Hanon - Spreading the Hand

Apart from No.31, the Hanon exercises mostly cover no greater a span than a sixth - hardly much of a challenge or representative of the demands placed on the modern keyboard player.

This series of variations expands the span of the exercises first to a seventh (Nos.1 to 10), and then to the whole octave (Nos.11 to 16).

Care should be taken in developing the hand's ability to maintain this span and at the same time exercise the finger movements asked for. Pupils must 'listen' to their hands and err on the side of caution in judgements as to how much can be achieved without strain in any one practice session.

Exercises covering a seventh

To cover a seventh over the span of five notes,the hand will play two intervals of a second and two of a third.

Look at this progression of five-note seventh chords.

There is an observable logic to the way the notes progress from being bunched at the top to bunched at the bottom.

This is the progression used in the 'STH' (spreading the hand) exercises in this part. If the pupil learns to logic of the way the notes cascade from top to bottom, he or she will, by 'playing from the pattern', free a great deal of attention for consciously building facility - the chief reason for playing the exercises.

The exercises

Here is the first exercise.

This is already a 'shorthand' or sketch version of the MS. The full version is in your workbook.

Between the dashed bar lines, the pattern will play up from E, F, G and A, ascending, and down from E, D, C and B, descending.

The pattern rises overall by closing the gap between the two lowest notes, over the bar line.


The middle finger (each hand) falls to create the second pattern.

Intensive practice patterns

The unique spread of the fingers in the five seventh-span patterns can be intensively drilled, with held thumbs, like this.

 Notes

The right thumb can be played just once and held through the entire bar if wished, or repeated with RH5 as shown.

The left hand just 'ambles around' in these exercises, as 'something to do'. The left hand plays only two patterns, which span only a sixth.

The next-door pair of notes (the second) is either at the top (Type 1) or in the middle (Type 2).

The left hand plays Type 2 only once, in the second bar.

This pattern is not appropriate for the left hand, so only right hand, ascending, is given.

 WARNING

Pupils should approach these exercises with care and pay close attention to any sign of strain in the hand, wrist and forearm. Pause frequently and shake out tension in the entire arm.

Go on to Spreading the Hand Page Two for more exercises like this.

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