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I am trying to improve my keyboard playing skills and was thinking to take up some Hanon's exercises. I do know a few of them, and I also practice many other exercises. However, I do not want to practice all of Hanon's exercises as I have other priorities which do not allow me enough time.

My question is, out of all 60 exercises, which are the best recommended ones for improving fingers and thus the playing?

I am not a beginner with keyboard and can play a bit. So I would appreciate if someone could please suggest some exercise numbers that I should regularly practice to improve faster.

Thank you.

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    Frankly, I'm not sure Hanon is all it's cracked up to be; however, hopefully it won't do any harm; I would choose a small handful of exercises that are (a) doable for you; and (b) aren't too annoying. – aparente001 Oct 2 '15 at 5:18
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    Agreed. I've played through a fair amount of the Hanon. I've found playing Bartok's Mikrokosmos and JS Bach's 371 Harmonized Chorales to not only be more rewarding, but more interesting as well. Also, everyone always wants to do everything faster, and here's the truth: you can't. Learning takes time: some of it is conscious, some of it is subconscious, and some of it is unconscious. There are no short cuts to play like a virtuoso in a week. Music is about the journey. This is why video games with cheat codes are unfulfilling; there is no work. You must work, always. – jjmusicnotes Oct 2 '15 at 5:25
  • Thanks, aparente001 & jjmusicnotes, for the advice. I will try to pick a few myself. But don't get me wrong. I very well understand that playing any instrument takes time and I cannot expect to master it in a short time. The only reason of asking this question is if there are some exercises that are better than other, I can try to practice the better ones and try to improve faster. I only want to improve or get better at playing keyboard/piano as fast as I can. I also understand that key to playing fast is to start slow. Can I find the Bartok's & Bach's exercises for free online? Any links? – LoveEnigma Oct 2 '15 at 6:22
  • Related question with further linked questions – guidot Oct 2 '15 at 9:34
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    You might also look at Carl Czerny's School of Velocity and his 125 Exercises for Passage Playing, the latter of which is a favorite of mine for warmups. – Todd Wilcox Oct 2 '15 at 12:22
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I would like to cite an answer to another question about the Hanon exercises: "Usually with a book of etudes, the thing to do is to work on one for about two weeks, give or take, allowing the tempo to increase by itself, guided by comfort, and then move on to the next etude. After a couple of months of this, you can start cycling back to the first, and continuing to review."

I feel this is very right.

To be short: all of the exercises have their use (and excessive concentration on just a few of them can be very bad). Just keep them in rotation, concentrate on (let's say) two of them for a week, and then continue on the next the following week. Do them in moderation and alongside learning real music, and have a clear goal for them: aquiring good technique (and note that our notions of healthy piano technique have drastically changed since the times of Hanon himself!).

Also have a look at this question which gives some more perspective on these kind of exercises.

  • Thanks Tim, that's a good point. I can certainly try to follow this method. The only problem is I find it tough to manage time for practicing more stuff. Like most people, I have a lot of priorities and a day job as well. I am also taking keyboard classes since March 2015, which has helped me a lot. While this question may be a bit off-topic, could you please suggest some "real music" that I should consider learning side-by-side? I am not too interested in classical pieces, but some contemporary yet technical pieces which can improve my playing would be something I'd love to try. – LoveEnigma Oct 2 '15 at 11:19
  • For these kind of exercises and a limited time schedule ten minutes a day can already have effect. As for music: it's impossible to answer that without knowing your skill level nor your preferred styles, but when your time is limited just look for music you would love to play, don't see this as a sport, it's not a competition. You are doing this to enjoy yourself. – Tim H Oct 2 '15 at 11:30
  • Ok, that sounds comfortable. After all the day to day routine and keyboard classes, I can definitely manage even 30 mins to practice at home. That's a great advice in one sentence, Tim. Yes, that's right. I am indeed doing music for myself first and enjoying every bit of it. Thanks so much. :) – LoveEnigma Oct 2 '15 at 11:51
  • My favorite piano études are the "Exertudes" by Donald Waxman. I can't sing their praises enough. – aparente001 Oct 2 '15 at 21:11
  • If you are taking classes, you should be discussing the type of music you want to play with your teacher. The best choice of exercises obviously depends on what are the weak areas of your technique and what you want to achieve. But whatever your goals are, in my opinion Hanon is probably not the most effective way to achieve them. If you want to stick with 19th-century studies, these will stretch you (literally and metaphorically!) a lot further than Hanon: imslp.org/wiki/51_Exercises,_WoO_6_(Brahms,_Johannes) – user19146 Oct 3 '15 at 20:54

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