Is Hanon Good for Rock/Pop/Improv Piano?

Posted by: newbert

Is Hanon Good for Rock/Pop/Improv Piano? - 02/28/13 04:30 PM

I've come across an old copy of this book: http://www.amazon.com/Hanon-Virtuoso-Exe...eywords=hanon#_, and am wondering how useful it's exercises would be for someone like me who is just re-starting piano after many years away, but am interested in mainly rock, pop and blues piano. I've started the first exercises and they do give the fingers a good workout. I would think that they would help not only with with overall finger dexterity, but also in getting used to playing "patterns".

However, after reading some of the negative reviews on Amazon, there seems to be a school of thought (a small minority of the reviews however) that these exercises could be physically harmful to the wrists, etc.

Since I respect the opinions here on Piano World more than customer reviews on Amazon, I'd like to pose the question here -- Can the Hanon exercises have a negative effect (physical or otherwise)? And, if not, are they useful for the aspiring pop/rock/blues pianist?

Thanks!
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Is Hanon Good for Rock/Pop/Improv Piano? - 02/28/13 04:49 PM

The reason Hanon could be seen as detrimental is because they're arguably not musical, for one thing. The second reason is shared between all exercises in that, if practiced incorrectly with tension (if not taught hands-on, this is very likely), they will ingrain bad habits and in a sense do more harm than good.

For a person seeking actual instruction, no exercises alone will get you anywhere (exercises won't necessarily get you anywhere even if you have instruction but that doesn't tell you how to use them). You'd be best off with a qualified piano teacher experienced in playing jazz (improvisation), rock, pop, etc. Your second best option is to study from a book like Mark Levine's Jazz Piano Book or some of the Bert Ligon texts that cover improvisation as well as technique.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Is Hanon Good for Rock/Pop/Improv Piano? - 02/28/13 07:29 PM

Originally Posted By: newbert
ICan the Hanon exercises have a negative effect (physical or otherwise)? And, if not, are they useful for the aspiring pop/rock/blues pianist?

Thanks!


Every student I have seen starts their study of Hanon by going way too fast and with too much tension, so a teacher is strongly recommended to help you do it correctly.

As for being unmusical, I don't see that. They are repetitious, so some will = call that unmusical, but in reality the note sequences in Hanon can be found in much of repertoire. For example, the Hanon #1 exercise is essentially a scale, which of course is everywhere in music. And there are a number of exercises for the trill, again a piano mainstay. #7 (I think, not at the book now) is an study in melodic 3rds, and so on.

Personally, Hanon was the main thing that gave me decent technique. My teacher was from the old school "Russian" style of teaching, where Hanon is a mainstay.

As for its ability to help a Blues pianist, that is what I do professionally, (besides teach). If you want, play the free Blues shuffle song in my signature below:
Posted by: SoundThumb

Re: Is Hanon Good for Rock/Pop/Improv Piano? - 02/28/13 09:36 PM

My teacher uses Hanon and here are the kinds of things she uses it for: Changing the amount of bend I have in my wrist, improving the independence of fingers 5 and 4 on my left hand, increasing the amount of arm movement when playing stacatto. Without a teacher, I would have had no idea that these were the kind of things these exercises are used for.

Like many, I originally thought the purpose was to increase speed. However, after several years of playing, I still use them at a tempo that is less than the minimum 60 BPM that he suggests, and my teacher is just fine with that.
Posted by: samasap

Re: Is Hanon Good for Rock/Pop/Improv Piano? - 03/01/13 05:56 AM

I believe for what you want to use them for it will really help you build strengh in your fingers and will train you the technique you need to play the kind of music you want to play.
I don't believe they are harmful to your wrists e.t.c.....this will be down to the individual and poor posture and technique. If you have a piano teacher get them to advise you and how best to sit when playing piano. And stick to this position when sitting and performing at the piano.

Try them and see how you get on. And hopefully they will benefit you like they do my many students...!
Good Luck. smile
Posted by: Charles Cohen

Re: Is Hanon Good for Rock/Pop/Improv Piano? - 03/01/13 12:42 PM

If you want a book of _jazz_ patterns for practice, try:

"Jazz Hanon: 50 Exercises for the Beginning to Professional Jazz Pianist",
. . . by Peter Deneff

They'll help with technique, especially if you want to use "jazz fingering", which has a lot of "thumb-on-black-key" positions that "classical fingering" avoids.

I think that there's also a "Blues Hanon" book.

. Charles
Posted by: newbert

Re: Is Hanon Good for Rock/Pop/Improv Piano? - 03/01/13 03:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Charles Cohen
If you want a book of _jazz_ patterns for practice, try:

"Jazz Hanon: 50 Exercises for the Beginning to Professional Jazz Pianist",
. . . by Peter Deneff

They'll help with technique, especially if you want to use "jazz fingering", which has a lot of "thumb-on-black-key" positions that "classical fingering" avoids.

I think that there's also a "Blues Hanon" book.

. Charles


Thanks for the tip about the Jazz and Blues Hanon Books, CHarles. Would you know whether fingerings are shown in the exercises (like in the Classical Hanon Book)? Looking at Amazon's previews, it looks like fingerings are NOT indicated, which to me would be a serious shortcoming....

Thanks!
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Is Hanon Good for Rock/Pop/Improv Piano? - 03/01/13 05:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Charles Cohen
If you want a book of _jazz_ patterns for practice, try:

"Jazz Hanon: 50 Exercises for the Beginning to Professional Jazz Pianist",
. . . by Peter Deneff

They'll help with technique, especially if you want to use "jazz fingering", which has a lot of "thumb-on-black-key" positions that "classical fingering" avoids.

I think that there's also a "Blues Hanon" book.

. Charles


There is also a "Boogie-Woogie Hanon" in that series, but be aware...they have not much to do with the real Hanon. They are simply piggybacking on the name, which is in the public domain.

Not that there is anything wrong with them, but they are not Hanon if that is what you are looking for..
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Is Hanon Good for Rock/Pop/Improv Piano? - 03/01/13 07:32 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
As for its ability to help a Blues pianist, that is what I do professionally, (besides teach). If you want, play the free Blues shuffle song in my signature below:

I love that tune every time I hear it, Rocket88!!! You play like I want to learn to play! You are my inspiration! smile

Rick
Posted by: 4evrBeginR

Re: Is Hanon Good for Rock/Pop/Improv Piano? - 03/01/13 08:17 PM

As Bobpickle says there are a lot of potential issues using Hanon un-supervised. It's an excellent set of technical exercises, but they need to be learned correctly. If you are not playing the Hanon exercises for a teacher, you should skip them.