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#1914209 - 06/15/12 06:12 PM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: Rodrigo V.]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
In general I stress hands separate practice of scale patterns for the simple reason that - as you mentioned - both hands are so often called upon to play different patterns. smile


Or practice scale patterns with one hand while doing something else with the other?

As a student, I like exercises. Let me see if I can explain why.

If we take NeilOS' example of 2 measures from K. 284, while I was working on that as an exercise I would most of the time be feeling like these 2 stupid measures were keeping me from being able to play that section of the piece. Plus, unless the exercise included to transpose those two measures into all keys, or diatonically up and down the scale, I'd only be learning how to play those two measures, and not something that might apply in lots of places. I'd rather have an exercise in advance that works me through a particular skill, and then when I meet it in a piece, there's a big payoff because it makes that section easier and more familiar than it would be otherwise.

I'm not 100% on this -- there are lots of things I meet for the first time in a piece, and it's just fine learning how to do them on the fly there.

But let me give some examples that I'm really glad to have learned through exercises before using them in pieces: chord inversions, and scales.

I spent about three months last year working every day on a variety of exercises (new exercise every week or two) involving chord inversions. The result is that now when I meet an inverted triad in closed position, BOOM, my fingers know how to fall into place. No effort. Compare that to a time slightly before that three month period, when I was trying to learn a method book piece with chord inversions. No luck at all. What the piece presented me to practice was too narrow for me to get comfortable with the inversions, plus I would never have had the patience to practice that one piece for three months. It would have felt like I was making no progress at all.

I've been working on scales on and off for the past year, and the big payoff for me is that now when I meet a scale in my music, BANG, I can play it. So that's one part of the piece done and dusted, instead of, say, encountering G major for the first time in a sonatina and being held up by those few measures.

I'm currently working through exercises that, along with whatever else they're asking me to practice (generally either chromatically or diatonically up and down an octave), they ask for variations in dynamics. This is constituting a months-long study in varying dynamics between my two hands, and when I emerge from it, the next time a piece has some dynamic challenge, I'll be halfway or more to being able to play it already, instead of having a brand-new skill stopping me.

There are enough complicated things that happen in every new piece, that if I can have pre-learned some of them through exercises in advance, I find that a great gain.

I've been looking longingly at the Chopin C# minor Nocturne, and the fast runs at the end are way beyond my skill right now. But for me, what that suggests is that I find someone who can teach me how to do multi-octave scales very fast, and practice that. Then I can pick up the Nocturne and not have one part in particular standing out and stopping me dead in my tracks.

I wonder what goes into people's makeup that makes them prefer one approach or the other? And also wonder if teachers are sensitive to their students' proclivities in this matter, and ever adjust how they teach in response?
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#1914245 - 06/15/12 07:14 PM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: PianoStudent88]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88

Or practice scale patterns with one hand while doing something else with the other?

Once the basic fingering of a scale is in place, the real challenge is to master passages that use them in snakey, winding ways. In my opinion the most complicated/challenging key is C major, because there are SO many alternate fingers. By comparison, in B major both hands will put thumb on B and E, and where the other fingers go is logical and soon automatic.

There is a difference between a scale - in theoretical form, starting on the tonic and running up and down multiple octaves - and passages that keep reversing directions and that somtimes skip notes in the scale (more of what Hanon does).

I prefer to teach pieces that keep one hand fairly stationary, leaving the other to sort of "explore patterns", in a practical and musical way. You can find lots of examples in Mozart, to name just one composer, where one hand is doing almost nothing while the other is racing around.

The biggest challenge is finding enough materials that balance that out with scale patterns in the LH while the RH is fairly stationary. This why I teach Bach later than most teachers, because so often BOTH hands are doing complicated scale-like movements at the same time.

I tell my students. There are three levels of Bach:

1) Hard
2) Very hard
3) Impossible.

wink
Quote:

As a student, I like exercises. Let me see if I can explain why.

If we take NeilOS' example of 2 measures from K. 284, while I was working on that as an exercise I would most of the time be feeling like these 2 stupid measures were keeping me from being able to play that section of the piece. Plus, unless the exercise included to transpose those two measures into all keys, or diatonically up and down the scale, I'd only be learning how to play those two measures, and not something that might apply in lots of places. I'd rather have an exercise in advance that works me through a particular skill, and then when I meet it in a piece, there's a big payoff because it makes that section easier and more familiar than it would be otherwise.

Sometimes that is a great idea, other times it just doesn't work. Remember, playing the same pattern in different keys may demand totally different fingerings. Not long ago I fumbled through the famous part of the "Minute Waltz" in C major. Of course PART of the problem was trying to transpose it on they fly, which almost totally negated any finger memory, and I could no longer just feel the pattersn. But in addition, it felt abnormally awkward in C. I think my student probably thought I was incompetent. I sounded like a bumbling student. But then I played it again in the right key, and it went like greased-lightning. On the other hand, doing some of the patterns in C major - in the K. 545 first movement, Mozart - feels TOTALLY different in Db, and much, MUCH harder.
Quote:

I spent about three months last year working every day on a variety of exercises (new exercise every week or two) involving chord inversions. The result is that now when I meet an inverted triad in closed position, BOOM, my fingers know how to fall into place. No effort. Compare that to a time slightly before that three month period, when I was trying to learn a method book piece with chord inversions. No luck at all. What the piece presented me to practice was too narrow for me to get comfortable with the inversions, plus I would never have had the patience to practice that one piece for three months. It would have felt like I was making no progress at all.

That is a perfect example of a 12 key skill that IS practical to have. We continually encounter common chords in all inversions, in all keys. Though I would add that "inversion" eventually means bass note, because in the long run most chords end up being in open-voicing form. Looking at any chord, in any voicing, and being able to instantly get back to the simple, root position chord, is what I call "unscrambling". Those of us who have played for many years do this on autopilot, so we only realize who hard it is when we run into a very unusual chord, spaced widely, inverted, and have to think a bit to get to what the chord really is.

And in my experience this "unscrambling" is done much more quickly and extensively by jazz pianists, or artists who are known for "crossing over", at home in both worlds.
Quote:

I've been working on scales on and off for the past year, and the big payoff for me is that now when I meet a scale in my music, BANG, I can play it. So that's one part of the piece done and dusted, instead of, say, encountering G major for the first time in a sonatina and being held up by those few measures.

I had to absorb and use scales so early in my life that I honestly don't even remember when and how I first learned them. I THINK I had them nailed on brass before piano, or maybe it happened on both instruments. Are you aware that all major and conventional minor scales are always alternating patterns of 3 and 4 finger groups?
Quote:

I'm currently working through exercises that, along with whatever else they're asking me to practice (generally either chromatically or diatonically up and down an octave), they ask for variations in dynamics. This is constituting a months-long study in varying dynamics between my two hands, and when I emerge from it, the next time a piece has some dynamic challenge, I'll be halfway or more to being able to play it already, instead of having a brand-new skill stopping me.

There are enough complicated things that happen in every new piece, that if I can have pre-learned some of them through exercises in advance, I find that a great gain.

You can see how two extremes can lead to different problems. If you have no skills developed apart from music, when you run into a specific technical "demand" that is foreign, you have to stop everything until that skill is mastered.

But if you try to prepare for all eventualities, in advance, there will always be new things you could never predict that you have to more or less master and then use - there is no way to prepare for them because they do not exist until you run into them.

I would say reasonable technical preparation, apart from playing music, is reasonable and good. Now much you absorb from music you are learning, on the fly, will be personal. For instance, if you know scales are alternating 3s and 4s (groups), when you hit scale patterns, alterned, that have more or fewer notes, you can adapt really fast. Here is a very common example, descending:

F E Eb D C Bb A G F (etc.)

There you will use 4 on E and Bb (RH) to zoom down the piano. No major or minor scale will totally prepare you for such an alteration, and this is a common one. smile
Quote:

I've been looking longingly at the Chopin C# minor Nocturne, and the fast runs at the end are way beyond my skill right now. But for me, what that suggests is that I find someone who can teach me how to do multi-octave scales very fast, and practice that. Then I can pick up the Nocturne and not have one part in particular standing out and stopping me dead in my tracks.

Which one? Always give an Opus number. wink
Quote:

I wonder what goes into people's makeup that makes them prefer one approach or the other? And also wonder if teachers are sensitive to their students' proclivities in this matter, and ever adjust how they teach in response?

Absolutely. Each composer makes slightly different technical demands (understatement), so what works for Brahms and what works for Bach fugues is going to be VERY different. For every obvious reasons, becoming very good at playing the music of both composers, eventually, will stretch you.

As for scales, what about this?

C Bb G F#/Gb F Eb C. Blues scale. How will you finger it? How will you finger it in all 12 keys?

You are now in a different world. Octatonic scales, really fast? Another different world. Whole tone scales? Yet another.

And so on...
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#1914267 - 06/15/12 08:04 PM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: Rodrigo V.]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Scales 3 and 4 finger groups: yes.

Chopin: opus posthumous.

Octatonic and other scales: these, I'll have to think about.

Thank you for all the ideas in your post.
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#1914282 - 06/15/12 09:39 PM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: Minniemay]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Can you describe the technical gestures they are trying to learn?


Rotation, circular wrist motions, efficiency of movement, alignment

Quote:
What do you tell them if they can't play the exercise the way you think it should be played? Do you tell them to keep practicing until they get it or can you show them the techniques they need?


I've never had the experience where the student, after me demonstrating the gesture, could not reproduce it. The exercise, when they follow through on it, becomes a reflexive action. Some repetition is necessary.

Quote:
If you can show them the techniques here, then why not in music? Are you saying they couldn't quickly memorize 2 measures in a Mozart sonata that contains a similar passage (K. 284)?


Of course they could, but Hanon is simpler. I generally teach it by rote. I don't have to pull out a score and it keeps the focus better. I have taught and still do teach technique right in the repertoire, but I find Hanon to be a real shortcut.


Quote:
Figures similar to those in Hanon occur very rarely in piano solo repertoire.


Neither do scales, at least the way most of us teach them, but we still teach them.

I'm teaching the principles of gesture that go beyond any one specific piece of repertoire.


Quote:
I fear that teaching Hanon as you describe is an avoidance technique.


I happen to find it more direct and universally applicable. I've been using it for almost 30 years and have great success.


We teach scales but we (I) don't drill them for technique. But I don't want to threaten you, and I feel that somehow I have. I'm glad you've had success. Don't mess with what works is one attitude.
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#1914308 - 06/15/12 11:00 PM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: Gary D.]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: NeilOS


Can you describe the technical gestures they are trying to learn? What do you tell them if they can't play the exercise the way you think it should be played? Do you tell them to keep practicing until they get it or can you show them the techniques they need? If you can show them the techniques here, then why not in music? Are you saying they couldn't quickly memorize 2 measures in a Mozart sonata that contains a similar passage (K. 284)? I don't mean to sound critical and you don't need to answer these questions for me, only for yourself. If you're satisfied with what you are doing and don't want to look further, so be it.

I teach more like you, most likely, than like Minniemay. But the tone of your post is that MM is satisfied with what she is doing and does not want to look further.

That may be accurate, or it may be totally unfair. Instead of telling other people why what they are doing is wrong, or may be wrong, or is less good than what you believe to be a better way, why not just describe what you do?

And I may need to be careful about that too - I can get rather argumentative on bad days when I am working hard to make a point.

My own idea, which I think is similar to yours: for every instance where both hands play scales, four octaves, or even a couple, as they are presented in traditional teaching, is relatively rare.

On one hand we can mention the nasty scale section of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto right before the end of the last movement, but then we run into the chicken/egg question: practice scales for years to play such passages? Or study such passages as their OWN self-teaching exercises?

In general I stress hands separate practice of scale patterns for the simple reason that - as you mentioned - both hands are so often called upon to play different patterns. smile


Thanks for the observations. I don't use Hanon, though I'm well acquainted with him from playing him and from observing him being disemboweled throughly by master teachers who are well-versed in what the body can and cannot do effectively. So, I can't describe what I do only share here why I don't use it or recommend it. As my teacher used to say, "you can play whatever you want, dear, as long as you play it correctly (healthily). But if you can play it correctly, there's no longer any need to play it." This would be applied to exercises.

By taking the line of questioning I did, I hoped to inspire some real thinking about reasons for playing Hanon. I seem to have failed.
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Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1914311 - 06/15/12 11:11 PM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: PianoStudent88]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
In general I stress hands separate practice of scale patterns for the simple reason that - as you mentioned - both hands are so often called upon to play different patterns. smile


Or practice scale patterns with one hand while doing something else with the other?

As a student, I like exercises. Let me see if I can explain why.

If we take NeilOS' example of 2 measures from K. 284, while I was working on that as an exercise I would most of the time be feeling like these 2 stupid measures were keeping me from being able to play that section of the piece. Plus, unless the exercise included to transpose those two measures into all keys, or diatonically up and down the scale, I'd only be learning how to play those two measures, and not something that might apply in lots of places. I'd rather have an exercise in advance that works me through a particular skill, and then when I meet it in a piece, there's a big payoff because it makes that section easier and more familiar than it would be otherwise.

I'm not 100% on this -- there are lots of things I meet for the first time in a piece, and it's just fine learning how to do them on the fly there.

But let me give some examples that I'm really glad to have learned through exercises before using them in pieces: chord inversions, and scales.

I spent about three months last year working every day on a variety of exercises (new exercise every week or two) involving chord inversions. The result is that now when I meet an inverted triad in closed position, BOOM, my fingers know how to fall into place. No effort. Compare that to a time slightly before that three month period, when I was trying to learn a method book piece with chord inversions. No luck at all. What the piece presented me to practice was too narrow for me to get comfortable with the inversions, plus I would never have had the patience to practice that one piece for three months. It would have felt like I was making no progress at all.

I've been working on scales on and off for the past year, and the big payoff for me is that now when I meet a scale in my music, BANG, I can play it. So that's one part of the piece done and dusted, instead of, say, encountering G major for the first time in a sonatina and being held up by those few measures.

I'm currently working through exercises that, along with whatever else they're asking me to practice (generally either chromatically or diatonically up and down an octave), they ask for variations in dynamics. This is constituting a months-long study in varying dynamics between my two hands, and when I emerge from it, the next time a piece has some dynamic challenge, I'll be halfway or more to being able to play it already, instead of having a brand-new skill stopping me.

There are enough complicated things that happen in every new piece, that if I can have pre-learned some of them through exercises in advance, I find that a great gain.

I've been looking longingly at the Chopin C# minor Nocturne, and the fast runs at the end are way beyond my skill right now. But for me, what that suggests is that I find someone who can teach me how to do multi-octave scales very fast, and practice that. Then I can pick up the Nocturne and not have one part in particular standing out and stopping me dead in my tracks.

I wonder what goes into people's makeup that makes them prefer one approach or the other? And also wonder if teachers are sensitive to their students' proclivities in this matter, and ever adjust how they teach in response?


You make some good observations here. But the most important comes at the end regarding approach. If the pianist really understands how the playing mechanism works, he will be greatly influenced as to the methods and materials he/she uses. People play the piano quite magnificently using different approaches, or no particular physical approach at all, which I think is most usual.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1914334 - 06/16/12 12:28 AM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: Rodrigo V.]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I teach a lot about technique when teaching scales. Every student's physiology is different and scale playing affords a wonderful opportunity for them to discover what works best for them.

There are many ways to skin a cat, as the old saying goes.
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#1914375 - 06/16/12 03:48 AM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5422
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I tell my students. There are three levels of Bach:

1) Hard
2) Very hard
3) Impossible.

I know this is OT, but I must say that is very funny. I don't know how I manage to shove Bach down my students' throats, but I've been doing it for a long time, and I'm not stopping soon.

Bach is ALL about fingering. Hanon does not help to play Bach better.
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#1914377 - 06/16/12 04:23 AM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: NeilOS]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11572
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: NeilOS

You make some good observations here. But the most important comes at the end regarding approach. If the pianist really understands how the playing mechanism works, he will be greatly influenced as to the methods and materials he/she uses. People play the piano quite magnificently using different approaches, or no particular physical approach at all, which I think is most usual.


With students and teachers we come to a gradual blending of lines. As beginners our teachers will probably judge what works best for us (or what has worked best for them in teaching). As we reach intermediate and beyond, the student has an increasingly greater say as understanding of the issues and his/her own body increase.

You wrote earlier about your teacher saying that once you can do something, you no longer need the exercise (or study etc.) to practice it since you can do it. But I have found as a student that there is a point where you are just on the edge of something and you don't quite have it yet. And then you have it, but it's not quite solid or part of you. At this point you know that whatever exercise will help you strengthen it, and you need to do it for a while so that it will be there.

I also don't think that it's either/or. There are times when a repetitive type exercise is ideal for the reasons stated, and other times doing something varied and part of the music is needed. Sometimes when you encounter one and the same type of technique in a variety of music, you need that as well.

The big thing for me for something like Hanon, which is repetitive, is that you don't do it wrong physically, which means as student somebody is there to guide you - especially if you don't yet have much in the way of good habits or knowledge of them.

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#1914405 - 06/16/12 06:58 AM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: Rodrigo V.]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
I've missed the fun of all this thread til about an hour ago. My 2 cents' worth?

1. If you don't transpose Hanon you miss the *whole point*.
2. If you follow his technical instructions you will become physically damaged.

And a bonus extra 50 cent's worth:
3. Hanon designed these exercises for a particular kind of repertoire, so it is an exercise in self-delusion to think that playing Hanon will prepare the pianist for any challenge. Hanon is really only useful *as a technical exercise* when it is assisting with a specific technical challenge encountered in repertoire. Hanon is tremendously useful, however, in thinking through scale patterns and pitch relationships as they are mapped onto all 12 of the chromatically possible tonic notes (and I say this in all seriousness - the systematic nature of the exercises really do explore all the tonal possibilities within a single scale set).

But seriously people, playing all of Hanon every day because you think it will prepare you for your future pianistic challenges/career is like thinking you need to read the whole Bible through on an annual basis to get into (a Christian) heaven. In fact, it's exactly, exactly like that, and any theologian of any denomination will back me up on this.
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#1914456 - 06/16/12 10:21 AM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: Rodrigo V.]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Gary, in your Bach taxonomy of Hard, Very Hard, Impossible, do you count the Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook as Bach? I do find the Polonaises Hard, and haven't tackled them yet. But I find the Minuets to be delightfully wonderful and quite doable. Unless I'm totally missing the point of them (which is possible) I wouldn't call them Hard. Ditto for the Prelude #1 in C, WTC I.

I adore the two-handedness of Bach (among other things), and I feel like something's missing if I don't have at least one piece to be practicing. But I'm loosely counting the AMB as Bach, so this may not quite count in your eyes.
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#1914510 - 06/16/12 12:43 PM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: keystring]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: NeilOS

You make some good observations here. But the most important comes at the end regarding approach. If the pianist really understands how the playing mechanism works, he will be greatly influenced as to the methods and materials he/she uses. People play the piano quite magnificently using different approaches, or no particular physical approach at all, which I think is most usual.


With students and teachers we come to a gradual blending of lines. As beginners our teachers will probably judge what works best for us (or what has worked best for them in teaching). As we reach intermediate and beyond, the student has an increasingly greater say as understanding of the issues and his/her own body increase.

You wrote earlier about your teacher saying that once you can do something, you no longer need the exercise (or study etc.) to practice it since you can do it. But I have found as a student that there is a point where you are just on the edge of something and you don't quite have it yet. And then you have it, but it's not quite solid or part of you. At this point you know that whatever exercise will help you strengthen it, and you need to do it for a while so that it will be there.

I also don't think that it's either/or. There are times when a repetitive type exercise is ideal for the reasons stated, and other times doing something varied and part of the music is needed. Sometimes when you encounter one and the same type of technique in a variety of music, you need that as well.

The big thing for me for something like Hanon, which is repetitive, is that you don't do it wrong physically, which means as student somebody is there to guide you - especially if you don't yet have much in the way of good habits or knowledge of them.


Quite right regarding "doing it for awhile until it's there." A physical movement has to be worked-in in order to be "learned." My teacher felt, however, that repetition in the form of Hanon and composers of that ilk goes beyond helpful, to the point of wasting time and, worse, encouraging mindless rote. Many of those repetitive exercises have in their genesis the notion that repetition builds "strength" and "endurance," not just working-in of a technical concept. It's so very easy for a student to come away with this notion, which is contrary to what she taught.

If the way of the hand is really understood, it is so very easy to show correct movements at virtually all stages of development. My approach is diagnostic. Much as a physician might prescribe a medication for a particular ailment, I give the student what is needed in order to solve a given problem, which can then be applied to all similar problems. I don't throw all of my solutions at the student at once or try to cure something in advance that may or may not occur in the future. This last, by and large, is what is attempted in many of the repetitive exercises.

I don't know what repertoire you play, but if you have interest, take a look at Mozart K. 333, mm 18 and 20. See if you can find a relationship between the technique here and that of the first Hanon. I call this concept "shaping," which is a more general way of getting the arm behind the finger that is playing. I can teach the concept here or I can teach the same concept in the first Hanon. Words always fail, so I won't try to explain more about the technique. But if you can see the relationship, maybe it'll help you and others understand why I feel the way I do about focusing valuable practice time where it is most needed.

Happy piano playing.


Edited by NeilOS (06/16/12 12:47 PM)
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#1914519 - 06/16/12 12:56 PM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: Rodrigo V.]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11572
Loc: Canada
NeilOs, I can relate to everything you are saying. Where you say your approach is diagnostic, I'd say your approach is intelligent and strategic. Knowing when and how with that particular student at that particular time is the mark of a good teacher. Ignorance on the one hand, and rigid adherence to formulas on the other, are bad. On the student's side, we have to be able to follow enough that we can actually make it happen so that we don't get in the way, but intelligently, following our senses while not being fooled by them. Everything in music comes down to a balance. And since balance swings from left to right, higher to lower, it will appear that people are contradicting themselves and each other.

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#1914522 - 06/16/12 12:59 PM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: Minniemay]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
I teach a lot about technique when teaching scales. Every student's physiology is different and scale playing affords a wonderful opportunity for them to discover what works best for them.

There are many ways to skin a cat, as the old saying goes.


Absolutely. Understanding how the thumb works is crucial to a fluent technique. Scales are also an important part of keyboard harmony and understanding the geography of the piano.

Dealing with thumb crossings is one of the few vexations I remember from childhood. (Oh, if only I had found the right teacher then.) Once learned, though, I found a way of playing through at one sitting all major and minor scales, with sixths and tenths (useful for hearing togetherness), which I played for awhile as a routine. Later on I realized that I knew them and could focus on useable scales, like the scale in 10ths in the opening of Liszt E flat concerto, or the scales in Brahms G minor Rhapsody or in Chopin A flat Polonaise.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1914526 - 06/16/12 01:05 PM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: AZNpiano]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I tell my students. There are three levels of Bach:

1) Hard
2) Very hard
3) Impossible.

I know this is OT, but I must say that is very funny. I don't know how I manage to shove Bach down my students' throats, but I've been doing it for a long time, and I'm not stopping soon.

Bach is ALL about fingering. Hanon does not help to play Bach better.


Oh no! Our job as teachers is to show how to make it easy. But, yes, counterpoint does make the eyes cross, and the fingers, too.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1914558 - 06/16/12 02:16 PM Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? [Re: NeilOS]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11572
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: NeilOS

Oh no! Our job as teachers is to show how to make it easy. But, yes, counterpoint does make the eyes cross, and the fingers, too.


I came from a strange place since I started in Solfege and then related everything primarily to major and natural minor scales in a "modal" fashion. As a child when Bach played on the radio, I followed the separate voices, how a "melody" turned upside down and was picked up and stretched elsewhere. I sang to other voices and added mine below or above, harmonizing. My sense of chords was secondary, passive, and unnamed. I learned piano via sonatinas, esp. Clementi, so you'd think I had chords: but Alberti bass can be heard as a melody: do so mi so; re so fa so; ti so fa so; do so mi so (this is my actual memory: now I know it reflects I, V7 with inversions, I).

As a result of this, when I returned to piano, counterpoint was easier, and chords with melody were harder. I could not recognize a chord at a glance. My mindset was probably close to that of the monks in the Middle Ages if they had based their music on major and minor scales. I can't relate to fingers or eyes crossing: it's a different way of "seeing" the music.

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