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pro-hanon vs anti-hanon (Read 47432 times)

Offline ptyrrell

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pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
« on: December 18, 2008, 02:02:07 AM »
I'm am sure this topic has been discussed before but I wanted to throw it out there of who is pro-hanon and who is anti-hanon and why?

Personally I discarded hanon for a couple of years, where before I was playing hanon exercises as warm-ups.  I am not sure why but I have gone back to them but I have started going through the exercises slowly, HS as part of my practice routine.  I know they don't have a great deal of musical value,  I believe if approached in the right way can build endurance and finger strength.

Cheers

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Offline db05

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #1 on: December 18, 2008, 02:28:50 AM »
The Hanon book is useful from scales onwards.  :) But I admit to not practicing it as much as I'm expected to. Before being assigned Hanon, I had already learned how to construct major and minor scales so I was practicing them already. I also knew how to construct arpeggios/ chords. A teacher found me in those early practice sessions, and that's how the myth of my brilliance began LOL.

Soon after, I was transferred to a teacher who made me do so much Hanon I'd puke. I was working with No.s 1 and 2 and the C major scale for like a month, and cried on one of these sessions. I was already studying a lot more than usual, and my arms/ back hurt. She said she expected much since teacher so-and-so said I was good. Good grief.   :-\ I don't want to repeat this terrible experience.

Teachers either don't notice it at all or overlook it, but I have poor coordination therefore I have trouble sight reading. They would focus on the apparent lack of technique. ::) So instead of studying Hanon, I get easy pieces to sight-read whenever I can. It's a matter of priority. Whatever gets you closer to your goals.
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Offline thierry13

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #2 on: December 18, 2008, 02:43:27 AM »
Hanon is good but shouldn't be part of your "pianistic bible". If you don't play it BUT can not play the patterns in the book well, then you are lacking in many areas. If you can do them well, you don't need to work Hanon. Doing them well in every tonality is good too ...

Offline bella_brito

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #3 on: December 18, 2008, 10:57:57 AM »
I used to play lots of Hanon exercises when I was younger, and it improved my first-sight reading and my agility on scales. Now, I rarely play it, as a warm-up, just like i would play scales.
I do recommend Hanon for beginners, there are better exercises for advanced students.
And Hanon it's BORING.
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #4 on: December 18, 2008, 12:07:01 PM »
More pages have been written on this forum about Hanon than about religion, which is saying something.

Personally, i noticed a reduction in my facility when i stopped using it, but i guess that might depend on the repetoire one is working on.

I refuse to believe there is a golden rule for all pianists and that it is either essential or a complete waste of time. I think the individual must blast their own path to pianistic competence, use what works for them and discard that which does not.

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Offline mike_lang

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #5 on: December 18, 2008, 12:47:25 PM »
[quote author=thalbergmad link=topic=32427.msg379159#msg379159 date=1229602021
I think the individual must blast their own path to pianistic competence, use what works for them and discard that which does not.
[/quote]

Thank you.  I see absolutely nothing inherently wrong with the Hanon exercises, besides some silly directions preceding some of them (which may have been quite appropriate or simply passable on an old Pleyel piano, but impossible today).  Most can be very helpful if done in the right manner!  I think the only mistake that is made with them is to accept them in their entirety as a method, indiscriminately and mindlessly playing through each one with 20% mental focus.  Truly, if played with complete mental focus and total body awareness, they are just as valuable as Dohnanyi, Czerny, Pischna, Kremer, etc.  It is not really the "what," but the "how."

ML

Offline pianisten1989

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #6 on: December 18, 2008, 06:02:17 PM »
Hanon is probably the worst excersise ever made. Even if you achive "Great strength" in you fingers, you could achive that by playing scales, which you accually can use.
They don't have any coordination, since both hands plays the same thing aaaall the time.
It doesn't even improve your sight reading, since everything is written in c-major, and have the same movement throug-out every exercises. And "improving independense" is a load of bullshit.
Soo, Hanon suck. Do some Czerny if you want to play something that really works.

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #7 on: December 18, 2008, 06:14:31 PM »
Thats what i like to see, a nice open mind.

They are all written in c major, but you don't actually have to play them in c major. In addition, you don't even have to use both hands at the same time. I used to have less facility in my right hand and working on some of the 5 finger exercises helped me redress the balance.

Czerny will work for some and maybe not for others. When i play Czerny, i far prefer some of his lovely variations.

I just don't see how you can apply the same rule to every student on the entire planet. I am certainly glad you aint my teacher.

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Offline pianisten1989

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #8 on: December 18, 2008, 06:33:29 PM »
I know people are different, but there are plenty of exercises which improve both finger independence AND coordination, and sometimes even sight reading.
And this is a discussion, right? I said what I though, and I seriously don't understand the good things about Hanon. I've asked my teacher, and many other students, and none of them either understand hanon, and they aren't even stupid ^^


Offline mike_lang

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #9 on: December 18, 2008, 06:57:20 PM »
I said what I though, and I seriously don't understand the good things about Hanon.

Of course, it can be done with many exercises, but for example: M. Pressler teaches wrist motion with the first ten exercises.  The eight-note pattern is grouped first in twos, then  when it is mastered, in fours, then under one slur/wrist.  Next, they are mastered in all keys.  I think that there is a lot one can learn about the body and the relationship of the parts of the body through exercises such as those of Hanon.

ML

Offline general disarray

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #10 on: December 18, 2008, 07:35:03 PM »
I'm am sure this topic has been discussed before but I wanted to throw it out there of who is pro-hanon and who is anti-hanon and why?



For the fullest discussion available on this (or any other) planet, kindly avail yourself of the search engine on this site (known fondly here as "Auntie Nils") and type in "Hanon."  Now, make sure you step back, because the overloaded screen will literally honk at you.  Don't be daunted.  Proceed.  Look for Bernhard's debates with eminent pianists here to find an absolutely intelligent, exhaustive and -- may I say it? -- eminently definitive examination of this topic.

Hopefully, Hanon may then rest in peace (or pieces).

Thank you.
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Offline term

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #11 on: December 18, 2008, 09:30:15 PM »
All exercises are a complete waste of time. Just play the pieces, if you struggle with a piece, practise the piece. It's like learning latin in order to be better at spanish/italian/french/english/german/romanian. It won't work. You might recognize a word here and there, but 95% of what you learn is latin.
Doing an exercise in order to learn technique is like using a crutch in order to learn running.
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Offline mike_lang

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #12 on: December 18, 2008, 09:57:09 PM »
It's like learning latin in order to be better at spanish/italian/french/english/german/romanian.

It is exactly like learning Latin, but one has to enjoy Latin for its own sake.  As a SIDE benefit, you will find that your understanding and appreciation of Spanish, Italian, French, English, and Romanian (not German... ::) ::)) ) is considerably enriched.

Similarly, the fact that one needs to get better at thirds in order to play a certain Chopin, or Liszt, or Saint-SaŽns, is no reason to practice a thirds exercise.  It is just as well to play the piece and practice it there.

However, if you would like to deal with the problem of finger independence, voiced double notes, tension in the hand, legato, etc., and can appreciate these problems for their own sake, the exercises afford an opportunity to work out these problems in a concentrated manner without a musical problem directly at hand.  The problem comes when the pianist is neither interested in intelligent development of technique nor music, and plays entirely mindlessly, repeating until the problem only becomes worse.  Finally, because this exercise is not approached with an ulterior motive of helping some piece that one wishes to avoid practicing directly, the results can be enormous and, having been assimilated into the pianist's general technique, will be seen in ALL repertoire.

Best,
ML


Offline mike_lang

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #13 on: December 18, 2008, 09:59:16 PM »
Doing an exercise in order to learn technique is like using a crutch in order to learn running.

Congratulations on your metaphor that is at best, obscure, and at worst, sophomoric, ridiculous, and irrelevant.

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #14 on: December 19, 2008, 12:12:49 AM »
Just play the pieces, if you struggle with a piece, practise the piece.

For me, exercises can solve problems before you encounter them in repetoire.

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Offline communist

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #15 on: December 19, 2008, 01:02:39 AM »
Hanon is very important for technical development
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Offline goldentone

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #16 on: December 19, 2008, 08:02:22 AM »
A technical exercise, like a Hanon, isolates a general problem--thirds, sixths, etc.--in a structured, repetitious, and focused setting.  How can one not but benefit?  It is like applying a laser.

About ten years ago I decided to really hash it out with Hanons for a couple of weeks to see what would come of it.  I was shocked.  I was playing in a manner I never had before.  I was being set free to express myself.  I am not saying we can't acquire technique through repertoire alone, but I just think that a pianist will progress faster if some time is set aside daily on technique alone.         

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Offline term

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #17 on: December 19, 2008, 11:37:06 AM »
Congratulations on your metaphor that is at best, obscure, and at worst, sophomoric, ridiculous, and irrelevant.
lol. ;D Whatever.

Enjoy your exercises and let's move on with our lives. What do i care how someone else spends his time at the piano anyway.

Quote
As a SIDE benefit, you will find that your understanding and appreciation of Spanish, Italian, French, English, and Romanian (not German... Roll Eyes Roll Eyes) ) is considerably enriched.
No, i don't think so. Why should that be? Latin is as different from any of those languages as it can possibly be, it sounds, feels and is structured differently.
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Offline cmg

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #18 on: December 19, 2008, 03:34:33 PM »
A technical exercise, like a Hanon, isolates a general problem--thirds, sixths, etc.--in a structured, repetitious, and focused setting.  How can one not but benefit?  It is like applying a laser.

About ten years ago I decided to really hash it out with Hanons for a couple of weeks to see what would come of it.  I was shocked.  I was playing in a manner I never had before.  I was being set free to express myself.  I am not saying we can't acquire technique through repertoire alone, but I just think that a pianist will progress faster if some time is set aside daily on technique alone.         



Bravo!  These are wise words and can be validated by any doubter.  Even the esteemed Bernhard -- no fan of Hanon -- agreed that isolating a technical issue, such as double thirds, in exercises, can be beneficial.

I did that myself with Dohnanyi's double stop exercises to sharpen the double thirds in the fugue of Beethoven's Op. 101.  What I learned from the repetition and variations in all keys of Dohnanyi's exercises, was that I was overlooking the need for more use of rotational technique in double stops.  Playing the tricky Beethoven passages didn't reveal that to me, because they only explored one area of keyboard topography.  Dohnanyi took me all over the map and, thus, taught me the error of my ways.  Applying this breakthrough to my Beethoven, I found the problem solved.

I don't believe you can ever be black or white about the technique argument.  Sometimes, the selective use of an exercise can be revelatory and very helpful.  I say go to exercises when you find a block in the repertoire.  To continue to hammer away at Chopin's double thirds Etude, will only make you grow tired of this piece.  Futhermore, as I learned with the Beethoven, even Chopin's demands, extensive as they are, are still NOT exhaustive.  Trust me, Dohnanyi, for one, IS exhaustive -- and NOT exhausting if you approach them with concentration and a relaxed mechanism.
Current repertoire:  "Come to Jesus" (in whole-notes)

Offline birba

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #19 on: December 20, 2008, 11:10:35 AM »
I believe at one time, in the Toho conservatory in Tokyo (the Japanese Julliard) they actually had exams in Hanon!!!!!!!!

Offline rene_ceballos

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #20 on: December 20, 2008, 02:23:02 PM »
I did Hanon for years. 1-30 to warmup, then scales, thirds and sixths. I wouldn't say it didn't help, but the time+effort/benefit ratio was absurdly unworthy in my case.

I found that yes, if you pick a difficult passage in say a Beethoven sonata, doing the right Hanon exercise set might help. But it's often not trivial to find *what is* the right exercise set.

Also, most of the times I played 1-30, I did it in white keys only, and without the rhythmic patterns the book suggest. That was the standard case in all conservatories I attended.
That approach I can say that in my opinion is basically pointless. Once you transpose and apply articulations, efficiency of the method improves.

Offline m

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #21 on: December 20, 2008, 05:11:14 PM »
For me technique is all about touch, efficiency, and relaxation. I find repetative Hanon and Czerny structures invaluable for concentrating on those "straight to the point" tasks, separated from conceptual and textual challenges of actual music pieces.

It is very easy to cover with "musicality" some fundamental principles of technique, however, Hanon, Czerny, and alike allow to concentrate on them in the most straightforward and efficient way.

Needless to say, their mechanical and mindless execution is waste of time, at very least, and makes more harm than good.

Best, M 

Offline tanman

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Offline db05

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #23 on: December 21, 2008, 02:17:39 PM »
I tried the old Hanon today. No.s 1 and 2. HS. It wasn't so good.  :-\

It seems that I haven't really gotten over the old experience I mentioned above. Some sort of trauma. Even HS, I had difficulty breathing properly and keeping relaxed. Although I could play faster than before, LH was really awkward especially on the higher parts. Pain on my left arm, but not as bad as before that included back pain.

I cannot imagine practicing Hanon HT (as indicated in the book) for more than 15 mins.
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Offline Karli

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #24 on: December 21, 2008, 03:19:42 PM »
.

Offline mike_lang

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #25 on: December 21, 2008, 03:22:38 PM »
I cannot imagine practicing Hanon HT (as indicated in the book) for more than 15 mins.

The crux of the issue!

Offline db05

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #26 on: December 21, 2008, 03:28:23 PM »
I think the difficulty I experience is mostly psychological. Was so unlucky to have such a teacher for a month. And repeating Hanon has a mind-numbing effect on me. After a while, I just sit there and -"What? Where? What do I do next?"- nothing makes sense...  I wonder if others experience this.
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Offline Karli

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #27 on: December 21, 2008, 03:36:06 PM »
.

Offline db05

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #28 on: December 21, 2008, 03:53:51 PM »
Again, not the problem of Hanon, but the problem of the individual.  The same thing can happen with anything ... any piece of music, any activity we do.  Believing that it is the thing itself and not our own consciousness and awarenss IS the psychological problem.

Karli:
You're right about the individual problem. But don't we all have our own problems?
Let's see if there's a pattern. If there is, we can safely say that something is good/ bad for everyone. I'm not trying to argue with you; just sharing and wondering what others' experiences are.

For everyone:
Instead of using a lot of philosophy, psychology or metaphors (though it's perfectly okay), why not tell us your personal experience of Hanon and other exercises? What helped and what didn't?
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Offline Karli

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #29 on: December 21, 2008, 05:03:38 PM »
.

Offline rc

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #30 on: December 21, 2008, 05:39:03 PM »
My experience is like what Marik describes:  Hanon and other drills are nice in that it's simple so I can use it to focus on basic elements.

I classify hanon with practicing scales/chords/arpeggios - it's a pattern that I can use to practice common movements.  For example, when I practice a scale that I'm not so familiar with, like Ab, I will practice that scale normally, in different rhythms, and in hanon patterns.

Bottom line for me:  I should be able to sit down and play any hanon pattern in any key.

Offline db05

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #31 on: December 22, 2008, 01:02:27 AM »
Because they are personal and inherently involve everything you said not to use.

I said I don't want to argue... Personal stuff I just happen to like and can relate more with. I don't understand half of the usual formal Ma'am Karli language...  :-\
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Offline thine

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #32 on: December 23, 2008, 11:15:27 AM »
hanon exercises are good for warm-ups. though not really recommnded for children.

czerny's exercises are more appropriate for them.

i use hanon for warm-up's before working on the formal piece.  :)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #33 on: December 24, 2008, 09:22:57 AM »
If you cannot play Hanon with mastery then you should be studying it. If you can do it in your sleep, it has become obsolete. However if you have mastered Hanon, it is also good to review them and understand how a group of notes are played with one position of the hand, a basic tool we use to memorize/control our music.
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Offline jepoy

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #34 on: December 25, 2008, 10:51:52 AM »
I used to write Hanon off as another waste of precious practice time until I met an excellent pianist who showed me how to develop different touches, techniques using Hanon exercises as the base. I think the problem stems from the fact that many students, including teachers, don't really know what to do with it, more often just using it for reading or developing speed than developing touch and technique.

Personally, I've found the scales, arpeggios, thirds, and octaves of the most benefit, at least with respect to my repertoire. They become like piano tricks you can conveniently pull when you need them.

Offline kitty on the keys

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #35 on: December 31, 2008, 01:17:52 AM »
I agree with jepoy ;D------most of the time is is taught wrong >:(---you musr use the arm and wrist and correction motion if you want to achieve the goals of Hanon. I use other materials other than Hanon to achieve the same goals.

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Offline karneyli

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #36 on: January 04, 2009, 08:09:12 AM »
when i was learning, my teacher had me play Hanon for a couple of years, but after a while we just stopped.   Today I feel that you only learn technique as a means to an end and that end is performance of a piece.  I haven't played a real scale in probably 10 years, I don't even play everyday, and while the technique has degraded a little, I think I'm still quite proficient without needing to do these types of "drills".   

I think Horowitz said something practicing technique; he never practiced chords, scales, or Hanon.  I think if you want to learn to play a piece practice the piece and what demands that piece has.  A pianist is only judged by how well they play a certain piece not their ability to play that piece transposed to any key.   If you want to learn how to play 6ths and 7ths and 8ves all over, then by all means do Hanon.  But I don't play piano as a profession, so I guess I don't mind spending the extra 30 minutes to work on a hard section if it requires it instead of playing 30 minutes of Hanon as a ritual.

Offline darnmat

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #37 on: January 05, 2009, 02:11:45 AM »
i'm neither a pro nor an anti hanon. maybe, for some people, the exercises in this book may work. personally, i don't use it because i suspect that it may ruin my personal approach to music. i use my "music pieces" to warm up or something. besides, for my case, i try not to put in my head the "need to warm up" because, in most cases in any before-performance, i don't have any opportunity to warm up.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #38 on: January 09, 2009, 01:56:32 AM »
I used to be antiHanon, until NPR this afternoon.  They were interviewing a famous jazz pianist, whose name I did not quite catch (Marcel Solal or something close to that). 

He plays Hanon or something similar as a 20 minute warmup every morning - in the left hand while improvising over it with the right hand.  It was amazing. 
Tim

Offline claude_debussy

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #39 on: January 10, 2009, 02:14:02 AM »
Hanon, no.  Absolutely not.  First twenty = finger wiggling.  Total waste of time. 

Here's the tiresome, boring truth that you alwas knew without asking: to gain virtuosity, you must practice nearly to infinity, scales, arpeggios, octaves. 

Hanon Bk1 is useless because there is no turning of the hand and passing of the thumb - *the* crucial gesture to master in both scales and arpeggios. 

Octaves are a bit different, another arena to conquer.  Play hard, hands separately, then together, in arpeggio and chordal leaps (e.g., Liszt b minor sonata passages).

Here's the path to virtuosity: scales every day.  LOUD.  HARD.  THEN REST - AS SOON AS YOU FEEL RESISTANCE.  THEN START AGAIN.  THEN REST AGAIN.  THEN REPEAT!

DOING THIS RELIGIOUSLY EVERY DAY YOU WILL WARM UP AND REACH "FLOW."  HERE IS WHERE REAL PRACTICING STARTS. 

You will actually feel your scales improve.  When that happens, your entire playing is transformed. 

ARPEGGIOS - SAME - LOUD - HARD - THEN REST! - THEN REPEAT!  ... AND DON'T NEGLECT DIM 7TH ARPEGGIOS, ESSENTIAL IN LISZT b Minor Sonata eg. and Tchaikovsky Concerto ..




 

Offline gerryjay

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #40 on: January 10, 2009, 05:50:19 PM »
hi, there!
i can talk about two experiences: mine and of my pupils.

since my early days as a student i never find any use in hanon, scales, arpeggios and any daily routine such as that. my point was to play music, as much music as i could. the results of that? well, i like very much the way i play the piano, but i lack some "burst" in speed, that sometimes is really annoying. an example of the last year: brahms' rhapsody opus 79/1. no major problems solving it but the scales, that didn't reach the speed and fluidity i would like to.
the basic question is: this limitation is due to a non-orthodox technical approach or to a natural constraint? well, i would never ever have the scientific answer, but my second experience, with my former pupils, give me evidences.

i feel like i did try most anything in my teaching experience in the boundaries of classical piano: hanon and no-hanon, scales and no-scales, much repertory-few exercises, few repertory-much exercises...well, the list is really long, but it provides me an interesting conclusion: there is no direct relation of what is done and the results achieved. the question is actually about how the stuff is studied. i had pupils that didn't make a single hanon page and had an accurate finger coordination and dexterity. in the other hand, i remember a boy who made all pischna and hanon (i mean really all, the complete books). for some reason, he loved to play those exercises and to duel with the metronome, and the results were amazing as well.

so, my conclusion have to be two-folded: hanon is very useful and hanon is absolutely useless.

best!



Offline gerryjay

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #41 on: January 10, 2009, 05:55:14 PM »
Here's the path to virtuosity: scales every day.  LOUD.  HARD.  THEN REST - AS SOON AS YOU FEEL RESISTANCE.  THEN START AGAIN.  THEN REST AGAIN.  THEN REPEAT!

DOING THIS RELIGIOUSLY EVERY DAY YOU WILL WARM UP AND REACH "FLOW."  HERE IS WHERE REAL PRACTICING STARTS. 
hi, claude!
could you please develop your idea? it seems to me a paved-multi-lane-highway to tendinitis, but if it works to you, i would really like to read some more of your experience. perhaps, i can give that a shot ;).
best!

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #42 on: January 10, 2009, 05:59:28 PM »
hi, claude!
could you please develop your idea? it seems to me a paved-multi-lane-highway to tendinitis, but if it works to you, i would really like to read some more of your experience. perhaps, i can give that a shot ;).
best!

Unfortunately, he cannot reply as both of his arms are in plaster.

Thal
Curator/Director
Concerto Preservation Society

Offline gerryjay

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #43 on: January 10, 2009, 06:17:14 PM »
Unfortunately, he cannot reply as both of his arms are in plaster.

Thal
;D

thanks, that just made my day.

best!

Offline tds

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #44 on: January 10, 2009, 07:05:01 PM »
i ate hanon
dignity, love and joy.

Offline pianisten1989

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #45 on: January 10, 2009, 08:14:21 PM »
hi, claude!
could you please develop your idea? it seems to me a paved-multi-lane-highway to tendinitis, but if it works to you, i would really like to read some more of your experience. perhaps, i can give that a shot ;).
best!
I do kind of the same thing with scales, but not as much.
I play all scales with very much finger activity, very heavy arm, and slow, But try to be as realaxed as possible. Then When I've finished one scale like that, I play it fast, and with light arm and very little finger activity. And for me, it really makes my scales be fliud and articulated. I think he meant kind of like this.

And I still don't get why you should play Hanon, when you can play scales. But that's only my experience, so I really don't want to discuss it.

Offline claude_debussy

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #46 on: January 10, 2009, 09:32:18 PM »
No my arms are not in plaster. 

I practice just as described above, every day, religiously, weekends, holidays, Christmas and New Years.  Any yoga you practice *every* day becomes a very powerful practice.  If you do as I suggest above, you will achieve results - impressive results. 

But it takes time. 

Is a year a long time?  Are two years?  Five? 

How long have you been playing up til now?   Looked at that way, two more years of intensive effort, to reach a very high goal, may not be so impractical.

Would you sacrifice two years to truly master one, single Chopin Etude? 

These are questions a serious student must address.

If you've been dedicated enough to work for years to get to *this* point, you should be comfortable looking ahead years in the future - and plan to use that time in a way that optimizes your progress, rather than merely continuing a path that yields only mediocre or disappointing results. 

BUT BEFORE CONTINUING: tendinitis, tunnel carpal syndrome and all potential hand, finger, muscle and tendon problems are to be taken VERY seriously. 

If you feel any kind of *recurring* pain, STOP PRACTICING FOR DAYS IF NECESSARY until it goes away.  Rest as long as you must, or better yet, practice using the other hand if one only is affected.  Good time to learn that Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand (as I did).  Whatever you do, DO NOT 'PUSH THROUGH' any kind of discomfort. 

I say this because it relates very specifically to the practice notes I posted earlier, and because of what follows. 

Daily technical practice of scales, arpeggios and octaves must be LOUD, VIGOROUS, and FORCEFUL.  After doing this for a time, you will feel normal tiredness, a bit of 'burn' perhaps, a little resistance.

Then, REST.

Drop your arms.  Take a break of at least two or three minutes.   Or maybe read some music that requires no physical effort, if your mind is restless.

These interruptions are challenging - it's much easier to continue in a single, obsessive and repetitive activity, rather than bridging the rest gaps in technical training, *which are when your muscles and tendons actually 'repair' themselves and when you actually gain and increase physical ability.* 

So the rest periods are as, or even more, important than the exercises themselves.  The rest periods are where your body takes the 'work' of the exercise and puts it to use - incorporating it and adapting your body to do it even better next time.

Do as I suggest, and you'll never have to worry about putting your arms in plaster casts - a sad, sad fate that has befallen great artists such as Gary Graffman, Leon Fleischer, and many others. 


*     *     *


I speak as a serious student of many years who struggled against mediocre teaching, and without any special 'gifts' technically.  Every bit of skill I've achieved has been hard-won. 

I've also been lucky enough to have some famous teachers (Kottler, Shure) and know clearly that there's a vast, vast difference. 

As discussed in the indispensable "Fundamentals of Piano Practice" by Chuan C Chang, there may not be any such thing as innate piano "talent." I know this is a controversial idea, good for an entire thread perhaps, but I suspect he's right.

In that view, the best pianists are the ones with the best training, who work hardest.

So the question of daily technical work - what you actually develop in your body as you work - is critical.  Start there: with a humble daily surrender to a routine which will take you where you want to go.

There are no shortcuts.  You have to take the long way around.  But music makes it worthwhile.

You won't find a major artist who has not undergone enormous physical training with utter discipline.  Vladimir de Pachmann describes being assigned a Chopin etude by his teacher, but instead went on to learn all of them to fulfill his assignment. 

That kind of devotion.

Gaining piano technique isn't easy and doesn't seem like tons of fun, particularly at first, unless you challenge yourself and work with the physical limitations you will reach every day, working with scales, arpeggios, octaves.  The point is to push beyond your current limitation, every day, even just slightly - reach that limit and push the envelope just a bit further in terms of speed, power, coordination and control.  If you concentrate on doing this, the yoga of piano technical exercise becomes absorbing, fascinating, and even exhilarating. 

Nothing is more exciting than success. 

Every day you'll reach top speed and perhaps a bit further. 

When you gain even some virtuosity, the psychic effect is extraordinary. 

It's a long mountain to climb, as Clementi - aka Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum - suggests, but it's worth doing.  When you get to the higher elevations, the rarefied atmosphere and vast panorama you attain will afford you powers and visions you could only dream of otherwise. 

The powers of a master pianist are almost god-like - the closest human beings can get to supernatural experience, in my view. 

Is there a greater experience than playing, with power and beauty, Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata? 

Don't answer unless you've been there. 

It is extremely difficult but it is also very worthwhile, well worth doing.  Maybe, you will decide, the very best thing you can do with your life, and your physical being.

This is probably enough for now - I have more to say, but it can wait for other threads and dialogues. 

Good luck to all - CD


PS - and don't forget to work on my Debussy Etudes, the greatest piano masterpiece of the 20th Century...





Offline thalbergmad

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #47 on: January 10, 2009, 09:44:25 PM »
Wow, sounds like i had better cancel my gym membership.

I will get all the excercise i need on the piano.

Thal
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Concerto Preservation Society

Offline pianisten1989

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #48 on: January 10, 2009, 09:49:02 PM »
Debussy: I really disagree with you in one point. And that is the If you do this, you WILL do great success. And also the "You HAVE TO play it with force. There probably is no WILL or HAVE TO in piano playing.

You achived better technique with that methode, but not everyone will.

And this methode is nothing one should do alone, or as a beginner, since the risk of tendency is sky high if you aren't very carefull, and fully sure when you are relaxed.

Offline gerryjay

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Re: pro-hanon vs anti-hanon
«Reply #49 on: January 11, 2009, 01:46:57 AM »
dear claude:
thank you very much for your post, which i take as an answer. well, the fact that i agree or i disagree with you is quite irrelevant, but there is one point of your text that i must point out:
Would you sacrifice two years to truly master one, single Chopin Etude? 
that is the quintessential question to me. and my greatest challenge, btw. it's interesting that is the second time this week that someone talks me about a real long timespan related to chopin's etudes...i think it deserves a shot, just for the sake of variety  ;D.

best wishes!