Have you ever wondered how the most famous concert pianists can play so fluidly? It’s like a river that’s rapidly flowing and then meanders through windy chasms and empties into a peaceful reservoir. Wow, lay off the poetic stanzas, dude…
Really, what makes their performances so captivating is the sound that they produce by the evenness of their fingers. Every pianist should strive to achieve near-perfect agility and dexterity of the fingers. At the very least, pianists ought to achieve this to a desirable level.
The hard part of this all is that it takes time and practice… so much practice. Naturally, our fingers are uneven. The weakest of them all is typically the 4th (aka ring finger) on the non-dominant hand. If you have ever struggled or are currently struggling with this concept, I have a solution! Hanon – The Virtuoso Pianist
HEADS UP! This blog uses piano language. The language that all pianists magically use to telepathically communicate with each other!
Who The Heck Is Hanon?!?!
Read closely, here because he is going to become your best friend.
A little background should suffice. I don’t want to bore you with the specifics.
Charles-Louis Hanon was a French composer of the early cotemporary period. This is significant because his methods are still used today and will be for the forseeable future. His specialty was pedagogy (the art of teaching) rather than his actual musical exercises.
The main aspects of his compositions were aimed at improving finger strength rather than musicality. That is up to YOU – the musician, to make melodic and fun! After all, the best artists turn tedious, undetailed works into well…art.
Hanon – The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises
There are going to be good and bad piano days for all of us. Sometimes, we are just not inspired, other times our fingers won’t cooperate. The main challenge with piano is in the mind, but we still need fingers or even feet can work to play!So use your mind power! When I have a bad piano day, Hanon is my lifesaver. The exercises are meant to gradually improve your playability. It’s like yoga but for pianists. All it takes is 10-15 minutes of dedicated practice a day and you will master these exercises. Heck these exercises are just the beginning of a path that leads to mastery of the instrument.
The exercises I am about to describe are helpful to all types of performers, from classical to jazz musicians.
Here’s a glimpse of some things you’ll be learning!
The “Meat and Potatoes” of the Composition
The entire booklet is comprised of 60 unique exercise ranging from simple patterns to complex trills and scales. They are all essential to understanding the theory of music so that you can learn how to play.
WARNING: All exercises are best played with a metronome. A metronome is a device that produces a sound in regular intervals, which is used by pianists to get their fingers in sync with time. All digital keyboards have built in metronomes but if you want just the device, look here!
I’ll break down the exercises into tiny bits, so that you’ll know what to expect:
- Prepatory exercises – consist of short repetitive intervals athat strengthen the 4th and 5th fingers. (Total Count = 20)
- Transcendant Exercises – climbing exercises that test your skills. (Total Count = 11)
- Thumb Exercises – Teaches the essential skill of turning the thumb under your fingers. (Total Count = 7)
- Prepatory Major and Minor Scales – Scales are more than just warm-ups. They teach what to expect in any musical composition based off of the key signature.
- 12 Major & 12 Minor Scales – Full scales. This is a true test of finger independence.
- Chromatic Scales – Teaches how to climb up and down the keyboard.
- Arpeggios and Triads – sequence of notes to create harmonic tones(this is where it gets musical)
- Repeated Notes, Trills, and Octave Scales – Speed up those fingers.
- The Tremolo – Complex wrist movements that emulate the sound of a drum roll.
If you can’t tell, the exercises get gradually more and more complex. One need not go through the entire booklet in one sitting. In fact, Hanon himself would not recommend that, especially if it is your first playthrough.
A lot of these exercises are meant for intermediate to advanced pianists, but don’t let that bum you out if you are a beginner because there is Junior Hanon. They are greatly beneficial to new learners in preparation for what’s to come. Trust me, it is well worth your time and dedication to do this!
Junior Hanon: For Late Beginner to Intermediate
If you feel that the above exercises are too advanced at the moment, don’t worry or get discouraged. All pianists started somewhere and went through similar struggles to learning. There is a Junior version which is more condensed. The simplification of the exercises makes difficult passages seem less intimidating. That being said, you will likely get the same effect of the full exercises just in smaller, more compact incriments.
Feel free to check that out below: Junior Hanon
Is Hanon Worth My Time?
Yes, actually. I use it to this day and have bought multiple copies myself. Deeply Trebled will always recommend Hanon – The Virtuoso Pianist to students. It is basically and all-in-one push in the right direction. The exercises have been known to make you feel more confident in your playing. They are proven to increase dexterity, agility, and speed of the fingers in a relatively short period of time. It is difficult to come accross a comprehensive guide for $10 or less. The experience and knowledge gained from it by far outweighs the cost.
Keep your head in the game and don’ give up and you’ll be playing like you’ve always wanted to in no time! Like I said, these exercises have been a lifesaver for me on bad piano days. Sometimes it’s easy to just sit there and say “I wish my playing was more fluid…” Then boop, there’s Hanon!
As always, I’d love to hear what you guys think. Social engagement means a lot to us all. If you can help your fellow pianists out, then they will help you out. If you have tips, advice, or experience on the topic – SHARE IT!
What’s in your Repertoire???