\"\"
Piano Forum logo

I Cover the Hanonfront: How to approach learning Hanon "in all keys" (Read 1032 times)

Offline maxim3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 165

(As usual, I request that Hanon haters find another sandbox to play in.)

You may have heard that it is desirable to play Hanon "in all keys." If you believe this, and if you are at the stage where this seems like a frighteningly difficult mountain to climb, I suggest the following long-term, time-saving plan:

Part 1. Learn Hanon exercises 1-31 as they are written in C, but only one octave, not two. Spend no more than 5 or 10 minutes on them per day. Take weeks or months.

Part 2. While you are doing this, start playing all the non-C fingered major and minor scales (melodic and harmonic) with the C fingering. Again, a few minutes per day is sufficient. (They feel awkward, certainly, but at least you already know the desired fingering!)

Once you can play Hanon 1-31 confidently in C and all the scales with C fingering fairly easily, you will find that attacking exercises 1-31 in all major keys is not so intimidating. You can even do them in harmonic minor, if you're a confirmed zealot.

I have developed this long-term routine with the aim of doing Hanon in all keys while spending as little time on it as possible. Obviously I am a Hanon lover, but I agree with anyone who says that it should only take up a small proportion of your practice time.

If you're curious, I practice what I preach. I learned Hanon exercises 1-31 in C long ago, and back then I even experimented with a few of them in other keys, including harmonic minor. I haven't done regular practice of Hanon at all in close to a year, but for some time now I've been warming up every day with a few minutes of Part 2 above. So we'll see how it goes.

Offline perfect_pitch

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5525
You LITERALLY said in a post just over a week ago:

UPDATE: I mentioned "MrMusicarta," Bob Chappell's British piano website [...] written to him, mentioning my abandoned efforts to create melodic-minor versions of Hanon, and he replied to me:

"I also gave up on the minor Hanon Ė not worth the effort, i.m.h.o.. Much more productive ways to channel oneís energies."

Why would you THEN encourage people to do them in the melodic and harmonic minor tonalities???

Do them in the Major keys instead, starting with the 1 flat/1 sharp scales, then 2 flat, 2 sharp scales etc... if you really want to try them but avoid the minors.

Offline dogperson

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1119
Maxim
You wrote a thread where you might be interested in eventually teaching.  Why donít you go work on repertoire for awhile?  You need to be able to play Grade 8 and the skills needed for that.  This is quite more than just any mastery of Hanon.

Offline maxim3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 165
dogperson - I've been working on Czerny op. 599 for a few months now.

Offline dogperson

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1119
dogperson - I've been working on Czerny op. 599 for a few months now.


IMHO
You need to be working on Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. 

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4871
Instead of trying to do Hannon in all keys itís better to just learn actual music
Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 590
Instead of trying to do Hannon in all keys itís better to just learn actual music

Well, this sounds crazy, but one could do both learn his or her scales or little patterns while doing real stuff.

You know, it's not impossible.

Bach did it, and so did his inheritors. 

I'd guess the OP just doesn't have the right temperament for the job.

Takes years.

Some would say a lifetime.

ETA, nothing against the OP, it's just there's a time and place for everything.  If you know how to execute what you have in your working memory or what's on the page, then you're good.  Move on.

I agree, my respect for a technician would diminish if he or she couldn't execute some nice scales in octaves or so forth, but that has, in many cases, very little to do with general musicianship.

You think Art Tatum is good at piano?

I agree, but put him in front of an unknown trap set of drums, and it might be different.

Music is supposed to be what we're making, so it's not so odd to insist that technique can take a back seat once in a while.

Not forever ó it's not easy to make an out-of-tune piano sound good playing some corny old Chopin pieces, or whatever.

But. still, it should be one of the first goals, IMHO.

Offline lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5625
You may have heard that it is desirable to play Hanon "in all keys." If you believe this...
I hope people don't believe this. It might be interesting to experiment with it briefly but to obsess over it is a real waste of time in almost all cases. If you have OCD or autistic and have a specifically deep interest in Hanon then I guess there is no escaping this but for the 99.99999% of the rest of us please don't do this.

I have developed this long-term routine with the aim of doing Hanon in all keys while spending as little time on it as possible. Obviously I am a Hanon lover, but I agree with anyone who says that it should only take up a small proportion of your practice time.
31 Hanons x 12 Keys x 3 scale types = 1167 hanon exercises that is a huge amount to encourage spending as little time on it as possible. If you add more scale types it explodes even further :P
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.facebook.com/groups/348933611793249/

Offline perfect_pitch

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5525
I like how he brushed over my comment from several days ago.

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4871
Well, this sounds crazy, but one could do both learn his or her scales or little patterns while doing real stuff.

You know, it's not impossible.

I agree, my respect for a technician would diminish if he or she couldn't execute some nice scales in octaves or so forth, but that has, in many cases, very little to do with general musicianship.

But. still, it should be one of the first goals, IMHO.

Yeah I guess itís possible but in all 24 keys as you said would take like infinite time.  I do piano for a living and thereís no way I could imagine doing Hannon in all 24 keys while doing repertoire at the same time itís ridiculous. 

But why would your respect diminish?  Everyone can do scales and Hannon but not everyone can do large scale rep.  Besides the goal for scales and Hannon is supposed to help you play actual actual rep.  But if you have the rep why would you need to actively practice all these exercises?  If you had to pick would you want perfect Hannon and scales or actual rep? 

Eh I donít think of it as a goal I think of it as one of many pathways to a goal
Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4871
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: How to approach learning Hanon "in all keys"
«Reply #10 on: June 09, 2019, 12:46:55 AM »
Btw Iím not against Hannon nor do I think itís completely useless but everyoneís an extremist on the debate.  Everyone either thinks itís 100% mandatory and youíre a failure if you donít use it while other people think itís completely useless.

It doesnít have any use for me anymore but it might help out the next guy idk.
Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 590
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: How to approach learning Hanon "in all keys"
«Reply #11 on: June 09, 2019, 01:20:24 AM »
Yeah I guess itís possible but in all 24 keys as you said would take like infinite time.  I do piano for a living and thereís no way I could imagine doing Hannon in all 24 keys while doing repertoire at the same time itís ridiculous. 

But why would your respect diminish?  Everyone can do scales and Hannon but not everyone can do large scale rep.  Besides the goal for scales and Hannon is supposed to help you play actual actual rep.  But if you have the rep why would you need to actively practice all these exercises?  If you had to pick would you want perfect Hannon and scales or actual rep? 

Eh I donít think of it as a goal I think of it as one of many pathways to a goal

I think we're on the same page:  it's a means to an end.

But, looking at piano including all the variations of genres and so forth, no, not everybody can automatically play scales the way people who come from a European art music background can.  A lot of good and great jazz improvisors can, of course, but by no means everybody in all kinds of improvised music in the popular styles.

It doesn't mean they aren't monster players in other respects, or great improvisors, but, sure, I would consider it strange for people who spend a lot of time developing the technique needed to play Beethoven, Bach, and, really, any composer you could name to have a lack of facility with some of the building blocks used throughout repertoire.

For Hanon, I really don't have much of an opinion:  I do extract passages from repertoire and make up some little exercises for myself, in addition to running scales occasionally, but it certainly doesn't enrage me if someone likes the Hanon patterns.  Power to them and I wish them luck.

Just like everything else, if it were me, I'd be conscious of keeping a close eye on how much time I'm spending on fundamentals versus the real work of making music, but I can only say what my own preferences are in this regard.

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4871
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: How to approach learning Hanon "in all keys"
«Reply #12 on: June 09, 2019, 01:44:53 AM »
I think we're on the same page:  it's a means to an end.

But, looking at piano including all the variations of genres and so forth, no, not everybody can automatically play scales the way people who come from a European art music background can.  A lot of good and great jazz improvisors can, of course, but by no means everybody in all kinds of improvised music in the popular styles.

It doesn't mean they aren't monster players in other respects, or great improvisors, but, sure, I would consider it strange for people who spend a lot of time developing the technique needed to play Beethoven, Bach, and, really, any composer you could name to have a lack of facility with some of the building blocks used throughout repertoire.

For Hanon, I really don't have much of an opinion:  I do extract passages from repertoire and make up some little exercises for myself, in addition to running scales occasionally, but it certainly doesn't enrage me if someone likes the Hanon patterns.  Power to them and I wish them luck.

Just like everything else, if it were me, I'd be conscious of keeping a close eye on how much time I'm spending on fundamentals versus the real work of making music, but I can only say what my own preferences are in this regard.

Oh I didnít know we were talking about other genres besides classical

By facility do you mean the ability to whip out all the scales and arpeggios at any given moment or just the technique to be able to play the music?  Cause if you donít have the technique to deal with the building blocks of repertoire then you just canít play the repertoire.  I play rach 3 but I suck at scales and arpeggios cause I donít practice them and never have.  But does that mean I canít play them?  And what about the person who has perfect scales and arpeggios but canít play Ďdifficultí rep?

I agree with everything else you said
Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 590
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: How to approach learning Hanon "in all keys"
«Reply #13 on: June 09, 2019, 02:42:33 AM »
Oh I didnít know we were talking about other genres besides classical

By facility do you mean the ability to whip out all the scales and arpeggios at any given moment or just the technique to be able to play the music?  Cause if you donít have the technique to deal with the building blocks of repertoire then you just canít play the repertoire.  I play rach 3 but I suck at scales and arpeggios cause I donít practice them and never have.  But does that mean I canít play them?  And what about the person who has perfect scales and arpeggios but canít play Ďdifficultí rep?

I agree with everything else you said

Well, in some ways I'm always thinking about piano from the kinds of things I do, so classical but also just more general American roots music.  I don't insist everyone follow me in that viewpoint, but it's just how I think about technical work abstracted away from classical repertoire. 

You know, on the one hand, it gets me closer to playing more real repertoire, and expands the amount of things I can play, but on the other hand, it expands my ability to do things in jazz I wouldn't otherwise have the skills to do.

I'm not sure if I draw such a tight line between technical work (the real basic building blocks:  scales, passage-work, obviously all kinds of inversions of chords, specialized things like repeated notes and so forth) and the repertoire, thinking more about it.

They're just two sides of the same coin:  I think it's obvious if you don't have the chops, you're going to fall down on so many basic pieces as to be extremely limited.  I'd take it so much for granted that, yes, it would raise my eyebrows if someone couldn't pull out some well-executed basics.

Not sure if many people would want to do that, if they're already deep into repertoire, committed to memory.

Maybe as a cheap party trick or something.

I don't know:  that's really about as far as I'm willing to think about it, but always open to corrections or suggestions.  (Even though I always pretty much think I'm right  ;D)

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4871
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: How to approach learning Hanon "in all keys"
«Reply #14 on: June 09, 2019, 05:23:16 PM »
Well, in some ways I'm always thinking about piano from the kinds of things I do, so classical but also just more general American roots music.  I don't insist everyone follow me in that viewpoint, but it's just how I think about technical work abstracted away from classical repertoire. 

You know, on the one hand, it gets me closer to playing more real repertoire, and expands the amount of things I can play, but on the other hand, it expands my ability to do things in jazz I wouldn't otherwise have the skills to do.

I'm not sure if I draw such a tight line between technical work (the real basic building blocks:  scales, passage-work, obviously all kinds of inversions of chords, specialized things like repeated notes and so forth) and the repertoire, thinking more about it.

They're just two sides of the same coin:  I think it's obvious if you don't have the chops, you're going to fall down on so many basic pieces as to be extremely limited.  I'd take it so much for granted that, yes, it would raise my eyebrows if someone couldn't pull out some well-executed basics.

Not sure if many people would want to do that, if they're already deep into repertoire, committed to memory.

Maybe as a cheap party trick or something.

I don't know:  that's really about as far as I'm willing to think about it, but always open to corrections or suggestions.  (Even though I always pretty much think I'm right  ;D)

I think itís good to think that way itís just that 99% of the time people here are only talking about classical so I just assumed you were talking about strictly classical
Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline ted

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3677
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: How to approach learning Hanon "in all keys"
«Reply #15 on: June 09, 2019, 11:43:36 PM »
Speaking as a pure improviser, not necessarily in either classical or jazz, I feel the role of technique in idea generation is underestimated. Disciplines such as Hanon and ordinary scales use musical and keyboard subsets which are far too restricted to be of much use to me so I have always invented my own exercises each day using the Virgil Practice Clavier. Once at the piano, I forget about technique because thinking about it destroys the idea flow. The conventional ideal of glassy smoothness in everything I find spurious to my purpose, with rough figures being far more productive of good ideas owing to the unintentional accents within them.

Having said that, I know good classical and jazz players who swear by big daily doses of the same old scales and Hanon, so in the end it might be just a matter of what oneís deep musical objectives are. I have always used all twelve positions with any figures I invent so I donít imagine Hanon would be any different should I ever, perish the thought, want to play it.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 590
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: How to approach learning Hanon "in all keys"
«Reply #16 on: June 10, 2019, 07:46:09 AM »
The conventional ideal of glassy smoothness in everything I find spurious to my purpose, with rough figures being far more productive of good ideas owing to the unintentional accents within them.

Well, I apologize for continuing to get a bit OT, but I find this interesting in that this is my basic approach to many things in classical repertoire, and in jazz.

I don't want "smooth, pearly" scales, many times.

In Bach, I want phrasing for melodic lines, sometimes with pronounced points of articulation depending on the character of the piece, and different articulations for arpeggiated figures.

In bebop, I like to attack the scalar lines (alas, still mostly done in RH, despite my efforts to do more work on octaves and tenths splits between both hands, like Bill Evans was doing in his later, more free-form interludes later in his career, or so many others) ó it's just, IMHO, many ways the music should sound, at least as I like it.

Of course, one needs both options, especially for classical repertoire ó the smooth and the rough ó but by all means smooth, even, glassy scales is just one option.

So, if you improvise, and it's not classical, and it's not jazz (I'll include all the subsets of popular music under that umbrella, as is my wont), do you have a link?  I'm curious what that might sound like.

ETA back to the OP and many-keys work:  I wonder if it occurred to him or her to ear-tranpose the Bach two-part inventions (or some of his other simpler pieces) into the other keys?

I have never gotten around to that, personally, but I'd have to think the benefits for learning more about music theory, as well as the many spots in such pieces where isolation-work on five-finger motifs (the C major, pretty much could be adapted into a Hanon-esque exercise by extraction) or the Bb (isolated work on fingers 3-4-5 in LH), as well as the rest.

I'd sure be doing that if I wanted to do some real woodshedding ó although I suppose it would be far easier to just man-handle the Hanon bits into whatever key desired, because of their brevity and lack of musical content.

EETA And, yes, I know mostly this is a classical board.  It's just ó and here, I would think most people would benefit from this ó that I prefer to think of the piano as an abstraction, abstracted away from any specific repertoire.  I mean, really, it's a box of metal and wood, and the techniques needed to make it sound good aren't so different no matter what the style.

Offline maxim3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 165
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: How to approach learning Hanon "in all keys"
«Reply #17 on: June 10, 2019, 08:32:42 PM »
...Having said that, I know good classical and jazz players who swear by big daily doses of the same old scales and Hanon, so in the end it might be just a matter of what oneís deep musical objectives are.

I suppose I'm just one of those guys (in embryonic form).

j_tour -- I'm barely at a grade 2 level in terms of repertoire. Playing Bach inventions is still a long way off for me, much less transposing them.

BTW I get the impression that some of you are not actually reading my posts, but rather just skimming them, and making inaccurate observations as a result. Or perhaps I am not writing clearly enough. In any case I'm not bothered overmuch -- I'm not like James Joyce, who said in an interview: "The demand that I make of my reader is that he should devote his whole life to reading my works."


Offline ted

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3677
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: How to approach learning Hanon "in all keys"
«Reply #18 on: June 10, 2019, 10:15:35 PM »
So, if you improvise, and it's not classical, and it's not jazz (I'll include all the subsets of popular music under that umbrella, as is my wont), do you have a link?  I'm curious what that might sound like.

Itís liable to sound like anything, whatever springs to mind at the time. I can play classical and jazz but became increasingly tired of them and since retiring I do little except record hundreds of long free improvisations. Probably no deeper musical reason other than it makes me happy. A number of short segments of it exist within the improvisation board.

Three complete ones are here:
https://soundcloud.com/super-bear

Send me a PM if you wish to know more about it, as the original topic has been disturbed enough.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 590
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: How to approach learning Hanon "in all keys"
«Reply #19 on: June 11, 2019, 02:56:49 AM »
Quote from: ted
Three complete ones are here:
https://soundcloud.com/super-bear

Send me a PM if you wish to know more about it, as the original topic has been disturbed enough.

I'll look forward to hearing your explorations.  I admit I can get locked into "well, if it's not classical, and it's not jazz...my head might explode!"  And yet, in jazz, I'm still trying to develop the technique I need to play freely. 

Yeah, it is OT for this thread, but I look forward to copying your ideas learning from your example. ;D

I suppose I'm just one of those guys (in embryonic form).

j_tour -- I'm barely at a grade 2 level in terms of repertoire. Playing Bach inventions is still a long way off for me, much less transposing them.

BTW I get the impression that some of you are not actually reading my posts, but rather just skimming them, and making inaccurate observations as a result. Or perhaps I am not writing clearly enough. In any case I'm not bothered overmuch -- I'm not like James Joyce, who said in an interview: "The demand that I make of my reader is that he should devote his whole life to reading my works."

I don't think that's a fair assessment. 

I can't speak for anyone else, but I take your ideas seriously.

Maybe you already know this, but everyone who spends a good bit of his or life at the keyboard is going to have his or own two cents to add.

You should probably take it with a grain of salt:  I know what works for me, and that's about it. 

If anything, probably any cautions or alternatives are meant to help you from wasting a bunch of time.

It's not like your ideas about fiddling around with the character of Hanon are going to cripple you for life:  maybe that's what you want to do, and, so, go ahead and do it!

It won't hurt you, just that there are some other approaches of similar difficulty that might be equally or more useful.

There's a reason it's an art, you know:  this isn't paint-by-numbers, so if you want to go the road less travelled, go for it.