Practicing Piano Exercises

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These tips work for more than just exercises!

  • Practice each hand separately first.
  • Practice slowly in the beginning (metronome on 60 or less). If you played it easily, and precisely with the metronome, move the tempo up one notch. Continue to practice in this way until you reach your goal speed.
  • Practice with various dynamics. Practice soft, loud and everything in between.
  • As you practice, vary the touch. Play staccato, play legato, and play two-note slurs.
  • Practice in different rhythms.
  • Try to practice Hanon Exercises in  other keys, starting with the white keys (C, D, E, F, G, A, and B) and then going to the black keys (D-flat, E-flat, G-flat,A-flat, and B-flat).
  • And as Charles-Louis Hanon recommends it, practice his exercises by lifting the fingers high and with precision, playing each note very distinctly.

Hanon Exercises

Most anyone who has ever played piano has a love-hate relationship with the “Hanon” book.

The Virtuoso Pianist (Le Pianiste virtuose) by Charles-Louis Hanon, is a compilation of sixty exercises meant to train the pianist in speed, precision, agility, and strength of all of the fingers and flexibility in the wrists.

First published in Boulogne, in 1873, The Virtuoso Pianist is Hanon’s most well-known work, and is still widely used by piano instructors and pupils although some teachers are getting away from the mechanical playing these can produce.

Personally, I’ve sometimes played these on “auto-pilot” since all one really needs is to get the first pattern going, then move up a step, up a step…

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Notes by C. L. Hanon: Preparatory exercises for the Acquirement of Agility, Independence, Strength and Perfect Evenness in the Fingers. For studying the 20 exercises, begin with the metronome set at 60, gradually increasing the speed up to 108.