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#2031720 - 02/12/13 08:53 AM Your Thoughts on Hanon
Bane Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 91
Loc: USA
Hi guys!

I'm 15 years old and have been playing piano for about 8 years now. About two years ago my best teacher moved east. I never have taken up lessons again with any teacher ever since. I thought I had enough skill to do whatever I wanted. In the past two years I've been doing some songwriting(www.soundcloud.com/btrailblazer) and playing for the praise team at my church.

But now I am aware of my inadequacy and want to do something toward my piano technique. So I want to know your thoughts on Hanon exercises. I have a book and playing the sequences for several minutes in a row burns my fingers just like lifting weights, haha. I like the burn and feel like I'm doing something. Is that good or are Hanon exercises a waste of time and bad technique?

This would all be supplemental to piano playing of course, I get plenty of practice with the praise team. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated,
_________________________
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Cable-Nelson upright piano, Casio WK-200, Mackie MR5MK2 monitors, Cubase Artist 7, Steinberg's The Grand 3, Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 interface, Asus R500a-RS52 Windows 8, i5-3230M 2.6 gHz, 6GB RAM, 750GB HD (5400RPM)

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#2031738 - 02/12/13 09:53 AM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1332
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Practicing Hanon in Db and E will give you a better workout.

Get Dohnanyi's finger exercises, combined with Hanon it'll give you the best of both world.s
_________________________

I never play anything the same way once.

https://soundcloud.com/chrisb/sets
https://www.youtube.com/user/djboing/videos

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#2031778 - 02/12/13 11:31 AM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17835
Loc: Victoria, BC
If you are feeling a "burn" after several minutes of playing Hanon exercises, then it sounds to me that you are playing with tension in your hand. Either you are trying to play too fast or you are working too hard at those exercises. With the proper technique and relaxation, you should be able to play many consecutive Hanon exercises without any "burn."

Hanon exercises can be useful if employed properly; they can also cause damage if not practised properly.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2031893 - 02/12/13 02:40 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: chrisbell]
DanS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 550
Originally Posted By: chrisbell
Practicing Hanon in Db and E will give you a better workout.


Yep, any key with a few accidentals will help a lot. It's not good to just force your hand into one position. This will help keep you loose.

+1 to everything Bruce said too


Edited by DanS (02/12/13 02:41 PM)
_________________________
"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2031921 - 02/12/13 03:24 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
im@me Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/21/12
Posts: 68
My teacher doesn't like Hanon, when I asked she recommended Tausig's daily exercises, or Brahms 51 Ubungen fur das klavier

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#2031926 - 02/12/13 03:33 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: im@me]
DanS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 550
Originally Posted By: im@me
My teacher doesn't like Hanon, when I asked she recommended Tausig's daily exercises


those are tough!
_________________________
"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2031943 - 02/12/13 03:56 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
Yeah, watch out for that burning feeling. There's probably something to Hanon as a technique builder, since thousands of teachers recommend it and have for a long time. You don't want to play it with the goal of making your arms ache though.

For what it's worth, in the Art of Piano Playing, Neuhaus talks about muscle relaxation and the use of the arm and fingers' natural weight to manipulate the keyboard as a pillar of good technique. He also recommends using technical exercises in conjunction with repertoire you're actually working, rather than learning skills in isolation. E.g. if you're working on a piece that have lots of trills, do the trill exercises at that point instead of following a set sequence of exercises. Could you try to play Hanon super slow and super loose, then ratchet up the tempo while preserving the relaxed feeling in your hand? In exercise generally it is a good thing to "feel the burn," but in piano playing it is more usually the symptom of an on-coming RSI and a message from your body that you need to loosen up.

There's some good videos by the Taubman Goldansky Institute (think occupational health for musicians) that give some advice for what natural movements you should be making in piano playing. My piano teacher was encouraging me to use hand rotation while playing Hanon.


Edited by mermilylumpkin (02/12/13 04:00 PM)

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#2031997 - 02/12/13 05:13 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Bane Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 91
Loc: USA
Thanks for the response guys! I do generally try to stay loose and relaxed when I play. As is the goal with the Hanon exercises, it's my weaker fingers that feel the burn. Honestly I've only done this exercise a couple times, but I plan to practice each exercise in every key!

I would have already started but came here after I was scared by this article:

http://pianofundamentals.com/book/en/1.III.7.8

I will check out Tausig exercises and the Art of Piano Playing book.
_________________________
www.soundcloud.com/btrailblazer

Cable-Nelson upright piano, Casio WK-200, Mackie MR5MK2 monitors, Cubase Artist 7, Steinberg's The Grand 3, Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 interface, Asus R500a-RS52 Windows 8, i5-3230M 2.6 gHz, 6GB RAM, 750GB HD (5400RPM)

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#2032012 - 02/12/13 05:37 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6070
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: Bane
Thanks for the response guys! I do generally try to stay loose and relaxed when I play. As is the goal with the Hanon exercises, it's my weaker fingers that feel the burn.


You feel a burn in your fingers?
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2032027 - 02/12/13 06:14 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
pianomouse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 88
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Bane
I like the burn and feel like I'm doing something. Is that good or are Hanon exercises a waste of time and bad technique?

Dear Bane
You need a good teacher. When your fingers start to burn while playing, there's definitely something wrong with your technique. (I'm wondering about the word 'burn' you're using. That sounds really strong to me. Aren't your fingers starting to hurt before the burn starts?)

Piano practising is not like doing sports where you often go over the limits to build up your shape. When you play piano, you're using very fine, delicate muscles and tendons and they shall never, ever hurt when you use them. They could take harm forever.
Trying to loosen up is certainly right, but you may need a good teacher to help you.

Concerning Hanon: I myself have been treated with Hanon excessively for years in my teenage years. Frankly, it hasn't helped me anything, because my teacher just made me play one exercise after the other. Nowadays, if using Hanon at all with my students, we spend a lot of time just working on one single exercise, working in detail on the finger movements, doing different articulations and speeds... In my opinion, Hanon only makes sense, if we use it as a base to work with.
_________________________
The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colours in your mind.
(Katie Melua)

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#2032031 - 02/12/13 06:25 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Ahh the word "burn" makes me wonder... if it "burns" like your abs do when you do ab work (crunches, etc.), then that's not necessarily a bad thing.

It just means the muscles in your hands are working, and you're getting stronger. The muscles tear when you work them, and you get stronger by rebuilding them (it happens naturally).

If it's any other type of burn, then you probably need a live teacher beside you to correct your mistakes. (In fact, that's a good idea with a burn at all.)

With technique, you've just got to find something that suits you, and build your own mix.

You mentioned lifting weights-- that's how you might build strength. (And I'm assuming you also do cardio, etc.)

I prefer something more dynamic like dance or yoga. (I do know dancers who lift weights though.) In fact, every dancer has their own warm-up/technique routine that they do on a regular basis.

Hanon isn't bad, but it's not suitable for everyone. It does build strength, but some people find it too monotonous and unmusical.

Some of my students do Hanon, others don't. I let them try it out; if it works, then great. If it doesn't, then we move on.

You've got to find out what works for you.

(And that in itself is a fun journey!)

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#2032089 - 02/12/13 08:07 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bluoh]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17835
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Bluoh
[...]
It just means the muscles in your weaker fingers are working, and you're getting stronger. The muscles tear when you work them, and you get stronger by rebuilding them (it happens naturally).
[...]


Fingers do not contain muscles. The muscles that move the finger joints are in the palm and forearm.
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2032144 - 02/12/13 09:56 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...playing the sequences for several minutes in a row burns my fingers just like lifting weights, haha. I like the burn and feel like I'm doing something. Is that good or are Hanon exercises a waste of time and bad technique?..."

I like the Hanon book, in moderation, for warm-ups and scales. The article you cited makes some good points about excessive time spent and about the harmfulness of extreme gestures such as making the fingers prance like can-can dancers--- that stuff is scary. But the article didn't mention the value of even development and coordination of the hands, nor the help Hanon can give for developing evenness of timing when playing unison figures. It also can help a player's stamina.

Your description of the burning sensation in the fingers worries me. It would not be muscles (like at the gym), if you feel it in your fingers, but I wonder if your tendons are warning you that you are going at it too fast, or too hard. Tendon injuries are very unforgiving, and if you pound yourself into tendonitis it takes a very long time to recover. I guarantee you, you would not like it. The sinovial fluid that lubricates the joints and absorbs shock can take time to build up. As you use your body more, it makes more of this lubricating fluid, and movement will then feel more comfortable. If you get out in front of your skis... not so good. You might be feeling this friction as a 'burn.'

Please--- do not keep playing if your hands start to burn or hurt. At least, rest for a few minutes, breathe, check your seated posture and arm/wrist/finger position, and stretch your neck/shoulders/arms/fingers. That can give you the moment of rest, the oxygen, and the technical correction your body needs. If the hands start to hurt again after that, it's time to knock off for the day.

I hope you could learn to pace yourself, and go at these exercises both more slowly (at first) and more gently--- maybe a lighter touch would serve you as well as a very vigorous one. And, remember that at the gym, you didn't pick up the 500-pound bar on the first day. It's the same story at the piano, we have to build up stamina over time--- or risk the setback of a bad injury.

I agree with what the article says about a varied and balanced diet of different kinds of music. All-Hanon is not that interesting, and it's true that you can use up all your practice time if you do the whole thing every day--- to no very good purpose. If you haven't played for awhile, it's good for getting your hands back into condition. And if you do the first ten or twenty as you start, the warm-up can help to prevent injuries.

Scales and arps--- I do a couple or three every day and stay fresh on at least that aspect of basic technic, and in time you'll mow through them all. You don't have to do them in the order the book gives them, and personally I prefer to play them from the lowest part of the keyboard all the way to the highest, and back, in duple time and then in triple; it uncouples the fingering from the beat and keeps me from going to sleep. Or you could do scales in all the keys like Hanon's No. 38.

Your enthusiasm is very appealing, and I wish you very good luck with your studies.
_________________________
Clef


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#2032178 - 02/12/13 11:08 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Thrill Science Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 513
Loc: California
I love Hanon! I use it when I just need to take a "mental break" and just want to concentrate on movement, form, articulation, etc.

Someday, I think I'll give an all-Hanon recital!

Remember to practice them in every key.
_________________________
Robert Swirsky
Thrill Science, Inc.

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#2032241 - 02/13/13 02:12 AM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: BruceD]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: Bluoh
[...]
It just means the muscles in your weaker fingers are working, and you're getting stronger. The muscles tear when you work them, and you get stronger by rebuilding them (it happens naturally).
[...]


Fingers do not contain muscles. The muscles that move the finger joints are in the palm and forearm.



Yes, my mistake. The muscles in your hands. And forearms. The tendons are working.


Edited by Bluoh (02/13/13 02:12 AM)

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#2032426 - 02/13/13 11:28 AM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Bane Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 91
Loc: USA
The "burn" I describe is most like discomfort or soreness in the weaker fingers. I can take whatever discomfort I need to, but don't want to do any damage or anything that will be unprofitable for performing. Is this I just described okay or am I potentially hurting something? Sorry for any confusion over my use of the term "burn."
_________________________
www.soundcloud.com/btrailblazer

Cable-Nelson upright piano, Casio WK-200, Mackie MR5MK2 monitors, Cubase Artist 7, Steinberg's The Grand 3, Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 interface, Asus R500a-RS52 Windows 8, i5-3230M 2.6 gHz, 6GB RAM, 750GB HD (5400RPM)

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#2033787 - 02/15/13 03:16 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 111
Loc: Vilnius
I couldn't get this out of my head for the past few days:
"He recommends "lifting the fingers high", an obvious no-no for fast playing, since that will be the biggest source of stress. I have never seen a famous pianist in concert lift the fingers high to play a fast run; in fact, I have never seen anyone do that!" from the article linked in this topic [1.III.7.8] Problems with Hanon Exercises
I would like to contradict: take a look at Yuja Wang playing Prokofiev 2nd concerto cadenza, the fast arpeggio, what do you think? Am I the only one who thinks she's lifting her fingers high and playing a fast passage?

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#2033836 - 02/15/13 04:51 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Evaldas]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4837
Originally Posted By: Evaldas
I couldn't get this out of my head for the past few days:
"He recommends "lifting the fingers high", an obvious no-no for fast playing, since that will be the biggest source of stress. I have never seen a famous pianist in concert lift the fingers high to play a fast run; in fact, I have never seen anyone do that!" from the article linked in this topic [1.III.7.8] Problems with Hanon Exercises
I would like to contradict: take a look at Yuja Wang playing Prokofiev 2nd concerto cadenza, the fast arpeggio, what do you think? Am I the only one who thinks she's lifting her fingers high and playing a fast passage?


If you want to play a fast passage fortissimo, you will have to let your fingers gain some momentum before striking the keys, which means lifting them fairly high, in order to get the power/force needed. In fact, it's like playing chords or octaves loudly - have you ever seen anyone play the double octaves near the end of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 from anywhere other than high up?

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#2034021 - 02/15/13 11:34 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
HorseMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/12
Posts: 51
Loc: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hanon is great, and the best way to get the exercises blazingly fast is SLOW PRACTICE. Also work the scales, arpeggios and chromatics in the back. But don't JUST do Hanon. Get the Dohnanyi and work those (with and without metronome, in all the keys recommended, and work on making them beautifully legato and voicing differently, hands together. Frustrating at first but well worth it.
_________________________
Heels down!

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#2034255 - 02/16/13 12:35 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Miguel Rey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 284
1) get a good teacher
2) Bach ,Clementi Sonatinas, Bach ( I'm sure others can add some good musical exercises from many other actual composers)
3) scales and arpeggios ( single hand )

Regardless if you belong to the Hanon lover or hater camp, why waste valuable practice time with tedious finger exercises when you could be playing music and building your repertoire. It's not just about working the wrist/hands/fingers its about working the brain and hand independence all together, and playing a exercise with both hands at the same time and the same notes only gives you a physical workout and puts your brain to sleep.


Edited by Miguel Rey (02/16/13 02:19 PM)
_________________________
Bechstein B c1905


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#2034432 - 02/16/13 07:04 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Miguel Rey]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
Originally Posted By: Miguel Rey
and playing a exercise with both hands at the same time and the same notes only gives you a physical workout and puts your brain to sleep.


I'm sorry that it does that to you. I know from personal experience that it doesn't do that to everyone.

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#2034447 - 02/16/13 07:36 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Miguel Rey]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8822
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Miguel Rey
It's not just about working the wrist/hands/fingers its about working the brain and hand independence all together, and playing an exercise with both hands at the same time and the same notes only gives you a physical workout and puts your brain to sleep.

Your take on it of course, but hardly binding.

Transposing the first 30 exercises (the others are bad signal to noise ratio) can be very beneficial, but only if the brain is fully involved.

Personally, I prefer the Dohnanyi exercises, but a good run-through of Hanon in a key besides C major is actually a lot of fun. Then try this: work your way backwards!

Interesting things happen.
_________________________
Jason

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#2034498 - 02/16/13 09:48 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6095
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I started with Hanon, but now I prefer Dohnanyi.
I occasionally do some weird things with Hanon, like some of the exercises that have been mentioned here.
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#2034524 - 02/16/13 11:17 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Miguel Rey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 284
All the exercises you could ever want are right there in the music, if it is practiced properly. But of course if you enjoy Hanon then it certainly won't do any harm. But in direct response to the young man who started the post I think using actual music from composers such as Bach for his technical study would do allot more good for his song writing carrier then Hanon. He could always do both, but if it didn't cut into his creative time for composing
_________________________
Bechstein B c1905


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#2034692 - 02/17/13 10:49 AM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 111
Loc: Vilnius
When you say playing Hanon in different keys, do you mean that you just transpose it? Or is there another book that focuses on that?

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#2034734 - 02/17/13 12:20 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1332
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Just transpose it. Same fingering.
_________________________

I never play anything the same way once.

https://soundcloud.com/chrisb/sets
https://www.youtube.com/user/djboing/videos

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#2034749 - 02/17/13 12:44 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: chrisbell]
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 111
Loc: Vilnius
Originally Posted By: chrisbell
Just transpose it. Same fingering.

Which of the three parts does this apply laugh? Because I wound't know how to, for example, transpose the very first exercise laugh...

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#2034767 - 02/17/13 01:23 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Evaldas]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17835
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Evaldas
Originally Posted By: chrisbell
Just transpose it. Same fingering.

Which of the three parts does this apply laugh? Because I wound't know how to, for example, transpose the very first exercise laugh...


For the very first exercise, start on D, imagining you are in the key of D major (F# and C#) and use the same fingering and the same progression as in the first exercise. If it makes it any easier, using the music of the first exercise, start reading it and playing at measure two and, following the music continue, keeping in mind that F and C are sharped as you go up. For the last measure ascending, read the first measure one octave higher.

That should be easy enough.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2034772 - 02/17/13 01:27 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Evaldas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 111
Loc: Vilnius
That makes sense! Thanks smile
I will definitely try it, when I'm more proficient with Hanon, because for now I've only been playing the first exercise at 60 bpm the last week (first day hands separate), and will start increasing the speed a little day by day.

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#2034828 - 02/17/13 03:37 PM Re: Your Thoughts on Hanon [Re: Bane]
Bane Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 91
Loc: USA
Shouldn’t you write it out to make it easier to transpose? (it’s not written out in the book.) For me it’s a little tough to transpose some of these Hanon exercises in my head in realtime!

Now in response to Miguel Rey, I have a deep, maybe even stupid, question for you and others based on something you said. People act like the more good music you hear the better, because it is a good compositional influence. It intrigues me to take the opposite of that thought though. I hear a lot of guys on this forum freaking out cause they have certain musical ideas that are in other influential pieces in their own work. Now you take someone like me who doesn’t listen to a lot of other classical musicians, and you see I don’t have that problem so much as others perhaps. So in essence, is it possible for you to listen to too much music so that it spoils your musical appetite so to speak, and makes you tend to gravitate toward certain sequences/hooks/etc. from other composers? I’ve carried this fear and therefore have been trying to play it safe with non-musical exercises like Hanon.

I know that’s pretty deep and I’m not sure this thread was quite ready for that, lol. But I would appreciate any insight as to whether that’s just a lot of nonsense or a legitimate thought pattern.
_________________________
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Cable-Nelson upright piano, Casio WK-200, Mackie MR5MK2 monitors, Cubase Artist 7, Steinberg's The Grand 3, Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 interface, Asus R500a-RS52 Windows 8, i5-3230M 2.6 gHz, 6GB RAM, 750GB HD (5400RPM)

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