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Have big jumps, chords and octave ? I just practice the ones in the score. this is the way I have always practiced.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Hanon in C is ok, but a lot of the first 20 exercices are in fact rather repetitive. So it boils down to a few to be selected. You should not spend too much time on them. They are fine for warm up as a complementary exercice, but I find that the added value for the time spent is low. Hannon in different keys are much more interesting, but those are more elaborate.

Otherwise, it is good to do both exercices and pieces. Scales and arpeggios are a must in classical music. It will both help you develop eveness, flexibility and it will be usefull when playing pieces.


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You learn music by playing music. Need to work on something find a pieces of music that requires that technique. From my experience on other instruments I find my hand position and etc is different when playing a exercise than when play a piece of music. I think people especially classical musicians obsess over technique too much. All that matter is what comes out of your instrument. Remember you go to a concert and hear a great musician do you come out saying... oh their posture was amazing, did you see the how parallel to the floor their forearm was, no you talk about how the music sounded. If you focus in how someone played something you're missing out on hearing what they are playing.


I remember going to a Keith Jarrett concert with my best friend who had her degree in classical piano performance. In beginning she wasn't getting into the music because she was in pain watching Keith's movement and crouching when he plays. I said just close your eyes and listen. She closed her eyes for the rest of the concert and couldn't stop talking about Keith playing and music for days after that. The music that comes out is all that matters.

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Originally Posted by MrShed
You learn music by playing music. Need to work on something find a pieces of music that requires that technique.
This seems too black and white and goes against hundreds of years of piano teaching including the present. Few teachers would recommend not even practicing the most basic techniques like scales and arpeggios separately. The above doesn't mean pieces can also be useful for working on technique.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/17/21 06:37 PM.
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Part of piano training is to get your hands to play in a fluid manner with little stiffness. Watching somebody's hand playing in a mechanical way (very stiff) is not enjoyable. Listening to the same person play without the visual cues is a different experience... like between listening to a piece on the radio vs. a live concert.

Whether someone does warm-up with exercise pieces before the repertoire piece(s) is the matter of personal preference.

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Learning through pieces can be effective, but how effective is all up to how you approach learning your pieces.

If you always focus on improving the quality of your sound and improving your accuracy, phrasing, fingering, pedal, tempo etc. these things will improve. But, if you just whip through all your rep. everyday without paying much attention to these things and accepting the same old blunders, than not so much.

Listening is so important and doesn't get discussed enough, IMO. Exercises can be effective too, but it is almost always a physical thing (speed, agility) and can not replace the listening.

Too much of anything isn't usually recommended, so is good if you find the right balance and mix for yourself.

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I honestly don't find Hanon boring and I can do scales and arpeggios for a little while without getting too bored. But I get very bored with the easy pieces and short exercises in the Faber book. I know I need to just play them and be patient and go over everything for the things I might have missed. The Adult Faber book two is easier than I realized. It doesn't even move beyond a very few easy keys in the whole book. I can pretty easily sight read everything in the book through the end. I can't play without fumbling or making mistakes until I've played some of them a few times, but even so, they're not that challenging.

I also feel like my teacher is giving me all these easy pieces because I still suffer from nerves and make mistakes in front of her. But I can play these over and over myself with zero mistakes. It's a little frustrating. That's why I feel like I need more exercises, because I don't know that these easy pieces are doing much for me. I obviously need to practice scales and arpeggios and technique (some fingers are weaker/slower, some want to move too fast etc.). The Faber classics book is okay. I love the Easy Moderns to Classics book. I feel a little bit like I'm still trying to self teach, though.

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I also enjoy exercising Hanon and arpeggios, however, there is always a balance.

To play with no mistake is good, but to play with taste is much more difficult, with all the articulations and dynamics. Also it is natural you will be more nervous when playing in front of others with a different piano. Maybe there should be a conversation with your teacher, what motivates you most, how you should focus on your practicing time.

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Originally Posted by Csj24
I honestly don't find Hanon boring and I can do scales and arpeggios for a little while without getting too bored. But I get very bored with the easy pieces and short exercises in the Faber book. I know I need to just play them and be patient and go over everything for the things I might have missed. The Adult Faber book two is easier than I realized. It doesn't even move beyond a very few easy keys in the whole book. I can pretty easily sight read everything in the book through the end. I can't play without fumbling or making mistakes until I've played some of them a few times, but even so, they're not that challenging.

I also feel like my teacher is giving me all these easy pieces because I still suffer from nerves and make mistakes in front of her. But I can play these over and over myself with zero mistakes. It's a little frustrating. That's why I feel like I need more exercises, because I don't know that these easy pieces are doing much for me. I obviously need to practice scales and arpeggios and technique (some fingers are weaker/slower, some want to move too fast etc.). The Faber classics book is okay. I love the Easy Moderns to Classics book. I feel a little bit like I'm still trying to self teach, though.
You need to discuss this with your teacher.

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Originally Posted by MrShed
Remember you go to a concert and hear a great musician do you come out saying... oh their posture was amazing, did you see the how parallel to the floor their forearm was, no you talk about how the music sounded. If you focus in how someone played something you're missing out on hearing what they are playing.

About ten years ago, a friend invited me to WFMT's recording studio to hear Valentina Lisitsa give a small, live concert over the air. It was the typical vending-machine style execution from VL, of course, but what I remember most was the comment of some old woman next to me before VL began:

Originally Posted by woman (paraphrased)
I want to see her wrists..

About two years ago, I saw this woman again at a student recital my teacher was hosting. She was a student of my teacher's. She had heard some of us perform earlier that evening, and, after expressing her admiration for some of our performances, declared she wasn't going to play tonight because she felt she needed to study more. What exactly she was to study, I have no recollection. Some vague thing about "Bach" or "the score". I heard her play some time later, struggling with early repertoire. It was as if she were trying to execute a computer program.

My teacher was about as against the traditional dogma as you could get, and did everything he could to get his students to treat the piano as a source of expression. Nevertheless, this woman stuck with what she thought was the cerebral approach, obsessed over getting technique right, and completely missed the whole point of piano.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
This...goes against hundreds of years of piano teaching including the present.

The past few hundred years of piano pedagogy is besotten with the tyranny of drills and exercises that -- arguably -- started as money-grabs for publishers. If the goal is to express, then Hanon and friends seems to have very limited relevance..and should be employed only sparingly or in special cases.

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Originally Posted by mcontraveos
The past few hundred years of piano pedagogy is besotten with the tyranny of drills and exercises that -- arguably -- started as money-grabs for publishers. If the goal is to express, then Hanon and friends seems to have very limited relevance..and should be employed only sparingly or in special cases.

I agree with you that piano playing shouldn't be mechanical and lifeless. However, before I can really be expressive in a way that anyone will enjoy I do need the technical prowess to be able to play the pieces properly. Loads of mistakes are about as enjoyable to listen to as someone playing like a computer. smile

The question I had was whether or not exercises are the best way to achieve that...

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Given your experience, it may well be true that the pieces in Easy Classics to Moderns are more at the level that challenges you to combine technique & expression. I've also worked from the Faber books and found the pieces frustratingly easy to play in an intellectual and mechanical sense.

But-when I watched the accompanying videos study what Faber is doing, I could see a strategy in which the mechanics (typing) of a piece can be kept simpler to enable focus on other aspects of technique, from basics like relaxation, wrist flexibility, & gesture to full keyboard awareness. There's also an earlier focus in Faber on expressive skills like dynamics, articulation, pedaling, and other skills working toward learning to *hear yourself* (which many beginners can't). Much of the goal there is to learn to play even simple pieces musically, as opposed to typing ever more accurately. I also came to suspect that all those places that trip one up aren't just accidents--they may be the meat of the lesson.


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Originally Posted by mcontraveos
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
This...goes against hundreds of years of piano teaching including the present.

The past few hundred years of piano pedagogy is besotten with the tyranny of drills and exercises that -- arguably -- started as money-grabs for publishers. If the goal is to express, then Hanon and friends seems to have very limited relevance..and should be employed only sparingly or in special cases.
That might apply to some extent to piano teaching during part of the 19th century. Pianists from the Russian School over the last 100 years and more recent Asian school have done plenty of scales, arpeggios, and countless other exercises. Most/all of the standard exams like ABRSM have technical requirements at every level, and I assure you those taking those exams spend some time on purely technical exercises. Very few good amateurs and almost all pros have not done some purely technical work while learning piano. Expression requires good technique, and I think the overwhelming percentage of good teachers think their students should do some purely technical work. When someone reaches a high level then working on technique purely through repertoire becomes more reasonable.

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I bought the book Pianoforte Technique on an Hour a Day by Geoffrey Tankard recommended by bennevis in another thread (not the one he recommended in this thread) and I think it's a great book of technical exercises. They are quite difficult but I can see how these exercises can fill gaps in one's technique. The book is only 44 pages but there are about 5-10 exercises per page and each one has variations (which are not fully written out) so overall the book has several hundred different exercises covering just about everything from 5-finger exercises to double note scales and tremolos. In all keys. It's pretty extensive.

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Thanks! I did order the Tankard one that was recommended earlier.

Tangleweeds, thanks! That's very helpful. I need to watch those videos, I suppose. My teacher is definitely obsessed with making me practice pedaling, dynamics, thinking through fingering choices, all the fine details etc. When I was playing on my own I was just happy if I didn't make mistakes and liked the way it sounded.

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Originally Posted by Csj24
Tangleweeds, thanks! That's very helpful. I need to watch those videos, I suppose. My teacher is definitely obsessed with making me practice pedaling, dynamics, thinking through fingering choices, all the fine details etc.

I’m actually really happy it helped. I didn’t want to be insensitive to the frustration you were feeling! But when I watched the videos, which do also move pretty slowly, once I got past my frustration I had one of those lightbulb moments realizing he was expecting a lot more from me than I’d expected from myself.

Originally Posted by Csj24
When I was playing on my own I was just happy if I didn't make mistakes and liked the way it sounded.

I think it’s particularly easy as a beginner to piano to mistakenly perceive the basic challenge to be building accuracy and speed in increasing complex typing on your keyboard—but that’s really only half of it all, and (as on any instrument really) the most important challenge artistically is developing musicality, while the overarching technical challenge turns out to be learning ergonomic habits of movement that enhance that musicality.


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