About 12 years ago it occurred to me that Hanon actually had some pretty cool ideas, but his exercises are so long, so repetitive and so utterly boring that I can’t focus on them. In addition, my mind goes to sleep because the patterns don’t change. And because they are so repetitive, I don’t read the music.
If you look at the The Traditional Hanon Book, you see that in each exercise there are 14 measures ascending, then the whole thing reverses, 15 measures coming down, then a final note – 30 measures in all, with a repeat sign telling you never to stop. Do the math. 29 measures twice. The total is 58+1 for the final measure. 59 measures of boring, mind-numbing repeating involving zero reading.
Worse: it is a recipe for repetitive muscle injury.
I took Hanon’s initial idea, then changed it each measure to make it interesting and challenging. You really have to think. There are seven different measures, an ending for going up, then coming down everything is reversed.
It makes you slow down. It makes you think. The challenge wakes you up and makes you pay attention.
The name is obvious, Warp 10 Hanon, coming from Star Trek. I think everyone knows what warp 10 means – going very fast. But here the warp 10 is not about velocity, because you actually have to slow down to get it right in this or other similar exercises. Warp 10 is about the results. The fingers, the body and the mind gets trained very quickly this way.
I invite all people to read the preface of The Traditional Hanon Book, which is without any doubt as ridiculous as anything I’ve ever read. These Hanon exercises won’t cure all problems, and practiced the wrong way they can be extremely harmful. The book claims that all the exercises can be done in an hour. I’d rather have my teeth drilled for an hour a day than to suffer through this.
That said, there is something elegant about the idea of doing the same thing in both hands and then coming down so that the hands reverse the skills they did ascending. There is no reason why these exercises can’t be played with loose wrists and a relaxed body, at a slower pace, to develop finger independence but also the kind of relaxed technique we see today from the very best of players.