Thursday, November 13, 2008

In The Music Studio: To Work on Exercises or Not to Work on Exercises...That is the Question...Indeed.

In The Music Studio: To Work on Exercises or Not to Work on Exercises...That is the Question...Indeed.: "Also in the worth mentioning list is Alexander Peskanov's 'Russian Technical Regimen for the Piano'. Here Peskanov covers all scales, arpeggios and chords in every key with Russian harmonic patterns. Single note and double note, broken and blocked. This is one of my personal favorites, Peskanov sticks with the basics and I have to admit that the Russian pattern for scales, arpeggios and chords make the exercises much more interesting to practice. My other personal favorite which I almost built a shrine for is Franz Liszt's Technical Studies in three volumes. This are not the etudes but actual technical exercises"

Amazing, I have not heard anyone mention the Liszt Exercises in 35 years. I have at least one of the books in my library, but feel they take a more mature technique and a larger hand to master.

The staples in my "for every physique" piano exercises, is definitely Hanon and yes, once you have mastered all Major and Harmonic, Melodic, Natural Minor scales, using my scales fingering charts, practicing each set of Major and parallel Minor scales (Harmonic, Melodic, Natural) 4 octaves, absolutely correct fingering, with metronome, working towards an effortless smooth sound (not a hammered harsh sound) -- yes, once you have learned your basics, you can start working the Peskanov "Russian Technical Regimen" single note scales, broken chords, block chords and arpeggios. Any one of my students whom I could interest and motivate to spend quality scales practice time, has improved by leaps and bounds.

Anyone who just "hammered" scales who did also not work for a beautiful, expressive sound had much less progress or fun with scales. Anyone who could express beauty in their scales, with an effortless touch, floating arm weight, fingers falling in place, sound like smooth even pearls in the most expensive jewelry store,... now, we got something useful for later pieces. And they all use scales, chords arpeggios one way or another.
Happy practicing


scriabinist said...

I do like the fact you have observed Hanon's exercises as many will overlook them nowadays. Worthy of great consideration are also Rudolph Ganz, Isidor Philip, and Vincent Persichetti's exercises. The Ganz and Persichetti exercises are really good for equal development of the hands. Hanon can also accomplish this but the latter mentioned push the limit of the left to equal the right in its agility.

Eva Martin Hollaus said...

Thank you, for mentioning these exercises. I did not grow up with them and am not familiar with them. But I am making a note to myself to look into them. I grew up with Bertini, Herz, Czerny, Cramer, Berlini. I was hand writing my first scales and arpeggios -- my teacher didn't have any scale books (post WWII Vienna, Austria), pretty funny, looking back. I also have the Liszt exercises and Brahms exercises. I like the Brahms better, better structured for my hand; The Liszt is mostly for larger, longer fingers and my hands are realtively small.
I will look into your suggestions, maybe they would be fun to practice or would work great for some of my students.

scriabinist said...

Those method books are also great having looked into them myself. I am also a great admirer of Benjamino Cesi and as well as Franz Liszt's exercises. Surprisingly the Liszt exercises are not really written for small or big hands, its just that he wrote this way to push the performer to his/her limits. Just as the theme of his Campanella etude has large leaps in the melody, many of his exercises can seem quite impossible but they are indeed all but that. Many amateur and self-taught pianists pick up the Campanella pretty quicky despite hand span. You can teach your more advanced students the Cramer and the Liszt, I find these to be very good, as well as the new Persichetti method of symmetrical inversion for equal use of both hands, although Rudolph Ganz makes use of this as well. I teach as well so I use various methods to ensure their hands receive equal training. Nowadays music is getting so hard, one would think an extra brain is needed!