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Returning to piano after many years...

Discussion in 'Technique' started by AidanNJ, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. AidanNJ

    AidanNJ New Member

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    Hi folks. I studied from age 5 to 18 and then went off to college and, well, got "sidetracked." lol After many years, I am returning to my piano. I've played casually on and off and improvise quite a bit, but I want to return to playing "for real." My thought is to practice for six months to a year and get my hands/fingers/eyes in shape. Then find a good teacher and go from there.

    If anyone has any ideas about what I might practice, if my "plan" makes sense, etc., I'd greatly appreciate it. I'm assuming it makes sense to use Hanon (sp?) exercises or Czerny. Not sure what pieces I should start with --- I was thinking maybe Chopin Waltzes or maybe picking one Etude or Brahms Imtermezzo that I used to play and just sticking with it for a few months. Does this make sense? Again, much appreciate any thoughts and ideas.

    Cheers,
    Aidan
     
  2. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Aidan,

    Welcome back to the piano! My story has much similarity to yours. You can go to Artists, look under April, D. and that will take you to my musical bio. I think you'll see what I mean.

    Here's the thing: I see little point in your working on technique for six months or even one month. Finger exercises including Hanon are of little benefit. The two main staples of the pianist are scales and arpeggios. The reason is that these actually appear in the piano literature, so we need to know and practice them over our lifetimes. So if you can play all of those, major and minor, do work on them. Other than that, we learn and hone technique from the piano repertoire we are actually studying.

    I like the idea of selecting a Brahms Intermezzo and a Chopin Waltz (as you suggest). While you're getting those pieces fully playable, be scouting for an appropriate teacher. You'll want one with an MA in Piano Performance or even a DMA who works with advanced students and also gives recitals so that you can get both perspectives. Plus if you attend your teacher's recitals, you can get performance pointers there and be inspired as well. Make sure that from a musical style standpoint that you are compatible. So, for example, if a teacher specials in the piano literature of the Viennese Classical period and your main interest is the Romantic era, that's not an impossible pairing, but it might not be really the optimal match for you either. Be careful in choosing.

    I hope this works out for you. I'll look forward to your eventually posting some recordings here. Best of luck!

    David
     
  3. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Welcome back to the Piano and to Piano Society, Aidan.

    I have to agree with David particularly when it comes to practicing technical studies. Why spend the time learning a Czerny technical study when the same stuff appears in Beethoven, and Clementi Sonatas, but as real music. Also, you must be very careful of Hanon. If practiced incorrectly, you can actually hurt your hands. Besides, his philosophy and technique were built around pianos that were substantially different from the modern piano -- lighter action and less resonance -- and music from a particular time period (published just 3 years after Beethoven's birth in 1773).

    Though it is certainly possible to go it alone, a good teacher will help guide you into repertoire that is appropriate for your current abilities that will allow you to grow. So often we get over excited and want to play pieces that we are not ready for physically and then get frustrated that we don't seem to be advancing. A good teacher can help lead you toward your goals.

    Scott
     
  4. alf

    alf New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Actually it was published a century later.

    Though I agree about not wasting time on the Hanon exercises (especially) as either an amateur or an adult student, since the little time at hand is far better spent squarely on good piano literature, in Cooke's Great Pianists On Piano Playing Rachmaninoff says that The Virtuoso Pianist was extensively used in the Russian piano school: http://books.google.it/books?id=tTcwi4d ... on&f=false
     
  5. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Alfonso,

    Yes, I too noticed that comment of Rachmaninoff's regarding Hanon. I have to admit that I've never totally abandoned Hanon; however, I reserve it for one purpose only when needed. Once in a great while, most pianists experience a practice session where articulation seems uneven or a bit ragged. I attribute it to a bad day of biorhythms, although we don't hear that term used much anymore. So what I do is drag out the Hanon book and play Part II only from start to finish at about M =100. (It only takes a few minutes.) I must admit, it works like a charm in fully restoring evenness. Then I put the volume away until I again encounter bad biorhythms, usually many months later. Other than that... I cannot think of any benefits offered by Hanon, although for an intermediate level pianist, perhaps the scale fingerings in Part III might be useful.

    David
     
  6. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Yeah, I apparently can't read or count or something :shock:
     

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