There have been several occasions over the past 5 years where my friends who I consider to be piano virtuosi have recommended that I practice Hanon.

In 2009, I was getting serious about switching from the bass to the organ. I asked for advice from my friend Jesse Gelber, jazz pianist and lecturer at Rutgers. His response was simply, “For musical ideas, develop your own ideas and practice them. For technique, use Hanon.”

A couple years later, my friend Allison Leyton-Brown surprised me by mailing me photocopies of the first 10 exercises from Hanon book 1. I saved them in my practice folder, but didn’t get around to playing through them.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago I asked Scott MacKenzie what he would recommend for keyboard technique, and he told me to do Hanon. Finally I got the hint into my thick skull: time to practice Hanon!

I spent some time Googling peoples advice on practicing Hanon, and opinions ranged the spectrum from Hanon being pointless to Hanon being essential. A couple of interesting posts I read said that teachers at Juilliard required students to perform Hanon in lessons. Another post said that Herbie Hancock practiced Hanon transposed to every key, and that was part of the reason why he has such great jazz technique. Some even suggested that it was pure laziness not to use Hanon daily.

So I’ve been practicing book 1 for about a week now, about 15 minutes a day. My fingers feel amazingly strong and nimble!

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