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May 10

Hanon Exercises – Free Online!

Hanon Exercises Free Online

Warm Up Time!


It’s time for some piano practice! What do you play first, when you sit down for a practice session? A lot of teachers will recommend playing through some scales and arpeggios, and perhaps looking at a study piece. The whole point of “warming up”, is to prepare yourself for performance. A gymnast wouldn’t launch into a series of back-flips without doing some stretches first, and you shouldn’t attempt those horrendous hemidemisemiquavers (64th notes) or octave leaps without warming up your fingers.

What happens when you “warm up”? Blood flow increases up to 75%, and your muscles actually do increase in temperature (it’s not called a warm up for nothing!) You have more blood and more oxygen pumping round your muscles, and that makes them work more efficiently – they are less likely to get tired quickly and less likely to start hurting after a vigorous work out.

A lot of teachers recommend playing through some exercises, for example Hanon’s “The Virtuoso Pianist in Sixty Exercises”.

Who is Hanon, and Can I Really Become a Virtuoso in 60 Exercises?!

Charles-Louis Hanon was a 19th century piano teacher and composer. The Hanon exercises remain popular today with many piano teachers (but not all), as a useful and motivating way to increase finger technique. The studies are divided into three parts of progressive difficulty, and the idea is that you should become proficient at the first part of Hanon exercises before you attempt the second, and so on. Within each part, the exercises should be played consecutively, without a break.
Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist, Book 1: In Sixty Exercises for the Piano (Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics)

 

The exercises start off relatively easy – here’s the first couple of bars from exercise no.1:

 

Care  must be taken to use the correct fingerings, and to play smoothly and evenly.

 

The Hanon exercises become progressively more difficult by changing the stretches between the fingers, and employing other tricky moves such as crossing the thumb.

The second part contains exercises which incorporate more scales and arpeggios, and the third part is where Hanon ties your fingers in knots with scales in thirds, tremolos and repeated double notes.

Sixty exercises may not sound like a lot at first glance, but actually getting through to the end of part 3, (remember, you are supposed to play them all non-stop!), is a gruelling task worthy of any virtuoso!

Hanon Exercises – Free Online!

If you fancy trying your hand at some Hanon exercises, you can do so risk free by checking out the free resources at http://www.hanon-online.com. You can find more information about Hanon himself, about the methodology behind the exercises, and they have the first twenty Hanon exercises (i.e. the whole of part I) available free to download!

As if that wasn’t wonderful enough, the website also offers you play-along recordings, and you can even transpose each exercise into any key you like, so that you can focus on a specific key signature! Each Hanon exercise is shown with key signature buttons above it, like this:

Hanon exercises

Simply click on the button to transpose the Hanon exercise into whichever key (starting note) you find most appealing!

 

I think this is a great resource for piano students and teachers. The Hanon exercises do have their detractors because they are lacking in musical emotion, but personally I think that there is a place for technical exercises and perhaps there is a good reason why Hanon has remained so popular for so long. Our fingers can only translate what is in our hearts if they are fit and strong enough to do so, and for me, being emotionally detached from exercises is more effective – I get better physiological results when I am focusing only on aspects like fingering, timing or a good legato. With physiological improvement comes a better response from my hands when I want to play “real” music, with some emotion.

Other people have stated that Hanon is not useful because of its repetitive nature, and that such repetition can cause hand injury. I guess it depends how much time you devote to the exercises – I think as a 5-10 minute warm up, little harm can be done. Doing something like this for hours on end is not to be recommended, however!

Comments welcomed!

 

2 comments

  1. William Gouldsby

    Very well articulated when you stated “Our fingers can only translate what is in our hearts if they are fit and strong enough to do so”. It is true that the drills our devoid of any musically emotional expression but I can whole-heartedly attest to your statement. I always knew this(your statement above) but could never quite articulate it. Thanks

  2. Jeff

    I’m also of the opinion that some of Hanon’s exercises are quite useful and have real applications (e.g., trills, repeated notes, scales, arpeggios) in classical piano music. However, it would be a stretch to claim that all of the exercises are vital. I’ve gone through the book and I’ve picked out 10 exercises that I have deemed most useful (see my blog). Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on Hanon.

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