Robert Estrin - piano expert
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Robert Estrin's latest piano videos
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Michael on November 24, 2015 @6:03 pm PST
Hey Robert, I learned and memorized the Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, but then I forgot the 2nd and 3rd movements because I didn't practice them for a while. What advice would you give for "re-memorizing" it?
Eddie * VSM MEMBER * on November 6, 2015 @3:35 pm PST
Hi Robert,
I find your contributions so helpful, especially playing slowly and with a metronome and committing to memory up front rather than learning from the written music and then trying to get it memorised - that was great stuff that had never occurred to me before. I would like to ask you, if you know the answer that is, how many hours do have to put in to a piece like Chopin's Ballade in G Minor to get it up to performance standard ?
Robert - host, on November 8, 2015 @12:49 pm PST
There is no standard of hours it takes to learn or master a piece like the Ballade in G minor of Chopin. It depends upon many factors including:

-Past musical accomplishments and repertoire learned
-Level of talent
-Methodology of practice

Having said that, I would expect a reasonably talented, committed conservatory student devoting hours every day to working on this piece to have it on some sort of performance level within a few months. However, there is a wide range of possibilities depending upon many factors.
Peter Rens on November 4, 2015 @6:28 am PST
Hi Robert, can you explain the lenght of the notes in swing music.
Robert - host, on November 4, 2015 @12:21 pm PST
This is a great subject for a future videos!
Peter Rens on November 5, 2015 @1:22 am PST
Thanks Robert,
I'm looking forward to it.
Best regards.
Sandra * VSM MEMBER * on October 25, 2015 @5:03 pm PST
Hi Robert, I've enjoyed your videos on VSM. I'm a senior and am working on sight reading because I'm so slow. I can play by ear or memorize more easily than read! But I can easily sight read music for flute or cello, but that's only one note at a time.
On piano, the left hand moves around a lot. How can I teach mine to be more accurate when playing, for example, a lowish note and then a chord, another low note and then a chord and maybe they aren't even very far apart?
Thanks for your input on dealing with my frustration!
Sandra Ferguson
Robert - host, on October 26, 2015 @3:01 pm PST
You have hit upon one of the biggest challenges in reading certain types of music like ragtime which bounces back and forth from octave to chord in the left hand. You must keep your eyes on the music and feel your way while listening to the results making adjustments as you go. I may make a video on this subject for you!
Ed Baran on October 21, 2015 @4:55 am PST
Robert - Great video on how playing guitar affects piano skills. I am a 63 year old retiree, who performed on jazz guitar, electric bass, and (little) piano in a local swing big band. A fellow guitarist poked fun at my hands when he saw me playing piano and said I know you are a guitarist. My question is: does guitar fingering technique affect the proper fingering/hand technique on the keys? You have to have your left hand slightly bent/curled and play near the finger tips on the guitar fret board, so I have a hard time extending my fingers on the keys. Thanks! Eddie B.:)
Robert - host, on October 22, 2015 @1:31 pm PST
This is a good question! Hand position on the guitar shares a few points: you must not play with the joints collapsed on either instrument. Rounded fingers offer much better control. Beyond that there are many differences inherent in playing guitar and piano. However, there is no reason why you can't adjust to 2 different playing techniques. After all, we use our hands for many different tasks!
Henrik on October 8, 2015 @9:17 am PST

Is there a difference between playing a baroque mordent if it's a crochet or a quaver? A mordent is three notes being played. The third note is the longest. I know all of this. Should a mordent always be played at the same speed all the time? Is there even a correct speed? 
Robert - host, on October 8, 2015 @4:18 pm PST
There are books written about how to play ornamentation. There isn't only one right way to approach mordents, trills, turns or other ornaments. Ultimately you must use your musical judgement in the context of the piece to find a musical solution which you can execute faithfully technically.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on October 8, 2015 @4:23 pm PST
Thank you Robert for answering. Henrik, you can checkout our Ornamentation Chart below:

I hope that can help a little to start. Please, let us know if you have any further questions.
Hank on September 9, 2015 @7:27 am PST
when playing BWV anh 114 & 115 you are supposed to do the dynamics a bit different the other time after the reprise/repeat sign (what do pianist call this sign?). There is in some editions mordernts and trills already there in the sheet music but if you need to play the same part of the piece again the dynamics should not be the same. How does one deal with this?
Robert - host, on September 9, 2015 @11:08 am PST
There is a degree of freedom in interpreting Baroque music in regards to dynamics and ornamentation. Some people choose to play repeated sections exactly the same both times. Others play with different dynamics and embellishments on repeated sections. It is not completely clear as to what the performance practice of the time was. Although, different performers have strong convictions about how the music should be played.
Bill McClellan on September 3, 2015 @2:25 pm PST
Sometimes when holding down a key with the 5th finger of my left hand I'll keep the key held down and switch fingers to my 4th or 3rd finger in preparation for playing a lower note with my freed-up 5th finger. Could you comment on this technique?

Many thanks for your great videos!
Robert - host, on September 3, 2015 @7:22 pm PST
Changing fingers on one note is a common technique in piano playing in order to foster a legato line. Just be sure there isn't a fingering that doesn't require it first since there is a limit to how fast you can change fingers.
Dylan Kelly on August 20, 2015 @11:46 am PST
What is the significance of quarter tone music? What is it?
Robert - host, on August 21, 2015 @10:47 am PST
This is great question which I will tackle in a future video. Spoiler alert: quarter tone music doesn't represent much significance in Western music. But there is a lot more to this question which may surprise you!
Michael on August 13, 2015 @8:54 pm PST
Hey Robert,

Can someone who has almost no musical experience (by that I mean a person that knows what pieces sound like) help someone that is playing an instrument from an "audience perspective"?
Robert - host, on August 14, 2015 @12:08 pm PST
Surprisingly, the perspective of people without extensive musical experience can sometimes be invaluable. That is because it is essential for a musician to reach everyone in the audience, not just the musically sophisticated. So getting the feedback from people with limited musical exposure can foster better communication.
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