Robert Estrin - piano expert
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Learning Hanon - Part 2

Part 2 of an approach to the most well-known piano technique method

Released on July 31, 2013

Watch also the First Part and the Third Part of this video.
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Video Transcription

Welcome, I'm Robert Estrin here at and This is part two of a two-part series in Hanon. How do you know what the right fingering is for major scales and arpeggios? Check out the link below if you haven't seen part one. Well this is a great question. Unfortunately, there's a resource on the piano and it's not so easy on other instruments which I'm going to tell you about briefly and then we're going to revisit this in just a moment. You know, if you play the violin, there are different fingerings and different schools of thought for the violin on scales. Everybody plays with different fingering concepts. Even on the French horn which I also play, there's standard fingering but there are books written about alternate fingerings. Same is true on woodwind instruments. But fortunately on a piano, there is the gospel and the gospel is Hanon.

The vast majority of people who study the Piano use the fingering in Hanon. It's very easy. So what is fingering all about and scales and arpeggios? Well simply put, we have only ten fingers but the Piano, of course, you play up and down the keyboard. Generally speaking, you play scales and arpeggios four octaves up and down. So you must have finger crossings. Simply put, your hands are mirror images of one another. Going up the right hand has thumb crossings and the left hand has third and fourth finger crossings. Coming down, it's reversed. The right hand has third and fourth finger crossings and the left hand has thumb crossings. So in each scale there are eight fingerings you must memorize.

For example, in the C major scale, the right-hand crosses on C and F because this is how you get up the whole scale and so on. The left hand has third finger on A and fourth finger on D. Once you have the first octave, you've got the whole scale ascending. Coming down, the right hand has a third finger crossing on E; a fourth finger on B, the left hand has thumb crossings on G and C. Now, you might think, "How am I gonna learn all my scales and arpeggios? That's a lot of information." Well, It is but not as much as you think because the same patterns that are used in the C major scale are used in a whole bunch of whole other major and minor scales like C, G, D, A and E all have the same basic patterns. Now there are some you will have to learn that are fresh, like a B flat major scale is somewhat unique although it's similar to E flat. There are other similarities along the way.

Hanon is the wonderful resource. I'm going to just mention as a footnote, there's a second school of thought that I've never met anybody who uses because it's so unusual but it's worthy of mentioning this little footnote which is mirror fingering.
Mirror fingering is a whole separate concept of fingering on the piano for scales and arpeggios which puts the thumb crossing on the same note. The thumb plays the same note in both hands and all the scales and arpeggios and it's a whole different way of approaching scales and arpeggios. If any of you study scales and arpeggios with mirror fingering, I'd love to hear from you. I've never talked to anybody who's mastered that technique and it is not very commonly used. So I'd love to hear from you on that. For the rest of us, Hanon is great, check it out. Thanks for joining me Robert Estrin here at and
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Ken Cory on February 24, 2016 @8:24 pm PST
I use a kind of mirror fingering, Robert. I noticed quite a while ago that in the right hand, in all major scales I play Bb (or A#) with the fourth finger. The mirror image of Bb in the left hand is F#, so I now play all scales with a fingering that places the fourth finger on F#. There are only three scales I had to change to make this work: I now start D major with my index finger on D, I start A major with my index finger on A, and I start G major with my middle finger on G. Of course there are similar changes to be made in minor scales. I find that this fingering pattern helps out with my jazz playing, because if you anchor your ring finger of the right hand on Bb and the ring finger of your left hand on F#, you'll find that you're less likely to "run out of fingers" when playing an improvised passage.
Lisa Daley * VSM MEMBER * on August 14, 2013 @6:36 am PST
Great video! Thanks.
justin jay on August 4, 2013 @8:21 pm PST
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