Jailbreaking Hanon

17 Jul 2021 @ 14:00 BST (GMT +01:00)

Are the exercises of Charles-Louis Hanon to be consigned permanently to the dustbins of history, or might they serve a useful purpose if done mindfully, with choreography that is natural to modern thinking about piano technique?

Hanon’s instruction to “lift the fingers high and with precision” is a relic of a bygone era, prevalent before we understood human anatomy as it applies to piano playing. Today’s pedagogy has moved away from finger isolation, focussing instead on coordinated movements of the finger, wrist and arm, doing away with the notion that we need to “strengthen” the fingers, or that some fingers are “weak”.

When all is said and done, Hanon’s exercises are innocuous in themselves, whether they are useful or damaging depends entirely on how we do them. The simple, repetitive patterns we find in the exercises might be used in ways that differ markedly from Hanon's old-school technical instructions, in order to experience and develop fundamental movements we need for real music (where the patterns are more complex).

In this online workshop, Graham Fitch demonstrates creative applications of the exercises, showing how they can be used to develop:

  • Lateral wrist adjustments
  • Wrist circles and wrist hinges
  • Rotational movements
  • Thumb dexterity
  • Combined touches and dynamic contrasts between the hands
  • Transposition
  • Polyrhythmic playing and more!

How it works

This workshop will follow an interactive format and a worksheet will be included with instructions for trying out some basic choreography on some of the key exercises. During breakout sessions, Graham will be on hand to supervise those who wish (this is optional and you may simply turn-off your camera if you wish to remain private).

The session will be recorded and all participants will receive a link to download the video and the accompanying presentation. Also included within the ticket price is access to a selection of Online Academy resources. Therefore, if you are unable to attend the session on the day, you will still be able to watch the workshop recording and access the other resources at your convenience thereafter.

Who it’s for?

This workshop is suitable for pianists of all levels and will be of special interest to teachers of elementary and intermediate players. If you use exercises like Hanon then this workshop will be invaluable as it will show how to get the maximum benefit from them whilst avoiding tension and injury. However, if you don’t use these exercises, you will still find the workshop highly beneficial as it demonstrates how the exercises can be used as simple, effective tools for developing fundamental movements and other aspects of technique.

Subscriber discounts

Discounted tickets are available to Online Academy subscribers. Please sign-in to your account and the discount will be automatically added at the check-out. If you are not an Online Academy subscriber and would like to find out more about subscription options then please click here for further information.

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