Arts & Entertainment, Music

Piano Exercises

Herbie Hancock

Lesson time 14:01 min

Build speed and strength in your fingers with the exercises that have helped Herbie most.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Finger Strength Exercises: Hanon Vs. Beringer • Practice Crossing Your Fingers • Exercising Your Weaker Fingers • Exercise Fuels Creativity


I started playing piano when I was seven, so I didn't make a whole lot of decisions. I didn't know anything about what I was doing. So my teachers told me about Hanon, for example. That's a person who wrote exercises, exercise books. And that's a very common one, H-A-N-O-N. There's another one, Czerny, C-Z-E-R-N-Y. So in those exercises, they give you what's considered the standard fingering for playing scales. [PLAYING SCALE] OK. And the idea or the way those exercises were constructed, because of the configuration of the hands, the thumbs are shorter than the other fingers, are located in a different place. And then you have your little finger here. Usually, the thumb was placed on the white notes, and the other fingers played the black notes when that was possible. So when the idea of D-flat scale, they asked you to, or actually put numbers, above the notes on the written page to tell you the fingers they suggest. So it would be, in the right hand-- [PLAYS NOTE] --second-- [PLAYS NOTE] --third finger-- [PLAYS NOTE] --then the thumb comes underneath. [PLAYS NOTE] Then the second, third, and fourth. I'm saying, this is first, second, third, fourth, and fifth. I'm counting them that way. OK. So say one, two, three, four, five. You got-- [PLAYING SCALE] --2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2. Also for chords and arpeggios based off of major, and minor, and diminished chords. Started with C major and then C minor. And then they used-- this is actually a flat chord with the C on the bottom. Because they wanted it to sound musical. So basically it's-- [PLAYING PIANO] So the same thing applied-- [PLAYING ARPEGGIOS] --for arpeggios based off of those chords. [PLAYING ARPEGGIOS] And then they would have-- [PLAYING ARPEGGIOS] There was another book that I use primarily now, written by a person named "Beh-ran-jay," or Beringer. These exercises have a different kind of fingering. They actually use the same fingering on-- like the C fingering on all the scales and arpeggios. [PLAYING SCALE] Actually, I don't know if they use it on the scales, but they do on the arpeggio. [PLAYING ARPEGGIOS] The same fingering that I have used on the C arpeggios, I use the same fingering on a D-flat arpeggio, which at first was very awkward. Now, you might ask yourself, what purpose could that serve? Well, when you're improvising and you happen to play something, where you say you're playing some ascending line. And then you end up on your little finger, right? But then suppose you use something above that. What are you going to do? Or you hear something-- the basic idea is if you hear something and you don't have the finger that you're comfortable with, available. There's a tendency, not to even try to play it. Because you're so used to the habit of thinking, this is the correct finger for th...

About the Instructor

Herbie Hancock's jazz career started in his family's living room, listening to his favorite records and trying to play along. Now, he's one of the most celebrated musicians in the world. Join Herbie at the piano as he shares his approach to improvisation, composition, and harmony. Gain access to 10+ original piano transcriptions, including 5 exclusive solo performances.

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Herbie Hancock

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