Commentary on Hanon, etc.

front cover for hanon the virtuoso pianist

If you ever want to play with freedom and ease, you must totally reject the finger training school of piano technique…

Two Huge Myths Regarding Piano Technique

Myth #1. Great piano technique is achieved by making your fingers stronger, faster, and more independent.

Myth #2. You can make your fingers stronger, faster, and more independent by putting in countless hours of general physical exercises day after day for years and years.

Hanon, an Introduction

The single italicized paragraph in the image below may be the single biggest lie ever told in the history of music… and is responsible for countless tears of frustration and devastated musical lives. It is nothing short of pure EVIL!

preface from hanon the virtuoso pianist

How can so many people be so wrong?

The mythical claims of the “exercise school” of piano technique are perpetuated by four conspiring problems:

  • Ignorant teachers continue to regurgitate falsehood by the millions.
  • Trusting students continue to accept falsehood by the millions.
  • Publishers continue to publish “exercise” books (Hanon, Cortot, Czerny, etc) into the musical canon by the millions.
  • In the early stages, doing physical exercises seems to improve one’s playing.

Problems with the Finger Training School

If you belief the finger training myth, you are doomed to mediocrity–for at least four reasons:

  1. It’s anatomically impossible to make all your fingers equally strong, fast, and independent.
  2. Even if it was anatomically possible to make all your fingers equal, this doesn’t scratch the surface of understanding expert piano technique.
  3. Piano technique is not a general purpose skill that requires you to train your fingers like little hammers on the end of a stick.
  4. The unique choreography required to play a particular piece of music can only be discovered by studying and practicing that particular piece of music.

More Problems with the Finger Training School

In the early stages, physical training creates the illusion of progress, but realize the following…

  • While doing something is better than doing nothing, the same may be said about doing anything more than nothing.
  • If you subscribe to the finger training school, you will never master anything; you will just get slightly better at doing things the wrong way… the hard way.
  • Any improvements will be tiny and painfully slow.
  • Because progress will be tiny and painfully slow, you will eventually give up trying, because you mistakenly come to believe that you are untalented, that you just don’t have what it takes.

Why You Should Buy Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist

Spoiler Alert: It’s not for the reason you might think!

So, why should you buy your own copy of Hanon?

Because it would be so cool to own the existence proof of a form of collective insanity!

Advice for Developing Your Piano Technique

  • Beware of any method that subscribes to the “exercise school” of technique.
  • Do not waste your precious time doing physical exercises.
  • While it is possible to do physical exercises the “right” way, why would you waste your precious time learning music that you have no intentions of keeping in your repertoire?
  • Even if you did exercises the “right” way, all of the exercise books in the world will never be comprehensive enough to solve every technical problem that you are going to encounter in real music.
  • Once you understand the basic principles of technique, and the rudiments of scales and chords, go right to the music that you want to play.
  • You get good at Bach by studying and practicing Bach. You get good at Rock by studying and practicing Rock. You get good at Jazz by studying and practicing Jazz.
  • In studying the music that you want to play, you will discover the particular technical problems that you need to solve, problems that you can now give your focused attention.
  • If you study the right way, you should expect quantum leaps in improvement, not slight improvements over years and years of arduous effort.
  • Enough said… Now just do it!

learn more… Piano Technique

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