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"Thinking Fingers" Piano Exercises

piano technique

Question: Do you know of Guy Maier? If so do you know the piano exercises he and Bradshaw co-authored, “Thinking Fingers?” The authors advocate practicing these patterns in “impulses” instead of a constant stream of playing. Maier was appalled at the thought of students seated at the piano repeating over and over one five finger pattern after another in hopes of achieving “dexterity.” He called these students “pian-sits”… I think I’ve been one of those. Also, so you know of “Hanon Revisited” by Gold and Fizdale, written in the late 1960’s, in which Hanon’s original patterns are preserved in one hand while the other hand is in harmonic counterpoint? And if so, what do think about these?

I’m trying to condense into an hour’s worth of exercises what could last for four, so that I can get to the music sooner.

I’ve looked at Francis Clark’s work “Musical Fingers.” She studied with Maier and uses some of his principals in her work.

One amazing set of exercises, I’ve found, were written by a jazz pianist from the Big Band era, Paul Smith. The publisher was Mel Bay. Mr. Smith’s exercises are jazz-oriented and involve chord structures other than the traditional, i.e. augmented, etc. etc. and have NO finger markings… that is left up to the pianists to explore and use “whatever finger patterns are comfortable.” I would suggest that the teacher and student come up with those.

Also, the diminished 5th exercises by Philipp I find extremely useful, as well as those formidably essential exercises by Dohnányi.

Just some of what I’ve discovered in 30 years of off and on practice.

– Stephen (Abilene, Texas, USA)

Thanks for sharing your discoveries, Stephen. I don’t know the exercises personally, though I did find a typeset version. Maybe other readers can comment and share their experiences?

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