Meri’s Musical Musings

Why Hanon (and other piano exercises) are important for developing pianists

Posted on: February 12, 2016

There has been debate on the value of various types of piano exercises, especially Hanon and Czerny, but occasionally other names are mentioned, such as Pischna. As someone whose skills on the piano quickly developed between the early intermediate and early advanced repertoire within a couple years, in part probably due to the use of such exercises, I support that Hanon and most other piano exercises are very important to developing pianists..

First, many of the patterns that you see in piano exercises, especially Hanon and Czerny, occur in piano repertoire. I have found similar or even identical patterns that are in Hanon that occur in the Little Preludes, the Well Tempered Clavier, and the Inventions of J.S. Bach! But the range of patterns in such exercises makes rapid playing when necessary a lot easier.

Second, it is not so much the exercises that are harmful, rather it is whether they are done with good technique or poor technique. With a good teacher, or naturally good hand shape, such patterns can build the skills rapidly for playing advanced repertoire in a few months to a year or two with just 20 minutes on such exercises.

Third, other instruments have various exercises that they need to practice to become fine players, such as string crossing for guitar and bowed strings, register changing exercises on wind instruments, exercises in developing skills in using alternate fingerings on most instruments, most notably clarinet and bassoon, and exercises in playing various intervals so that all the notes come out.

Finally, very few if any pianists and other musicians who are advanced players or professionals on their instruments got that way by avoiding technique building exercises.

Therefore, exercises for all instruments are there to build skills; don’t reject or refuse to do them because they are exercises or that you’ve heard that they aren’t good.

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  • None
  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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