from WTC1 – when to join hands and why HS – practice is improvement – the principle of “easy” – Example: Chopin’s ballade no. 4 – repeated groups)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4858.msg46087.html#msg46087
(Paul’s report on B’s method. Feedback from Bernhard including: HS x HT – Example: Lecuona’s malaguena – 7x20 – need to adjust and adapt – repeated note-groups – importance of HS – hand memory – 7 items only in consciousness – playing in automatic pilot - )

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,3085.msg27140.html#msg27140
(Hands together: when and how – dropping notes)

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,3085.msg44855.html#msg44855
(Hands together – dropping notes – when to learn HT and when to learn HS)

d.   One hour a day, everyday will give you virtuoso technique and keep it in shape as long as you spend one hour everyday doing it.

No, it will not give you virtuoso technique. This claim is laughable. Hanon does not even start to address the virtuoso technique, and even for things as simple as rippling a scale on the keyboard Hanon will be useless, since by practising scales his way you will immediately ingrain two powerful speed walls: passing the thumb under, and a very inefficient fingering for the left hand. If you would like to read more about passing the thumb under and a proper fingering for scales that will allow you top speed, have a look here:

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

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

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

An in this thread you can see an example on how scale fingering is not universal and will have to be adapted according to the piece – therefore practising scales for hours a day is a waste of time:

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,2619.msg104249.html#msg104249
(Scale fingering must be modified according to the piece – Godard op. 149 no.5 – yet another example of the folly of technical exercises)

But there is something else here as well. Once you have a acquired a technique (that is a pattern of movement) you do not need to practice it again ever. Just like riding a bicycle. If, in order to keep a technique under your fingers you need to do it everyday forever, or it will escape you, then this technique is inappropriate, and you better change it, because it will always fail you at the crucial moment. Proper technique once mastered is always easy and you will always be able to do it. There is no need (as Hanon claims in no uncertain terms) to do Hanon (or any other kind of exercise) for one hour a day for the rest of your life. That Hanon thought it was necessary actually points clearly on how inappropriate his technique is.

If you want to read an interesting account on this very situation (where a hardly acquired – but inappropriate – technique, quickly slips away from one’s grasp) have a look here:

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,13208.msg143740.html#msg143740
(an account on how Cramer’s technique deteriorated with age)


e.   Hanon assumes (as does Cortot for that matter) that it is possible to develop technique on its own.

Well it is not possible. When you play a note on the piano, you are already using a technique (a movement) and you are already producing some sort of music (the sound). Technique and musicality are inseparable – the only way I can think of, that you could possible separate them was to practise on a silent keyboard. People who say “I want to practise the technique without worrying about all the other aspects of music” are not doing it. What they are doing is concentrating consciously on the movements, and letting their unprepared unconscious mind deal as best as it can with the musical aspects. In other words, as they are concentrating on the technique, they are producing crap musicality. Keep repeating and soon that crap musicality will have been practised over and over again and you will not understand why you suck at the piano in spite of all that Hanon you have been doing.

In this particular case, Czerny is an even better example, for his studies actually are pieces of music. But the music is so inferior that I cringe at its sound.

If you want to read more about this subject, and on the proper way to acquire both proper technique and proper musicality at the same time, have a look here:

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

Finally:

Hanon is like spending one hour a day on the lake, pedalling on one of those pedal boats, on the belief that this (insane) activity will give you al the technique and prepare you for driving a car in the traffic of a large city. Do you want to go boat pedalling, by all means do. Just don’t come around bragging how much this has helped your car driving, mentioning that some famous (or not) racing car daredevil definitely recommends boat pedalling.


Here is more information on Hanon's drawbacks:

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)

Now, don’t get me started on the likes of Cortot (“Rational principles of piano technique”). Or Dohnanyi. ::)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

P.S. Let me say that in spite my fundamental disagreement with lostinidlewonder post on Hanon, I truly appreciate his carefully thought out posts in most matters, which I find very helpful and enlighteining.  :D

And the pronoun "you" used throughout is meant in a general way and does not address anyone in particular. :)
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)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #10 on: November 01, 2005, 02:58:19 AM »
Phew ok time for response, thankyou for all your input.

Well, what is your definition of Beginner.

Of course this is a very various answer, but for me I am talking about Beginners who don't find playing anything at the piano very natural. Those that haven't learn't many pieces, those that haven't had their hands much music before, those that find their fingers are very insecure at the keys, those that find basic movements of the piano a concentrated effort etc.

I do not disagree that exercises is important cause it is. Scales of all sorts, Chord and arpeggios should be the basis of all practice routines, especially for beginners.
The problem with scales and arpeggios is that they do not specifically train fingers, rather they train the hand as a whole. But what am I supposed to say to a 5 yr old who finds their 5th extremely weak for instance, so much so that their chords and scales fail when the 5th is needed. I cannot say, keep practicing scales and arpeggios, or keep practicing your peice, I have to say, here take this, this excersises aims to strengthen the 5th. Don't over do the practice, 10 minutes a day is all I ask for, but EVERY DAY.

The problem lies with teachers who use Hanon as some sort of bible one must master to play . This is totally wrong.

I agree not to place too much emphasis on anything when learning music, afterall excersises have nothing to do with the quality of sound in a piece you learn, rather the physical action and also the physical feeling of effortlessness to produce a string of notes. To become musicians we have to master pieces not excerises.

I do believe once a student is able to play some Bach minuets and preludes with some scalatti in the mix, Hanon and other sorts become more or less irrelevant and should only be used in very specific situations.

A student who can play a few pieces in my opinion isn't a Beginner, but an early intermediate player. A beginner is someone who can't do anything and is starting basically from scratch.


I would then leave it up to the students to decide whether they want to learn technique through exercises, through pieces, or a combination thereof. It's of no use to make a student go through exercises who absolutely hates them; other students like them a lot and thrive. It is the teacher's task to find out how to get a student to solve pianistic problems efficiently, and eventually on their own.

This is a little much I think to ask of a beginner student. They do not have the ability to discern what is good or bad for them at the piano yet. So to force them to play excersises to develop their failing fingers is I guess something the teacher must force down a beginners throat unless they object with tears. However I haven't yet had one beginner student object to excersises, only those more advanced who wave away my asking to warm up with excerises before playing. That is fair enough, they know what works for them, but a beginner cannot make these intelligent decisions just yet.

I have found experience is most important for the beginner. They must experience multiple ways of improving their hands. Through pieces and excerises are the only two impliments we have to practice our physical excecution. Improvistaion to improve technique is out of the question for beginners so i wont even consider that.  If I just teach pieces it seems as if they are missing a piece to their experience puzzle. Likewise if Excerises become a focus that is more detrimental because of its little musical value (controlling tempo, volume, quality of notes in a peice, structure etc).

Here's the thing. While I'm sure I don't have the finger dexterity of an advanced piano player, I've never had a lesson piece that was a dexterity challenge.

So on the one hand, practicing Hanon will do me zero good, because there is no opportunity to apply the improved technique that will presumably be obtained.

The idea of any excerises is NOT to increase the speed of your fingers, rather to improve the strength and balance of your fingers/hand as a whole. There lies a BIG difference, anyone can play notes fast but if it is balanced and controlled that is another question. The increase of speed/dexterity of your fingers are automatic as control/balance of notes in the hand increase. You cannot observe, Oh I can play it 4% faster now but you can definatly observe an increase of control in the hand. The notes feel underneath the hand, the fingers don't feel like they are isolated while playing playing invidivual notes, the hand feels balanced and you can sense where the centre of gravity of the hand is at all time.

Excerises for anyone aims to improve strength; to play a combination of notes with a combination of fingers which normally to you feel uncomfortable and to force it through consisitient practice to become comfortable. For instance some of my beginner students only play 3 different hanons, and that is what they practice with for a few years. These 3 I choose for them are usually

1) CEFGAGFE | DFGABAGF etc. Fingering going up keyboard RH:12345432 LH:54321234
aims for general balance of the entire hand playing a scale form

2) CDCD AGAG| DEDE BABA  etc. Going up keyboard RH:1212 5454  LH:5454 1212
aims to strengthen 4 and 5

3) CEAGFGFE| DFBAGAGF etc  RH:12543432 LH: 54123234
aims to strengthen the middle fingers

I find if these three are somewhat mastered by the student then that lies the foundation for most difficulties facing the beginner student in their early repetoire. I have beginners who grasp hold of all three after the first lesson, it isn't difficult, but when I show them the speed that you can generate with them and the balance of the hand while doing so, they get an idea of the distant goal they can achieve.

Actually, Hanon and similar exercises are not important at all. Beginners should be made aware of this so that they don’t fall into the “tradition” trap and blindly follow instructions without questioning them, wasting a lot of time in the process.

It is easy to show how unimportant Hanon is: Hanon first published his exercises in 1873. There are plenty of keyboard virtuosos (Handel, Bach and his sons, Scarlatti, Liszt, Chopin, etc. etc. etc.) who acquired their techniqne well before Hanon published his book. I rest my case. :D

That argument is somewhat flawled in my mind because I could then say; Beethoven got his supreme technique at the piano without Chopin Etudes, so Chopin Etudes are useless. And I am not only considering Hanon, all excerises as a whole, but Hanon seems to get the most Bagging!

The easiest answer is to design exercises based on the piece’s passages and related to the necessary movements for those passages. There are of course many other things one can do when teaching beginners – none of which involves Hanon. For instance:

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)

Agreed. However it seems that Hanon has written general forms in his excersises which tackle many problems beginners face. The three I mentioned in this post are very much all encompassing without any alterations to them to relate to the piece the student learns. I am not one to ask the student to methodically go through each and every hanon there is, I really find that ridiculous. But to touch the tip of the iceberg is very improtant for the beginners, a bored advanced student can go through and try the rest.

I agree in part. I disagree that piano “exercises” become obsolete as one progresses. Any piece that presents any passage that is challenging/difficult/impossible will always present right there an “exercise” for the pianist. However, abstract exercises – that is not in any way related to a particular piece – (Hanon, Pischna, Schmidth, Dohnanyi, Cortot) in my opinion have no place ever in one’s practice.

From my experience and from watching the methods my advanced students choose, excersises are not so much required to tackle a "difficult" section of a piece. Playing continually over the section in the piece works best. However, you may be faced with incredibly difficult problems if you play very difficult works, then yes if the progress of repetition is blurred, develop an excerises to act as a catalyst to increase the mastery over your difficulties. But remember we are talking about beginners, not those with experince at the keyboard.

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2192.msg21823.html#msg21823
(How to teach very young students – the historical method, the pragmatical  x logical method and total exposure as the best way for under-5s)

.... When they start learning their first proper pieces (using all fingers, right and left hand), to start with I let them use whatever fingers, positions they want. Then I show them an “easier” way. Correct fingering and hand position are “correct” exactly because they further facility. It should be easier and more natural to use the correct technique than the incorrect one. So there should be no problem for a child to switch from an incorrect to a correct technique. If there is a problem, then it is worth investigating if the technique you are trying to impose to a child is indeed correct, or if it is just a relic, a tradition that you were taught to be correct. (For instance, Hanon is completely incorrect – sorry, Hanon fans).

Again I feel this is right in one way but not completely right in the other. A beginner must learn general movements of the piano. The more EXPERIENCE they can draw upon the more tools they have to deal with their difficulties. Neglecting excersise to demonstrate a general movement and instead using pieces does work, but from my experience the learning curve is slower (since I did not teach hand excerises when I started teaching piano, but now I do.)

When one considers the "slow learning beginners" who do not completely appreciate the correct way to excecute something in their piece they learn, with Hanon they have a simple basic pattern with a contintually repeating theme to improve a constant weakness in their hand. They know with a few statements what the Hanon aims to improve and what fingers to use. However in a piece the technique requires to produce sound continually changes and does not maintain the same idea for long periods of time. While Hanon maintains a constant and helps the beginner student who can easily miss or not understand the changing details of their hands/fingers while playing their pieces.

So if a piece only for instance plays a 454 fingering 3 times throughout the piece, the student is not going to learn how to master this without some excerises to develop the 454 movement. Hanon in this case pops up to improve the fingers. Practicing the 454 movement in the piece over and over again might not have enough content for the slow learning beginner to absorb. Given more experience with the idea  and handing them excersises which demonstrate how to improve the weakness helps.


Now for the reason why Hanon (and like exercises) should be avoided (italics are quotes from Hanon himself):

1, Hanon, basic anatomical premise is totally false: “The central problem of piano playing is to make the fingers equal and independent”.
I think this statment is false anyway, but I still find the value of Hanon. If he invented a ..... baseball bat and said, this can hit a ball very far and that is the aim for most people using this, I can simply turn around and say, yes that is nice, but it isn't what I want to use it for, I think i can use this to defend myself against intruders nicely so I will practice how to use it that way. Hanon is used in my lessons to improve strength and balance of the hand, it has nothing to do with finger independance or eaqual finger strength in my opinion. Beginners find 454 hard because they do not know how to balance their hand at that point, they naturally feel uncomfrotable, where an experienced pianist playing 454 naturally feels balanced.

I am more on Chopin side: Each fingers is assigned a particular part. People do not notice uneveness of a scale when played very fast but they do notice when a finger does not produce a desired sound the piece asks for.

The statements from Hanon I find are simply HIS OPINION. However the musical notes written on the page of his excersies are very much subjective and interperative. These are 99% the valuable not so much the comments he writes in my mind. As well I do not agree with his comment that the student who masters all his excersises will have the ability to play everything in the piano repetiore. It just isn't the case but doesn't destroy the value of the actual notes that are written.

Hanon's comments are not to say, this is how you should practice the excersises. I didn't even know about his statements until having practiced Hanon for many years, when I did read them I disagreed with them but I still knew the value for Hanon on my own terms.
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Online thalbergmad

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #11 on: November 01, 2005, 09:36:58 PM »
Superb post lostinidlewonder.
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Offline contrapunctus

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #12 on: November 02, 2005, 03:59:16 AM »
Everybody who says that you need excercises to strengthen your hand and fingers IS WRONG. The muscles in begginer pianists' hands have EXACTLY the same strength as virtuosos'. What they don't have is the extra synapses in the brain that allows them to control those muscles. You only need to build your brain in order to gain technique because the muscle strength is ALREADY there. This is how child prodigies are able to play with virtuosity, they were born with the extra synapsis in the brain and did not need to build them. Hanon and other mindless excercises do not require thinking; therefore, they do not build synapsis, however playing repertoire does.
Medtner, man.

Offline sarahlein

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #13 on: November 02, 2005, 11:41:33 AM »
Quote
lostinidlewonder : The idea of any excerises is NOT to increase the speed of your fingers, rather to improve the strength and balance of your fingers/hand as a whole. There lies a BIG difference, anyone can play notes fast but if it is balanced and controlled that is another question. The increase of speed/dexterity of your fingers are automatic as control/balance of notes in the hand increase.

How does one know that something is unbalanced and lacks control?

lostidlewonder, I'm sure  you train your begginer students to "listen" and "feel" what they play.  At what point do you begin?

Why can't they learn control and balance, by working on sections that sound uncontroled and unbalanced, within the piece they are working on?
If they truly are beginners then their pieces won't be more than a few lines afterall! ; and we give them a musical reason to work on their problem.

Offline pantonality

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #14 on: November 02, 2005, 10:49:33 PM »
Hi All,

New member, not  a teacher, but avid player and composer. I find this discussion interesting because I found Hanon quite useful even though my teacher at the time didn't. I only practise the first 20 now and that's just to warm up, sometimes I only play 6 or 8 of them. What Hanon helped me with was relaxation.  I was a tense play from the wrist guy before I discovered Hanon (found the book in my late mother's collection of music). I started working through them and hit speed wall after speed wall. Started taking a few lessons and my teacher was working with me on relaxing my wrist. I found it easier to practise that when doing Hanon then when doing actual repertoire. Once I understood the technique I was able to utilize it in my other pieces.

So now when I do Hanon it's primarily as warm up and I find it useful to do things like play the 3rd exercise stacatto or use dotted rhythm. Hanon is just s set of patterns of dubious utility, but like anything it can be made useful and can serve unexpected purposes. I hope Bernhard doesn't tell me I'm crazy for using Hanon to warm up or that some other method would have helped my relaxation issues faster, because I'm happy with the progress I've made.

Cheers,

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Offline xvimbi

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #15 on: November 02, 2005, 11:39:50 PM »
What Hanon helped me with was relaxation.  I was a tense play from the wrist guy before I discovered Hanon (found the book in my late mother's collection of music). I started working through them and hit speed wall after speed wall. Started taking a few lessons and my teacher was working with me on relaxing my wrist. I found it easier to practise that when doing Hanon then when doing actual repertoire. Once I understood the technique I was able to utilize it in my other pieces.

So now when I do Hanon it's primarily as warm up and I find it useful to do things like play the 3rd exercise stacatto or use dotted rhythm. Hanon is just s set of patterns of dubious utility, but like anything it can be made useful and can serve unexpected purposes. I hope Bernhard doesn't tell me I'm crazy for using Hanon to warm up or that some other method would have helped my relaxation issues faster, because I'm happy with the progress I've made

Nobody is going to tell you you are crazy. I would like to know if you attribute your progress to the Hanon exercises themselves or to the fact that you went through them with a teacher who helped you work out the proper movements. If the latter, do you think you would have gotten the same benefits by playing any other set of basic exercises? If so, do you think you would have progressed similarly if you had gone through a few pieces with the same attention to technique that you used for going through Hanon?

I am trying to find out if the benefit that people often ascribe to Hanon is deemed to be due to the exercises themselves or whether it is the particular attitude adopted to carry out the exercises. I lean towards the latter, because I don't believe that Hanon has found THE 60 exercises that will make a virtuosic pianist. There are many sets of exercises out there, and different people swear by different exercises. This indicates to me that it is not really the particular set of exercises, but some other aspect.

Online thalbergmad

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #16 on: November 03, 2005, 12:17:43 AM »
Very interesting post xvimbi and yes, i do partly attribute my own technique to Hanon, albeit that i do not use it so much nowadays.

Whilst i accept what bernhard has said on other posts, that it is impossible to gain equal finger strength, i can see no reason why exercises like Hanon are not useful in freeing the fingers and developing more elasticity. I would also agree that you could achieve the same by playing Bach and Scarlatti.

It was interesting that the word tradition came up earlier, as i feel this is another reason why i use Hanon. When i was 5 years old i was told to use it and i have ever since.

Many years ago when i first attempted the brahms Paganini Variations, i struggled with the left hand thirds and right hand sixths. What did i do, well i got out my good ol Hanon and used the relevant exercises until i could play thirds and sixths all day long. It is true that i could have played the actual piece over and over again, but why should Brahms suffer, i would rather do the exercises.

I do find this subject fascinating and hope i have not wasted the last 35 years of my life using Hanon.

This is by far my longest and possibly most sensible post, so i am going to stop here.
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Offline xvimbi

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #17 on: November 03, 2005, 01:38:28 AM »
It was interesting that the word tradition came up earlier, as i feel this is another reason why i use Hanon. When i was 5 years old i was told to use it and i have ever since.

I won't repeat what Mahler said about "tradition" ;)

Quote
It is true that i could have played the actual piece over and over again, but why should Brahms suffer, i would rather do the exercises.

 ;D ;D ;D This is the single-best argument in favor of exercises I have ever heard ;D ;D ;D

Great post!

Offline rlefebvr

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #18 on: November 03, 2005, 04:14:56 AM »
I also think the length of the exercise is something that grabs you. The ones  I have used anyway have never been  more than 2 bars long. All concentration is on the hand position and the clarity of the sound and the speed. It is extremely easy to concentrate on you movement cause there really is nothing else to them. Very much the same feeling I get when I do scales and broken chords and so forth.
Ron Lefebvre

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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #19 on: November 03, 2005, 05:07:13 AM »
Before responding to any of the posts I might remind that I am considering Hanon and other excersises as extremly important for the BEGINNER. When there are statements which are along the lines, "Technique can be learnt from pieces." I totally agree with this whole heartedly. However I retract in horror when then the comment goes ahead and says, Excersises are therefore useless.

For the beginner there is usually a very slow learning rate to begin with, they cannot absorb pieces at a good pace just yet. They are trying to experience what it is to press keys down and how to control different qualities of sound. The more experience that the beginner can have with physical contact to the keyboard the faster their learning curve progresses.

If it takes a beginner say one month to totally memorise and excecute a simple piece, experienced pianists would say this takes a long time. When experienced pianists try to learn a piece they measure if a piece is taking too long and rather than waste time laboring on it, move to easier pieces, so that the amount of pieces learnt is kept at a good rate. However with beginner students it becomes difficult to reduce the difficulty of a piece when you are playing the most simple pieces. So how do we come about finding resource for the Beginner who needs something easier than easy pieces? The answer to me points to Hanon.

The muscles in begginer pianists' hands have EXACTLY the same strength as virtuosos'.

I disagree. If you line up 20 people and show me their hands I can tell you which ones play piano more than others. You can tell a pianist by many things but the enlarged muscle on the little finger side of the palm is the biggest indicator to me. Because pianists expand and contract their hands more, these muscles become developed. There is definatly a muscular strength associated with piano playing because otherwise we would be able to have full force of control when we are aged 90.

What they don't have is the extra synapses in the brain that allows them to control those muscles. You only need to build your brain in order to gain technique because the muscle strength is ALREADY there. Hanon and other mindless excercises do not require thinking; therefore, they do not build synapsis, however playing repertoire does.[/b]

This extra synapses is developed through experience. Again without repeating myself, experience from pieces are good, but slow if it is the only resource. You increase the amount of resource with Hanon and excersises thus increase the students rate of learning and tools at their disposal to deal with "tricky" fingering.

Excersises do require a lot of thinking, to play them intelligently and not only just the notes. Most people do not understand what it is to play with a balanced hand. Most people don't even consider where the centre of gravity, where the hand balances from, which fingers balance the hand and what increased control of playing means. Hanon is essentially excersises which drill particular difficulties that we may find in general piano playing.

How you actually balance a 454 movement for instance cannot be addressed in a peice for a new beginner. The focus of a peice wouldn't  be on 454, if it is you will overwhelm your beginner student and make them hate the piano. The peice may only look at the 454 movement a couple of times, this is where you must increase the Beginner students expreience with the 454 movement and make them drill it, and learn to feel BALANCE while playing it, thus they play Hanon. If you ask them only to drill the 454 in the piece they will not notice different positions of the 454 as Hanon explores. (since you don't have to only play the Hanon over C major scale, you can play on any scale)

However those who can start learning pieces at a good rate should use the experience from pieces rather than from exercises. This is logical. Most beginner do not have this option and must first develop their inexperienced fingers with Excersises. Once tricky fingering becomes naturally balanced and one learns to apply the control in peices, the student then is able to learn peices at a faster rate without bad fingering(movement)/balance hindering them.


How does one know that something is unbalanced and lacks control?

Balance comes from consciously knowing which note the hand moves around, or having a good sense of the form of the hand that the fingers must play, for example C minor arpeggio is a general shape and has particular balance and form to the hand.

Lack of control in my mind arises when the hand moves when it shouldn't have to. The hand should always be lazy and not want to move. The hand should be constantly controlling a group of notes instead of individual notes, good teachers can observe this difference by sight. When a student plays a piece you have taught extensively, or play yourself even, you know when the hand has to move, where it has to move and what it needs to control. You can sense when a finger strays from its controlling point or when the hand loses its sense of a center of gravity about some point. You can sense in fast scales if individual fingers are trying to stab at the notes or the notes are all pressed with one motion.

lostidlewonder, I'm sure  you train your begginer students to "listen" and "feel" what they play.  At what point do you begin?
From the beginning. The first lesson of a true beginner student I show them what is Legato, Staccato, accented Legato, accented Staccato all in the Chopin natural hand formation of RH 12345 on EGbAbBbB  LH 54321 on FGbAbBbC playing up the scale and down. I tell them that this is the natural hand form and the way I want their hand to feel when they play anything at the piano. Of course I tell them music sometimes tries to distort this shape but we have to try to maintain relaxation. This is often easily understood but the deep understanding of this takes a lifetime of playing experience and I don't expect them to think about that unless they choose one day to study more seriously the instrument.

Why can't they learn control and balance, by working on sections that sound uncontroled and unbalanced, within the piece they are working on?
If they truly are beginners then their pieces won't be more than a few lines afterall! ; and we give them a musical reason to work on their problem.

Learning control and balance from pieces is ideal however again Beginners require lots of sources of experience to develop their physical action to the piano. I teach Beginner students pieces which use Both hands at the same time, I don't waste any time with single hand pieces. If I only teach them pieces then certain actions which they haven't experienced yet will be difficult. I thus also use excersises as a phrophylactic, preventing future problems that may occur with certain combinations of fingers before they happen in their first piece which demands it. So for example 454 action might be trained before the student even plays a piece which demands it so when it is encountered in a piece it become a standard procedure as it should be.
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Offline xvimbi

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #20 on: November 03, 2005, 01:42:47 PM »
That was a very good post, lostinidlewonder. You pointed out a way of using Hanon that is underappreciated and in fact advocated even by many Hanon bashers. That is, one should use exercises in conjunction with real pieces. My biggest personal gripes with technical exercises is, first, that often, people attempt them without proper guidance, and second,  they do them in an isolated fashion. Often, they say "if I do exercises for a year, I will be able to play the piano". Hanon is then usually the first thing that comes to mind. That's why I believe, "Hanon", and whatever mindset it stands for, is a "waste of time", in the sense that this time could be used more productively. Exercises are not useless, unless not carried out properly, but the may waste time.

Then, still, there is an argument against "Hanon" as a set of exercises. The exercises themselves do not necessarily prepare one for real pieces. Let's say, a beginner stumbles into a certain, simple, technical problem that is not explicitely covered by any of the exercises. From that point of view, the exercises are useless. Let's say, that playing an exercise in a different key would indeed address that technical problem. How many people realize that? How many people play Hanon in all different keys, as it should be done to derive the greatest benefits? Unless a teacher points out those modifications, chances are a student will not realize that now the exercises are both useless and a waste of time.

However, there are strong arguments in favor of "Hanon" as a general approach. The approach specifies that for any technical problem in a real piece, one can design an exercise that addresses the issue specifically in the given musical context. That is the approach that I myself use a lot, and I believe Bernhard advocates it too. And that is really also the gist of your post, if I am not mistaken. To solve those issues, a specific Hanon exercise may be useful or not. The teacher will be able to tell, but doesn't really have to, because the teacher can very quickly write down an exercise or explain the general idea, so that the student can come up with an exercise on his/her own.

When advocating or doing Hanon as a set of exercises, I would presume that both teachers and students are often simply lazy, hoping that this shotgun approach will cover as much ground as possible ("Take this book. Do it for a month. Come back then"). "Lazy" is meant to say that they are not willing to take the time to think about the music, so a lot of the pellets will miss their target.

When, instead, advocating or doing technical exercises as an approach to tackle specific problems in conjunction with pieces, and in the musical context, I would hypothesize, one will derive much greater benefits. In this case, it may be surprising how many exercises that would come in handy are NOT in Hanon's book. It may be worthwhile to design well thought-out musical exercises specifically for a number of beginner's pieces.

Offline stringoverstrung

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #21 on: November 03, 2005, 02:56:15 PM »
Back to basics (i will certainly repeat some things that have been said in this thread):

the quintessence of an exercise is that you focus on one difficulty and eliminate others in order to be able to conquer this one problem quickly.

Example: in tennis you will train forehand to forehand. this is clearly an exercise: a simplified version of the real game. This eliminates the problem of having to determine if you need to hit a backhand or a forehand. Thus you save time and you have more time to concentrate on the proper movement  of your forehand which will lead to a better forehand with less effort and less time.

Same for piano exercise. HOWEVER:
with piano exercise you should never get rid of one essential element: the musicality !!! Why? Because it is one of the ultimate goals.
This would be like doing the forehand forehand exercise without a ball: one goal of every exercise in tennis must be hitting the ball!  :)
This said a beginner will make a forehand swing without a ball to "get the feel of it". But after a few lessons a ball will always be involved. This is namely the big problem: hit the ball. Same in piano: the big problem is not hitting the notes but caress them "gracefully musically". (read about what Horowitz says about feeling the tone)

For our musical exercise this means:
- Hanon is not ideal: you can loose musicality all too easily because of the "drill" element in it (too long, monotonous)
- it is better to look for a book with shorter and more varied number of drills. My favourite is Marguerite Long (not the first page) and not abstracted as technique (read Bernhard's post above)
- even better method is: Choose a piece (quality piece that is musical) you want to learn. Identify your technical problems. Search exercises (eg in Long's book) that address the problem. Play them every day for a short time in a musical way (and think about how it will sound in your piece) before you practice your piece. Drawback of this method is that the technique you can transfer is very specific and limited to the situation. You must pay attention and be very knowledgeable!



Now this method has already materialised (musical pieces addressing specific problems with special exercises tailored to the piece) in a book. It is called "Chopin OP 10 and OP25 édition de travail" by Alfred Cortot. "All" you have to do is transpose and analyse Cortot's exercises into this millenium's knowledge of anatomy and piano technique. I read somewhere there's an even better preparation but i forgot the name. Maybe someone can help me out here.

I do not know of any similar method for beginners. Anyone?

Ssome advocate Hanon for "endurance, strength etc..."
Think about this: there is no professional tennis player that primarily builds up his endurance, strength etc by hitting the ball: he/she does it off court! (fitness, hill climb, power lifting, spinning, etc...). it is possible doing it by hitting the ball but:
- it is not time effective
- it might lead to injuries (hitting a ball is not a symmetrical procedure for your muscles)


Conclusion: piano drills yes but not without a ball!!    :D

Offline pantonality

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #22 on: November 03, 2005, 08:24:00 PM »
I am trying to find out if the benefit that people often ascribe to Hanon is deemed to be due to the exercises themselves or whether it is the particular attitude adopted to carry out the exercises. I lean towards the latter, because I don't believe that Hanon has found THE 60 exercises that will make a virtuosic pianist. There are many sets of exercises out there, and different people swear by different exercises. This indicates to me that it is not really the particular set of exercises, but some other aspect.
Thanks for the opportunity to clarify. I didn't really do the Hanon with my teacher because he didn't believe in them. I took what he said about playing relaxed and applied it to the exercises myself. I also applied some wisdom acquired elsewhere as I indicated in my first post. I've changed the rhythm (to dotted), I've changed the articulation (stacatto), I've added accents (always 4th and 2nd fingers). In that way I've made the exercises more interesting and heightened the challenges inherent in the exercises. Did Hanon come up with THE 60 exercises? Of course not! But I haven't used any others, though I have seen a few. I frankly think playing any pattern of 16th notes consistently would do the trick. It's easy to over intellectualize things, but if there's one feature of these exercises that really helped me it's the sheer amount of work, all 16th notes for both hands. That gets every finger working good and hard and that's why I still use them as a warm up. If there's an aspect of Hanon that's perhaps a disappointment it's the lack of accidentals, who plays in C all the time?

Cheers,

Steve
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #23 on: November 05, 2005, 01:36:29 AM »
The exercises themselves do not necessarily prepare one for real pieces. Let's say, a beginner stumbles into a certain, simple, technical problem that is not explicitly covered by any of the exercises. From that point of view, the exercises are useless.

The three hanon which I described in one of my previous post are generally the only Hanon I get beginners to look at. I also give them some variations of these hanon if required eg: if they find it hard to keep their 1st and 5th above their notes while playing the 1st hanon CEFGAGFE, I get them to play it  (CE)FGA(CA)GFE. rh (12)345(15)432 .

I then tell them while playing pieces to notice where the thumb and 5th remain while you play the string of notes and make them mark on the score when the hand has to move and when it stick in position and which note, which finger balance the position. I spoon feed a lot of this information to the beginner in hope that they realise it the more they hear it and learn to make the decision themselves.

The hanon however forms a basic understanding of how the Beginner should control their hand at the keyboard. A beginner may be first only able to play 4 bars of music, and with that with a lot of errors. They perhaps cannot even read music so they hope to remember what they learnt with you in their first lesson. However if they have this excersise something that has a simple pattern which moves all over the piano, this gives the beginner something they can actually do at the piano, even if it sounds shaky and unsteady, at least their fingers are finally moving at the keyboard and their experience is increasing. This to me is an extremely important first step, to get the fingers playing all over the keyboard. It must be done with excersises because the beginner cannot learn enough of the piece to do it for them.

The first few hanon of course does not teach the beginner how to play chords, or to play intervals etc, but it gives them an understanding of what balance/control of a group of notes feels like. This I find is a very fundamental concept of piano playing, to be able to play a group of notes without thinking of the individual notes, knowing where the 1st and 5th in the hand rest while playing your notes. This is the thought process that sometimes DOES NOT EXIST in the beginner. They are thinking of every single note. One must try to break this single note observation thought process and train controlling groups of notes, excersises which are quick and easy to learn also drills the idea of "playing notes without thinking about them" as quick as possible.


However, there are strong arguments in favor of "Hanon" as a general approach. The approach specifies that for any technical problem in a real piece, one can design an exercise that addresses the issue specifically in the given musical context. That is the approach that I myself use a lot, and I believe Bernhard advocates it too. And that is really also the gist of your post, if I am not mistaken. To solve those issues, a specific Hanon exercise may be useful or not. The teacher will be able to tell, but doesn't really have to, because the teacher can very quickly write down an exercise or explain the general idea, so that the student can come up with an exercise on his/her own.
I do not really wish a beginner to think of hanon as a vaccine against the many technical problems that they may face in their early repertoire. Instead I want them to use excerises as a daily habit to develop their inexperienced fingers and get them controlling groups of notes with one motion instead of individual fingers. For the Beginner this experience is very important.

The first few Hanon are a study in itself for the beginner, these slowly fade away into a warm up for the fingers which fades further away to something you only do now and then, which is then revived and used with modifications so it has application to pieces you play, like practicing ....  thirds for example.

I do not labor in making the excerises musical, I may perhaps change the rhythm or put accents on the particular fingers which are being trained in the excersise, but other than that I wouldn't ask for volume dynamics or anything like trying to mould one to a piece they are trying to learn.

When advocating or doing Hanon as a set of exercises, I would presume that both teachers and students are often simply lazy, hoping that this shotgun approach will cover as much ground as possible ("Take this book. Do it for a month. Come back then"). "Lazy" is meant to say that they are not willing to take the time to think about the music, so a lot of the pellets will miss their target.

We could then argue that learning scales and the major/minor chords are useless because they are shot gun approach which they are. They cover the general structure of notes which you find in music. Hanon as well covers a very principle movement of the individual fingers controlling a group of notes. People have to realise when playing any excersise we are not thinking of moving the individual fingers but thinking how we are going to go about playing the group of notes with one motion of the balanced hand.

When, instead, advocating or doing technical exercises as an approach to tackle specific problems in conjunction with pieces, and in the musical context, I would hypothesize, one will derive much greater benefits. In this case, it may be surprising how many exercises that would come in handy are NOT in Hanon's book. It may be worthwhile to design well thought-out musical exercises specifically for a number of beginner's pieces.
There are of course many changes to the excersise we can make but a movement like the first Hanon CEFGAGFE has enough content for the beginner to start with. I personally do not feel it important to search for the ultimate excerise or ultimate musical application because I see the immediate PHYSICAL benefit of the first few Hanon for the hands of the beginner, and can see which fingers it is training and developing. I aim for 45 balance, middle finger balance and general scale balance, thus I use only three Hanon for the beginner making sure they know that these three things are being drilled in each one. These three basic movements are all that is needed for now for the beginner as a matter of their single finger movements at the piano. Their chord trainings and arpeggio, interval playing of course is another matter. Hanon is not all encompassing nor is any other single practice at the piano. I find if these basic movements are not drilled, this sets up the beginner for natural bad playing, where if they are drilled a more natural form of the hand occurs and playing is more controlled.

I've changed the rhythm (to dotted), I've changed the articulation (stacatto), I've added accents (always 4th and 2nd fingers). In that way I've made the exercises more interesting and heightened the challenges inherent in the exercises. If there's an aspect of Hanon that's perhaps a disappointment it's the lack of accidentals, who plays in C all the time?

For lots of you much more experienced pianists you find a big dissapointment in the simplicity of hanon. Of course you are right you should change it make it musical, change the scale in which you play it. This is if it interests you and you find benefit in it, a lot of the advanced pianists don't like to waste time with excersises and prefer to study their pieces, but I think all of us could do with good warm up procedure. The Beginner however must learn from somewhere. C major isn't ideal, more black and less white would be better, but i feel playing in the most uncomfortable position (all white notes) is good training so you can learn to appreciate how the black notes act as strong balance points for the hand while playing.
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Offline contrapunctus

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #24 on: November 05, 2005, 04:27:14 AM »
The basic fact that Hanon makes you do the exact same thing hands together completely robs it of its validity. While you right hand is breezing along, your left hand is struggling to keep up. This makes the right hand better and the left hand worse in the grand scheme of things.
Medtner, man.

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #25 on: November 06, 2005, 01:36:55 AM »
i think lostinidlewonder is playing devil's advocate somewhat because as i see it, he recognizes the validity tremendously of listening and feeling what you play - yet at the same time values the neural connections that have to be established at a young age to help the fingers to do what the brain tells them.  starting out with both hands together frees the brain to concentrate more on similarities than differences between what the hands are doing.

being that i broke my right leg and am now stuck on the couch, i will make a short post somewhat longer.  i have watched sesame street with increased interest and found that the little jazz session between the hoot owl and the saxophonist food for thought.  if teachers not only used connective exercises to increase stamina, but also hearing exercises (where the teacher plays 3-5  notes and then asks the student to imitate) might increase the students ability to hear intervals, rhythms, and inflections all at the same time.  a continuous exercise of this sort for a total of five minutes might be highly effective.  sort of like suzuki, but not playing entire phrases until much later. 

i wish there were more exercise books that focused on hand relaxation, too.  it seems that they are all 'out there' to improve some sort of weakness in the hand, instead of just accepting the comfort zone of the hand and trying to work within it.  chopin seemed to fully understand what the hand was capable of - and kept working it flatter and flatter.  showing beginning students how comfortable playing on the five black notes seems to be a good way to accept the feel of relaxation and ease of a natural hand position.  gradually stretching the hand (year by year) seems much more effective than quick fixes that might hurt the hand or muscles.  hanon is very careful this way, versus other methods that try to attain too much independence too soon, and too much stretching before the student fully learns to relax their neck, arms, wrists and hands.

i am agreed about imagination, though, and realize that a steady diet of hanon could make any sane person crazy in a matter of months.  an absolute beginner is different even than a student of a month or two.  these exercises can be a sort of warm up jog before a practice and not a method exercise per se.  five finger exercises are somewhat the same.   easily reached, can be practiced in contrary motion, and give you a sort of meditative exercise before harder ex. are attempted.

Offline PaulNaud

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #26 on: December 01, 2005, 03:27:09 AM »
It seems to me to be of greater importance that the time of our disposal should be applied to study as many classical works as possible, such as sonatas by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, and so forth.
Everybody will admit that such musical compositions are of higher value than even the best exercices, and that an accurate study of these works will afford a much better insight into the individuality of the composer, thus creating in the player an ever growing enthusiasm for the same.
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Offline jamie_liszt

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #27 on: December 01, 2005, 11:53:21 AM »
I play major, harmonic and melodic minor, arpeggios, chromatic, octave, 6ths etc scales, if you do scales should you also try hanon aswell as scales, or is scales enough!

and if so, is hanon for just beginniners, or can more experienced players get use out of it...

Offline sauergrandson

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #28 on: December 04, 2005, 12:20:08 AM »
SCales, arpeggios, chords, are very important. But Hanon???????   


Few months with:

Bach: Little preludes and fugues, (Bach, always Bach, until heaven)
Clementi: sonatinas op. 36, 37, 38
Mozart: Viennese sonatinas
Grieg

are better than years with Hanon, Czerny 599, and the 'deaf pianos'.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #29 on: December 04, 2005, 11:03:11 AM »
Careful you don't miss the point of the post.
SCales, arpeggios, chords, are very important. But Hanon???????


Few months with:
Bach: Little preludes and fugues, (Bach, always Bach, until heaven)
Clementi: sonatinas op. 36, 37, 38
Mozart: Viennese sonatinas
Grieg

are better than years with Hanon, Czerny 599, and the 'deaf pianos'.

Someone who hasn't played piano before, say a 5 year old child or an "unmusical" adult of 60 who never played an instrument in their life, will generally find playing  easy selections of Bach, Clementi or Mozart in their first months of playing piano extremely difficult. Finger excersises still stand as the most easiest method to develop fingers then because they can be learnt instantly and improvements or inefficiencies of technique are very quickly noticed.

Scales and arepeggios and chords should definatly be learnt but these do not in detail train particular fingers movements. For example the 545 weakness in the beginner hand cannot be resolved with any scale or arpeggio or chord, only excersise which works on that motion.

If the physical nature of playing something on the piano causes problems, then this distracts us a great deal from listening to the sound that we are producing from the instrument. All beginners struggle with the physical aspect of piano playing, it is to them the biggest challenge instead of the sound, doing excersises prepares and acts as a preventative against physical difficulties one might find between the fingers so that they may perhaps focus the sound quality when playing pieces not studying the particular physical action for the first time.

Of course chords, arepggio etc all train the hand to notice general shapes that we encounter in all music, but a second part of this "general playing" training is to know how to use conbinations of fingers effectively, how to play a string of notes in any pattern with confidence. This must be targeted with excerises first, then once a few studies or simple peices are memorised they replace excerises. But one shouldn't try to learn pieces if they have no finger dexterity and haven't practiced basic fingering patterns.

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Offline leahcim

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #30 on: December 04, 2005, 11:16:59 AM »
Someone who hasn't played piano before, say a 5 year old child or an "unmusical" adult of 60 who never played an instrument in their life, will generally find playing  easy selections of Bach, Clementi or Mozart in their first months of playing piano extremely difficult. Finger excersises still stand as the most easiest method to develop fingers then because they can be learnt instantly and improvements or inefficiencies of technique are very quickly noticed.

I'm not 5 or 60, but the only thing I've found extremely difficult is finding out what the "correct" movements are supposed to be amongst all the "move your wrist" "No don't", "play hanon" "no don't" etc etc.

Playing incorrectly, whatever it is, or indeed whether I am or not, a "piece" by Hanon or Mozart or Bertie Bassett isn't really the issue. I can pick a piece, maybe a 5yo can't, but I suspect a 60yo can.

Although there's not much in the lower grades for classical that's much better than exercises from my pov [although I know that's subjective]

So afaict it's a debate arguing about something that doesn't matter - "what to play" when the big problem from the pov of learning is finding a teacher that knows how to teach you "how to play" - whether they give you a piece, or Hanon or let the 60 year old pick one - his/her biggest problem will be staying alive long enough to find a good teacher.

Although I agree with you in the sense that some of the replies seem to start in the middle of learning to play. There seems a few threads revcently that have shifted from the thousands of long posts that have talked directly and specifically about movements to one line methodologies stating that the only thing you need to do is focus on the music.

I think what you're saying is at least returning back to sanity for those that haven't got the movements to the point where they don't need to focus on them [and haven't found the teacher like Bernhard who claims to teach it in 2 days or whatever it was]

I'd sooner be playing some mundane exercise well, comfortably etc rather than some Bach or Mozart pieces badly [or worse, in pain]. I can learn to play Bach and Mozart badly for free quite easily by myself from the sheet music [or even find a teacher that'll sit there explaining what's wrong with the piece from the music pov [most of which I can tell anyway] but without really having a clue why it is wrong and what to tell me to do about it - which is pretty much something we both share ignorance of and the only reason for having a teacher in the first place]

Offline sauergrandson

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #31 on: December 04, 2005, 04:10:41 PM »


I agree. But.... It's very important to have the guide of a teacher. Self-teaching must be very careful, and slow.

Offline leahcim

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #32 on: December 04, 2005, 05:24:59 PM »
It's very important to have the guide of a teacher.

If you'd said a good teacher I'd agree.

I don't know any though :)

Self-teaching is the same as having a bad teacher [unless you're a good teacher] - From the pov of movements though you've at least got the advantage of being connected to your arms and being aware that there is something you don't know how to do, but wish to learn, in the first place.

So you might read a few books etc in an attempt to learn, whereas the bad teacher may be blissfully unaware and teaching the way that they were taught - perhaps even successfully with some folk.

Offline Jacey1973

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #33 on: December 04, 2005, 06:52:46 PM »
I never did exercises - but i always feel perhaps i missed out?

My technique was never my strong point when i was younger, but i feel its much better these days.

I still think my left hand could be sronger.

Could anyone recommend exercises for more advanced students - i mean i have various exercise books which ive rarely used, because i feel overwhelmed. There are so many out there, i really wouldn't know where to start - which exercises improve which technique?

And i'm not sure what part of my technique i need to improve, but i feel i should be doing something!

My current teacher says not to bother with exercises as i can learn through the pieces i'm studying. But i wouldn't mind having a look what's out there.
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Offline g_s_223

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #34 on: December 04, 2005, 07:06:41 PM »
The Dohnanyi "Essential Exercises" are worth a look, and cover a wide area of piano technique.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #35 on: December 05, 2005, 01:36:56 AM »
Although there's not much in the lower grades for classical that's much better than exercises from my pov [although I know that's subjective]

There is is nothing simpler than exersises or as effective. But you cannot start comparing the value of pieces to exerises because it is like comparing apples to oranges. Exerises are there to develop the physical execution, pieces are there to musically develop the listening and sound production and also in the background there is that physical execution but the majority of the physical should have been ironed out with initial experience with exersises for single finger movements and arpeggios, chords for general shapes at the piano.

....it's a debate arguing about something that doesn't matter - "what to play" when the big problem from the pov of learning is finding a teacher that knows how to teach you "how to play" - whether they give you a piece, or Hanon or let the 60 year old pick one - his/her biggest problem will be staying alive long enough to find a good teacher.

Beginners cannot pick or choose what the want to do musically. First of all the physical nature of playing is beyond them and must be trained. What is naturally uncomfortable to play on the keyboard has to be trained to become a natural action. Exerises drill unnatural movement where pieces only look at uncomfortable actions at the keyboard in small amounts. A piece which had say, 454 fingers all over it would be murder for a beginner, so teaching a hanon which develops 454 is much friendlier. It is asking too much of a beginner to play 454 musically in a piece if they can even physically do it in an excersise!

Experienced pianists are not scared to see long strings of notes because they have the facility to deal with it, break it down and physically control each movement group (when the hand has to move and when it controls one point with a centre of gravity controlling a group of notes instead of the individual notes). Give a beginner some long strings of single notes and they will look at it in horror, trying to remember each and every single note with each invididual finger. They do not have the concept of absorbing groups of notes with one action of the hand, if they do then they are physicaly challenged to control it. Excerises clearly define movement groups, you know when you have to control a point and when you have to move to the next without rushing or trying to get there too early.

Of course a good teacher is important, who is to say it isnt! But some teachers even neglect Hanon for beginners! Who is to say what is right and wrong, there are some people who never play excersises and they play wonderfully. I am arguing that they could have developed faster in the first years of playing if they focused on excerises daily until their fingers where nice and strong.

Hanon is simply weight excersises for the hands, I notice such muscular weakness in beginner hands. Perhaps not all the time physical weakness but almost always control weakness. They do not know how to control a group of notes and keep the hand controlled at one point while playing the group of notes. Beginners tend to let individual notes effect the hand. Excerises are used to train the idea of playing a group of notes in one action instead of individual notes, a concept that we must use when playing pieces, a concept most beginners do not initially have or ever have experienced.

I think what you're saying is at least returning back to sanity for those that haven't got the movements to the point where they don't need to focus on them [and haven't found the teacher like Bernhard who claims to teach it in 2 days or whatever it was]

I'd sooner be playing some mundane exercise well, comfortably etc rather than some Bach or Mozart pieces badly [or worse, in pain]. I can learn to play Bach and Mozart badly for free quite easily by myself from the sheet music [or even find a teacher that'll sit there explaining what's wrong with the piece from the music pov [most of which I can tell anyway] but without really having a clue why it is wrong and what to tell me to do about it - which is pretty much something we both share ignorance of and the only reason for having a teacher in the first place]

Physical relaxation in the body is a life long exploration when playing piano. A good teacher must be able to just by looking at the student playing observe physical inefficiencies in their playing (as well as musical but it is the physical we are concerned with in this post). What these inefficiencies are is way too large to list just as musical inaccuracies. Eg: it could be that the musical student does not lift the hand enough to move to the next group of notes, or perhaps they do not effectively control their centre of gravity about a point while playing a string of notes, perhaps their wrist is concrete and unmoveable, perhaps they do not understand how to come from above a note instead of coming to it side on, perhaps they do not understand how to use balancing nature of the thumb or natural strengh of it etc etc.

Excersies only target fingering combinations that you may find in pieces, but to play peices with your own ultimate technique of course requires years of practice. YEARS. Not days. Just practicing excerises will not do it for you, you will not magically after 10 years of hanon practice say, I CAN PLAY ANYTHING NOW!!! That is stupid. Excerises are not that powerful, but it is somewhere beginners must start to get some idea of developing physical efficiency to deal with groups of notes and to make someone natrually difficult for the hand a natural response. Excerises also give those who now want to consider how to improve their physical action at the piano something to study. A peice goes through too much and does not focus on a particular fingering action, so it is good for experienced players to test themselves with Excerises to see if they actually can do all general actions at the piano with a natural excecution.

No one can physically master a piece in days, they can fool themselves and think so, and perhaps even it might be the best they can play which is very sad and says a lot about how good they really are. It never ends the improvement to your music, both musically and physically. Musically you refine the ideas balance your expression, don't do things too much over the top or neglect it, find that "perfect" balance, phsycially we are constantly trying to make our playing more and more automatic so that we forget about the notes and focus on sound. You cannot just forget about notes and create an automatic response in the hand to deal with it instantly (unless you are very talented and your brain can use the muscular memory of the hand with great efficiency) but even then you have the 2nd wall of musical refinement which along side physical refinement have infinite exploration.

I think after 21 years of knowing "chopsticks" on the piano I still haven't perfected it :) It is not about perfection anyway, you can make music enjoyable for 99% of the people in this world even if you don't play at perfection (which is impossible anyway). A few people are tied up about "the best" or comparing this person with that and saying who is better, this is stupid in my mind because all music is unique and impossible to mimic. I cannot play a piece the way you play it, you cannot play it the way I play it, but we all strive for the same perfection. I personally find it facinating the different levels of perfection we are all at and how it develops, its probably why I am a music teacher lol!

I find a lot of the times people know what is wrong with what they are doing but do not know how to train it away. There is always a way to train your difficulties away and make difficult notes automatically played. A teacher is usually best, but if we stop and think closely about small section in a piece which troubles us we should be able to work out a way. So long it doesn't feel uncomfrotable to the hand it cannot be wrong.

If I may consider CHESS for a second. We train ourselves in chess in many ways but one way is to do lots and lots of puzzles, positions which are set up and you have to consider the best move. This trains the chess player to understand how to see positions in their own games as a puzzle and always search for the win, it develops their tactics etc etc. In piano, excerises like Hanon are like these chess puzzles. It trains our mind to understand things that we will come across in our own peices we play.

I never did exercises - but i always feel perhaps i missed out?

My technique was never my strong point when i was younger, but i feel its much better these days.

I still think my left hand could be sronger.

Could anyone recommend exercises for more advanced students - i mean i have various exercise books which ive rarely used, because i feel overwhelmed. There are so many out there, i really wouldn't know where to start - which exercises improve which technique?

And i'm not sure what part of my technique i need to improve, but i feel i should be doing something!

My current teacher says not to bother with exercises as i can learn through the pieces i'm studying. But i wouldn't mind having a look what's out there.
Etudes = musical excerises. Chopin, Liszt etudes are bread and butter for pianists wishing to extend their technique. I personally realy like J.B Cramer Burlow studies as well but most teachers consider a lot of the technical and note combinations found in that not so important.

I wouldn't bother with any repetitive excerises such as Hanon unless it targets a specific action you are not satisifed with in your own playing. More experienced pianists should develop their own excerises to deal with their problems in pieces they face instead of playing prescribed excerises. Your teacher is right in saying not to waste time with excerises but I think they can act as a confidence builder sometimes. I wasn't particularly happy with my thirds action so I would practice them in Hanon all the time as well as in peices which contained them. But the Hanon was nice to practice when I didn't want to bother about the sound quality but instead want to make the physical action more automatic and effortless.
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Offline leahcim

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #36 on: December 05, 2005, 02:19:32 AM »
Beginners cannot pick or choose what the want to do musically. First of all the physical nature of playing is beyond them and must be trained. What is naturally uncomfortable to play on the keyboard has to be trained to become a natural action. Exerises drill unnatural movement where pieces only look at uncomfortable actions at the keyboard in small amounts. A piece which had say, 454 fingers all over it would be murder for a beginner, so teaching a hanon which develops 454 is much friendlier. It is asking too much of a beginner to play 454 musically in a piece if they can even physically do it in an excersise!

Well, the fact the beginner is playing the piano and not the trumpet, and is playing classical not blues suggests they can pick and choose :) But I guess that's not really what you meant.

But y'see I'd want to know before inventing that I have problem with 454 because that's what beginner's have, how I am supposed to play 254 or 154 or 111232343243545.

I don't have any more problem playing 454 than 121 though. But both are a problem. I can't play 4 or 1 or 2. Because I have no idea what to move to do it "properly" -  fingers?, arms?, wrists?, shoulders?, forearms? rotate wrist?, move wrist up and down? let my fingers "just fall" [fall from where? do I lift my arm up first, from the wrist, from the forearm, from the shoulder or lift the finger  by rotating the hand or not by rotating the hand?] or "use the whole weight of my body from the toes" etc etc etc.

I'm baffled, completely baffled. And the more I read about it the more baffled I am :)

Take this for example :-
http://users.bigpond.net.au/nettheim/weight.htm

The same thing written differently, or a complete different thing called the same thing?
It's got wrist movements that others will tell you cause injury, it says movement focuses on the fingers, others say the primary thing is the arm.

But that one page, actually talks about what moves where and how - so I bet it's wrong :)

The solution is supposedly "get a good teacher" and I wish I could find one :)

Of course I can press the keys in some fashion- I can even play a few tunes and snippets that people would recognise as Bach's invention #1, fur elise, intro to rondo alla turka etc etc.

You've done what my teacher did [soon to be ex-teacher] [albeit you aren't teaching me personally here], but you've assumed what the problems are going to be.

"Playing 454 is a problem" is what she says too [or at least 4 is there] - although this is one aspect where I concur fully with Bernhard, because I've not seen what the problem over and above the problem with the other 4 fingers is supposed to be?

You go on to make some good points however. Except for the Chess analogy perhaps, you don't need to wiggle your arms around in some mysterious unknown way to play chess, and pretty much every aspect of the game you could teach someone who wasn't physically present because of that - as a result it's pretty easy to find copious amounts of stuff w.r.t improving your game, how to play, puzzles and their answers [and in the same way maths and computer programming etc] That is true of piano playing for perhaps all aspects except for physically playing it at least from what I've seen.

Offline bearzinthehood

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #37 on: December 05, 2005, 05:31:29 AM »
Why must there be a universal set of exercises?  From every passage come a multitude of fantastic exercises, from mirroring to transposition, changing fingering, adding pedal points, etc.  Doing exercises from a book sucks the fun right out of what could possibly be a very enjoyable experience.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #38 on: December 05, 2005, 07:47:36 AM »
I don't have any more problem playing 454 than 121 though. But both are a problem. I can't play 4 or 1 or 2. Because I have no idea what to move to do it "properly" -  fingers?, arms?, wrists?, shoulders?, forearms? rotate wrist?, move wrist up and down? let my fingers "just fall" [fall from where? do I lift my arm up first, from the wrist, from the forearm, from the shoulder or lift the finger  by rotating the hand or not by rotating the hand?] or "use the whole weight of my body from the toes" etc etc etc.

I'm baffled, completely baffled. And the more I read about it the more baffled I am :)

There is only one physical problem and that is balance. If you can balance your hand and can "feel" this balance while playing a naturally uncomfortable finger combination you will somewhat make improvement in your ability to produce that action. This applies for anything, the simplest piece to the hardest piece in the world. If the fingers deform unnecessarily, moving away from the natural relaxed hand posture then we are acting against the natural way to play a passage.

This is not to say that we should not push our hands to limits. We should constantly encourage our hands to stretch further. Very recently I have one older student who is mid 50s who just could reach an octave when we first started, I have been with her for 3 years and now she expands her hand and how she can catch the edge and play a 9th and feel comfortable. How did this happen? By pushing aside the fear of playing octaves (becasue they where hard for her) and start playing lots of pieces with octaves and even 9th and 10ths which she had to play detach of course but this encourages the hand to stretch.

How to maintain comfort relaxation when we physically push our hands, that is the key to our problems not the notes themselves they are to be memorised then we form our relaxed action around them. How is our hand balanced when we play large chords or big arpeggios in complex pieces, how is our hand balanced when it played large strings of notes all over the keyboard, how is our hand balanced when we play the most simple action 12345 CDFEG, it is all the same. Centre of gravity about particular fingers which are used to control a group of notes is the key, excerises like Hanon for the beginner highlights what this concept is.

Not many peices for beginners use a pattern and play it progresively up and down the keyboard, but excerises do and thus train balance and give a concept of a centre. Pieces change too much in physical action, fingering is not simple but complex and changing (it would sound like and excerises otherwise), excerises keep a simple idea and doesn't move from it. Keeping it simple for beginners is important, and this is the simplest way to decribe a very complex idea of balance which will always be the monkey on our back thoughout our piano playing lives.

You've done what my teacher did [soon to be ex-teacher] [albeit you aren't teaching me personally here], but you've assumed what the problems are going to be.
I havent assumed anything. 545 is a weakness for most people starting out. If that isn't your weakness then I am sure I can find something else. I can also show you a set of all my own weaknesses physically at the piano, they might not be as simple as 545 but they are still all the same, a weakness and issue of balance and control.

If a student can play 545, can play a balanced 12345 54321 and can play balanced middle fingers 434 and 232, I am satisfied enough not to harass them with more excerises and instead focus on pieces. However I will make adjustments to the three basic hanon I give to suit the students weakness. I have already described that in previous posts so I wont repeat myself.

You go on to make some good points however. Except for the Chess analogy perhaps, you don't need to wiggle your arms around in some mysterious unknown way to play chess, and pretty much every aspect of the game you could teach someone who wasn't physically present because of that - as a result it's pretty easy to find copious amounts of stuff w.r.t improving your game, how to play, puzzles and their answers [and in the same way maths and computer programming etc] That is true of piano playing for perhaps all aspects except for physically playing it at least from what I've seen.

It is more of a concept relating the study of Chess to Piano. Studying Chess puzzles can be extremely boring, it is not playing a real game of chess, but it is using chess thought. Studying piano Excerises too is not piano playing but it is studying how to play the piano. You start playing the piano when you start playing a peice, you start playing chess when you start your first move against a real opponent. But we prepare ourselves, set our minds in the right direction. Chess puzzles makes us think chess, piano excersies makes us thing about piano things (balance, dexterity, mastering basic physical movements).

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Offline leahcim

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #39 on: December 05, 2005, 11:05:09 AM »
There is only one physical problem and that is balance. If you can balance your hand and can "feel" this balance while playing a naturally uncomfortable finger combination you will somewhat make improvement in your ability to produce that action. This applies for anything, the simplest piece to the hardest piece in the world. If the fingers deform unnecessarily, moving away from the natural relaxed hand posture then we are acting against the natural way to play a passage.

Yes, hopefully you can now see how evasive and elusive this information is even in your own words :) [I can now add "balance hand" - whatever that means and "feel that balance" to the list of things I'm supposed to do ;) ]

[As an aside, I note quite often there's only ever "one thing" in piano playing it's never the same thing though :) ]

Quote
I havent assumed anything. 545 is a weakness for most people starting out.  If that isn't your weakness then I am sure I can find something else.

That is an assumption :) It wouldn't be that difficult to find something else though, was that not glaringly obvious from my post? :)

However the fact that the particular assumption mentioned is one of the myths that Hanon is supposed to tackle aiui - at least in the way it's supposed to achieve that aim. That is one of the reasons why Bernhard and a few others have criticised its use aiui - because it's not something you can tackle per se. That probably explains some of conflict you observe.

Offline leahcim

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #40 on: December 05, 2005, 11:45:18 AM »
Why must there be a universal set of exercises?  From every passage come a multitude of fantastic exercises, from mirroring to transposition, changing fingering, adding pedal points, etc.  Doing exercises from a book sucks the fun right out of what could possibly be a very enjoyable experience.

I don't think a universal set.

But from my own experience, what I expected to happen with a new piece from a teacher happened. I wanted to play the simple pieces I already knew, exercises right back to basics to learn movements.

Fun? That's not the goal. I can have that later if need be, or go to the pub or something.

Besides, the frustration of making no progress doesn't make playing Beethoven or Mozart or pieces any more "fun" than anything else [and there isn't much fun in beginning classical afaict - certainly not if you make the mistake of buying an ABRSM book :) ]

She said pick a piece.

So I start a new piece and as a beginner, there's too much to think about pedalling, reading the music etc. There's a lot you can't do. So you split it up etc, doing hands separate and whatnot and practise. After which you start to learn the piece, remember the notes, put hands together etc.

After which most aspects I struggled with, with an entire new piece are solved.  I've memorised the piece, I can play it roughly in time, I can play hands together, I can play it up to speed. The teacher might think they've been some part of that.

But the problem that I wanted to solve in the first place is still there. I'm playing the piece as badly as I play everything else I've learnt by myself in that fashion. Whilst still struggling along, when I'm practising, trying to grok this elusive correct movement thing so I can play the piece better.

I'd have a hope that exercises that focussed on the actual problem, with someone to say what the proper movements are would help [as Xvimbi says higher up in the thread]

I guess that "exercise" could be part of a piece, as I said, I think "what to play" isn't the burning question. Pieces offer other problems for beginners that a teacher might think they are solving for you [and I'm sure they do], but those problems hide the problem in a sense, albeit it makes some of the other aspects [dynamics, timing etc] harder. So you never grok the piece fully. I've no doubt my teacher would move on to something else as we both got bored to death of the same piece, and then just rinse and repeat the same thing, never solving the actual problem.

I think that's basically where Bernhard talks about playing a small part of a piece and not moving on until it's correct. Even if you do more than one piece at a time and if the result is just a few bars. The point / goal is playing the whole piece at the end, rather than an exercise well at the end. But this isn't really playing pieces in the sense that I think some teachers teach pieces or students might attempt pieces by themselves. Aside from anything else, it's not particularly fun, nor is it playing the piece per se and it relies on knowing what "correct" is.

So your WIP shouldn't be a page of a piece played badly, just a few bars. If I understand it correctly, even where it's acknowledged that we're never "perfect" at some point in the future. when you are better at playing, to apply that skill to some old piece, the idea is to do the same process you did to learn it originally. Which is also supposed to help memorise it permanently.

It's very different from what you can observe people doing - you see folk posting complete pieces that they acknowledge they are working on. Even where it's just one page or they did HS it's not split up to the same degree. It's not the same thing aiui.

Perhaps this is as much to do with why exercises aren't seen as useful in that method. Not just Hanon's comments, but also because the pieces really are exercises, even moreso than some have said bits of them can be. The whole concept of the way to practise and learn them is. But if you don't do that, you might see exercises as useful or even necessary, and playing pieces as more fun than doing exercises. But learning pieces with either method might not be fun.

The playing the piece approach seems more layered, it's more or less the whole piece played badly until some unknown point in the future. Maybe that's why they think they need exercises too?

Offline bearzinthehood

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #41 on: December 05, 2005, 05:28:27 PM »
What you're basically saying is people need exercises because they lack the discipline to study repertoire correctly.  What I'm saying is extracting bits of repertoire and expanding or simplifying them to create an exercise is a more efficient and perhaps more pleasant use of time.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #42 on: December 06, 2005, 03:28:37 AM »
Yes, hopefully you can now see how evasive and elusive this information is even in your own words :) [I can now add "balance hand" - whatever that means and "feel that balance" to the list of things I'm supposed to do ;) ]

The idea to "feel balance" while playing is not as simple as it seems. There is a huge amount of work to go through to achieve good balance in any given piece or exerises. People can play pieces unbalanced but their physical transfer to the keyboard is not efficient and they waste energy, feel tired at the end of playing, or look worn out while playing. This effects the physical action, it isn't as bending, flexible, gradual, it is more jaggered edged, rough.

[As an aside, I note quite often there's only ever "one thing" in piano playing it's never the same thing though :) ]

Balance of the hand is universal and essential for ALL pianists to develop a strong technique. Go have a look at international concert pianists and watch them play. You will notice great effortless, large strings of notes are played as if they are cutting through cheese, large arpeggios are just effortless sweeps of the hand. So easily done, so aestheticaly pleasing, their hands look elegant, relaxed and undisturbed despite any physical acrobatics they have to achieve through the keyboard.

Without balance you will physically play like an amatuer, with consideration to balance you will start to physically play much better. Hanon drills one part of balance (arpeggios chords and scales the other). But pieces of course drill balance in a more complex fashion and is much more important than studying excerises, but the beginner cannot usually learn pieces at a fast enough rate to start with , so exersises are used alongside to give them a push start and help develop their fingers and introduce a concept of balance, remove some physical difficulties they may find in pieces they study.

Balance is not difficult, it is about knowing which finger(s) acts as a centre to the hand, perhaps it can even be inbetween the fingers and which note the fingers revolves around. Noticing when a particular finger unnecessarily moves hand or noticing how a naturally uncomfrotable fingering should practiced slowly, focusing to increase the balanced then observe how increase of speed comes naturally with the increased control and balance of the group of notes.

I have met people who play without balance and can play prety well. But when they consider balance of their hands their playing can becomes much more efficient and they can give greater contrasts in volume to their playing because the physical nature of their playing isn't wasting its energy trying to get to notes and push them down. The musical benefits of the balanced hand is HUGE. You can control a group of notes with one action. That is incredible because a string of say 60 notes can be observed with perhaps only 5 movements of the hand, that takes alot of relief away from the memory and physical action (there is 60 movements of the individual fingers of course but  the hand control the fingers to act together as a group instead of individual action). How we get our hand to control the fingers as a whole group comes from BALANCE and knowing where the centre is for each group of notes you play and each time you have to move to th enext group you observe which fingers instantly line up to their new points of control. Keeping your fingers lazy and always prepaired (or near) points they need to move to is an ideal way to play the piano.

When we play piece we want to have as much control over it as possible. We cannot let the physical nature of a piece tie us down otherwise we will not have time to think about the sound we are producing out of the instrument. Whenever we strike the first note of a group of notes we shouldn't consider where the figner is that is striking this first note, we should consider what is the maximum and mimumim of the group of notes. If RH 1st plays the lowest note and the 5th the highest of a group of notes then we should consider how do we control this max and min point while playing the rest of the notes, the centre will then be revealed with some experimentation.

What you're basically saying is people need exercises because they lack the discipline to study repertoire correctly. What I'm saying is extracting bits of repertoire and expanding or simplifying them to create an exercise is a more efficient and perhaps more pleasant use of time.

I do not replace pieces with excerises. The student must learn pieces but also must make a concerntrated effort to fully undertand how to play basic excerises with good technique. The idea to simplify pieces as you mention is a very good one especially when you teach jazz, simplifying chords, rhythms etc,  but I like to make the student tackle difficulties they face in pieces, not simplify things and take an easy way through, especially for "classical" piano training.

I wouldn't bother making my own excerises out of pieces because it has no extra purpose. Three simple Hanon (and alterations of them depening on the students needs) for me develop the fingers of the beginner. My aim is only to develop the fingers, improve the balance, give them idea how to play a string of notes with one action. This is hopefully transfered to when they play peices which more often than not is the case from my own experience.


I guess that "exercise" could be part of a piece, as I said, I think "what to play" isn't the burning question. Pieces offer other problems for beginners that a teacher might think they are solving for you [and I'm sure they do], but those problems hide the problem in a sense, albeit it makes some of the other aspects [dynamics, timing etc] harder. So you never grok the piece fully. I've no doubt my teacher would move on to something else as we both got bored to death of the same piece, and then just rinse and repeat the same thing, never solving the actual problem.

The teacher cannot solve the students problems that is a big misconception. The teacher guides and tells the student where to focus their efforts, in the end it is up to the students own practice! But this is where a good teacher comes into it, they are like a coach for a team, or a doctor to a patient. If they give you bad advice you will not progress as well as you potentially could, a good teacher must identify the students needs, physical or musical. A good teacher also has to know how much time a student actually puts into their musical work so the expectations can be measured from that and how you set out work for them done around the time constraints. You should never get bored with playing a piece if you know what you are trying to improve.

Sometimes the problems does not lie in the physical aspect of playing but in the memory but that is a different topic to discuss in detail. The physical action required may totally be in the capability of the pianist but it feels impossible because the memory cannot recall the physical action you should be cued to move to. You do not know where you should be looking, you do not know how one shape moves to the next, you don't know where to lift the hand and replace it, you simply have not taken time to observe the details of the moment.

These things can be corrected by drilling your problems. Not just mindlessly repeating sections but trying to understand what you are actually doing, be aware of each and every movement of your hand, feel the centre of gravity of the group of notes, what the distance of a jump feel like etc then forget about it and trying to work on an automatic response to play it all commanded with your physical relaxation and listening. This all takes time, which most people don't make or have the patience for. Each person loses control over particular notes, unbalance their hands in particular places, feel tense and uncomfrotable in different parts. We have to understand what causes it, and how we work it away, with these gone little stands in your way to control what you play.

The point / goal is playing the whole piece at the end, rather than an exercise well at the end. But this isn't really playing pieces in the sense that I think some teachers teach pieces or students might attempt pieces by themselves. Aside from anything else, it's not particularly fun, nor is it playing the piece per se and it relies on knowing what "correct" is.

I drill memory of the entire piece first for the student. The physical action should be there more often than not. I will not hound the student over uncontrolled playing to start with so long it is not constant and all the time, if it happens here or there that is ok, if it happens constantly then change piece.

Once the entire piece is memorised the number of times you have repeated over sections will naturally improve a lot of the playing but there still will be parts which are suffering. That is when we should go back to improve and refine our playing, how you efficiently go about that could be from your own keen understanding of what you can do pianistically, or from direction from a good teacher.

When I personally study pieces I do not get too upset if some parts are not totally controlled, I will keep memorising until the entire piece is finished. More often than not the problem has vanished through repetition but now and then some parts require focused energy. This focused energy might need months before the difficulty is practiced to automatic response of the hand. I couldn't imagine making sure everything was perfect before I moved on, I would never learn anything then! There are parts of Chopin etudes which took me years before I fully appreciated, but that is ok, it is nice to watch your music change with time, it makes it alive!

Some teachers suggest that all dynamics expression are put in straight away, I fully agree with this but only for more confident students. For beginners it is asking too much. Things must be done in a step by step process so that it becomes second nature to the beginner student. Once the process is understood we can take shortcuts and do things straight away. But it is too much to ask of from the early developing musical student in most cases.

I do not waste hours and hours with the student until all their difficulties are gone (unless it is for exams or competition). I will show them what needs to be done and tell them I will listen to you play this peice in a few months time and in the mean time we learn new stuff. You have to keep the momentum of learning new pieces going. The more you learn natrually the better you get the better you get at observing general procedure at the keyboard. There is little to learn worrying over your difficulties but make sure you keep a tab on them and have a way to work on them, but in the mean time learn more and more music.

Perhaps this is as much to do with why exercises aren't seen as useful in that method. Not just Hanon's comments, but also because the pieces really are exercises, even moreso than some have said bits of them can be. The whole concept of the way to practise and learn them is. But if you don't do that, you might see exercises as useful or even necessary, and playing pieces as more fun than doing exercises. But learning pieces with either method might not be fun.

Your idea of pieces are better than excerises is true but not true for the beginner. Simply they cannot drill ideas of balance, control and fingering by learning heaps and heaps of pieces.  It is too much to ask a beginner to tackles many pieces so we give them one or two only and excerises which develop the finger control. It might not be fun but it demonstates what it is to control a group of notes an essential requirement when playing piano.

If we neglect excerises and only teach a peice, scales and chords, they are not training their fingering, 12345 54321, 1212 5454, 43432, 23234, really the basic fingering blocks of a lot of music.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #43 on: December 06, 2005, 03:49:37 AM »
Yes, hopefully you can now see how evasive and elusive this information is even in your own words :) [I can now add "balance hand" - whatever that means and "feel that balance" to the list of things I'm supposed to do ;) ]

The idea to "feel balance" while playing is not as simple as it seems. There is a huge amount of work to go through to achieve good balance in any given piece or excerises. People can play pieces unbalanced but their physical transfer to the keyboard is not efficient and they waste energy, feel tired at the end of playing, or look worn out while playing. This effects the physical action, it isn't as bending, flexible, gradual, it is more jaggered edged, rough.

[As an aside, I note quite often there's only ever "one thing" in piano playing it's never the same thing though :) ]

I mean there are only two things you have to do when playing piano. Be relaxed and listen to yourself. Relaxation comes from memorisation which is aided by balance and observing groups of notes instead of the individual.

Balance of the hand is universal and essential for ALL pianists to develop a strong technique. Go have a look at international concert pianists and watch them play. You will notice great effortless, large strings of notes are played as if they are cutting through cheese, large arpeggios are just effortless sweeps of the hand. So easily done, so aesthetic, their hands look elegant, relaxed and undisturbed despite any physical acrobatics they have to achieve through the keyboard.

Without balance you will physically play like an amateur, with consideration to balance you will start to physically play much better. Hanon drills one part of balance (arpeggios chords and scales the other). But pieces of course drill balance in a more complex fashion and is much more important than studying excerises, but the beginner cannot usually learn pieces at a fast enough rate to start with , so exercises are used alongside to give them a push start and help develop their fingers and introduce a concept of balance, remove some physical difficulties they may find in pieces they study.

Balance is not difficult, it is about knowing which finger(s) acts as a center to the hand, perhaps it can even be in between the fingers and which note the fingers revolves around. Noticing when a particular finger unnecessarily moves the hand and correcting it. Noticing how a naturally uncomfortable fingering should practiced slowly, focusing to increase the balance then observe how increase of speed comes naturally with the increased control and balance of the group of notes.

I have met people who play without balance and can play pretty well. But when they consider balance of their hands their playing can become much more efficient and they can give greater contrasts in volume to their playing because the physical nature of their playing isn't wasting its energy trying to get to individual notes and push them down. The musical benefits of the balanced hand is HUGE. You can control a group of notes with one action. That is incredible because a string of say 60 notes can be observed with perhaps only 5 movements of the hand, that takes alot of relief away from the memory and physical action (there is 60 movements of the individual fingers of course but  the hand control the fingers to act together as a group instead of individual action). How we get our hand to control the fingers as a whole group comes from BALANCE and knowing where the center is for each group of notes you play and each time you have to move to the next group you observe which fingers instantly line up to their new points of control. Keeping your fingers lazy and always prepared (or near) points they need to move to is an ideal way to play the piano.

When we play piece we want to have as much control over it as possible. We cannot let the physical nature of a piece tie us down otherwise we will not have time to think about the sound we are producing. Whenever we strike the first note of a group of notes we shouldn't consider where the figner is that is striking this first note, we should consider what is the maximum and minimum of the group of notes. If RH 1st plays the lowest note and the 5th the highest of a group of notes then we should consider how do we control this max and min point while playing the rest of the notes, the center will then be revealed with some experimentation.

What you're basically saying is people need exercises because they lack the discipline to study repertoire correctly. What I'm saying is extracting bits of repertoire and expanding or simplifying them to create an exercise is a more efficient and perhaps more pleasant use of time.

I do not replace pieces with excerises. The student must learn pieces but also must make a concentrated effort to fully understand how to play basic excerises with good technique. The idea to simplify pieces as you mention is a very good one especially when you teach jazz, simplifying chords, rhythms etc,  but I like to make the student tackle difficulties they face in pieces, not simplify things and take an easy way through, especially for "classical" piano training.

I wouldn't bother making my own excerises out of pieces because it has no extra purpose. Three simple Hanon and alterations of them depending on the students needs for me develop the fingers of the beginner. My aim is only to develop the fingers, improve the balance, give them idea how to play a string of notes with one action. This is hopefully transferred to when they play peices which more often than not is the case from my own experience.


I guess that "exercise" could be part of a piece, as I said, I think "what to play" isn't the burning question. Pieces offer other problems for beginners that a teacher might think they are solving for you [and I'm sure they do], but those problems hide the problem in a sense, albeit it makes some of the other aspects [dynamics, timing etc] harder. So you never grok the piece fully. I've no doubt my teacher would move on to something else as we both got bored to death of the same piece, and then just rinse and repeat the same thing, never solving the actual problem.

The teacher cannot solve the students problems that is a big misconception. The teacher guides and tells the student where to focus their efforts, in the end it is up to the students own practice! A teacher is like a coach for a team, or a doctor to a patient. If they give you bad advice you will not progress as well as you potentially could, a good teacher must identify the students needs, technical or musical. A good teacher also has to know how much time a student actually puts into their musical work so the expectations can be measured from that and how you set out work for them done around the time constraints. You should never get bored with playing a piece if you know what you are trying to improve.

Sometimes the problems does not lie in the physical aspect of playing but in the memory but that is a different topic to discuss in detail. The physical action required may totally be in the capability of the pianist but it feels impossible because the memory cannot recall the physical action you should be cued to move to. You do not know where you should be looking, you do not know how one shape moves to the next, you don't know where to lift the hand and replace it, you simply have not taken time to observe the details of the moment.

These things can be corrected by drilling your problems. Not just mindlessly repeating sections but trying to understand what you are actually doing, be aware of each and every movement of your hand, feel the center of gravity of the group of notes, what the distance of a jump feel like etc then forget about it and trying to work on an automatic response to play it all commanded with your physical relaxation and listening. This all takes time, which most people don't make or have the patience for. Each person loses control over particular notes, disbalance their hands in particular places, feel tense and uncomfortable in different parts. We have to understand what causes it, and how we work it away, with these gone little stands in your way to control what you play.

The point / goal is playing the whole piece at the end, rather than an exercise well at the end. But this isn't really playing pieces in the sense that I think some teachers teach pieces or students might attempt pieces by themselves. Aside from anything else, it's not particularly fun, nor is it playing the piece per se and it relies on knowing what "correct" is.

I drill memory of the entire piece first for the student. The physical action should be there more often than not. I will not hound the student over uncontrolled playing to start with so long it is not constant and all the time, if it happens here or there that is ok, if it happens constantly then change piece.

Once the entire piece is memorized the number of times you have repeated over sections will naturally improve a lot of the playing but there still will be parts which are suffering. That is when we should go back to improve and refine our playing, how you efficiently go about that could be from your own keen understanding of what you can do pianistically, or from direction from a good teacher.

When I personally study peices I do not get too upset if some parts are not totally controlled, I will keep memorizing until the entire piece is finished. More often than not the problem has vanished through repetition but now and then some parts require focused energy. This focused energy might need months before the difficulty is practiced to automatic response of the hand. I couldn't imagine making sure everything was perfect before I moved on, I would never learn anything then! There are parts of Chopin etudes which took me years before I fully appreciated, but that is ok, it is nice to watch your music change with time, it makes it alive! The same has to occur for beginners.

Some teachers suggest that all dynamics expression are put in straight away, I fully agree with this but only for more confident students. For beginners it is asking too much. Things must be done in a step by step process so that it becomes second nature to the beginner student. Once the process is understood we can take shortcuts and do things straight away. But it is too much to ask of from the early developing musical student in most cases.

I do not waste hours and hours with the student until all their difficulties are gone (unless it is for exams or competition). I will show them what needs to be done and tell them I will listen to you play this piece in a few months time and in the mean time we learn new stuff. You have to keep the momentum of learning new pieces going. The more you learn naturally the better you get the better you get at observing general procedure at the keyboard. There is little to learn worrying over your difficulties but make sure you keep a tab on them and have a way to work on them, but in the mean time learn more and more music.

Perhaps this is as much to do with why exercises aren't seen as useful in that method. Not just Hanon's comments, but also because the pieces really are exercises, even moreso than some have said bits of them can be. The whole concept of the way to practise and learn them is. But if you don't do that, you might see exercises as useful or even necessary, and playing pieces as more fun than doing exercises. But learning pieces with either method might not be fun.

Your idea of peices are better than excerises is true but not true for the beginner. Simply they cannot drill ideas of balance, control and fingering by learning heaps and heaps of peices.  It is too much to ask a beginner to tackles many pieces so we give them one or two peices and excerises which develop the finger control. It might not be fun but it demonstrates what it is to control a group of notes an essential requirement when playing piano.

If we neglect excerises and only teach a piece, scales and chords, they are not training their fingering, 12345 54321, 1212 5454, 43432, 23234, really the basic fingering blocks of a lot of music.
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Offline leahcim

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #44 on: December 06, 2005, 11:52:41 AM »
The idea to "feel balance" while playing is not as simple as it seems.

Yes. [Later you say it isn't hard though, but no matter :) ]

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I mean there are only two things you have to do when playing piano. Be relaxed and listen to yourself.

Sure, but look at Bernhard's post count and, although your posts aren't giving much in the way of practical steps, their length :)

Those might be the only 2 goals you perceive, but, as many threads have discussed before "My goal is total world domination" doesn't tell you what that is, nor how to get it - that's the part that fills forums, books and hours of time and effort.

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The idea to simplify pieces as you mention is a very good one especially when you teach jazz, simplifying chords, rhythms etc,  but I like to make the student tackle difficulties they face in pieces, not simplify things and take an easy way through, especially for "classical" piano training.

I think you need to read Bernhard's posts to get the ideas - they weren't mine [they aren't all his aiui], it's not about simplifying the piece [although he has made posts about doing that in some circumstances]

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The teacher cannot solve the students problems that is a big misconception. The teacher guides and tells the student where to focus their efforts, in the end it is up to the students own practice!

This is just semantics. Yes, the teacher has to tell the student where to focus. e.g [again, although I appreciate you aren't teaching here] all that stuff you've typed repeating "balance" and saying it's two things "relaxation" and "listening" wouldn't help me.

The difference of opinion seems to be that you believe the piece or exercise is as you put in the thread title "VERY IMPORTANT"  You've said beginners can't choose a piece of music or exercise. So, it seems you've spent years alongside whatever else you've learnt honing the skill to say "Hanon" and kudos to you for that ;o)

But as a beginner, I'd be looking for a teacher who had spent years to get to the point where they know what the correct movements are and can demonstrate and teach them. So I know what the correct technique or method is and I can practise that. The piece or exercise is just handing over a piece of paper in either direction.

But obviously in both cases I would need to learn and practise, I hope I didn't give the impression I thought that wasn't the case.

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I couldn't imagine making sure everything was perfect before I moved on, I would never learn anything then!
Perfect is the enemy of good. I don't think anyone said perfect did they? Again this is semantic and it's obviously relative to your current level. But equally the choice of piece should reflect that in the first place. If it takes you years to learn perhaps you need to pick an easier piece or find a better way of learning / better teacher etc.

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Your idea of peices are better than excerises is true but not true for the beginner. Simply they cannot drill ideas of balance, control and fingering by learning heaps and heaps of peices.  It is too much to ask a beginner to tackles many pieces so we give them one or two peices and excerises which develop the finger control.

Again, I think you should read first hand, in detail, the ideas I tried to summarise in that post [which aren't mine] and at least dismiss what they are rather than a misinterpretation of what they are.

As I see it, it's a completely different approach to the piece [not simplifying it] that I'm sure addresses much of what you believe practising pieces doesn't and thus needs exercises. The only "proof" is in the pudding - you'd need to try them yourself on your own playing or get a student to try them.

As for the drilling balance, control etc, as I've already said, IME meeting anyone physically in person who knows these things and will teach / demonstrate them is a much bigger problem to solve than what I or someone else decides I should play.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #45 on: December 06, 2005, 01:05:40 PM »
Quote from: lostinidlewonder on December 05, 2005, 11:49:37 PM
The idea to "feel balance" while playing is not as simple as it seems.

Yes. [Later you say it isn't hard though, but no matter :) ]

You don't understand me and try to pick at things which is not the concern for this topic. To feel the balance is not as SIMPLE as it seems, this doesnt mean it is difficult to achieve, but more complex than just saying, here balance your hand. There are parts of the hand which create balance etc.

The length of my writing is not intentional, it is just me sitting down typing while I think. if it is too long for you well... WAHH WAHHH!!! :'(

My writing is describing a concept not a procedure. There is no procedure you can write for piano playing because everyones hands are different and each person has their own way to play. But the idea of Balance, which you said WHATEVER THAT IS, I tried to describe to you. Too bad if you dont understand  you'll need a teacher to show you instead of trying to read advice from someone you don't know ;)

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The idea to simplify pieces as you mention is a very good one especially when you teach jazz, simplifying chords, rhythms etc,  but I like to make the student tackle difficulties they face in pieces, not simplify things and take an easy way through, especially for "classical" piano training.

I think you need to read Bernhard's posts to get the ideas - they weren't mine [they aren't all his aiui], it's not about simplifying the piece [although he has made posts about doing that in some circumstances]
Ahem, this was not directed to you, but the other poster.


This is just semantics. Yes, the teacher has to tell the student where to focus. e.g [again, although I appreciate you aren't teaching here] all that stuff you've typed repeating "balance" and saying it's two things "relaxation" and "listening" wouldn't help me.
If developing balance and relaxation will not help you then you are beyond help.

The difference of opinion seems to be that you believe the piece or exercise is as you put in the thread title "VERY IMPORTANT"  You've said beginners can't choose a piece of music or exercise. So, it seems you've spent years alongside whatever else you've learnt honing the skill to say "Hanon" and kudos to you for that ;o)

But as a beginner, I'd be looking for a teacher who had spent years to get to the point where they know what the correct movements are and can demonstrate and teach them. So I know what the correct technique or method is and I can practise that. The piece or exercise is just handing over a piece of paper in either direction.

Hmmm. I've been personally trained by some of the best pianists in the world and world famous teachers. I am not one to boast names, but I know a crap load of stuff on how to play the piano just by listening and watching the giants of the piano industry.

You say, you would be looking for a teacher who had spent eyars to get to the point where they know what the correct movements are and can demonstrate and teach them. Well what the heck are hanon and excerises? They demonstrate physical idea of balance and controlling a group of notes with one movement with maximum simplicity. So I really don't know what you are talking about, you seem to bag fingering excerises, but dont know why. You are a beginner and you have such strong stances which is a big danger. The know it all will never know it all.
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Offline leahcim

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #46 on: December 06, 2005, 01:25:33 PM »
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If developing balance and relaxation will not help you then you are beyond help.

What I meant was, the description wouldn't help, even if the concept itself is correct. [I acknowledge that you weren't teaching in your posts]

Most of what you said is true but it says nothing about obtaining it, which I think you acknowledged when you said it was conceptual. However, Hanon doesn't either. It needs a teacher, and the teacher can't just say what you just typed can they? So my point was just that, saying you need to develop balance doesn't say how to, and I'm sure you can play Hanon incorrectly as much as anything else so I can't see how "playing Hanon" is how to achieve it either. Unless you are saying that? That eventually one day after playing Hanon you develop it?

I wasn't complaining about the length of your posts. If all piano discussion required was stating that it's only "balance and listening" and that succinct phrase was sufficient to describe it, then there wouldn't be much more to say. I was just observing your own evidence to the contrary.

Whatever practical steps / means / description / demonstration is required, it isn't saying "you need to develop balance and relax" neither is it, imo, playing a particular group of notes. It's the teaching of how to play and what to do - if you need notes for that and have a copy of Hanon, fair enough, but I think there are practise methods for pieces described in these forums and elsewhere that put forwad a good argument that extra exercises aren't necessary. YMMV, but as you say, you had famous teachers etc - I'd say that was more key.  [although simply being "good" would be good enough for me, they don't have to have been on TV :)] I think most agree that a _good_ teacher is required.

In the context of this thread I'd argue that playing Hanon or a piece is similary not going to develop it by magic - thus my point "how to play" not "what to play" - if you know how and practise that with Hanon or something else you probably make progress. If I played Hanon now for the next x years without a clue how to do those movements I'll get nowhere.

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Hmmm. I've been personally trained by some of the best pianists in the world and world famous teachers
Cool, so you can play.  Do you know any that live near Bedfordshire, UK - because I'd like to learn :)

Perhaps you read my comment as saying you couldn't or had only learnt to say "Hanon"? It wasn't saying that. It was the "Beginners can't pick a piece" but if they read this thread and picked your CEFG stuff and "Hanon" it would appear they have. Didn't take long to learn that did it? Although I think I buy the idea of picking 100 pieces to learn over n years, along with a teacher's guidance if the pieces are too hard / easy and their knowledge of repertoire in general is better.

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You say, you would be looking for a teacher who had spent eyars to get to the point where they know what the correct movements are and can demonstrate and teach them. Well what the heck are hanon and excerises?

They are sheet music.They don't demonstrate anything to do with physical movements or balance or control. They are just printed notes. Although the former does contain some commentary about raising fingers high etc, aiui much of that is largely refuted higher in the thread and elsewhere by know it alls who didn't learn I suppose :)

You make a good point though, but it's not me that "knows it all", I've just read a lot of stuff here from others that is a better argument than yours IMO and some of it seems to be different and opposing.

"Look at concert pianists" "Don't look at concert pianists" "use hanon" "avoid hanon" - so it doesn't really matter. There's no amount of knowledge to gain where you can't say whatever you like and be right from someone's pov afaict :) Similary, since I do understand your last post, I now "know" that playing the piano requires balance and a fairly lengthy explanation of what that means. I can discuss that, repeat it, agree or disagree with it. Albeit with absolutely no effect at all on my ability to physically play or listen. So I, with the risk that my tennis might suffer, dispute your claim that agreeing with you on the forum improves piano playing or vice-versa.

As I'm only interested in physically playing the piano, which has a similar number of viewpoints, none of which I'm advocating or have a strong stance for or against, I just want to find one that works for me. So even if it's true I'm probably still safe :)

The only point I made was that, for me, IME, finding out how to play is more elusive than finding what to play. If that means I won't learn, fair enough, let me change it to "I want to play Hanon, but I don't know how" - now I guess I'll be the next Chopin :)

Offline fra ungdomsdagene

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #47 on: December 06, 2005, 02:04:22 PM »
This is how child prodigies are able to play with virtuosity, they were born with the extra synapsis in the brain and did not need to build them.

No, they built them like all the musicians do.
I think it's very insulting to all talented young musician to say they were born talented and didn't have to work hard to build their technique. The only difference is that they started building it earlier and that found more effective ways to build it.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #48 on: December 07, 2005, 01:48:47 AM »
Most of what you said is true but it says nothing about obtaining it

The idea of the post was that exercises where important. As to the reasoning why it is important, I pushed the idea of balance and control of a group of notes with one action. Also the idea that bare basic finger combinations must be developed, some begniners naturally have it, but a lot more DO NOT. So we must insist that they exersise the most simple fingering and learn how to play it not with individual fingers but try and explore how we can play a group of notes with one movement.

The exact process as to how you improve on this cannot be written in words. It is done with direction. As too it is imposible to write in words how you would train a world class soccer team. You simply cannot direct effectively enough and deal with the variables that are unknown unless you observe with your own eyes, you must be there and tell them what to do. Piano is no different. You need a coach to learn any instrument well, unless you have a natural musical ability and confidence in your own musicality.

So our hands tied, we find it useless trying to explain how to exactly play piano. Some people try, but in the end it is useless, confusing and not universal. So we must describe an understanding of how to play, concepts such as balance which I have been trying to explain repeatedly in many different ways. These act as compasses to our general playing, but cannot direct us unless we practice it and aim for the ideas you read and are taught.

It is the same when you are taught by a teacher. They tell you this and that, show you how to physically improve yoru playing by doing this and that, but when you go back home none of that helps unless you practice and consider what you where taught. If you go back and practice the way you normally practiced you are not using your teacher. But if you practice and consider the ideas they explained and demonstrated you make changes and improvements to your playing.

The same goes for when you read concepts of playing piano. You must consider it while playing, what the heck is balance, centre of gravity etc etc. How are you supposed to pivot about a point and feel balance? I guess one way to demonstrate it would be to tie a pencil a little underneath your middle finger (so you dont restrict it too much) and across into your palm. Try to play piano like this. This is balancing about the 3rd. Take away the pencil and try to maintain that balance and feeling of support at the third. When we play pieces this balance constantly shifts about parts of our hand. This is a really rough idea of the feeling of balance when we play.

So my point was just that, saying you need to develop balance doesn't say how to, and I'm sure you can play Hanon incorrectly as much as anything else so I can't see how "playing Hanon" is how to achieve it either.

So the idea was balance. We use hanon as examples to demonstrate this concept of balance and control. It is the simplest way to demonstrate it. The basic three:

1) CEFGAGFE | DFGABAGF etc. Fingering going up keyboard RH:12345432 LH:54321234
aims for general balance of the entire hand playing a scale form. We feel the balance from the 3rd finger in this case.

2) CDCD AGAG| DEDE BABA  etc. Going up keyboard RH:1212 5454  LH:5454 1212
aims to strengthen 4 and 5. Again we are feeling the balance from the 3rd figner even though we are not playing it. If we disbalance our hand and turn the wrist when we play  12 or 45 we are neglecting balance. We must keep the hand straight using the centre of gravity about our middle finger no inefficient turning of the wrist.

3) CEAGFGFE| DFBAGAGF etc  RH:12543432 LH: 54123234
aims to strengthen the middle fingers. For the RH as we go up the scale the balance exists between the 3 and 4, but as we go down it is between 2 and 3.

Still I cannot describe as to how you feel this balance except with that pencil experiment. And how you use it to control the group of notes must be ultimately learnt through your own experimentation maintaining the consideration to balance/control.

If all piano discussion required was stating that it's only "balance and listening" and that succinct phrase was sufficient to describe it, then there wouldn't be much more to say. I was just observing your own evidence to the contrary.
It is suprising but true, all music playing is about is relaxation and listening. To be physicaly relaxed while playing and constantly listening to the music you produce. Evidence to this is just clear, a deaf person can never become a concert peformer because they cannot hear themselves, despite their amazing ability they may have. (eg: Beethoven).

But relaxation, heck that is a HUGE issue with tenticals that spread all over the place. When good pianists play something that they have known for many years they don't even consider the notes they are playing, it is all automatic. There might be one or two notes which must be observed but either than that the majority of the playing is without conscious effort. There is a great deal of relaxation in our playing when we play things we know very well. But how did we achieve that relaxation? With concerntrated study! That study in many different areas. but in the end our efforts all try to achieve the best sound with the most effective physical excecution (technique). To acheive the greatest sound and train our listening is a huge topic so is technique. So it is not wrong to then categorise everything in two parts. That of Listening (creating the most ideal sound and controling it with our ears) and of relaxation (attaining the most efficient physical technique).

Whatever practical steps / means / description / demonstration is required, it isn't saying "you need to develop balance and relax" neither is it, imo, playing a particular group of notes.
The teachers that I have respected greatly all mentioned balance when playing piano. How to attain it was always discussed in context of pieces. Famous teachers and concert pianists really do not deal with beginners though, they don't have the time for that. I however have a lot of time for beginners. I can't say to them, here look at the Ondine from Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit, I'll show you with the opening tremolo in the Rh what balancing the thumb means. yeah right..

Hanon is the simplest way to describe the idea of balance. A group of notes create a centre of gravity. This creates balance to the hand, if we neglect this balance and move the hand all over the place our playing will be inefficient and not natural.

In the context of this thread I'd argue that playing Hanon or a piece is similary not going to develop it by magic - thus my point "how to play" not "what to play" - if you know how and practise that with Hanon or something else you probably make progress. If I played Hanon now for the next x years without a clue how to do those movements I'll get nowhere.
I agree whole heartedly. And that goes for anything you do with the piano. Mindless repetition will get you no where, but consideration to pianistic concepts and direction from a teacher will get you somewhere. This holds true unless you are very interested in the physical nature of playing the piano and like to experiment yourself, but in the end you will realise that we are trying to make "difficult things feel easy/automatic".

I have said this before but what make a good pianist is someone who is obsessed with the physical nature of playing the keyboard (and of course the search for the ideal sound production in a given piece). A good pianist always wants to make things at the keyboard automatic, which I categorise with RELEXATION and try to explain with a concept of BALANCE and which all is commanded by LISTENING(which was not of discussion here rather the physical nature of playing which is initally drilled to the beginner with Hanon). Of course techinques to improve our Memorisation is also not discussed, nor is improving our sight reading skills, musical interpretation etc etc all which aid the speed at which we discover a feeling for BALANCE in given parts of pieces, which then creates RELAXATION with our automatic playing.

If we practice peices with no concept of balance we will take a huge amount of time to find an automatic response to deal with the memorised notes. This is why Hanon is so important for the beginner, so that they quickly understand what it is to balance their hand, what it is to play the basic fingerings that they will find in the first peices they play. If you can learn and memorise pieces fast then you are not a beginner. A real beginner I assume is helpless and needs to be guided through it all, that doesnt mean they are spoon fed, again guidance is useless unless it is practiced yourself, if it is just in the head or on paper it doesn't mean anything.

Perhaps you read my comment as saying you couldn't or had only learnt to say "Hanon"? It wasn't saying that. It was the "Beginners can't pick a piece" but if they read this thread and picked your CEFG stuff and "Hanon" it would appear they have. Didn't take long to learn that did it? Although I think I buy the idea of picking 100 pieces to learn over n years, along with a teacher's guidance if the pieces are too hard / easy and their knowledge of repertoire in general is better.
Perfect! I agree that Pieces are better than excerises. But if you have no concept of fingering control, balance etc which you develop with hanon and try to ONLY learn it from pieces you might find your progress slow. Excerises are so easy to learn, they will only help. They do eat away at your time like pieces do. Time is critical factor, people just don't make enough of it for their musical study in reality, exersises are very fast to learn but difficult to master, it is good to use them because of that. Pieces on the other hand take time to learn and are also difficult to master. I waste 2 months on 5 pieces, or do I spend 2 months learning 5 and alongside it master basic fingering excerises as well as chords, arpeggios, scales the building blocks of music. All good teachers teach techinque and pieces alongside. They teach technique through pieces but many of them focus it through scales, chords, arpeggios which are requirements of most official muscial examinations I know AMEB for sure requires it. A beginner however does not learn enough about finger control through scales and chords and arepggios. These things can be totally confusing for them, so something even simpler to fall back to is hanon. It describes the most elementary movements and control needed for the keyboard.

They are sheet music.They don't demonstrate anything to do with physical movements or balance or control. They are just printed notes. Although the former does contain some commentary about raising fingers high etc, aiui much of that is largely refuted higher in the thread and elsewhere by know it alls who didn't learn I suppose :)
So if I throw the holy bible infront of you, you will say, that is nothing, it is printed words. Hardly. Same with Hanon, the dots mean of course nothing if you don't how to read it. Music is another language and means a lot, it is never just dots. Interpretation to these dots is huge, we can write ideas as to what the dots try to encourage, which I think is balance and thus say balance a billion times :). Perhaps you want to accent this or that, perhaps you want to change this, add a note here, perhaps you want to leave it alone and play it like it is. How then are we supposed to feel when playing it? What a various answer that is! So just simple string of notes mean a lot because of the huge amount of different physical responses it creates in every single person that tries it. But in the end there is only one aim of the exercises, and that is to gain dexterity and speed of your fingering through increased balance.

You make a good point though, but it's not me that "knows it all", I've just read a lot of stuff here from others that is a better argument than yours IMO and some of it seems to be different and opposing.

For example?  :P
Who opposes hanon? Who says that it is useless for the beginner? Who can say that it does not train balance and finger control in the simplest way? Please explain  for me so I can teach my students something easier than Hanon to describe balance, it would really be a revelation to me.


Similary, since I do understand your last post, I now "know" that playing the piano requires balance and a fairly lengthy explanation of what that means. I can discuss that, repeat it, agree or disagree with it. Albeit with absolutely no effect at all on my ability to physically play or listen.
Of course nothing you read will help you unless you apply it. That is just logical. But if you read something, say what the heck is that I don't agree but I'll give it a go, you can only learn something from it. I am constantly trying things people suggest on here even though I think it is absurd. Like how to strengthen the LH, do it by using it to do daily things. This works which I thought was great even though I had to do it thinking this won't do a thing for my piano playing during the first few weeks. It is actually hard to tell your brain to take cups out of the cupboard with the Lh instead of Rh, especially if you are RHed like me.
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Offline leahcim

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Re: Hanon and Other Excerises are VERY IMPORTANT
«Reply #49 on: December 07, 2005, 02:26:49 AM »
For example?  :P
Who opposes hanon? Who says that it is useless for the beginner? Who can say that it does not train balance and finger control in the simplest way? Please explain  for me so I can teach my students something easier than Hanon to describe balance, it would really be a revelation to me.

See this thread http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,13583.0.html - the first post mentions it [maybe he will tell you where he read it] This forum http://www.pianostreet.com has some more. One of the earlier replies has some good links to other threads on that forum. However I said good arguments, not "someone said Hanon is useless" as I think has been pointed out once before in this thread.

Now, given you've missed the entire thread, who are you and why are you using lostinwonder's account? :P :)

[I'll answer your question directly and tell you what to use instead if you go back, read what I asked specifically and explicity about movements in reply #36, and answer that. I think neither of us will get any benefit from the answers. You may think only I will. S'up to you, but the offer is there :) ]

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It is the same when you are taught by a teacher. They tell you this and that, show you how to physically improve yoru playing by doing this and that

If you can find a good one, yes. I see you've noted that "famous" teachers are largely teaching the converted :)

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Of course nothing you read will help you unless you apply it. That is just logical. But if you read something, say what the heck is that I don't agree but I'll give it a go, you can only learn something from it.

Absolutely - and the posts that have pragmatic descriptions of things to try I have. The reverse is true too, there's a lot you read that guides you away from doing things and wasting time and effort [intentionally or not]

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So if I throw the holy bible infront of you, you will say, that is nothing, it is printed words. Hardly. Same with Hanon, the dots mean of course nothing if you don't how to read it. Music is another language and means a lot, it is never just dots.

No this is unfair.  I didn't say Hanon was nothing. I said Hanon was sheet music as a terse answer to your question asking what it was. You asked "...You say, you would be looking for a teacher who had spent years to get to the point where they know what the correct movements are and can demonstrate and teach them. Well what the heck are hanon and excerises? They demonstrate physical idea of balance and controlling a group of notes with one movement with maximum simplicity."

I did think you should know, but you asked :) Sheet music certainly isn't a teacher, I said I wanted a teacher and you said "Well what the heck is Hanon?" Perhaps he was a teacher, and admittedly I forgot to state I wanted one with a pulse. A bad assumption perhaps. I wasn't looking for a book of sheet music that's named after one though, I thought that would be clear :)

Hanon is sheet music and you've described well in this message what sheet music is, so you should be able to put the two together and answer your question for yourself now.

Hanon does not have the attributes of "knowing what the correct movements are to demonstrate and teach them" neither does it "demonstrate physical idea of balance and controlling" however.

A teacher might use it for that perhaps. Perhaps that's what you were trying to say. More matter and less art perhaps. When lostinwonder comes back from his forgetful spell he'll remember that there are a few respected individuals who teach without it, non-famous ones that take on and teach beginners too aiui.

In the same context - if I said I wanted something that,  after years of training, could eat bananas and climb trees and you said "Well, if you want that, what the heck is the bible?" The bible demonstrates physical banana eating and climbing" I would say it was a book, just printed words, yes. Albeit this time, the terse description is elevating it, so I'm not sure your analogy works. Toilet paper? Not thick enough perhaps. It might be useful for something - how big are the margins?