Hello Mr. Landa!
First, if you really are the musician and music professor, its a pleasure
to meet you hear and discuss music with you and the group.
I think to answer your question its because piano pedagogy today is not a
science, its a discipline. There is some definite truth in it, but there
is a lot of personal anecodote as well, some with nearly lunatic
Physical fitness had the same issues too. A scientific approach has found
more efficient methods, i.e., less time, more return in muscle mass and
cardiovascular fitness. Founded in 1954, its now the field of Sports
Medicine, most popularly used to advance Olympic athlete fitness and
develop programs for military and police officers. Of course, it doesn't
stop the likes of Tae-bo, and others from pitching their wares:
What they all have in common is calisthenic like movements, increasing
heart rate, and sweating.
There were old methods of physical fitness that still are viable today,
albeit not as efficient as its original claims, Charles Atlas's dynamic
Does piano pedagogy has similar issues as befell physical fitness? I
think so. Only recently has a scientific approach been applied to
Piano drills have in common a lot of finger motion of increasing and
progressive difficulty in the form of notes not meant to be music that
should be played musically to build musicality, if one can stomach those
compositions ad nauseam. Chopin Etudes would certainly cover many
issues, but its hardly treated for what it was designed to be, exercises.
Maybe it should be?
Anti-piano-exercise or anti-Hanonist claim you can get the same motion
benefits by playing music and not exercises, especially those composed
ala Hanon. Music provides esthetics and musicality and is far more
rewarding to play than unmusical exercises.
However, if you read at least the most thorough self-published proponent
of this method, it has a distinct logic: it espouses repeating difficult
phrases within a composition until one 'gets it right,', i.e., the
procedure has a built in exercise regimen that uses the difficult passage
as a template for exercise.
Hanon is in fact just that, taking a single bar and playing it repeatedly
but ascending through all the white keys. Chang-Coombe think otherwise.
I believe the truth is somewhere in between. In interviews with
professional pianists [ e.g. compilations such as "Great Pianists Speak"
or Elyse Mach's book or individual interviews with Horowitz, Rubenstein
etc.,] with playing careers, many rarely exercise as they did as a youth,
due to hectic concert schedules. Andre Watts, for one, admits to getting
only a few hours a week if at all, but plays concertos or solos almost
daily. His technique remains superb in his age, but alas, one can never
rule out how much gift he had to begin with as far as his finger skills
As an pianist-amateur of 30 years, I have also had problems exercising
due to time constraints and fatigue from my other career. But what
cannot be taken away from you is musicality built in from youth.
However, one still needs to get 'dexterity' going in some fashion if one
doesn't play often, whether by Hanon or some other technique, as few
piano composition has the required repetitive moves to give even strength
to all the fingers.
In my hey day, I would play about 1 hours worth of my repetoire daily,
and maybe on every 3rd day, work on Hanon. I found however, my dexterity
gradually deteriorated over time, that only Hanon could rebuild.
OTAH, the idea of Chang-Coombe of creating an exercise using the
difficult passage and playing that bar over and over again, then building
the phrase as an exercise by using the bars of music before and after the
difficult passage, to 'work out' the kinks in the technique has great
merit. It provides a technique that is directly applicable to a great
work of music, provides the variety needed to avoid boredom in exercise,
provides the potential for an infinite number of exercises combinations,
at the least. Included in the anti-Hanonist proponents is a regimen of
running through at least, all the scales and appreggios in scales, to
build evenness of all the fingers.
Chang-Coombe state the possible combinations of difficult technical
issues found in real piano music simply cannot be captured by any piano
exercise text, because the possibilities would essentially be creating an
exercise for every combination of notes requirng technique across all
keys. Therefore, one must be able to create an exercise that fits the
issue within the music as it arises.
Taken as a whole, Chang-Coombes technique is very logical. The tome like
text is 300+ single spaced pages. One student, Marc McCarthy was
inspired by his text so that at 17 years old he won an amateur piano
competition after only 3 months of piano study. His MP3 files are
online, and details here:
Chang-Coombes codified his technique in 2004, so its brand new. Only
time will tell if that technique builds real classical pianist, or can
rapidly create a fair piano player of general education. Either however,
is a substantial improvement on the status quo.
Post by albert landa
If doing purely technical work is unneccesary then why is there such a
huge abundence of composed. printed, distributed, recommended. sold
and bought and used by countless pianists right up to the level of
Rachmaninoff, studies, excercises, drills, scales and arpeggios, Hanon
in all configurations,concert studies.thousands of Czerny, Burgmuller,
Cramer, Moscheles, Dohnanyi, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms etc.etc.etc.
studies and technical development works.Yes.Why does all this material
exist? Who could possibly be buying this material and using it in
various degrees of intensity and assiduousness?.
Why, even Rachmaninoff used Hanon,(Poor much-maligned Hanon!) I think
I read somewhere that Gina Bachauer did FOUR HOURS of technical work
before she started her "proper" practice!!
From my own experience as a performer I can attest that I have gained
enormous benefit from regular technical practice and any teacher who
deliberately eschews technical work and maintains that pieces are
sufficient is, in my view, a charlatan.And the fact that a child is
getting A+ in exams causes me to ask the question "What grades?"