Scales and Pieces

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Dear Greg,
I am an older piano student currently working on my Grade 8 RCM piano level (busily preparing for my pending theory and piano practical exams) - in short, I have a passion for the piano and love to practice 1.2 to 2 hours per day. My practice routine consists of a half-hour of required technical elements (scales, chords, arpeggios, sight reading, ear training, ... etc.) with the remaining 1 to 1.5 hours practicing both new and learned repertoire. What are your thoughts on quality of practice versus quantity? What are your thoughts on practicing finger exercises (Hanon, Czerny, etc.) and studies? I personally believe that these finger exercises/studies eat up precious practice time and provide very little gain.
Many thanks,
Devoted Practicer

Dear Devoted Practicer,

I encourage you to examine the source of your passion for the piano. Ask yourself why you play the piano. to become a professional? ARCT goals? competing with someone else? to play that certain piece?

Many people seem to forget why they spend all that time at the piano. I know this sounds cheesy, but the reason I practice is because I love music. I'm serious! I am drawn to the piano every day by the beauty of music. Whether the music be easy or difficult, I love to take it apart, note by note, and hold it up to the light and say, "Wow! Isn't that amazing?!" I inspect everything under a microscope, marvel at its craftsmanship, and polish it well. Then I put it back together again and let it carry me away.

I have never been able to practice scales or exercises. They don't inspire me. Where's the beauty? A Chopin etude, sure, but not a Hanon exercise.

Over the years, my devotion to detail and beauty has worked for me. My technique improves naturally with each piece I play, and I have never tired of practicing. Could I have improved at a faster rate? Perhaps, but I enjoyed the path I followed.

- Greg