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What's wrong with Hanon? (Read 6718 times)

Offline Nana_Ama

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What's wrong with Hanon?
« on: August 22, 2004, 06:11:59 AM »
Honestly I don't understand why Hannon is bad. I am relatively new to piano, I've only been laying for two years.  Some I've looked through the forum and I noticed that some people love Hannon while others dislike Hannon.  Why is it bad?  Why is it good?  I am really confused  ??? ::) ???

-Nana Ama
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Offline Nana_Ama

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Re: What's wrong with Hannon?
«Reply #1 on: August 22, 2004, 06:14:18 AM »
Did I spell that right... somehow it looks wrong :-/
I scare people; people scare me; it's a mutual thing!!!

Offline pies

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Re: What's wrong with Hannon?
«Reply #2 on: August 22, 2004, 07:19:47 AM »
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Offline robert_henry

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Re: What's wrong with Hannon?
«Reply #3 on: August 22, 2004, 08:28:40 AM »
For once, Bernhard and I might slightly disagree on something.  Or do we?  Stay tuned and find out!

Honestly, I don't understand the problem with Hanon itself.  Most of the book is standard stuff, with the usual rounds of scales in all keys, in double-thirds, double-sixths, octaves, arpeggios, tremolos, and chords.  These are things that are common to many methods and technique books, and are not optional as far as I'm concerned (except for scales in double-sixths...I never learned those, but don't tell anyone).

I think the area of discord concerns the first 30 or so exercises, and it should be understood that I now talking about these 30 for the remainder of this post.

There are those pianists/teachers who don't like them because they cause tension in their or their students' hands.  If there is tension going on, then the problem is not with the exercise, but with the pianist!  A pianist should be able to play anything that is put before him or her, and that certainly includes Hanon exercises, which are quite simple.  So, I discount this altogether as a reason against playing Hanon.

There is however a valid reason for not playing Hanon and that is that they are so damned boring.  Why play these when there are so many more inspiring ways to learn the same techniques?  If one is practicing basic scales and arpeggios in every way possible, then there is no reason to pound away at those first 30 exercises.  Scales, arpeggios, and repertoire are all the ingredients needed to form technique.  

On the other hand, there is the saying: "If you are bored, you are boring person".  It is possible to breathe life into the most mundane of exercises by playing them at different intervals, keys, rhythms, dynamics, variance of touch, different registers, delayed entrances and whatever else you can think of.  As the guy at http://www.zombo.com says, "The only limit is yourself."

Another positive is that the patterns are easily learned and even a beginner can begin playing them quite quickly.  

I think teachers simply misuse the exercises.  Hanon was arrogant enough to write that his book was the book to end all books, and many teachers have bought this BS.  They tell their students to practice these things for hours, and unfortunately many continue to hand down (ptp) this idea of playing with a penny on the back of the hand (which means there is absolutely NO rotation going on, which of course is why the students get tight).  You've heard the saying: "So and so knows just enough to be dangerous", and that thought certainly applies to the way Hanon is taught in many places today, even in some conservatories.  Unbelievable, isn't it?!

I like to think of technique in terms of a schedule rotation, much like you would plan a workout at the gym.  You might have a warm-up on the bike, and you have arm days, chest days, leg days, etc.  In piano, my warm-up usually includes some Matthay stuff for about 10 minutes to reconnect my mind with my body.  Then, I have finger days (which include scales, chromatic exercises, and arpeggios in all keys), and I have chord days (which include double-thirds, octaves, and chords).  And then I'll have a day off... or a year or two off, as has been the case lately.  Anyway, this keeps variety up and burn-out down.

I find Hanon exercises number 6 and 31 (I think) useful for rotation exercises, and also the two note drop exercise (about 37 or so; my numbers are probably off), and I'll hand out one or two here and there depending on the problem the student is having.  Other than that, who needs them!  For the most part, just ignore numbers 1-30 and learn everything else in the book and you'll be fine.  

I know it seems like I am all over the place on this issue (I can hear Willcowitz now), but I'm not.  I don't use Hanon much at all; I'm rather neutral on the subject because there are right and wrong ways to practice them, just as there are for everything.  I'm just not prepared to have a book burning just yet.  There are better ways to learn, ways that involve music-making to a greater degree, yes, of course.  I suspect that most teachers who speak so strongly against the exercises are not really against the exercises themselves as much as they are the abhorrent way they are used.

Robert Henry

Offline Tash

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Re: What's wrong with Hannon?
«Reply #4 on: August 22, 2004, 03:19:21 PM »
hanon is fun!!!

i have nothing against hanon, it's just a warm-up exercise for me but i enjoy doing it and my teaher told me that i am living proof that hanon can be played musically so yay to that. i believe it's good in the fact that it apparently won't give me any hand injuries, says my teacher so if she's wrong then please tell me! i don't know, i reckon if you like them then do them, if you don't then find something else.
'J'aime presque autant les images que la musique' Debussy

Offline paris

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Re: What's wrong with Hannon?
«Reply #5 on: August 22, 2004, 05:03:33 PM »
i think Hanon is a waste of time. it is a tehnical exercise and good warm up, but if you don't have time, it is better to improve your tehnique from pieces you play.
i used to practise Hanon for 1 hour every day, but i find it not necessary. some people practise Hanon and watch TV in the same time. it's so stupid! i rather practise bach for warm up. it's musical and more interesting than Hanon. practising Hanon you improve only physical technique, and with Bach  mental too.
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Offline super_ardua

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Re: What's wrong with Hannon?
«Reply #6 on: August 22, 2004, 09:46:41 PM »
I have barely done any technical exercises and look here.

(Everybody will now do their exercises everday from now on hearing this)
We must do,  we shall do!!!

Offline bernhard

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Re: What's wrong with Hannon?
«Reply #7 on: August 22, 2004, 10:07:13 PM »
Quote
For once, Bernhard and I might slightly disagree on something.  Or do we?  Stay tuned and find out!



Nah...

There is nothing you said that I would disagree with. (And if there was, I would seriously consider changing my opinion ;D)

In particular I think scales and arpeggios (chords) are absolutely essential. But as you pointed out, I do not really consider scales when talking about Hanon, because they are not original to his method. It is the other exercises (in particular the first 30) that I usually refer to when I think of Hanon. In regards to scales as printed in Hanon, I do not think his fingering is the most efficient, and accordingly I use a different fingering. So even when it comes to scales I don’t use it.

I myself was raised on a diet of Hanon in my early years. I can sincerely say that it did nothing for my technique, which only started improving when I dropped it and dismissed his principles and guidelines for practice as the utter rubbish they are (just read his preface). I have never used it with any of my students, and I don’t think they missed anything.

Like you, I am mostly indifferent to it. But it started to get on my nerves to see so many posters urging people to go for Hanon.

Anyway, my full argument against Hanon is in reply #28 of this thread:

http://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=stud;action=display;num=1084072922;start=28

(By the way, I’ve just read another wonderful post of yours on the bridge of the hand trhead! Thank you. :D)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

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 Piazzo22

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Re: What's wrong with Hannon?
«Reply #8 on: August 22, 2004, 10:21:28 PM »
Quote

I myself was raised on a diet of Hanon in my early years. I can sincerely say that it did nothing for my technique, which only started improving when I dropped it and dismissed his principles and guidelines for practice as the utter rubbish they are (just read his preface). I have never used it with any of my students, and I don’t think they missed anything.


Well, in the XIX century most pianists practiced like that. Even Liszt, who played passages until he couldn´t go no further of exhaustation. His pupils always recommended the most exagerated articulation and loudest as possible  slow practicing.
i don´t know if it was for the piano (lighter than today's), or what could it be, but it was like that.
And you can notice that many famous pianists today practice like that by just looking their hands movements.
August Förster (Löbau) owner.

Offline mozartgonebad

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Re: What's wrong with Hannon?
«Reply #9 on: August 28, 2004, 07:53:21 AM »
i think that Hanon is a waste of time...i started Hanon when I was 6, and my technique didn't improve until I changed teachers when I was 8

Hanon = complete waste of time ;D
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Offline in_love_with_liszt

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Re: What's wrong with Hannon?
«Reply #10 on: August 28, 2004, 07:43:14 PM »
I would agree with those who say most of Hanon is a waste of time for improving technique. But let me emphesize that most of Hanon is pointless, as there are some good exercizes. However in general they are too easy (Although my teacher made me play them with the metranome at 160 and that was hell). The exercizes in thirds and sixths are good, however as it has aleady been pointed out, those are hardly Hanon's origional ideas.
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Offline Tash

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Re: What's wrong with Hannon?
«Reply #11 on: August 29, 2004, 04:48:48 AM »
hanon reminds me of the music in some random computer game like tetris
'J'aime presque autant les images que la musique' Debussy

Offline jchurch1

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Re: What's wrong with Hanon?
«Reply #12 on: January 08, 2006, 05:51:29 PM »
For me, Hanon has done wonders to my technique, I enjoy Hanon very much and it is used in my lesson to check on the strength of individual fingures, and for me it is easy to log improvement.

However, you can't just live on Hanon and that will go only a little way on improving technique - you have to try a variety in my opinion.
For example, Clementi has helped me gain more power on the piano, and certainly arm strenth, which you couldn't cover in Hanon...

Each to their own! Although, I know the idea of studies isn't as common in the UK as it is on the continent...

Offline gruffalo

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Re: What's wrong with Hanon?
«Reply #13 on: January 08, 2006, 06:00:07 PM »
im thinking of going for Cortot's book. Ive heard people say how it changes their piano playing and there is a noticeable difference very quickly. Anyone have comments on this?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: What's wrong with Hanon?
«Reply #14 on: January 16, 2006, 06:26:02 AM »
For the beginner Hanon is essential. For the advanced Hanon is a good litmus paper.
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Offline chiyo

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Re: What's wrong with Hanon?
«Reply #15 on: January 17, 2006, 06:41:37 AM »
I've been playing piano for 14 years... of that, I studied Hanon 7 years (I was on number 39 for 3+ years)...
Now I can transpose easy pieces (Mozart sonata, Bach inventions, etc) into almost every major/minor. Technique wise...Hanon helps to relax my hands..and play harder pieces with little less effort.. I also believe in learning Czerny.

Offline rimv2

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Re: What's wrong with Hanon?
«Reply #16 on: January 17, 2006, 06:58:17 AM »
I've been playing piano for 14 years... of that, I studied Hanon 7 years (I was on number 39 for 3+ years)...
Now I can transpose easy pieces (Mozart sonata, Bach inventions, etc) into almost every major/minor.

Ahve played hanon only a couple of times. Its mad boring and it didnt help at all. Ahve been playing for 3.5 years.  Ah can transpose Chopin's Etude 10-1 into B or C#, probably more if ah really tried.

There are far better exercises than those of Hanon.

Quote
Technique wise...Hanon helps to relax my hands..and play harder pieces with little less effort..
If you play Hanon in the methode Hanon describes then your hands are all but relaxed. Then again, contracting muscles for extended periods of time does allow you to feel relaxed. You could get the same feeling from simply raising your fingers for five minutes.

Quote
I also believe in learning Czerny.
If given the choice between Hanon or Czerny, Choose Czerny. -Less boring
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Offline chiyo

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Re: What's wrong with Hanon?
«Reply #17 on: January 17, 2006, 07:18:26 AM »
Ahve played hanon only a couple of times. Its mad boring and it didnt help at all. Ahve been playing for 3.5 years.  Ah can transpose Chopin's Etude 10-1 into B or C#, probably more if ah really tried.

There are far better exercises than those of Hanon.
If you play Hanon in the methode Hanon describes then your hands are all but relaxed. Then again, contracting muscles for extended periods of time does allow you to feel relaxed. You could get the same feeling from simply raising your fingers for five minutes.
If given the choice between Hanon or Czerny, Choose Czerny. -Less boring

Yes.. it was very boring and I hated my teachers for it, because they made me do it OVER and OVER and OVER again. But..for me #39 really helped me transpost into EVERY major/minor.. and not just certain songs.  I don't even know what Hanon says in his intro or whatnot.  What matters to me is that when I play through it it helps me to get relaxed...Czerny for techniques.  I bet not everyone feels the same way about Hanon.

Offline anathema device

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Re: What's wrong with Hanon?
«Reply #18 on: January 21, 2006, 02:51:16 AM »
If given the choice between Hanon or Czerny, Choose Czerny. -Less boring
i agree. my teacher is making me do both and i like czerny way better. much more interesting to work with.

Offline steve jones

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Re: What's wrong with Hanon?
«Reply #19 on: January 21, 2006, 04:41:11 AM »

I found Hanon preliminary exercises good for the first couple of months. As someone who started as an adult and had absolutely no familiarity with the instrument, I reckon that Hanon helped me simply prepare my body and mind to begin learning piano.

Seriously though, when I started, I could run four notes together evenly. Hanon got me quickly to a stage where I could start learning music from the Gr1 - 3 books and not run into major technical problems. I honestly think that if I hadnt practiced these exercises I would have had to spend considerably time learning 'baby' pieces to get my body ready to crack on.

That said, as soon as I felt some kind of comfort with the keyboard I sacked Hanon and started learning all the music I could. I havent played Hanon no for 8 months, and dont feel like taking it up again. The Bach Inventions appear to teach virtually the same stuff, but in fun little pieces that can add to the reportoire. I would take Bach over Hanon ANY day of the week (just to at the very beginning).