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#27677 - 12/19/02 05:44 PM Is Hanon Harmful???
jen7 Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 07/18/02
Posts: 88
Loc: south Texas
I have been playing the piano for 12 years now, and just started using Hanon off and on about 2 years ago. (While at a piano workshop I played a piece for the teacher, showing her where I had problems... she told me my fingers were weak and I needed Hanon!) It was not until this August that I really was dedicated to play/practice it though. I noticed about a month ago that my fingers, hands, and sometimes my arms, were aching and felt stiff/sore. I've played up to #37 so far in the book, and practice for only an hour a day, so it's not like I'm over-doing anything. However, this week I'm off from lessons and so I'm not practicing every day, AND I've been noticing that my fingers do not hurt anymore. ??? Does anyone know if Hanon could *wear* your fingers out? Any thoughts and/or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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#27678 - 12/19/02 08:15 PM Re: Is Hanon Harmful???
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
Hanon can be crippling when practiced incorrectly. I refuse to used it in my studio or personal practice as the "directions" suggest because there are far better ways to skin a cat. I only use snippets of it and not very often and many times with velocity/independence not the goal.

It is impossible to give a diagnosis over the internet, but if you are pushing yourself a la the directions you are most probably creating all tension and no release. This is a sure fire set up for tendonitis, etc. Try various search engines on the internet such as Hanon + arm pain or, etc. for all sorts of information.

I would also advise that you check out the work of Barbara Lister-Sink, both her website and video, as a means of introduction to a different way of thinking about technique. Finger strength can be highly overrated, particularly if one is unlucky enough to sustain an injury while trying to get it! \:\)

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#27679 - 12/31/02 04:32 AM Re: Is Hanon Harmful???
Bontempo Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
Hi, everyone

Now writing from Portugal in my (well deserved) holidays

Finger strength is a very important aspect of technique. The problem is that sometimes you think about developing finger strength INDEPENDENTLY from everything else, and that's really bad! The most important source of power when playing is the whole body and not only the finger or the wrist. Plus, true finger strength comes from the most relaxed wrist and not from the stiffest, IMO.

Now to Hanon...

I also have been advised to use Hanon to increase finger-power. But never try it with a stiff wrist, and if finger-strengthening is the goal, then speed can't be important. I personally like Hanon because you can do whatever you want with it. If you're looking for finger independence and agility, you have to play it quickly but lightly. If looking for Power, play it fortissimo but slowly, with absolutely dead-wrist. For my personal use, the first 20 are more than enough. No need for the rest.

Happy 2003! \:\)

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#27680 - 01/09/03 12:01 PM Re: Is Hanon Harmful???
Piano lady Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 361
Power does not necessarily come from hand strength. Fortissimo is not from hand strength, it comes from velocity of the downstroke of the key. Once the motion of the hammer is complete, the sound made, you're done with the note. The student needs to be taught how to "finish" the motion. That means not hanging on or gripping the key once the note is sounded. All fingers need to be "dead" once that happens. Practice this over and over. This is how you get fast. You will never get fast when there is tension present.

I don't use Hanon at all. The repetitive motions are a road to tension.

Also a lot has to do with the instrument one uses for practice. Too stiff an action is very bad. (one teacher at a college in the area according to my technician has her action weighted to 100 grams!) Mine is at 47 grams. Then technicians need to be constantly reminded about the repetition rate. The key repetition needs to be very fast. There is nothing that will cause tension quicker than sluggish key repetition. I fight this battle every time my technician comes out.

With a light action and fast repetition you don't have to work very hard to get a wide dynamic range.


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#27681 - 01/09/03 01:56 PM Re: Is Hanon Harmful???
Carole Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/08/00
Posts: 2229
Loc: southern California
Speaking of action-A grand I am considering buying has a little stiffer action than I am used to on my own upright at home and the big Yamaha grand at church. I played on it for an hour today to see if I got tired. I did not. When I was playing I did not notice the action, only when I would stop for a few minutes and go back to it. I know this is not this topic, but anyone have ideas about this? Is it better to have a piano that is not real easy to play? Does it develop one's technique if not too stiff?

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#27682 - 01/09/03 03:14 PM Re: Is Hanon Harmful???
Jalapeņo Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
It's because of the action that I prefer to keep my Yamaha.

My opinion is that too light an action would be bad, but that too stiff an action would be worse. My Yamaha's just right, at least for me. It's not too light nor too stiff.

Back on topic: I've come to the conclusion that Hanon is not helpful & is potentially harmful if not practiced correctly. I quit doing Hanon because the exercises did not improve my playing.

[ 01-09-2003: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#27683 - 01/10/03 10:39 AM Re: Is Hanon Harmful???
Piano lady Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 361
Action stiffness? It depends upon what you like. Horowitz liked very light action -- around 43 grams on the down stroke, but had 70 gram repetition springs. If you ever get a chance to play his piano (Sherman Clay tours it around the country periodically) do so.

American made Steinway specs for action are between 50 and 52 grams downstroke.

Yamahas tend to be around 50.

Hamburg Steinways tend to be around 47-50.

Then there is such a thing as a "fly-away" action. I think this is what is termed too light. It is very difficult to control the downstroke. It is because the action is worn out, not because of the weighting and balance of the keys.

I don't like to work when I play or practice.

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#27684 - 01/10/03 11:06 AM Re: Is Hanon Harmful???
Jalapeņo Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano lady:
Yamahas tend to be around 50.


That must be what my Yamaha 52" upright is, give or take a gram, because over the years I've have no problem performing on various Yamaha grands. I can't tell any discernable difference in the action of my piano & that of Yamaha grands (well maintained, that is).

 Quote:
Then there is such a thing as a "fly-away" action. I think this is what is termed too light. It is very difficult to control the downstroke. It is because the action is worn out, not because of the weighting and balance of the keys.


Really? My sister purchased a brand new Baldwin 42" upright piano that felt too light. She had weights put in the keys, & the problem was solved.

 Quote:
I don't like to work when I play or practice.


Me neither!

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#27685 - 01/17/03 03:14 PM Re: Is Hanon Harmful???
jen7 Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 07/18/02
Posts: 88
Loc: south Texas
Wow! I had not checked this recently. Thanks for all the tips and answers! I had not considered about the action of the piano. I do know that my piano is easy to play, so the weight must be on the light side... however, my teacher's is extremely difficult to play. It's like I can't distinguish between soft and loud much at all, and so I play with a tighter hand. This has always frustrated me! How do you find out what the weight action is, and what are repetition springs all about???

BTW, my hands are doing better...I laid off of Hanon for 3 weeks, and have been back into it for 2 weeks - no problems so far.

Thanks again!

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#27686 - 01/21/03 06:08 AM Re: Is Hanon Harmful???
songbird Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/06/01
Posts: 425
Loc: USA
If not Hanon, what about Czerny? My piano teacher, who was a veteran, used Czerny with me and I remember it helping. They were NOT the Hanon-esque repetitive, regurgitated exercises, but they actually had some "real-music" scenarios that helped build my dexterity and finger skill in those areas.

[ 01-21-2003: Message edited by: songbird ]

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