Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book?

Posted by: adak

Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/29/13 08:29 PM

i am currently going through alfred's book 1 to 3. would getting Hanon The Virtuoso Pianist help me out? is it worth the price? what are your experiences with the book?
Posted by: Calgary Mike

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/29/13 08:48 PM

Yes. The book is worth its cost. Hanon will help like any other set of technical exercises, Czerny, scales etc. However I would not recommend using Hanon without a teacher. There is a possibility of incorrect mechanics which can cause injury.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/29/13 10:24 PM

Buying the book will not make you a virtuoso.
wink
Posted by: Charles Cohen

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/29/13 10:27 PM

"Hanon" has been used by generations of pianists, at all skill levels. It covers a lot of the technical problems pianists face -- finger independence, especially.

The whole book is available as a free PDF file here:

http://www.free-scores.com/Download-PDF-Sheet-Music-Charles-Louis-Hanon.htm

Part 1 seems to be easy, until you want to play it _fast_ and _evenly_. Parts 2 and 3 are more difficult.

I agree with the previous post -- it's best to study the exercises with a teacher.

There's also a book that goes into variations on "Hanon":

"Technical Variants on Hanon's Exercises" -- Lindquist.

Many of us have walked this path before you.

. Charles
Posted by: adak

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/29/13 10:48 PM

i dont have a teacher nor to i plan to get one. i am going to thorough alfred's. will hanon give me problems?
Posted by: Artur Gajewski

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/30/13 12:14 AM

http://www.scribd.com/doc/14052713/Hanon-Exercise-Exercises-1-to-33

I don't know about your skills, but I would think one has to know how to read sheet music first though wink
Posted by: SoundThumb

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/30/13 01:13 AM

My suggestion would be to avoid Hanon exercises if you don't have a teacher. To be useful, you will have to play the exercises many hundreds of times. That's a whole lot of practice time devoted to what will likely be bad or at least inefficient playing habits. In my case almost all the changes my teacher made to the way I played Hanon were very worthwhile but changes I would never have discovered on my own.
Posted by: IreneAdler

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/30/13 02:19 AM

I agree with SoundThumb, I would not try the Hanon exercises without a teacher. As you could go wrong quite easily. What I would suggest instead is to practice four octave scales in all the majors keys followed by the harmonic and melodic minors. Which has done more for the dexterity and strength of my hands than my previous work with Hanon had accomplished.
Posted by: Dustin Spray

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/30/13 04:15 AM

Im using Hanon to try to get my fingers moving after not playing after many years. The beauty of Hanon is they are easy excercises to learn that dont require much time to learn the "notes". With that being said, what methods of playing Hanon are recommended with out causing bad habits? Holding fingers high, playing notes staccoto, hand position???? I currently dont have a teacher either and am doing this own my own accord.
Posted by: floydthebarber71

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/30/13 05:16 AM

Some love Hanon. Some hate Hanon. Either way you end up going, just realise these things will take time and you won't notice improvements overnight.

I think you also need to know what you want to improve, and ask yourself why you want to do these exercises. You can't rely on luck, playing things mindlessly and hope you get out the other side a better player.

Here's someone else's opinion and suggestions which might be worth considering: http://www.jackmackenzie.com/2012/10/keyboard-studies-for-feeling.html
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/30/13 06:18 AM

The problem with starting scales and Hanon (and difficult pieces) too soon is that you're playing the same thing every day and you may not be using correct technique. By playing only technically easy pieces for the first two or three years your fingers will develop as your range of pieces expand and they will adapt more naturally to increasing demands being made of them. Because in your formative years you learn throwaway pieces and you drop them once learnt you also drop immature techniques with them.

Without professional guidance I would suggest you ignore scales and Hanon until you have either a teacher or three years of solid repertoire experience.

Unless you're going for exams, scales and other technical exercises are not as beneficial as a good variety of pieces for the first two or three years. And doing exams without the guidance of a good teacher is foolhardy; not because you can't learn without a teacher but you don't have the knowledge of the procedures and the required standards for a pass.

Someone starting scale practice after three years of playing pieces only on a daily basis will catch up with someone who's played scales daily for that time in a few short weeks and not have acquired poor practise habits and attitudes borne from starting too soon with insufficient technical skills and knowledge of their benefits.

Scales are for training the ears, not the fingers. Hanon is too often a vehicle for velocity. It should be understood that velocity comes naturally from daily practise not from forcing the speed. Hanon is for getting all five fingers to play evenly, not fast, and to give the impression that they are equally strong and agile - they aren't nor can they be.

Many people use scales as a warm up. Your warm up does not count towards your practise time; it is simply a warm up. How much benefit, really, are you going to get from practising scales with cold ineffective fingers and ears that haven't yet adjusted to the sensitivity required for creating good music?

Use a selection of repertoire pieces for a warmup; pieces that you will often be required to play with cold fingers. Start with slow and easy stuff and move to pieces requiring more speed or precision. If you're going to do scales and similar technical exercises on a daily basis then warm your ears and fingers up first.

A daily regimen of good, enjoyable selections from Bach, Clementi and Schumann, or work heading in that direction, is far more beneficial and doesn't smack of drudgery.

A boxer spends but a few scant minutes in the ring but many hours in the gym and on the road. You won't make a good boxer if you don't enjoy the endless hours of training. It's just the same with piano. It's a long road to mastery and we can only get there by long hours of daily practise. Precious little time is given to actually playing the pieces we love so make sure you enjoy your practise time.

Skip scales and Hanon until you know what they're for and understand how and why they're going to deliver.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/30/13 06:33 AM

The printed version is about ten bucks, the online version is free; at least you will not need to take out a second mortgage. Yes, it is worth it, if only to find out which camp you land in. If you can abide it, it is a useful book for several reasons.

So far, I have never found a teacher who has taken the slightest interest in supervising what I do with the Hanon exercises, though I can understand why there is concern. Most of the difficulties lie in taking things to excess--- doing it for too long, exaggerating the movements of the fingers (such as the instruction to 'lift the fingers high,' which should be ignored), pounding too hard, failing to stop if the hands become sore, etc.). For beginners, these practices can open the door to repetitive stress injuries.

But, so can many other immoderate practices--- almost any good thing, in fact--- and the Hanon exercises can also help to prevent RSI problems as well as they can cause them. They are quite good to use as a warm-up, they accustom the fingers to move in a way pianists often use them, but which others seldom do. They help a student come out to meet an experience of touch, using the momentum of the keyboard, in a way that is useful in later studies. And there are the little challenges in counting, the scales and arps, fragments of many movements that will be encountered in the course of keyboard study, which it is useful to be familiar with, and which will make later study easier.

Last, but not least, they help the eye and brain associate the ink spots on the page with the movements of the hand and fingers, and the resulting sounds. There are other famous books that help with this, but the drill is very valuable for students in the early years.

I do think that working with a teacher who can explain and demonstrate things, and head off problems, is valuable, especially for beginning students. But as long as you use a little good sense (like, 'if it hurts, stop doing it'), I can't think of any good reason why a student should be discouraged from giving it a try. The scales alone are worth the ten bucks.
Posted by: Barbareola

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/30/13 10:06 AM

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Someone starting scale practice after three years of playing pieces only on a daily basis will catch up with someone who's played scales daily for that time in a few short weeks and not have acquired poor practise habits and attitudes borne from starting too soon with insufficient technical skills and knowledge of their benefits.

....

A daily regimen of good, enjoyable selections from Bach, Clementi and Schumann, or work heading in that direction, is far more beneficial and doesn't smack of drudgery.


Thank you very much for your detailed post. While I don't consider tackling Hanon - with- or withou my teacher - at the moment - I still benefited from it.

I'm about 2 1/2 years into guided piano playing (+ 1 year of selfteaching almost 20 years earlier) and a couple of month ago I was frustated with my teacher for *not* putting me on scales. I thought she ought to be pushing me more technically and the lesson time wasn't well suited, too.

I thought that because scales look so easy, they are easy and should be played by a beginner, wether they are from Hanon or whomever, before you "graduate" to more complex pieces.

I decided to stick with my teacher for various reasons: we found a better lesson time, life threw me a couple of curves that left me too exhausted too hunt for another teacher - but most of all because my husband insisted that we was "a good teacher to me". While he plays no instruments, he is good with judging people in general and me specifically, so I stayed.

The reason I stayed was that she puts *a lot* of emphasis on the expression of a piece. No matter how simple technically, we don't necessarily polish it to perfection but to the point where the mood, the point of the piece comes across.

I'm glad I stuck with her.

By now I realize that the Sonatina in G major from Beethoven (I am now in the second movement) contains a couple of short scale runs within the context of the piece. So my teacher *is* guiding me towards these technical challenges, interestingly after about the time that you recommend for playing scales. If you use scales not so much for training speed but the ear and finger evenness, then not starting with scales makes sense.
Posted by: krzyzowski

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/30/13 11:38 AM

Hannon. Front page says it all. "Virtuoso Pianist". If one reads some of the text, the exercise claims to clean up finger independance difficulties. Scales are essential, but Hannon works! The exercises are thoughtfully laid out as to work the problem areas of weak finger transitions that one might not be aware of. You'll see the benefit when the notes "flow like oil".
Posted by: Matt Walker

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/30/13 01:08 PM

And of course all the major and minor scales and arpeggios etc. are part of the Hanon exercises anyway. At the end of the day, I think any technical exercises are going to be good in the long run. For instance my left hand is not 'as good' as my right. And I think an awful lot of pianists who've gone through their grades will find this. Hanon showed me just how behind my left hand is. Working on technical exercises helps to ensure the left hand becomes as capable as the right.

FYI when Rachmaninoff graduated he could play Hanon in its entirity in every single key.
Posted by: Charles Cohen

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/30/13 05:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Dustin Spray
Im using Hanon to try to get my fingers moving after not playing after many years. The beauty of Hanon is they are easy excercises to learn that dont require much time to learn the "notes". With that being said, what methods of playing Hanon are recommended with out causing bad habits? Holding fingers high, playing notes staccoto, hand position???? I currently dont have a teacher either and am doing this own my own accord.


Different touches (legato through staccato), different dynamics (pp to FF), transposed into other keys -- it's all good.

The problem with "no teacher" is that there's nobody to watch you and say:

. . . "You're holding your hands too rigidly -- relax
. . . your shoulders and arms!"

or:

. . . "Your fingers should be arched, not flat".

I'd recommend Hanon-practice with a metronome. It's really easy to _believe_ you're playing evenly, when (in fact) your tempos are wandering, and note durations are uneven. Another thing a teacher will pick up.

. Charles

PS -- I'm trying to recover 40 years of lost technique myself. It's slow going.
Posted by: Dustin Spray

Re: Hanon - the Virtuoso Pianist - should i buy this book? - 01/31/13 02:41 AM

The nice thing is my digital piano Kawai CA65 has built in Alfred lessons, scales, chords, and Hanon excercises. So I can set it and play along with it and it "grades" my efforts. Ive made a big improvement with this feature becauses it causes me to lock into the tempo so that I dont wander as much. I am going to be very busy for the next 2 months with work, but once the spring hits I think I am going to look for a teacher to try to put things back together. I have made tremendous progress over the last 2 weeks since I have gotten my piano. A 13 year break is rough. It feels good to get back though.