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Hanon's Instructions

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Charles Hanon, in the Preface to his “The Virtuoso Pianist in Sixty Exercises” (C. L. Hanon, 1820 - 1900: “The Virtuoso Pianist” — G. Schirmer, 1900), wrote:

“The entire volume can be played through in an hour; and if, after it has been thoroughly mastered, it be repeated daily for a time, difficulties will disappear...”

“Lift the fingers high and with precision, playing each note very distinctly.” ... “Before beginning to practise No 3, play through the preceeding exercises once or twice without stopping. When No 3 is mastered, practise No 4, and then No 5, and as soon as they are thoroughly learned play through all three at least four times without interruption, not stopping until the last note on page six. The entire work should be practised in this manner.”

Actually I do think Hanon's exercises are valuable, and I use them a lot — but not practised in the way he recommends! — R. B.

C. A. Ehrenfechter (Reginald R. Gerig: “Famous Pianists and their Technique” — R. B. Luce), describing the sharply bent finger position, high finger lifting and vigorous repetition of the Stuttgart school in the late 1800's (where Hanon's exercises were popular), wrote:

“Several young students at Stuttgart lost the use of the (fourth) finger through overstraining it.”

Could this be an early example of focal dystonia? — R. B.

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