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I was looking at the question about the benefits of working from Hanon to improve on piano and there was a lot of talk about the dangers of Hanon reinforcing bad technique.

If I am a self-teaching pianist wishing to work exercises like Hanon to improve my chops but don't want to reinforce or worsen bad technique (I''m assuming my technique isn't great) and can't really afford dedicated piano lessons, how can I learn good technique?

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You have almost answered this in the question - you really do need lessons from an experienced instructor to make sure you learn good technique.

I'm not saying you need a full course necessarily, but especially at the start there is no alternative, and you'll want to have a check at regular points through your learning.

  • +1 for the 2nd para. Don't think 'good technique' can be learned in a couple of lessons, and after those, bad habits will creep in at various stages. However, I feel that 'good' or 'bad' techniques are rather subjective. Maybe the basis for a future question... – Tim Mar 11 '15 at 17:28
  • I would agree about lessons being the only real way to get "proper" technique. Tim has a point that this can be rather subjective but there are definitely objective things about it. Such as poor technique causing physical ailments, such as tendinitis. A piano teacher I once had told a story of how he had been playing using almost entirely his fingers to control dynamics. Proper technique instructs a player to use the motion of the arms and/or wrist to facilitate the louder dynamics. He was already an accomplished player at the time and he said this change greatly helped his playing and health. – Basstickler Mar 11 '15 at 19:01
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The cheapest way to learn good technique is also the slowest and most risky - trial and error. Why are all techniques not created equal? Two big reasons: First, poor technique will limit your ability and quality of your playing. Second, poor technique can lead to repetitive motion injury and limit or halt your ability to play at all.

Since you write that you are trying to improve, you will probably be trying to improve for as long as you are playing, and that means you will be pushing yourself a little. Limits on playing ability will frustrate you and pushing yourself to practice more with poor technique increases your chances of injury. You can attempt more and more difficult pieces on your own and constantly try alternative techniques as you experience trouble with the pieces or discomfort after playing, but it's a bit risky and a long tedious process. I speak from experience.

You could try searching YouTube for technique videos but the best thing is to save your pennies and try to get a good teacher to meet with you at least once a month. Tell them that you are motivated to put in the practice and you really want help with technique and they should be able to address your particular hands and any existing bad habits in a way that any other resource can't.

I've never regretted saving and spending the majority of my disposable income on music.

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