Hanon The Virtuoso Pianist

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Hanon The Virtuoso Pianist is a famous set of finger exercises for pianists. In this piano lesson, you can print all the piano exercises for free and get tips on how to practice the three different parts for the best results.

About Hanon The Virtuoso Pianist

Have You Practiced Today?C.L Hanon

Charles-Louis Hanon (2 July 1819 – 19 March 1900) was a French piano pedagogue and composer who wrote a famous set of finger exercises for pianists. These exercises were meant not only to help improve technique, but to build it all the way, from the beginning to an advanced level.

Hanon's Le Pianiste Virtuose, which is in three parts, has become a staple for serious pianists. The three parts consist of finger exercises getting gradually more difficult from beginners to an advanced level.

Hanon The Virtuoso Pianist

Hanon, Part 1

The first part of Hanon the Virtuoso Pianist, consists of purely technical "finger" exercises. I suggest using between 5 and 20 minutes per day for this type of 5-finger practice when you need to develop more "nimble" fingers.

Here are some tips on how to practice with good results.

Smart Tip

For each exercise, start by learning the pattern

  • in the first measure (ascending),
  • in the last measure in the middle, before it turns and the first measure going down (descending),
  • in the very last measure.

In between these places, the same pattern is simply repeated one note higher versus one note lower, each time.

Learn these measures well, playing very slowly first hands separately, then both.

Finally, learn it by heart so you can focus on the keyboard and your hand position instead of the notes.

How to Practice Hanon Exercises

Here are some suggestions on how to vary the exercises in order of difficulty. I use this with my students with great results:

  1. Play The Whole Exercise Through As Quarter Notes.
  2. Play The Whole Exercise Through As Eight Notes.
  3. Play The Whole Exercise Through As Sixteenth Notes.
  4. Play One Note Long And The Next Short For A Simple Rhythm.
  5. Reverse And Play Short- Long.
  6. Play In The Group Of 4: Long-Short-Short-Short
  7. Play In The Group Of 4: Short-Short-Short-Long
  8. Play In The Group Of 4: Short-Long-Short-Short
  9. Play In The Group Of 4: Short-Short-Long-Short
  10. Play Your Right Hand Louder Than The Left.
  11. Play Your Left Hand Louder Than The Right.
  12. Take Turns Playing Loud And Soft Between The Hands, And Do Frequent Changes- Fun!

Tip: Take your time learning the first 10 Hanon exercises one by one. Keep repeating the ones you have learned until you have mastered all 10.

You can now play through all 10 each day as a warm-up. Then start new with the next set of 10, and leave the old.

Hanon, Part 2

These exercises are similar to the first part. They are just composed as longer patterns.

But by now you will learn each pattern much easier and quicker, since the reading and understanding of what might have seemed like a scary bunch of notes (!) before, will seem really easy now.

Use the strategies for practicing as above; maybe skip steps 1, 4, and 5 if you wish.

This part of "Hanon the virtuoso pianist" contains all major and minor scales, chromatic scales, arpeggios, and chord practice.

Hanon, Part 3

Part 3 of Hanon the virtuoso pianist is not for beginner pianists. Here you need to be careful and listen to your body.

Playing the piano should never hurt, and you should take a break if you feel any fatigue! This is important! For smaller hands, take it in small doses with the stretching exercises, and again listen to your body!

Combine a couple of these exercises each day with a few of the exercises that you learned from parts 1 and 2. In this way, you will have both fingers, stretching, and strengthening exercises.

You could also select a repertoire of different Hanon exercises that you like and what feels good to play for a 10-20 min. exercise program. Learn them by heart and use them as a "tailored to your needs" daily warm-up.

Beware The Tension!

A caveat: The suggestions written in the book should be followed with carefulness.

I would strongly advise against recommending, as Hanon does in the book, to “continue playing at a slower tempo if the wrists get fatigued, and then gradually increase speed as the fatigue goes away”. 

Warning! this would be asking for trouble!!

If at any time your wrists or arms feel fatigued: TAKE A BREAK! Or play something else.

Do not try, as also suggested by Hanon, to play through the whole book every day, as you can develop some serious injury.

And, as always, when practicing- remember to take breaks every 20-30 minutes to stand up and stretch. It's a healthy habit to keep.

Read more about how to practice without pain here: Learn How To Play Piano Pain-Free.

So, apart from adapting to some good common sense in practicing these Hanon exercises, they are really great:

  • They do help to quickly improve finger dexterity and technical skill. 
  • They also help to develop a familiarity with common patterns, both body/arm/hand movement patterns, and note reading patterns.

Get a great copy of Hanon:

Free copies are nice, but if you prefer to get the "real deal", one of the best editions of Hanon The Virtuoso Pianist is:

Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist in Sixty Exercises.

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