Robert Estrin - piano expert
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How to Play Loud on the Piano

How to get a good sound playing loud on the piano

Released on May 22, 2013

  
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Video Transcription

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com and VirtualSheetMusic.com with another technique video. How do you get a good sound playing loud on the piano? Not as easy as you might think.

If you've ever heard somebody who bangs on the piano, who gets a harsh sound, you know that it's a very, very ugly quality that can be gotten out of even the most glorious instrument. So what is the secret? Well, I'm going to show you that today. I'm going to first tell you what not to do. You know, the interesting thing is the piano is very sensitive to how you approach the keys. If you slap the keys, you're going to get a harsh sound, and if you caress the keys like a masseuse with deep energy, it gives a beautiful, warm sound.

I'm going to demonstrate for you by playing just a few chords from the opening of the Tchaikovsky B flat minor piano concerto. First, I'm just going to let go and play the chords loud, without supporting, like a singer who doesn't support with the diaphragm and gets a harsh, almost a yelling sound. This is going to be a little ugly, so turn your volume down if you don't want to be subjected to that. But I just want to do it for an example first.

Sure, it's loud, but it's percussive and harsh. Now, why is that and how do you avoid it? Well, the fact of the matter is even though there's a mechanical element to the piano tone, and you do not have direct connection to the sound producing part of the instrument, like you do on a French horn, where the lips are the sound producer. The fact of the matter is how you approach those keys has a dramatic effect upon the tone.

So the secret to getting a good tone, I'm going to demonstrate now, which is always, number one, very important, always strike from the surface of the keys. If you strike from above, you will get a harsh sound. Now, you might say, well, wait a minute, I see pianists all the time and their hands are moving. It's an illusion. It's for show. If you look at a great pianist, like Arthur Rubenstein in the Ritual Fire Dance of Manuel de Falla would play like this and it looked really cool. But what he's actually doing is going up and down and then at the last moment, striking from the surface of the keys, not to get a harsh sound.

The fact of the matter is you must put your hands over the keys and drop all the weight right to the bottom of the keyboard, all at once. You try that on your piano. Take any chord and have your fingers touching the keys, but make sure the keys are not depressed at all. And then drop all the way to the arms, all at once to the bottom of the key bed, and you cannot get a harsh sound, unless your piano is really out of whack in regards to voicing. You will get a gorgeous sound. Here's what happens if I play the chords to the Tchaikovsky doing exactly that matter.

I hope you can hear the difference there. Here, it's pretty outstanding, the difference that you get, caressing the keys instead of slapping them. That's the secret. Stay close, drop the weight from the surface of the keys. You'll get a gorgeous sound out of your piano. Thanks for joining me. Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com and VirtualSheetMusic.com.
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Schalk Loots on July 15, 2015 @12:39 pm PST
Hi Robert
I saw many of your videos and find it very helpful in my amateur attempt to master the piano.

Through the years I found that my sight reading just will not improve. I rely on my hearing and memory to read music but seem to have an endless struggle to " decipher" the music for new pieces as try to play new pieces. My question is ; how can I improve on this? Is there any helpful tips to how I should train myself of perceiving the music to help improve sight reading?
marinus welman on June 28, 2013 @9:08 pm PST
Hi, do you voice and regulate etc. or do you know a truly skillful technician. I have a 1876 d steinway with new action in need of adjustments and want to change renner hammers for steinways
reply
Robert - host, on June 29, 2013 @11:10 am PST
If you let me know where you live, I may have resources for you. Unless the Renner hammers are worn out, or are the wrong hammers for that piano, there is no reason to replace them. Renner hammers are just as good as Steinway hammers. In fact, all Hamburg Steinway pianos have Renner hammers.
marinus welman on June 30, 2013 @10:09 am PST
Thank you Robert for your response
I live in the city of orange,CA. 92869. I would really appreciate recommendation of a real pro. Its a great instrument that needs proper care.Thanks for the practice tip on Chopin's Etude # 24
Gene * VSM MEMBER * on May 22, 2013 @4:28 pm PST
Hi, I have watched two of your videos. Terrific inside baseball stuff. Loved the sight reading. Always looked at the hands. You are doing a great service. I typed this without looking
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