Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Piano Practise

Being a part time pianist but still having gigs to play, I needed to find effective exercises to help me develop my jazz playing - particularly finger exercises to aid my soloing. The two books that I have found most useful are the well known Hanon "Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises" and Alfred Cortot's "Rational Principles of Pianoforte Technique". Both books, particularly the latter, cover well beyond the limited scope of my technique but nonetheless have offered many great exercises. The Cortot book in particular is very thorough and covers an entire range of techniques under the categories listed below. In fact I understand that by practicing these entire areas one should be able to master any technical problems!

1. Equality, independence and mobility of fingers.
2. Passing under of the thumb (scales - arpeggios).
3. Double notes and polyphonic playing.
4. Extensions.
5. Wrist technique, execution of chords.

The Hanon is in comparison a little more down to earth. I started adapting the exercises to a more "jazz" approach by firstly playing them in every key and then adding various rhythmical exercises to them. As they are laid out in endless 16th notes playing them with varying accents and rhythmical patterns made them alot more interesting to play. I took this further by practicing them on the saxophone too. In addition to this, varying the placement of the metronome was also a good exercise.

For more information check out the articles below. The Hanon seems widely available but the Cortot looks like it’s out of print and hard to find.



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