piano technique books

Best Piano Technique Books

8 Best Piano Technique Books

piano technique

What are the best books for building piano technique? This page will show the most recommended technical books for improving your piano technique.

Studying any of these best piano technique books seriously will definitely improve your technique on the piano. While most of these piano exercises are very repetitious and unmusical, it teaches your hands about proper placement of the hand positions, relaxing and rotation of the wrist, and developing flexibility with your fingers.

It is recommended to practice these exercises at least 10 minutes a day if you want to see improvement in your piano technique. Over-practicing these exercises could result in injury. Please read through each comment for the technical books carefully to see how injury can be prevented.

Hanon’s Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises 

Since its publication in 1873, Hanon’s “The virtuoso Pianist in 60 exercises” or the Hanon’s finger exercises have been a staple part of developing a pianist’s technique. These exercises encourage movement of the wrist, and flexibility of the fingers while playing. These exercises work very well with developing independence of the fourth and fifth fingers. There are instructions located in the score that give tips and suggestions on how to practice these exercises.

Piano Technique Tip: Try to practice these exercises in all the Major Keys, and even the minor keys as well. This will aid you in developing familiarity with all the keys of the piano. Practice slowly first, and then build speed once your fingers feel comfortable playing the exercises slow.

piano technique books

Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist in Sixty Exercises, Complete (Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics, Vol. 925)

Here is an example of Hanon Finger exercise one:

best piano technique books

Try to take note of the movement of the wrist, and well as the movement of the fingers. Do the hands look relaxed as they are playing? It is important to optimize the amount of movement while playing, so that minimum effort for playing the best sound can be achieved.

Here is link to view the Hanon Exercises for free:

http://imslp.org/wiki/The_Virtuoso_Pianist_(Hanon,_Charles-Louis)

Liszt Technical Exercises for the Piano

Franz Liszt, the genius pianist and composer, was said to practice these technical exercises every day, sometimes for four hours a day! Liszt’s Technical Exercises for the Piano, comprising of 86 exercises in 12 books, cover virtually every problem a pianist will face in terms of technique. The exercises also encourage the pianist to practice in all the major and minor keys. The pianist who works on these exercises will not only build incredible technique, but will gain a strong familiarity with the piano. Their sight reading will improve as well, as they gain more comfort with the keyboard and read each exercise in each major and minor key.

For any aspiring pianist who wishes to build virtuosic technique, they must practice the technical exercises by Liszt. You are guaranteed to improve your piano technique, even within the first couple minute of practicing these exercises.

Musicality and sensibility will be developed as well, as Franz Liszt ask for dynamic changes, crescendi, sforzandi, different articulations, and specific phrasing in his exercises.

Here is an example of Scales in Chords by the BachScholar on Liszt Technical Exercises:

Notice how the hand positions move quickly and effectively for each new chord. This is a key technique that will be learned from this particular exercise. In order to adjust your hand position in such a manner, one must be very familiar with the chords they are about to play.

You can purchase the score here:

best technique book for piano

Technical Exercises for the Piano (Alfred Masterwork Edition)

Click here to view the exercises for free.

Schmitt Finger Exercises Op. 16

Schmitt finger exercises places special emphasis on developing finger independence. With 213 exercises, this study has many different variations of finger development. Some argue that these exercises are superior to those of Hanon’s. Whatever the case, studying these exercises will increase flexibility of the tendons in your fingers.

Also, these exercises can be practiced away from the piano. Please look at the video to see how this can be done.

Warning: Over-practicing these exercises can lead to injury in your hand. Try to not practice these exercises for more than 10 minutes a day. It is important to try to keep your hands as relaxed as possibility. It may feel necessary to tighten the wrist or fingers in order to play the notes for these exercises, however, you must try to avoid this. Relaxation is key, and it is important to try to avoid the sensation of having tension. As soon as any tension or pain arises in your hands, it is best to stop practicing these exercises.

piano technique books

Schmitt Op. 16: Preparatory Exercises For the Piano, with Appendix (Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics, Vol. 434)

Click on this video to see an example of the Schmitt Preparatory Exercise:

best piano technique books

Notice how the pinky and third finger in the left hand, and the thumb and third finger in the right hand remained sustained while the other fingers are moving. This is one of the key challenges of several Schmitt finger exercises. Being able to do this allows for your fingers to develop autonomy and independence from one another.

Towards the end of the clip, the exercise is done away from the keyboard. This exercise can be done while you are sitting in class, driving your car, or any other setting that is away from the piano. You can actually develop your piano technique without even being next to a piano with these exercises!

Click here to view the exercises for free.

Dohnanyi Essential Finger Exercises

These exercises are very similar to the Schmitt finger exercises. The only real stark difference is that the Dohnanyi exercises are longer.

Personally, it is a challenge to say which exercises are more effective, since they are both so similar. If questioning which finger exercise book to buy, it is recommended to either buy the Schmitt or both.

The same precautions and details of the Schmitt finger exercises apply here as well.

Purchase the score here:

best technique book for piano

Essential Finger Exercises – Piano

Here is a video by Paul Barton where he speaks about the Dohnanyi exercises and how they can aid with learning a difficult pieces such as Chopin Etude Op. 25 No. 6.

Click here to view the exercises for free.

Pischna Technical Studies

An advantage that Pischna exercises has over other best piano technique books is that it encourages you to practice each exercise in all twelve keys. This develops finger and hand positioning in all keys, and helps you to familiarize yourself with all the different keys of the piano.

These best piano technique exercises greatly help with the development of the fourth and fifth fingers. You will essentially do trills with the fourth and fifth fingers with these exercises, which requires great strength in both fingers.

In addition, these exercises will train your ear as well, as any subtle mistake, such as playing legato poorly or not playing a note fully, is very audible. This can be very frustrating, but with practice, your technique, ear, and musicality will greatly improve.

Here is an example of Pischna Exercise 1

best finger exercise books

You can purchase the score here:

best piano technique books

Pischna: Technical Studies – Sixty Progressive Exercises for the Piano (Schirmer’s Library Of Musical Classics, Vol. 792)

Click here to view the exercises for free.

Bartok Mikrokosmos

The153 progressive pieces in six volumes by Bela Bartok promises to cover all technical and musical problems a pianist may face. Written over a span of thirteen years, these best piano finger exercises feature much variety. They are also much more musical in comparison to other piano technique books. The first two books of Mikrokosmos focus on problems a beginning student will encounter, books three and four are for intermediate to advance students, and books five and six are for professional musicians. These exercises also build fluency in music modes such as the dorian, lydian, mixolydian, and phrygian modes. Books five and six can be performed at a concert stage, similarly to Chopin Etudes.

Here is a link to observe how the beginning volumes sound:

Here is a link to observe how the more advance pieces sound:

Here is a link to purchase the score to Bartok’s Mikrokosmos:

Also, click on the images to see reviews!

finger exercise book

Mikrokosmos Volume 1 Pink: Piano Solo (English, French, German, & Hungarian)

best piano technique books

Mikrokosmos Volume 2 (Pink) English, French, German and Hungarian

finger piano

Mikrokosmos Piano Volume 3 English, French, German, Hungarian Pink

best sheet music editions

Mikrokosmos Volume 4 (Pink) English, French, German and Hungarian (Mikrokosmos (Boosey & Hawkes))

finger exercise book

Mikrokosmos: Vol. 5 153 Progressive Piano Pieces, Nos. 122-139:Pink (English, French, German and Hungarian)

best finger development book

Mikrokosmos Piano Vol. 6, English, French, German, Hungarian Pink (English, French and German Edition)

Click here to view the exercises for free

Czerny Practical Finger Exercises

Czerny is very well known for his pedagogical works. These 50 finger exercises will prepare any pianist for the difficult challenges that they will face in any piece of piano music. The beginning exercises are very simple and focus on wrist movement and relaxation. The later works focus on virtuosic and bravura technique, such as repeated chords, chromaticism, and jumps.

Concert Pianist Andre-Michel Schub said that he would use these exercises when he was young (Source).

Here is an example of one of the easier exercises:

best finger exercise books

And here is an example of one of the more difficult exercises:

best piano technique books

Here is a video of the easier studies:

Here is a video of one of the more difficult studies:

You can purchase the score here:

best finger exercise books

The Art of Finger Dexterity, Op. 740 (Complete) (Alfred Masterwork Edition)

Click here to view the exercises for free.

Click here to view more finger exercises by Czerny.

J.B. Cramer Fifty Selected Piano Studies

Johann Baptist Cramer (1771-1858), was considered to be one of the greatest pianists in his day. Contemporaries of his day, such as Beethoven, respected him for his flawless technical abilities.

J.B. Cramer studied with Muzio Clementi, a great pianist and pedagogue who wrote fantastic piano study books such as Gradus ad Parnassum. Studying with such a great pedagogue must have inspired Cramer to publish a great book for development of piano technique.

Hans von Bülow, a great German pianist, composer, and editor, edited the Cramer exercises in the Schirmer edition of these exercises. He was also known to use these exercises with his own piano students.

I personally view these piano studies to be similar to Chopin Etudes, as they are very musical and can be performed on the concert stage. Practicing these exercises requires very diligent and intelligent practice, and should be practiced differently in comparison to Hanon’s finger exercises.

Here is a great recording of the first Cramer Study by pianist Andrei Vetrov:

Here is a live performance of the first Cramer Study:

You can also buy the J.B. Cramer 50 Selected Piano Studies here.

The J.B. Cramer studies are also published by Kalmus edition and others.

You can view the Cramer Op. 50 Fifty Studies here for free!

16 thoughts on “Best Piano Technique Books”

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  3. Thanks , I’ve recently been searching for info about this subject for a long time and yours is the greatest I have found out till now. However, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you positive in regards to the source?

    1. Hello Zandy,

      Thank you for the feedback.

      In regards to the source, this comes from my own personal experience of using these books to aid in my piano technique, and from discussing with piano professors which technique books they prefer.

      Having a B.A. in Piano Performance and Music Education, and pursuing a M.M. in Piano Performance at a well-known music school (Thorton School of Music), I believe that my personal opinions on the best technique books have substance.

      I hope this helps with answering your question.

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  8. Wow this is an awesome list!
    I have a question tho: I am studying from a book that is not in this list, could you tell me if it is a good book for building technique?

    The book is: Cramer-Bülow 60 ausgewahlte etuden

    1. Hi Oliver, thank you for the comment!

      J.B. Cramer was an excellent pianist in his day, and being a student of Clementi, he definitely has certain insights when it comes to writing technical exercises. Studying his exercises seriously (and correctly) will definitely improve piano technique, as well as musicality. Even Hans Van Bulow would teach using these exercises.

      I believe that his technical exercises are similar to Chopin etudes, in that they are more musical in comparison to say Schmitt. With this post, I was seeking to aim more towards exercises with simpler figures that can be practiced easily. Practicing the Op. 50 Cramer, in my personal opinion, is similar to practicing Chopin etudes, and there isn’t just one technical figure being presented, and you’ll have to spend considerable time working on these pieces.

      I hope that answers the question. They are great pieces, but they are not presented in this list because of the general manner in which you would practice them.

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