30. Do you recommend Hanon?

;D This question is not related to the functionality of PCA – but because I receive it sooooo often LOL, I decided to cover it here as well. I hope my answer is helpful! ;)

I will begin with the fact that the most important thing in piano playing is HOW we practice!

If practiced correctly, Hanon exercises can be useful; and they can be a total waste of time if you practice them mechanically, ‘only from your fingers’, with tensed arms and wrists!

Still, I do not recommend Hanon. These exercises are outdated and they don’t target the entire spectrum of an ergonomic piano technique. They were written during the epoch of the harpsichord-inspired ‘finger-only’ approach, while nowadays we play by using whole-arm action and weighted playing (the technical foundation we use in the Russian piano school).

Moreover, Hanon exercises lack meaning and artistic value (being focused on technique alone) – while the most productive practice method is developing our expressive and technical skills simultaneously (where expression ALWAYS comes first, while technique is simply a necessary means to an end).

Yes, we can certainly use whole-arm action in practicing Hanon exercises (and even strain our imagination to invent some interesting artistic concept behind each exercise) – but there are much better (and more useful) Etudes out there, combining a wider technical spectrum with TONS of expressive benefits (you can find super-detailed Etude recommendations for all levels in the Members Area). Here is when WHAT we practice becomes important as well!

And, of course, if you follow the step-by-step scale system that I cover in my progressive Scale Course, you will get a super-comprehensive technical & expressive training as well. More information about this Course in question No. 19 ;).

In other words, ANY exercise, Etude or scale can be useful if practiced correctly and mindfully – but because we have a limited number of practice hours per day (and the piano repertoire is sooooo enormous!), why not spend these hours in a smarter, more efficient (and enjoyable!) manner and practice Etudes of real artistic value, where technical benefits are harmoniously balanced with artistic and expressive ones? 8)

People also ask me: Do you recommend Czerny’s Etudes?

Yes, but only in very limited quantities! ;D

In my opinion, Czerny’s Etudes are a bit more interesting (and useful) than Hanon, but the difference is not THAT big! LOL So you can incorporate some of them in your practice – especially if you’re a beginner. By the way, I will remind you that for a harmonious development of ALL your piano skills, your program should comprise (at any moment), scales & arpeggios + 4-5 pieces of different styles/genres/characters (more information about the professional structure of a piano program in the Members Area). One of these pieces should always be an Etude – and once a year (for example), this Etude can be by Czerny.

However, if you’re an intermediate or advanced student, then Czerny’s Etudes are definitely a waste of time! Why practice them when we have amazing Etudes by Chopin and Liszt, when we have Rachmaninoff and Scriabin? 8)

Conclusion: Focus on meaningful pieces first! Explore those works that develop ALL your skills – mental, emotional, spiritual AND technical. Only then, if you have extra time and nothing more to practice :P – you can ‘play’ with some Czerny or Hanon.