A Cello Suite for the Left Hand

Develop your left hand technique while familiarising yourself with a great work of art with our new study edition for Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1.

Teaching Healthy, Expressive Technique Preview

This week we bring you a preview of a new online course on teaching healthy, expressive piano technique based on Penelope Roskell’s award-winning book The Complete Pianist.

Jailbreaking Hanon

Graham Fitch shows how Hanon’s exercises can be used creatively as a blank canvas to experience and develop movements encountered in real music.

A Better Way to Play Faster

Pianists often find that a piece falls apart beyond a certain speed. This article offers a more effective method than using a metronome to play faster.

Improving Your Left Hand

Do you feel that your left hand is weaker than your right hand and is holding you back in your piano playing? We all have a dominant hand, and for most of us it is the right hand. However, research has shown that even in left-handed players, the right hand still shows a higher level of motor control! The left hand is often neglected in our practising for various reasons. Our ear can be so focussed on the right hand that we don’t always listen attentively to what is going on in the left. Even if we do try to listen, we cannot be sure we are able to hear whether our left hand is playing in a controlled way. Perhaps we are playing unevenly, or missing some notes – we can’t quite figure out what’s wrong, but know something is amiss.  Focussing on the left hand Practising the left hand by itself is of course an option, and something I recommend doing regularly anyway. However, this won’t show us what is actually going on when we add our right hand. I have another solution for addressing this problem which involves playing a passage with the left hand on the keyboard as normal but with the right hand mining its notes on the surface of the keys. By miming the right hand in this way, we are effectively playing both hands together still, but since we won’t hear any of the sounds the right hand would be making, we are able to really hear what the left hand is actually getting up to (rather than what we think it is doing). The process can be very revealing! Exercises and studies A secure left hand technique is essential for pianistic […]

Creative Ways to Practise Scales

Practising scales and arpeggios is important but often associated with drudgery. In this blog post, graham Fitch gives some ideas to making practising them more fun and effective!

Czerny’s Exercises and Etudes

Ilga Pitkevica discusses Czerny’s legacy and introduces her new video lecture series on his Practical Method for Beginners on the Pianoforte (Op. 599)

A Balanced Approach to Exercises and Studies

A balanced approach to using exercises and studies to solve specific pianistic problems.

The Hanon Debate (Part 2)

This blog post features the views of pianist Peter Donohoe on the use of Hanon’s Virtuoso Pianist as part of our debate on the subject.

By |February 9th, 2021|Technique|0 Comments

The Hanon Debate (Part 1)

As we saw from responses to last week’s post, the exercises of Hanon are a hotly debated topic. It seems there is nothing more provocative than uttering the name of Hanon to a group of pianists and teachers in a social media forum. The ensuing discussion about the use of the exercises in The Virtuoso Pianist so often becomes tainted by bias and polemic and ends up like a debate on religion, with neither side coming out the winner. Those against cannot imagine there might be such a thing as “using” the blank patterns we find in Hanon for various specific reasons, rather than “doing” Hanon as it says on the tin. I think it is very important to make this distinction. Many drugs developed by pharmaceutical companies are found to be useful for other purposes and end up being prescribed off-label. This principle can certainly be applied to Hanon’s exercises. The Controversy Modern piano teaching has moved away from an insistence on mechanical exercises devoid of musical meaning, and away from the notion of lifting and isolating the fingers from the rest of the hand and the arm (as Hanon’s exercises will do if you follow his instructions to the letter). By spending hours drilling the fingers in the way Hanon indicates, we not only risk wasting practice time that might better be spent on music but – much worse – we ingrain muscular habits that will almost certainly be detrimental and potentially injurious. The Middle Path It can be convenient to use the blank, easy-to-remember (and totally harmless) note patterns we find in the exercises as vehicles to easily experience choreography or coordination between the hands so that these skills can be transferred across to […]

By |February 4th, 2021|Technique|2 Comments