Parallel Set Exercises for Intrinsic Technique Development
Parallel set exercises for intrinsic technique development is the description of a
group of exercises that can be found in “Fundamentals of Piano Practice” by Chuan Chang.
Essentially, these are techniques intended to diagnose and fix specific flaws in your playing technique. These
are purely physical exercises without any specific musical purpose, similar to Hanon exercises. However, these are not exercises intended to be used for a full
practice regime to be built around. They are used to augment your existing practice exercises, not to replace
Many piano players practice by playing pieces of music that emphasize the technique they are working on.
However, the main goal of the composer of that song was creating something that sounded good musically, not to
provide a practice drill for students.
Even if the song emphasizes a particular technique, it is most likely not used for most of the song. In some
cases, a student might be able to play almost the entire song with little issue, except for specific sections that
use the same technique.
It is possible to keep practicing the song to work on that technique. However, this can be very inefficient in
some cases. A student could easily spend most of their time playing parts that give them little trouble when
practicing in this manner.
The purpose of parallel set exercises for intrinsic technique development is to focus on specific physical
techniques. For example, a piano player might have trouble playing a song that requires playing the same note repeatedly in
a row with the same finger. Rather than keep practicing the song, the student would play through the first parallel
set exercise, which focuses on this specific technique.
After practicing the technique in the exercise, the student then goes back and
plays it as part of the song. Since you are spending practice time specifically on the technique, you should
be able to fix any physical technique issues you have in this fashion more quickly than just practicing the
These exercises are not intended to be part of your normal practice regime unless you are using them to work on
a specific technique. The parallel set exercises should be a supplemental method added to your normal practice
You should only use these exercises to work on specific problems in your technique. The exercises are very
limited due to how focused they are, so they do not help you develop much as a complete musician. They are only
designed to provide very specific, quick aid to specific problems in your technique.
Every few months, it might be a good idea to quickly run through each of the parallel set exercises for
intrinsic development, even if you are not having specific problems. In some cases, your practice material might
not be using some techniques, so you are completely missing that you are weaker at certain techniques.
Going through the parallel set exercises is a good way to diagnose potential problems you have. If your
technique is good, the exercises should be very easy for you to complete. However, you are usually going to
noticeably struggle on any exercise based around a technique you have difficulty with. These exercises provide a
quick way to diagnose issues with your piano technique before you regularly
encounter them during your playing.