Hanon exercises: they might not be the most fun, but they can make a big impact on your progress as you’re learning how to play piano! Read on as Saint Augustine, FL teacher Heather L. explains why…
One of the main goals of any pianist should be to improve their technique. There are many exercises that can help with this, but none more famous than the Hanon exercises.
Most pianists know about these exercises and use them on a regular basis, but I often find that some pianists only use them occasionally or not at all.
In this blog post, I will give 3 reasons why every pianist should be playing Hanon exercises daily.
Are Hanon Exercises for Beginners?
Some people question whether or not Hanon exercises are truly suitable for beginners but they are. Hanon exercises:
- Can be challenging, but are not impossible to complete
- Are suitable for beginners because most students who stick with them will see an improvement in their playing
- Allow pianists to start simple and work their way up to more difficult pieces
Of course, Hanon exercises might not be every piano player’s favorite activity. Talk to your piano instructor about how and why you should consider doing them, and check out the video below for more tips on how to become an awesome piano player:
Do Hanon Exercises Work?
Sure, you could buy a technique book, a book of warm-ups, and a book of “finger-strengthening exercises,” and work with all three every day. And some of you may be advised by your teachers to do so, based on your past playing experience and future goals. But if you’re a middle-school-aged pianist or older, and you’ve studied piano for at least a year, here are three reasons that you should be playing Hanon exercises every day:
1. They can serve as your daily warm-up.
Charles-Louis Hanon first published his book of exercises for “the virtuoso pianist” in 1873 as a technical workout, so to speak, and it still serves as one today. Instead of flipping through old curriculum books or sheet music, trying to decide on a gentle, easy way to warm up your hands and arms, use a Hanon exercise. Over time and with practice, the notes themselves will become practically forgotten and only the motion will remain.
2. They’re great at strengthening your hands and wrists.
Forget gadgets and devices that claim to make your hands and wrists stronger and increase your playing speed. Playing Hanon exercises daily with proper technique works to do both. And what’s even better is that each exercise works to develop different fingers, or sometimes, all of them!
3. They build technique.
Technique is so often emphasized in our piano study, but what does it mean? Pianist and writer Gyorgy Sandor once said: “Technique is the sum total of organised motions executed by the performer. These motions produce sounds that recreate the moods of the composer in the performer’s own interpretation.”
In other words, technique is essentially how we move as pianists. Therefore, it means a whole lot more than just how fast or how softly that we’re able to play. It also means how healthy, grounded, and free of tension that our movements are. Hanon exercises were specifically designed for the optimum health and longevity of the pianist by enforcing and reinforcing good, solid habits, like imagining that your arms are like “heavy, wet ropes” as they hit the keys.
Other Benefits of Hanon Piano Exercises
Hanon piano exercises have been a proven method for improving piano playing skill for nearly two centuries.
Originally created by Frenchman Charles-Louis Hanon in 1873, the exercises are still in use today by beginning and advanced pianists alike. Hanon exercises are designed to improve a player’s technique, sight-reading ability, and speed and accuracy of finger movement.
While some may find the exercises mundane or repetitive, there is no denying their efficacy in helping pianists achieve their full potential.
By consistently practicing Hanon exercises, pianists can develop the strength, dexterity, and stamina needed to play complex pieces with ease. In addition, the exercises can also help players to better internalize rhythms and learn to transition smoothly between chords.
For any pianist serious about improving their skills, incorporating Hanon exercises into their practice routine is a surefire way to see results.
How to Play Hanon Piano Exercises
The Hanon piano exercises are a series of sixty progressive exercises for developing finger dexterity and strength.
These exercises were first published in the late 1800s by Charles-Louis Hanon, and they remain a staple of piano pedagogy to this day. While some pianists use Hanon exercises as a way to warm up before practice or performance, others use them as a daily routine to build technique. Regardless of how you use them, Hanon exercises can be an incredibly valuable tool for any pianist.
There are a few things to keep in mind when playing Hanon exercises.
First, it is important to play each exercise slowly and evenly at first. Once you have mastered the tempo, you can gradually increase the speed.
Second, make sure that you use even, consistent pressure on the keys. This will help to develop strength and endurance in your fingers. Finally, it is important to pay attention to your posture and hand position.
Best Hanon Exercises
If you’re looking to improve your piano playing, the Hanon exercises are a great place to start. These exercises were first published in the early 1800s and have been used by countless pianists to improve their technique.
While there are many different Hanon exercises, some of the most popular ones include the following:
The first exercise is designed to improve your finger dexterity. Start by placing your index finger on C, then play the note with your middle finger.
Repeat this pattern up and down the keyboard. The second exercise is intended to help you develop a better sense of timing. Start by playing four notes evenly, then increasing the tempo until you’re playing eight notes evenly. The third exercise is all about developing finger strength.
Start by playing a C scale, then move on to playing scales in other keys. As you progress, try playing multiple scales at once.
By working through these exercises on a regular basis, you’ll quickly see an improvement in your piano playing. So make sure to add them to your practice routine today!
How Do You Practice Hanon Effectively?
Make sure that you are sitting up straight and that your hands are in the proper position on the keyboard. By following these simple tips, you will be well on your way to mastering the Hanon piano exercises.
The use of Hanon exercises have been criticized in recent years for its alleged creation of a generation of unmusical, mechanical piano students. Over the decades, they’ve been given by instructors to beginners, especially the young. Then students drop out of piano lessons. Criticizers have concluded that the former causes the latter. But this is a result of confusing the concepts of causation and correlation. While students who learn Hanon exercises in their piano lessons may drop out, that does not necessarily mean that Hanon exercises were the reason why.
It is an essential part of my personal teaching philosophy never to force any student into anything. If you can’t learn from the way that I teach, then I have to find some way to teach the way that you will learn. My goal is to guide every one of my students onto a path of independent musicianship, not a path where they become piano robots. Hanon exercises are mechanical. That’s no secret. That’s how they work. I tell each of my Hanon students that they will become monotonous sometimes. But that’s where their magic lies.
When Hanon exercises become simply memorized movement, that’s when you can focus on your own technique. That’s when you can think about which part of your fingers is hitting the keys. That’s when you can be sure that you’re playing from the shoulder, and not from the wrist. At the end of the day, I believe that Hanon exercises can and should be used successfully, both in lessons and by the independent musician.
How Long Should I Do Hanon Exercises?
There is no definitive answer to the question of how long one should spend doing Hanon exercises each day.
However, most experts recommend that beginner pianists start with 20 minutes of practice, gradually increasing the duration as they become more comfortable with the exercises. Additionally, it is generally advised to break up the practice session into two or three shorter periods throughout the day, rather than trying to do all of the exercises at once.
Ultimately, the best way to determine how long to practice is to listen to your body and proceed at a pace that feels comfortable and sustainable. With patience and consistency, you will likely find that your endurance and proficiency improve rapidly.
Alternatives to Hanon Exercises
If you’re a piano player, chances are you’ve encountered Hanon exercises at some point in your studies.
Hanon exercises are a series of exercises designed to improve finger strength and dexterity, and they’re often used as a foundation for more advanced technique. However, Hanon exercises can be repetitive and tedious, and some players find them ineffective.
If you’re looking for alternatives to Hanon exercises, there are a few options worth exploring. One is to focus on pieces that require frequent repetition of specific finger patterns.
By playing these pieces regularly, you can help to build finger strength and dexterity without feeling like you’re doing the same exercise over and over. Another option is to use weight-bearing exercises to help build finger strength. These exercises can be done with dumbbells or other weightlifting equipment, and they can be tailored to your specific needs.
Finally, consider using principles from sports training to help improve your finger strength and dexterity. Many of the same exercises that help athletes improve their performance can also be beneficial for musicians. By incorporating some of these alternative approaches into your practice routine, you can help take your playing to the next level.
Are Hanon Exercises Useful?
There is no denying that practicing the Hanon exercises can be beneficial for pianists.
These exercises are designed to improve finger strength, dexterity, and speed, all of which can be helpful in playing pieces with complex fingering or fast passages. In addition, the Hanon exercises can help to build stamina and endurance, both of which are important for long performances.
However, some pianists find that the Hanon exercises are too repetitive and boring, and they prefer to focus on pieces of music that they enjoy playing. Ultimately, whether or not the Hanon exercises are useful depends on the individual pianist and their goals.To determine whether Hanon exercises are right for you, talk to your piano instructor about including them in your practice routine. They’ll know exactly which techniques are right for you!
Photo by GiPereira