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.