HANON exercises is a waste of time...?

Posted by: Rodrigo V.

HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/03/12 07:14 PM

I have been told by some pianists that Hanon's "The Virtuoso Pianist, In Sixty Exercises" is a waste of time....it's stupid and nonsense. One pianist even asked me, "Do you think Tchaikovsky or Mozart played these? Throw the book away."

On the other hand, a piano student studying for her phd in piano performance told me that she plays them every day and that she believes it helps her playing?

What is the general consensus on this? I believe if it works for you then by all means play it. However if that's the case then should all teachers teach all their students Hanon?
Posted by: Para Otras

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/03/12 07:21 PM

I believe that they can be helpful. However, there are many other ways to help yourself too! I personally do them once in a while. I think they can be helpful if you are advanced and are able to do different approaches with them: different keys, rhythms, touches, and much more.

I have only been posting here for a short time but I used to read very much here. You should do a search. This is a topic that comes up very much and has different opinions on this board. There is, of course, no one right answer.

You should wait until you have a teacher however. Finger exercises can be very dangerous if done incorrectly and can be useless if not done correctly.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/03/12 07:24 PM

There is no consensus. Hanon is a tool. All tools can be used for the wrong job. Any tool may come in handy when no other tool works as well.
Posted by: apple*

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/03/12 08:26 PM

exercizes 40 to 60 are nothing to sneeze at.. my word they teach everything.

i love Hanon.

I wish my 10 year old would move past exercise 3.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/03/12 09:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Rodrigo V.
.....On the other hand, a piano student studying for her phd in piano performance told me that she plays them every day and that she believes it helps her playing?

Better she learn the Brahms. However, I concur with Gary.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/03/12 09:56 PM

Some exercises are very helpful, actually. I haven't used them in a few years with my students, but I think I should start soon, because a few of them sure could use the exercises to gain more fluency.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/03/12 10:10 PM

My only objection is that they are so terribly repetitive. You learn one measure, and the rest not only make NO demands on reading but also can turn off the ear entirely.

Also, they are not very effective unless they are tranposed, because there is a particular feel to playing only white keys that can shut off the sense of how to mold the hands to all the shapes that use black keys.

Regardless, I would stay away from them for weak readers, because they already have the habit of memorizing everything. More rote drill is just asking for them to shut down the development of reading.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 01:49 AM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Regardless, I would stay away from them for weak readers, because they already have the habit of memorizing everything. More rote drill is just asking for them to shut down the development of reading.

For the love of god...Hanon is the last thing weak readers should touch. It's more for those kids who have poor fine-motor skills and play uneven 16th notes.

I don't know about transposed Hanon, though. That will throw a lot of people.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 01:53 AM

I use Hanon for very specific purposes. Imo, it's useful for teaching certain physical gestures and, if you transpose it, for developing a feel of key. Any technique work should not be about reading, it should be about feel, look and listen.

It has nothing to do with reading, so keep it separate. I would use it with any student who had the technical need for it. Their reading skill doesn't matter at all. I teach it by rote anyway.
Posted by: wouter79

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 02:12 AM

These exercises are extremely repetetive and therefore I think they do not motivate at all to play musically. IMHO it's much better to recognise and work directly on problems that you have with real music that you like to play.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 03:01 AM

So there you have it. smile

People hate Hanon and will not go near it.

People love Hanon.

People use Hanon for specific weaknesses.

That's why it is a TOOL!!!

Right tool for the right job, tool is useful.

Same tool for the wrong job, the tool is still useful but not used for the right thing. smile
Posted by: slipperykeys

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 03:03 AM

Rodrigo V,

How interesting that you specify the qualifications of a pianist who is in favour of Hanon
but not the one(s) who isn't/aren't. Who plays best? Your quotes of, "a waste of time,
stupid and nonsense", seem to be the opinions of people who are not particularly well aquainted
with the exercises.
How much did they play them before deciding these "facts"?

Perhaps Mozart or Tchaikowsky didn't play Hanon, they will have still practised some form
of improvement, I bet, but do your friends really consider themselves to have that level
of ability? This would seem to by more proof of error of judgement on behalf of your friends.

"It's more for those kids who have poor fine-motor skills and play uneven 16th notes."

Compared to Valentina Lisitsa or Andre Previn we are probably all, "kids with poor
fine-motor skills", the whole idea is to improve beyond your current level, whatever that
may be, and the only way to do it is practice, whether that be, increasingly difficult, faster,
smoother or whatever and through that, improve.

Repetative practice is the only way to do it. How do you learn any piece of music?

Of course, you read it, play it slowly and speed up as you remember it until you are content
(hopefully) with the performance. Same goes for fundamental improvement of ability.

Hanon is a corner-stone that will produce genuine results.

Try this, practice ONE Hanon study until you are good at it, could take a while. Then, when one
of your friends is around just play it, does your friend recognise it? I would bet not, is your
friend impressed with the speed, smoothness and dexterity, I bet he is.

Is your friend jealous? Of course!

"Throw the book away."

Personally I would keep the book and dump the "friend", but to each their own.

If you did take your friends advice though, don't worry, Hanon is now public domain for
anybody who makes a realistic assessment of their personal skills and finds themselves lacking.

http://www.free-scores.com/download-sheet-music.php?pdf=17471

Have fun, and if you can't just remember, it isn't Hanon's fault.

Ask the friend with real qualifications.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 03:29 AM

Originally Posted By: slipperykeys

Hanon is a corner-stone that will produce genuine results.

Sorry, but you are spreading so much nonsense that someone needs to step in.

Hanon, used unwisely, can produce repetitive stress injury. I said it is a tool. It is. Used wisely it can produce good results, but a lot of that will depend on CAREFUL directions from a good TEACHER.
Quote:

Try this, practice ONE Hanon study until you are good at it, could take a while. Then, when one
of your friends is around just play it, does your friend recognise it? I would bet not, is your
friend impressed with the speed, smoothness and dexterity, I bet he is.

More nonsense. Who cares what a friend recognizes? If the friend is a pianist, he will INSTANTLY recognize any of the Hanon exercises. If he is not a pianist, he will most likely be more "impressed" by something that does not sound like mindless repetition.

I don't teach Hanon, I don't like Hanon, and I insist that what Hanon teaches can be accomplished in other ways. That said, other teachers have a different view and use Hanon with success. I'm sure as heck not going to make any judgments based on whether a teacher is a Hanon-fan - or not. And I'm not going to make snap judgments about their qualifications.
Quote:

Ask the friend with real qualifications.

What are your qualifications?
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 03:54 AM

Originally Posted By: slipperykeys
"It's more for those kids who have poor fine-motor skills and play uneven 16th notes."

Compared to Valentina Lisitsa or Andre Previn we are probably all, "kids with poor fine-motor skills", the whole idea is to improve beyond your current level, whatever that may be, and the only way to do it is practice, whether that be, increasingly difficult, faster,smoother or whatever and through that, improve.

Hi, slipeerykeys:

I believe you were quoting me and replying to my quote, so I'll reply to your reply.

"Kids with poor fine-motor skills" are just that. Kids with poor fine-motor skills. It's an objective statement of fact, not meant to be a relative comparison. I wouldn't call Mr. Previn the pinnacle of piano technique, but I can understand your point of comparison.

Practice can make perfect if you know what you're doing, and I think Hanon can be part of a pianist's practice regimen. It is my opinion that Hanon may not be necessary for everyone.
Posted by: slipperykeys

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 03:54 AM

GaryD

I have no intention of getting into an argument because it would appear you have nothing better to do today.

I have posted my opinion, a surprise for you now, I am entitled to it.

You missed out quoting where I said, "to each his own".

Posted by: slipperykeys

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 04:00 AM

AZNpiano

I do see your point, I am only giving my opinion.

When I watch Valentina Lisitsa I realise just how poor I am compared with where I want to be, and poor motor skills sums me up perfectly.

I am hopefull that the day may come when I am so good I feel I don't need Hanon anymore.

I read recently of people who allow hope to triumph over experience.

I am probably one of them!!!

My Previn reference is because I saw him play Rhapsody in Blue in the mid-sixties and thought it was the most wonderful thing I had ever heard.

Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 04:15 AM

I would never think of Previn as an example of keyboard wizardry.

But he was an awesome musician. He lived in several worlds. I once had a couple recordings of his own group. It had a very mellow, sophisticated sound. I very much enjoyed his playing, which was as far away from Hanon repetitiveness as anything could be.

Which does not prove that he did not practice Hanon...

And I think his Rachmaninov symphony recordings are splendid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAxBAEb2pmE

See if that puts a smile on your face. smile
Posted by: slipperykeys

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 04:39 AM

GaryD

"I would never think of Previn as an example of keyboard wizardry."

That's fine. But I would be ecstatic if I was that good.

"He lived in several worlds."

Totally. I so admire that ability as I admire Lisitsa's technichal ability.

(For you and ANZpiano)Ever seen this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7GeKLE0x3s

I am leaving the computer now, but I hope you laugh at the post.
PS Even Eric Morcambe is better than me!
Posted by: pianoyutube

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 05:07 AM

Well, life is a waste of time... or not. That's a philosophical question.

Anyway, if I have an piano in front of me... I prefer to play Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and other well known composers than Hanon. Life is short, you know.

I don't understand how repeating exercises of Hanon can help me to play a Mozart sonata (my real goal). I think that playing the difficult sections of the sonata, will help more than repeating Hanon exercises to achieve this goal.
And I apply this simple logic to other compositions.
Posted by: TimR

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 07:53 AM

I was listening to that NPR afternoon interview program and the guest was a famous jazz pianist whose name of course escapes me.

He said he warms up with Hanon.

Then he demonstrated, playing Hanon at speed with the left hand, while improvising over it with the right.

It was VERY impressive.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 09:56 AM

I think for the right student, Hanon can be great. I have an adult student who tends to play uneven 16ths or 8ths, and usually pauses at every bar line. She *loves* plying Hanon and it is actually helped her tremendously (with guidance to make sure she's not injuring herself, although she doesn't play them fast). Next I plan to work with her on playing faster while keeping things relaxed.

Hanon is *not* musical, nor was it ever intended to help with musicality. So to say it's unmusical is rather obvious. There are some pianists, however, that doing Hanon exercises without having a clear objective in mind (like helping them with trills by doing the trill exercises) would be pointless and painful. I happen to be one of those people who do not enjoy exercises, but love to make exercises out of the repertoire I'm learning, or at the very least choose an appropriate Hanon exercise to address a particular issue in my rep. But to deny that other pianists may really like it and need it simply because I do not wouldn't be very good pedagogically, IMO.
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 01:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Rodrigo V.
I have been told by some pianists that Hanon's "The Virtuoso Pianist, In Sixty Exercises" is a waste of time....it's stupid and nonsense. One pianist even asked me, "Do you think Tchaikovsky or Mozart played these? Throw the book away."

On the other hand, a piano student studying for her phd in piano performance told me that she plays them every day and that she believes it helps her playing?

What is the general consensus on this? I believe if it works for you then by all means play it. However if that's the case then should all teachers teach all their students Hanon?


I don't know if there's a consensus on this, but I can share with you what I have learned.

What do you mean by works for you? When playing something (an exercise) that is supposed to prepare you for something else (a piece of music), I think it's important to ask yourself why? What is the purpose of this particular exercise?

Unfortunately, Mr. Hanon only gives metronome indications and says to repeat the exercises. He doesn't really tell us how to play the exercises, except to lift the fingers high(!). He tells us that they will produce agility, strength(!), independence and evenness.

The mindset from which this point of view stems has largely been replaced over the years, although some still cling doggedly to it, i.e., that it takes physical strength to play the piano. It does not. (A small child can do it.) We gain power not by lifting the fingers away from the hand, which is something they weren't designed to do efficiently, but rather with the discreet participation of the forearm. Hanon's supposition is that by lifting the fingers they will become strong and independent, but we don't train like weight lifters train, by building muscle mass. Rather, we train for refined coordination. The fingers never will be independent of each other, nor need they be; they can, however, be made to sound that way.

In short, "you can play whatever you want, dear," to quote my teacher, but once you know how to play the exercises correctly, i.e., with the participation of the forearm, there is no longer any reason to play them. In fact, there's no point in playing them at all because the technical issues can be addressed in music.

As for the Phd candidate, that routine may serve several purposes: provide a comforting and mindless routine, a delay tactic for avoiding the real work to come or some other obsessive/compulsive purpose. In graduate school I knew a wonderful pianist who drilled scales for hours. Her scales were indeed perfection and she played the 4th Beethoven concerto like an angel. But the same compulsion that drove her to drill those scales, and they were beautiful, drove her into some sort of breakdown and when I last heard she had given up the piano entirely and joined a protective order of some sort. Admittedly, that is an extreme case and this particular pianist was apparently troubled. Playing Hanon won't necessarily cause so severe a reaction and probably won't case any particular harm, unless the idea of lifting fingers is taken to extremes.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 02:54 PM

Originally Posted By: NeilOS
But the same compulsion that drove her to drill those scales, and they were beautiful, drove her into some sort of breakdown and when I last heard she had given up the piano entirely and joined a protective order of some sort.

Admittedly, that is an extreme case and this particular pianist was apparently troubled. Playing Hanon won't necessarily cause so severe a reaction
and probably won't case any particular harm, unless the idea of lifting fingers is taken to extremes.


What's next from the Hanon Haters, Hanon causes cancer?
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 03:10 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
But the same compulsion that drove her to drill those scales, and they were beautiful, drove her into some sort of breakdown and when I last heard she had given up the piano entirely and joined a protective order of some sort.

Admittedly, that is an extreme case and this particular pianist was apparently troubled. Playing Hanon won't necessarily cause so severe a reaction
and probably won't case any particular harm, unless the idea of lifting fingers is taken to extremes.


What's next from the Hanon Haters, Hanon causes cancer?

No. How about this:

Around 1980 I met a guy in NYC who was passionate about mastering the piano. He spent hours doing exercises. He never learned to read. He seemed like a great guy, but very obsessive.

About two years later he was dead, one of the first casualties of AIDS. Me prediction that the way he was working might lead to his never getting around to playing music turned out to be right.

And the danger of repetitive motion injury is no joke. Neil quite correctly cautioned against following Hanon's advice, to just lift the fingers.

I think Neil is right, and in this instance I think YOU are 100% off track. You are making fun of something very serious, and those of us who have been around long enough to have witnessed the damage caused by practicing the wrong way have every reason in the world to caution over-eager students.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 03:24 PM

Lighten up, Gary.

Hanon Haters typically condemn the series wholesale, without any regard whatsoever for its merits, and thus mislead people away from something that could be, and sometimes is, helpful. As you said earlier, Hanon is a tool to be used correctly.

That is what I am making fun of...the wholesale condemnation by its detractors. Not the repetitive stress thing.

As for Hanon's lifting fingers up high thing, any teacher worth their salt knows that is discredited and potentially harmful.

And yes, I have seen the damage done by repetitive stress, which is why I repeatedly harp on these forums about the importance of carefully developing good technique with a teacher who is capable of correct instruction. Check my posts for that.

As for your guy in NYC anecdote, and what that has to do with Hanon, or repetitive stress injuries, I don't get it.
Posted by: wouter79

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 04:28 PM

Quote:
Hanon causes cancer?


LOL
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 04:28 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
But the same compulsion that drove her to drill those scales, and they were beautiful, drove her into some sort of breakdown and when I last heard she had given up the piano entirely and joined a protective order of some sort.

Admittedly, that is an extreme case and this particular pianist was apparently troubled. Playing Hanon won't necessarily cause so severe a reaction
and probably won't case any particular harm, unless the idea of lifting fingers is taken to extremes.


What's next from the Hanon Haters, Hanon causes cancer?


I haven't heard that Hanon causes cancer and I don't hate it, but I have met some very accomplished performing pianists who could no longer play or even hold a coffee cup because of the kind of training advocated by Hanon and his ilk. You aren't being fair in your dismissive reply to my post, the gist of which is that you can play Hanon if you want to but you should ask yourself why.
Posted by: Para Otras

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 04:28 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Lighten up, Gary.

Hanon Haters typically condemn the series wholesale, without any regard whatsoever for its merits, and thus mislead people away from something that could be, and sometimes is, helpful. As you said earlier, Hanon is a tool to be used correctly.

That is what I am making fun of...the wholesale condemnation by its detractors. Not the repetitive stress thing.

As for Hanon's lifting fingers up high thing, any teacher worth their salt knows that is discredited and potentially harmful.

And yes, I have seen the damage done by repetitive stress, which is why I repeatedly harp on these forums about the importance of carefully developing good technique with a teacher who is capable of correct instruction. Check my posts for that.

As for your guy in NYC anecdote, and what that has to do with Hanon, or repetitive stress injuries, I don't get it.
I am sorry to interrupt, but I think that GaryD was joking. He even himself said:

I don't teach Hanon, I don't like Hanon, and I insist that what Hanon teaches can be accomplished in other ways. That said, other teachers have a different view and use Hanon with success. I'm sure as heck not going to make any judgments based on whether a teacher is a Hanon-fan - or not. And I'm not going to make snap judgments about their qualifications."

and

"There is no consensus. Hanon is a tool. All tools can be used for the wrong job. Any tool may come in handy when no other tool works as well."
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 04:53 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Lighten up, Gary.
Hanon Haters typically condemn the series wholesale, without any regard whatsoever for its merits, and thus mislead people away from something that could be, and sometimes is, helpful. As you said earlier, Hanon is a tool to be used correctly.

No problem with that.
Quote:

That is what I am making fun of...the wholesale condemnation by its detractors. Not the repetitive stress thing.

Your highlighting of Neil's words seemed to ridicule what he was saying. Neil, in my opinion, was simply saying what we are saying, in different words.
Quote:

As for Hanon's lifting fingers up high thing, any teacher worth their salt knows that is discredited and potentially harmful.

Rocket, we are not ADDRESSING the teachers who "know their salt". We are addressing those who do NOT "know their salt", and that includes people who are lurking. And yes, some of them are "teachers".
Quote:

And yes, I have seen the damage done by repetitive stress, which is why I repeatedly harp on these forums about the importance of carefully developing good technique with a teacher who is capable of correct instruction. Check my posts for that.

No argument with that point. But we don't get many really knowledgeable people around like Neil, and lots of time the people who do NOT know what they are talking about dominate discussions in this forum. I'm sorry if I seem over serious, and I have never had a quarrel with you - and hope that we are not having one now - but the subject of the ignorant giving advice freely really upsets me. It is one step from dealing with the kind of pathetic teaching that almost all my transfer students receive. And if you think I am exaggerating, then you are one of many who simply can't imagine the extent and dominance of ignorance in this area. I believe Morodiene will back me up here. frown
Quote:

As for your guy in NYC anecdote, and what that has to do with Hanon, or repetitive stress injuries, I don't get it.

1) He was heading for injury. He would have hurt himself had he continued, otherwise healthy, BUT

2) My main point was that there are teachers who stress rote exercises so much that there students do not learn to read.

These points were not aimed at you, Rocket. But I remain deadly serious about the points I am making. How common is wrong physical instruction? Very common.

And are the teachers who have strong reputations - and thus continue to attracts students, some of whom are highly talented - continuing to teach damaging ideas.

Absolutely. Do you disagree with this? <honest question>
Posted by: rocket88

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 05:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
But we don't get many really knowledgeable people around like Neil, and lots of time the people who do NOT know what they are talking about dominate discussions in this forum.


Exactly. And regarding this topic, is the people who Hate Hanon who often dominate the talk, and in my opinion many do NOT know what they are talking about.

Which is why I have such a strong reaction to people putting it down. Hanon is a useful tool that when used correctly.

I am an award winning pianist, have taught for decades, (all ages) and have seen great results with Hanon both in my personal playing and with selected certain students. Rachmaninoff used it all the time.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
And if you think I am exaggerating, then you are one of many who simply can't imagine the extent and dominance of ignorance in this area. I believe Morodiene will back me up here. frown


Well, I have taught in Florida for almost 15 years, (not south Florida) and before that in California and New England, and the ignorance you speak of is not specific to Florida. Bad teaching is everywhere.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
My main point was that there are teachers who stress rote exercises so much that there students do not learn to read.


The blame there is on the bad teachers, not on Hanon.

I completely agree with you, basically. My transfers students are typically so poorly taught that I often contemplate not taking them any more. It is very frustrating.

Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 05:58 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88

The blame there is on the bad teachers, not on Hanon.

I completely agree with you, basically. My transfers students are typically so poorly taught that I often contemplate not taking them any more. It is very frustrating.

Thanks, Rocket. No need to answer you point by point. I don't recall ever disagreeing with you on any important point, and I'm not doing so now.

I would make one little comment re Rachmaninov: we could easily assume that his "powers" as a pianist, which were absolutely awesome, came from something like Hanon. This goes back to "Hanon is a tool".

Another pianist who was known for always warming up with Hanon type things, including great emphasis on scales, was Arrau. I don't think there is any point in disputing his success either!

And finally on the subject of Previn: I said that he is not one of the people who stands out as a virtuoso, but that is not because he was lacking anything, and so my thought might be misinterpreted. I think he was just one of those special musicians who shined so much as an interpreter and creative force that it is hard not to focus on that, the whole package. In the video I linked, and I THINK it was in this thread, he started off joking that Peterson could probably do what he could so, with one hand. I find this kind of humility very typical in extraordinay musicians.

Sorry for the misunderstanding. smile
Posted by: rocket88

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 06:04 PM

Originally Posted By: GaryD
I would make one little comment re Rachmaninov: we could easily assume that his "powers" as a pianist, which were absolutely awesome, came from something like Hanon. This goes back to "Hanon is a tool.


I mentioned Rachmaninoff not because Hanon made him what he was. . .not sure about that; Rather that Hanon did not appear to cause him harm.

All the best!

Posted by: keystring

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 06:20 PM

Any system, method, or approach is only as good as the teacher and the student practicing. The success probably goes beyond the method. I think that if something is repetitive, and if the person practicing it is wrongly guided or self-guides, there might be harm because a wrong motion done repeatedly will hurt. At the same time, if a right motion is well-guided, then you have a well-practiced set of right motions that will serve you well.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 07:07 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Any system, method, or approach is only as good as the teacher and the student practicing. The success probably goes beyond the method. I think that if something is repetitive, and if the person practicing it is wrongly guided or self-guides, there might be harm because a wrong motion done repeatedly will hurt.

My only "dog in this fight" is in defense of all the people who are damaged or ruined by poor teaching. The problem with anything repetitive is that NATURE of doing something over and over and over leads to an inevitable conclusion:

BECAUSE of the repetition, wrong practice is deadly. Any kind of repeatedly wrong practice is harmful, so with a wrong general concept applied to all music, something just as deadly happens.

The real issue here is correct teaching, correct guidance.

That said, I suppose the real issue is not really about Hanon but about what happens when it is used wrong. Any teacher can teach the concept of "lift the fingers high" in the wrong way, with deadly results. It is possible that we are making assumptions about what Hanon taught. I think that if Hannon is taught as written but with the technical ideas of Chopin, for a starting point, the result could be 100% positive.

So it ALWAYS ends up about teaching, doesn't it? smile
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/04/12 09:23 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
And if you think I am exaggerating, then you are one of many who simply can't imagine the extent and dominance of ignorance in this area. I believe Morodiene will back me up here. frown


Well, I have taught in Florida for almost 15 years, (not south Florida) and before that in California and New England, and the ignorance you speak of is not specific to Florida. Bad teaching is everywhere.


I have to say that since moving to S. FL I have seen a lot worse teachers than I have in WI. Perhaps because it's more built-up than WI there's a draw for cheap teachers who don't know what they're doing, I don't know. But I do agree that in the wrong hands, like any tool, it can be dangerous, and in the right hands it can be rewarding.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/05/12 12:19 AM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
I completely agree with you, basically. My transfers students are typically so poorly taught that I often contemplate not taking them any more. It is very frustrating.

Join the club!

And I'm not the only teacher getting horrid transfers. Two other teachers in my MTAC branch routinely get bad transfers, especially from two local "music schools." One of these students can't even tell what a quarter note is, and she's been playing for two years.

I've been to recitals at these places. It never ceases to surprise me what horrid playing is produced and accepted as "normal."
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/05/12 12:24 AM

Hanon is boring... Yup... And it's a fine tool to build some techniquie on specific issues.
Posted by: FarmGirl

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/05/12 12:30 PM

I should be working but this thread caught my interest. Well, I will be busy from tomorrow so, hey, what's 5 min here, right.

I took piano total 13 years off and on. 7 years as a child and 3 + 3 years as an adult. Now I am my 4th straight years with my current teacher (my third). I feel like I made visible (audible) progress in the last couple of years. It's not the pieces I play but more in the tones I produce. Many advices I have received since childhood suddenly makes sense now. strange, isn't it? I used lots of method books and technique books like Hanon, little/big pishuna, czerny, etc over the years. I spend about 10 to 15 min a day in techniques. I don't know what worked. But I had an epiphany when i was doing the latter half of Hanon #49. My teacher had me play it slow at first at 84 to an 8th note at p in both legato and staccato. We then slowly increased the tempo to 112. This practice forces your 1-4. 2-4 & 2-5 fingers to stretch a bit. I was working hard to play it as smoothly as I could & as quietly (p) as I could while making all the notes audible. Playing it that way made me feel really good. I enjoyed the feeling of my finger gently pushing the keys and making fast yet mellow run of sounds. Then I thought, " Ahh, this could be what people call playing into the keys". I immediately tried the technique to the third movement of Pathetique I happened to be playing. It worked. What an incredible difference it made. I was having hard time playing it softly, sweetly, without killing the sound. Especially in my left fingers. It requires sensitive touch I did not have. I don't know if the transformation happened at that moment with Hanon but certainly something clicked with it. Just fyi, I used to be known as a "banger" in my family. Give me a Schubert's waltz - I will Rock you like Japanese rice farmers dancing porka (LOL).

I agree with most of you that Hanon or Pishuna by itself won't do much. But teacher's advice is what makes it worthwhile. i am wondering now that my teacher made me do this particular exercise considering the particular challenge included in the piece I was playing. Timing seems to be too good to be unplanned.
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/05/12 01:34 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Any system, method, or approach is only as good as the teacher and the student practicing. The success probably goes beyond the method. I think that if something is repetitive, and if the person practicing it is wrongly guided or self-guides, there might be harm because a wrong motion done repeatedly will hurt. At the same time, if a right motion is well-guided, then you have a well-practiced set of right motions that will serve you well.


You are right. But just as the success goes beyond the method, so too do the failures. By failures I mean conceptual misunderstandings. Perhaps this is what you mean by practicing "wrongly." But it's more than practicing wrongly. (Please don't think I'm just being argumentative here. I'm genuinely concerned about this issue.)

The concept inherent in exercises in general is that repetition of note patterns will create strong fingers or independent fingers or that these patterns will occur in the same way in music. These ideas date from the 1880's and have their origins in the experience of keyboard players who were steeped in harpsichord techniques. I believe Czerny and Hanon and the others were probably sincere, although I don't completely discount the notion that money was to be made off of the burgeoning piano market. When Hanon, for example, was popular and adopted by so many institutions, Matthay had not yet written about the use of the forearm. Keyboard players thought primarily about lifting fingers, despite Schumann's unfortunate experience. (Google Landowska's photo of her claw-like hands.)

If you discard Hanon's "instructions," as I believe all pianists should, the exercises can be used to show how patterns can be grouped together for technical ease, how to shape. But I learned these techniques in a Mozart sonata (K. 333). If you don't believe in lifting the fingers away from the hand (as he instructs) or training for strength and therefore using repetition for endurance (wrong concepts), then I implore you to ask yourself what specifically you hope to gain by practicing Hanon.

Let me be clear: I don't think the exercises themselves are "dangerous" and carcinogenic (LOL) but the underlying concepts that students take away are not in sync with a system of playing that uses the body efficiently, the way it was designed to be used. Students invariably take away the idea that repetition of patterns is the key to success, when the "working-in" of specific, local and correct physical movements is the key to success. By "local" I mean "what do the finger, hand, arm do in this spot to get easily and efficiently from here to there?" This, of course, requires knowledge of the working mechanism (but one doesn't have to be a doctor). When students focus on the repetition of patterns, the danger that mindless rote will take over is considerable. (Perhaps this too is what you mean by practicing "wrongly.")

It is possible to play the piano with great success using many different points of view, or from no point of view at all. I choose to use a specific physical approach that allows my hands to be used according to their design. The fingers are strong and sound independent if the forearm is allowed to play its part, and there is nothing wrong with the 4th finger, just in case anyone was wondering.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/05/12 02:17 PM

Originally Posted By: NeilOS

Keyboard players thought primarily about lifting fingers, despite Schumann's unfortunate experience. (Google Landowska's photo of her claw-like hands.)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw3FstKlse0

Landowska would have been about 75 in this. It is totally unfair and misleading to use a photo to give an idea of how someone played, or how that person used the hands.

I would, instead, consider the longevity of the performer along with the playing. Landowska was a tiny person, and she lived to the age of around 80, I think.

Examining this video, I see unusually curved or "curled" fingers, but I see and hear nothing that tells me that what she did was either unnatural or limiting - for her. You can actually see the involvement of the forearm, and there is a lot to like from what I see. And everything to like, from what I hear!

Now, having said, her use of fingers is almost exactly the opposite of what I teach. smile

It is interesting to compare her playing late in life to that of Horowitz's.
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/05/12 02:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: NeilOS

Keyboard players thought primarily about lifting fingers, despite Schumann's unfortunate experience. (Google Landowska's photo of her claw-like hands.)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw3FstKlse0

Landowska would have been about 75 in this. It is totally unfair and misleading to use a photo to give an idea of how someone played, or how that person used the hands.

I would, instead, consider the longevity of the performer along with the playing. Landowska was a tiny person, and she lived to the age of around 80, I think.

Examining this video, I see unusually curved or "curled" fingers, but I see and hear nothing that tells me that what she did was either unnatural or limiting - for her. You can actually see the involvement of the forearm, and there is a lot to like from what I see. And everything to like, from what I hear!

Now, having said, her use of fingers is almost exactly the opposite of what I teach. smile

It is interesting to compare her playing late in life to that of Horowitz's.


It's impossible to play a keyboard instrument without using forearm rotation. Understanding it's use is another matter.

As for the photo, well it was meant to illustrate the opposite of what the hand should look like. She was a wonderful artist; I studied baroque interpretation with one of her students. Do we know if her hand felt the way it looked? I wonder...
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/05/12 03:04 PM

Originally Posted By: NeilOS
[/quote]
It's impossible to play a keyboard instrument without using the forearm. Understanding it's use is another matter.

This is for another time, but I am convinced that people are taught "out of" doing what is natural, at least in many cases. Think only of the old "balance a coin on the hand while playing" idea. How WRONG can any concept be? frown
Quote:

As for the photo, well it was meant to illustrate the opposite of what the hand should look like. She was a wonderful artist; I studied baroque interpretation with one of her students. Do we know if her hand felt the way it looked? I wonder...

Did you watch the video? Normally such severe curvature would give me a tense feeling. For instance, when I watch Gould play, it makes me feel uncomfortable. Solokov is another who makes me cringe. I love his playing, but the way he achieves it makes me feel very uncomfortable.

But I did not get that feeling with Landowska. She looked utterly at ease, totally natural. And again, she was about 75. Her BODY did not look 75. If she taught as well as she played, I would wager that her students did not necessarily play as she did. No good teacher fails to take into account individual differences in body and hand.
Posted by: keystring

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/05/12 03:29 PM

Originally Posted By: NeilOS

It's impossible to play a keyboard instrument without using the forearm. Understanding it's use is another matter.

It is quite possible for someone who doesn't know what he is doing and has a poor understanding of the body (or is afraid to use it) to do weird stuff. If you don't have a competent teacher to observe and guide you, and especially if you are self-taught, then if you do weird stuff while playing varied things you may get into some poor habits and maybe injure yourself a little bit. But if you do an exercise where you are repeating the same motions over and over, the risk of injury or at least quite ingrained habits is much greater. I am writing as a student and have a t-shirt to sell. I LOVE repetitive exercises when there is something that I want to get solid by doing it over and over, provided that I'm not doing something freakish without knowing it. I know it does not have to be perfect, but if it is off track and going in the direction of harmful, I want to be redirected. While I was forced to work on my own I stayed away from repetitive things for that reason.
Posted by: slipperykeys

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/05/12 03:38 PM

I have only today re-read the first two sentences of his preface.

The first is arguable, the second extreme and inaccurate, IMO, perhaps it was right in his day but he seems a bit tough. I can imagine many a frail young thing leaving his house in floods of tears after another difficult and unhappy lesson, I hope I am wrong.

I personally am a huge fan of his exercises, but my goodness, he held some fairly unusual views!

I will also add that I never find the exercises boring because I vary notes to emphasise and speeds and so on.

I have never yet played one exercise to my satisfaction.
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/05/12 03:43 PM

Originally Posted By: NeilOS

If you discard Hanon's "instructions," as I believe all pianists should, the exercises can be used to show how patterns can be grouped together for technical ease, how to shape. But I learned these techniques in a Mozart sonata (K. 333). If you don't believe in lifting the fingers away from the hand (as he instructs) or training for strength and therefore using repetition for endurance (wrong concepts), then I implore you to ask yourself what specifically you hope to gain by practicing Hanon.


I've been using Hanon exercises in my own practicing for the last 6 months, and I have definitely noticed an improvement in my technique, however I suspect, as you mention, I could have had the same (or better) results by spending that 30 min a day playing Mozart or Haydn sonatas!

I've always had a lot of tension in my ulnar nerve, which creates that "british pinky" sticking up in the air when I'm not relaxed. I use Hanon to concentrate on staying relaxed while playing quick passages. Sometimes I have to slow it right down before my pinky finger can relax, and then I will speed it back up again.

I can do the same type of practicing with my sonatas (and I do), but I have to admit that sometimes it's nice to just be brainless and play Hanon.
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/05/12 04:37 PM

Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: NeilOS

Keyboard players thought primarily about lifting fingers, despite Schumann's unfortunate experience. (Google Landowska's photo of her claw-like hands.)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw3FstKlse0

Landowska would have been about 75 in this. It is totally unfair and misleading to use a photo to give an idea of how someone played, or how that person used the hands.

I would, instead, consider the longevity of the performer along with the playing. Landowska was a tiny person, and she lived to the age of around 80, I think.

Examining this video, I see unusually curved or "curled" fingers, but I see and hear nothing that tells me that what she did was either unnatural or limiting - for her. You can actually see the involvement of the forearm, and there is a lot to like from what I see. And everything to like, from what I hear!

Now, having said, her use of fingers is almost exactly the opposite of what I teach. smile

It is interesting to compare her playing late in life to that of Horowitz's.


It's impossible to play a keyboard instrument without using forearm rotation. Understanding it's use is another matter.

As for the photo, well it was meant to illustrate the opposite of what the hand should look like. She was a wonderful artist; I studied baroque interpretation with one of her students. Do we know if her hand felt the way it looked? I wonder...


Yes, I've seen L. play. It makes my hands ache. Notice how she pulls her fingers up and away from the keyboard and holds them there. This takes considerable effort, an effort that works against her intention, which is to put the key down. "Dear, my teacher would say, the piano is down. We only go up in order to come down." I suspect this approach comes from playing the old harpsichords with the shortened key, requiring the fingers to be curved in order to avoid the "black" keys. But her music making is exemplary.

You are right about students being unwittingly misguided. Given half a chance, the body will choose a natural movement over an unnatural one. Stretching and pulling to extremes are not natural in piano playing.
Posted by: April's Piano St.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/07/12 01:04 PM

I agree that Hanon is an extremely useful tool when use properly. My university piano professor had me used Hanon to focus on developing knuckle support. These exercises are the perfect repetition to be able to play something and yet not have to worry about what notes are coming, thus leaving the performer with the ability to focus on knuckle support! I went from collapsing knuckles to almost perfect knuckle support when I played. smile

Use it for specific purposes and they will prove to be worthwhile.
Posted by: Ben Crosland

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/10/12 08:02 AM

"Ask not what Hanon can do for you, but what you can do with Hanon."

Or something.

I had a thought on this subject the other day, when teaching a recent late-intermediate transfer student. I had avoided using Hanon with him, so far, because he came to me already suffering with some RSI. Now he has settled down, I showed him the first couple of exercises, and we both agreed that they could be tremendously useful to him, so long as he is careful.

I came to the conclusion that the question isn't so much "Should I do Hanon's exercises?" but rather "Can I play Hanon's exercises properly, and if not, why not?".

I don't mean the entire set, either - even No.1 is incredibly revealing of fundamental technique. The point being, that any student of this level *ought* to be able to play the first exercise at a decent, even tempo, with good hand-shape and posture, consistent tone, clean legato and good L/R coordination. If they can't, then there is good reason to practise said exercise until they can, IMO.



Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/13/12 09:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland
"Ask not what Hanon can do for you, but what you can do with Hanon."

Or something.

I had a thought on this subject the other day, when teaching a recent late-intermediate transfer student. I had avoided using Hanon with him, so far, because he came to me already suffering with some RSI. Now he has settled down, I showed him the first couple of exercises, and we both agreed that they could be tremendously useful to him, so long as he is careful.

I came to the conclusion that the question isn't so much "Should I do Hanon's exercises?" but rather "Can I play Hanon's exercises properly, and if not, why not?".

I don't mean the entire set, either - even No.1 is incredibly revealing of fundamental technique. The point being, that any student of this level *ought* to be able to play the first exercise at a decent, even tempo, with good hand-shape and posture, consistent tone, clean legato and good L/R coordination. If they can't, then there is good reason to practise said exercise until they can, IMO.





Okay, I'll bite. What will the student have accomplished when he/she's perfected the exercise that he couldn't have accomplished in repertoire, say Mozart K. 284, mm 7-8, for example?
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/13/12 10:41 PM

I find that Hanon is useful because the student doesn't have to concentrate on reading or rhythm. They memorize the exercise and can be fully attentive to the technical gesture they are trying to learn -- what it looks like, what it feels like. It becomes automatic more quickly and can, therefore, be applied in the repertoire more efficiently.

There are so many other considerations when you are working with repertoire. I use Hanon primarily with transfer students who have had inadequate technical instruction. I don't use it at all with students who begin with me because I build in those gestures right from the start.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/13/12 11:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
I find that Hanon is useful because the student doesn't have to concentrate on reading or rhythm. They memorize the exercise and can be fully attentive to the technical gesture they are trying to learn -- what it looks like, what it feels like.


Nicely put. I use it for the same purpose...especially with brand new students who stumble trying to remember the fingering for a scale, and are absolutely nowhere near able to play an etude or repertoire for technique improvement.
Posted by: Ben Crosland

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/14/12 02:57 AM

@NeilOS

Nothing to add to what Minniemay and rocket88 have so eloquently put, as they both echo my exact thoughts on the subject.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/14/12 12:39 PM

My neck is taking sore, as I watch, once again, as the ping pong ball is batted furiously from one side of the Hanon table to the other. Talk about a way to acquire an RSI! And for what.

Most of the assertions taken up really could, legitimately, be argued on either side except for the screaming caution to ignore the nonsense about 'lifting the fingers high,' for that is outmoded and outright dangerous. I could chime in on some aspects, but I don't know that the topic needs a couple more pages.

Well... maybe, about strength and endurance. The finger and arms, you know, are not the only muscles put in play, by play. Or playing; practicing. Think of the spine, the shoulders, the belly, the neck, the legs, the butt. Where would we be as performers without them! And the brain--- it tires from use, and from concentration; it acquires stamina from exercise.

The book(s) go(es) beyond mere finger exercises. The author--- actually, as far as I can make out, Hanon was as much a compiler of already-existing technical drills as a composer of them--- specifically recommended the book for people who have been away from the piano for awhile, or for people who have lacked breadth and wish to advance in technique. Taking it for a whole lifetime would be like eating spinach three meals a day for life. As good for us as it might be...
Posted by: kspriggs

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/14/12 04:40 PM

Do the first twenty of Hanon and then move onto Dohnanyi. That built up my piano muscles fast!
Posted by: kspriggs

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/14/12 04:44 PM

Dinu Lipati could get kicked in the groin, blindfolded, and then drink half a bottle of tequila and.....

He would still wipe Lisitsa, Previn, Arrau and all those guys off the keyboard!

So would Art Tatum!
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/15/12 01:03 PM

Originally Posted By: kspriggs
Do the first twenty of Hanon and then move onto Dohnanyi. That built up my piano muscles fast!


Or, as in the case of Dohnanyi, ripped the muscles right out of your hands.
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/15/12 01:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
I find that Hanon is useful because the student doesn't have to concentrate on reading or rhythm. They memorize the exercise and can be fully attentive to the technical gesture they are trying to learn -- what it looks like, what it feels like. It becomes automatic more quickly and can, therefore, be applied in the repertoire more efficiently.

There are so many other considerations when you are working with repertoire. I use Hanon primarily with transfer students who have had inadequate technical instruction. I don't use it at all with students who begin with me because I build in those gestures right from the start.


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.

Figures similar to those in Hanon occur very rarely in piano solo repertoire. That is, figures with parallel patterns. Of course, the shapes occur often in separate hands and can be taught that way. I learned about shaping, for example, in K. 333 when I was already advanced. But students can learn this in preparatory pieces, too. I sometimes copy the few measures that I want the student to focus on, showing them what the techniques are and how to practice them. (The parallel figures similar to those found in Hanon can appear sometimes in concertos and collaborative sonatas, particularly Beethoven "Spring" and the C minor violin sonatas, the Trout Quintet and other chamber works. )

I fear that teaching Hanon as you describe is an avoidance technique. Unless you feel that Hanon is needed for strength training or endurance (I hope not), then I urge you to think through your approach in more detail. It's hard for me to justify spending precious time learning X, when what I want to play is Y. Student practice time is limited.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/15/12 04:13 PM

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.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/15/12 05:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay

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.

This is important. I can see about a zillion wrong assumptions being made here. I can't see what you teach, and you can't see what I teach. The demonstration factor is HUGE. So much of what we see as we learn to play efficiently comes from what our teachers show us, and I continue to stress that much of it is non-verbal and intuitive.

We SHOULD assume that the teachers we talk to are teaching efficient, practical things that work until somehow it becomes crystal clear that something is wrong.

If anyone insists, for instance, on playing patterns and scales with a coin balanced on the top of the and, my assumption is that great damage is being done. But other than seeing something that is obviously so wrong, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Here is just one example that will not come across in words:

It is my natural way of playing to use a minimum of movement. I would use Rubenstein as a model of this, in his later years. But when students are stiff, I recommend to them to MOVE in ways that are simply not necessary for me, and if those movements result in their playing in a more relaxed way, lead to greater facility, more control, etc., that's the right thing to do.

I don't know why this thread is still alive. I don't like Hanon. I will probably never teach it (the exercises), but to then go to the next level and say that Hanon is not a good thing when taught in a different way by other teachers is close-minded, arrogant and rigid.

Hanon is a tool. Why shouldn't we all assume that you use this tool wisely? smile
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/15/12 05:43 PM

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
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/15/12 06:12 PM

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?
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/15/12 07:14 PM

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...
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/15/12 08:04 PM

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.
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/15/12 09:39 PM

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.
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/15/12 11:00 PM

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.
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/15/12 11:11 PM

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.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/16/12 12:28 AM

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.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/16/12 03:48 AM

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.
Posted by: keystring

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/16/12 04:23 AM

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.
Posted by: Elissa Milne

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/16/12 06:58 AM

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.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/16/12 10:21 AM

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.
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/16/12 12:43 PM

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.
Posted by: keystring

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/16/12 12:56 PM

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.
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/16/12 12:59 PM

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.
Posted by: NeilOS

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/16/12 01:05 PM

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.
Posted by: keystring

Re: HANON exercises is a waste of time...? - 06/16/12 02:16 PM

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.