My piano teacher is really into Beyer Op. 101 and the dreadful Hanon. In his view first Beyer, then others, Hanon always at the beginning for ten-twenty minutes.

Now, I love (obviously) classical music and that’s the reason I printed and learned by myself the Minuet in G by Bach (and started now Prelude in C).

I immensely loved it.

The problem is that now I don’t enjoy anymore playing Beyer (and always hated Hanon), but this is not going anywhere with my teacher: I have to play Beyer, finish it, and move to another one.

Is there any value in playing real pieces instead of the “didactic” ones?

The fun I have with a real piece is thousands times more, and I hope to find simplified versions of other scores. For instance Mozart’s K545 is fun for arpeggios (maybe not at my level yet, but if simplified...).

Am I completely out of my mind and my teacher is right?

  • Sometimes both are correct, but for different reasons. In your case, since there seems to be little common ground, and neither wants to yield, there would appear to be another solution...
    – Tim
    Oct 9, 2017 at 7:27
  • Well, @Tim I am yielding here, and doing Beyer. The other solution, changing teacher as I understand, is always possible...
    – senseiwa
    Oct 9, 2017 at 10:20
  • Is it impossible to do both? Can't you play what you enjoy in your spare time?
    – Stinkfoot
    Oct 9, 2017 at 22:43

3 Answers 3


Get a different teacher. There is no reason to be limited to study books -- though most certainly you should include etudes in your practice time. This teacher does not appear to be a good match for you. I'm sure you can find a different teacher who will be happy to mix etudes and performance pieces into your lesson sequence.

BTW, Hanon in particular is lousy for attempting to incorporate interpretation into your study. That's one reason to work on performance pieces - it's not just the notes & fingering you learn, but how to phrase, adjust dynamics, etc.

  • I would agree with this. Hanon's work in etudes is certainly great for developing technique and precision, but definitely not for expression. As a matter of fact, OP was probably able to do Bach because of the technique imparted from Hanon, but, music is, first and foremost, a medium for expression. So, I side with the fact that other repertoire is a good idea.
    – psosuna
    Oct 10, 2017 at 0:31

For most people learning an instrument requires exercises (or studies as they are often called) for technique and "real pieces" for style and application of technique. Playing "real pieces" is obviously the aim and you should be doing that in parallel with the exercises.

Just playing exercises is pointless.

Now there are loads of studies available and they vary a lot. At the extreme end there are things like the Chopin set which are technically very demanding and require a lot of skill before you even start. (If you are near the start of your piano playing career don't go there yet.) At the other end are the boring repetitive things like Hanon which probably work if you can manage to work through them without wanting to go and top yourself first.

But there are better sets of studies. For example the J. B. Cramer studies are very good, fairly challenging in places but still varied and some of them feel like real pieces. Beethoven met Cramer in the early 1800s and the last movement of one of his sonatas which he wrote immediately afterwards sounds just like a Cramer study. Also Czerny wrote masses of stuff. Some are easy, some are frighteningly hard, and many are a bit dull but they are all more fun that Hanon.

So no, you are not wrong. You need to discuss this with your teacher and, dare I say it, perhaps agree to find a different one.

  • This is a slight generalisation as there are studies that blur the lines between study and piece, Recuerdos de la Alhambra is actually one of Tarrega's tremolo studies but is performed not like a study.
    – Neil Meyer
    Oct 9, 2017 at 11:08

You should learn how to play the Beyer and Hanon. The fundamentals of playing are the ones you're going to be using the most. Ask yourself a few questions: can I perfectly play the exercise? How fast can I play it perfectly?

Focus on each finger playing and controlling it. Real pieces certainly have their place, but I always like to warm up with basics. It helps you focus on your playing style and control.

  • 1
    There's no point to learning an instrument if you never get to play what you want. At what point should a student get to learn at least one piece for fun? Why not immediately, if the student already has the techniques required? Students should play both helpful exercises and fun pieces. Oct 9, 2017 at 8:02
  • Surely, one can warm-up using pieces just as well? I do! You're not saying only do exercises, so no down-vote from me.
    – Tim
    Oct 9, 2017 at 8:08
  • Playing Hanon for 20 minutes every day is worse that a complete waste of time. It will teach you nothing useful about piano technique, and in the worst case you will physically damage your hands so that you can't play at all. Throw the book on the fire - and get another teacher! Most of the exercises in Beyer have some "musical" content at least - but it is very dated and has most of the faults of books from the same date - in particular, towards the end it suddenly jumps to much more demanding exercises but with no real preparation for attempting them.
    – user19146
    Oct 9, 2017 at 16:47
  • If you want to "warm up", 5 minutes playing scales and arpeggios is a much better use of your time than 20 minutes of Hanon. You can make "scales and arpeggios" be as easy or difficult as you like. Try playing chromatic scales in double thirds with each hand, in contrary motion, and 5 against 4 cross rhythm between the two hands (alternating which hand plays 5 and which plays 4 on every beat) if simple scales get to easy and boring for you ;) (And then try chromatic double-thirds with 4-against-5 in the two parts of one hand!!)
    – user19146
    Oct 9, 2017 at 16:52
  • I can neither agree nor disagree with this answer. Practicing an etude series will definitely develop good technique but it's pointless to be a musician if your performance does not embody expression. I think OP should broaden his horizon and try new things.
    – psosuna
    Oct 10, 2017 at 0:33

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