Robert Estrin - piano expert
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Robert Estrin - Meet The Piano Expert

Got questions about the piano? Post your questions, get your answers

Released on March 20, 2012

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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Raoul Bandera on May 2, 2015 @6:29 am PST
Other than seeing a doctor who has already informed me oh rheumatoid arthritis in the right hand, do you have any suggestions for alternatives? When extended the ring finger locks in place and is very painful to put back in the curled position.
Robert - host, on May 3, 2015 @2:39 pm PST
That's a really tough situation. There are supplements like turmeric which helps some people. If you feel up to playing, make sure your hands are warm first. You can run them under warm water. The key is if you can get well enough to start playing on a daily basis, you may gain flexibility and strength to overcome your physical limitations. Always be aware of how you feel so you don't inflict additional damage.
sigmund on April 28, 2015 @8:37 am PST
Hi robert,
I watched your video about portato, and i wondered, what is the difference between playing the piece portato and playing a piece that has no marking such as slurs or staccato at all? Isnt it the same as portato? If it is the same, then why mark the notes portato if it is just played the same as playing without a slur or non legato?

Thank you so much!
Sandra * VSM MEMBER * on April 27, 2015 @5:50 pm PST
Hi Robert,
Do you have suggestions for improving piano sight reading, or better piano music reading in general?
Thank you,
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on April 28, 2015 @9:01 am PST
Ingird on April 8, 2015 @3:32 am PST
Hi Robert,
How can you practice to make your fingers move faster? Example for a measure with 32-notes like in The Maiden's Prayer bij Badarzewska.

Thanks for your answer.
Robert - host, on April 9, 2015 @11:25 am PST
Please refer to this video and article.

Here is another video which offers a technique for making your fast finger work dazzling:

I hope this helps!
TOM on March 30, 2015 @6:42 am PST
Have you done any videos yet on the subject of playing from a Lead Sheet (I.E. What to play when you only have a single note and chords)
Robert - host, on March 30, 2015 @10:14 am PST
This is a great subject and one I have been considering for some time. It may end up being a multi-part series. Thanks for the suggestion!
Andreas Schloesser on February 23, 2015 @5:46 pm PST
Hi Robert,
please can you tell all you know about electronic or digital pianos?
What about quality and price-performance ratio?
Best regards
Craig Binkley (Bloomington, IN) on February 15, 2015 @3:02 pm PST
Robert, It's good to "see" you again! I have a 10 year old daughter and would like to teach her to play piano based on your techniques, as I remember them from taking lessons from you. What is the best book(s)/resources to use for a beginning student?
Robert - host, on February 21, 2015 @1:44 pm PST
There are few good methods for beginning students. Here are some delightful pieces of Bach that are suitable for students in the early years of study:
Mary Ann * VSM MEMBER * on February 11, 2015 @4:08 pm PST
What age is acceptable for children to start the Hanon finger exercises?
Robert - host, on February 12, 2015 @10:42 am PST
The beauty of the first Hanon exercises is that they are suitable for beginning students. As long as the student is playing hands together, they can benefit from Hanon exercises.
Amy Macdonald * VSM MEMBER * on February 5, 2015 @9:50 am PST
Where do I find the videos on Fantasia in D minor - breakdown of the piece bar by bar on how to play it.
Robert - host, on February 5, 2015 @12:48 pm PST
Thanks for the great suggestion. There is a series planned for in depth tutorials for specific pieces. This would be a perfect fit for this series. You will hear about the roll out of the premium content in the coming months.
Leslie * VSM MEMBER * on January 21, 2015 @8:16 pm PST
I had trouble reading measures 22 - 30 on Moonlight sonata 3rd movement. I was confused with the notes that had the x symbol in front of it. I would like some advice on these measures.
Thank you!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on January 22, 2015 @9:57 am PST
Hello Leslie and thank you for your comment.

Are you referring to the double-sharp notes in the left hand? If so, here is an explanation about double-sharps for you:

I hope that helps. Thank you again!
Leslie * VSM MEMBER * on January 22, 2015 @2:54 pm PST
Thank you!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on January 22, 2015 @4:06 pm PST
You are very welcome Leslie. Please, feel always free to contact us with any questions or any thoughts you may have, I will be glad to hear from you, at any time!
Davy * VSM MEMBER * on January 12, 2015 @3:04 am PST
Hello Robert

I am contacting you because I just want a little advice on some scores, I would when I retrieve the midi file, I would transposed score on our pitch and play, I used lunch sheetmusic software for edit and print unless I contact the display is not as clean as on the partitions that you put at our disposal, so I wanted to know what software you advise me to use to translate the partitions with print

Thank you for your advice
Robert - host, on January 12, 2015 @8:25 am PST
If you are asking what music notation software is best for producing a clean looking score, there are several. However, Sibelius and Finale are the industry leaders not only because of the quality of the print, but also the flexibility they offer in refining the look of your score.
Veragra * VSM MEMBER * on January 8, 2015 @7:54 am PST
Piece song
music piece

How to study a piece, especially if fast: the song in one piece or split for parts? immediately in the required time or slowly at first and gradually increasing the speed?
Robert - host, on January 9, 2015 @12:31 pm PST
The answer is all of the above and more! Yes, you must break down your music into sections in order to learn and refine it. Here is a video I made on how to memorize music:

Playing slowly and working up speed is also a critical part of practicing. Using a metronome and increasing the speed a notch at a time is a great way to master difficult passages. Also, simply practicing your music slowly will reinforce the memory and help you gain security in your playing.
kendah on January 6, 2015 @3:54 pm PST
hello mr.robert,how are you? is there a program i can use it to record My piano sound with all the influences in it(rhythm & tones).another question :Can you do without the traditional studio in the presence of the modern musical programs?thanks a lot.
Michelle on January 6, 2015 @9:18 am PST
Hello Robert:
First, I would like to thank you for posting videos on YouTube and VSM. You have helped me so much. My question is: Is it normal for one hand to be stronger than the other? What is the best way to strengthen the weaker hand? How long does it take?
A little over a year, I started learning to play the piano. I'm naturally left-handed so my left hand is stronger than my right. Most melodies are carried by the right hand. I've been practicing scales and Hanon (hands separate) trying to strengthen my right hand. It is helping but it is taking a long time to see any improvement.
Thank you for your time and Happy New Year
Robert - host, on January 6, 2015 @1:02 pm PST
It is normal for one hand to be stronger than the other. While you can work on repertoire that favors one hand over the other in order to strengthen the weaker hand, there is nothing wrong with strengthening both hands! So, keep working on exercises and repertoire and simply spend a good deal of time playing the piano and your strength will develop.
rhonda * VSM MEMBER * on January 5, 2015 @6:56 pm PST
I used to play piano as a child now I can't remember the base keys
kendah on January 2, 2015 @3:11 pm PST
ok, thanks a lot my teacher for helping me.
Joe P on January 1, 2015 @7:31 pm PST
Hi Robert I am a big fan and follower of your videos. I have a simple question but since I have been learning for years recently without a teacher I have nobody to ask!
How should I go about playing pedalled notes that also marked staccato? The example I am learning is Chopin's Nocturne op55 no1, the left hand of the theme. This might be a silly question to a pianist but I have played trumpet for 12 years and only turned to seriously practising piano in the past few years. Therefore I am competent with sheet music but some of the notation differences between the instruments confuse me.
Thanks and Happy New Year!
Robert - host, on January 2, 2015 @11:10 am PST
Phrasing markings have different meanings depending upon context. In the case of this Chopin Nocturne, the composer is indicating not short notes in the left hand, but simply a detached, light accompaniment to contrast with the melodic right hand. You can pedal the melody and be sure to clear the pedal so contrasting harmonies don't clash.
kendah on December 31, 2014 @3:06 pm PST
hi mr.robert, how are you? i want to share my new melody with others but i don't know how i can protect the privacy of it (my melody ).another question how can i get a job in music but online( by the internet) and thanks alot.
Robert - host, on January 1, 2015 @12:58 pm PST
In the U.S., you can copyright your material through the Library of Congress. Here are the forms:

There are various ways of making money with music online. Figure out what sets you apart from others - what you offer that others don't. Develop your ideas and work consistently over a long period of time and carve out your path!
Daniel on December 19, 2014 @2:21 pm PST
Hello Robert,
I stopped playing the piano about 9 years ago, but recently - after discovering ragtime - I was inspired to go back and re-learn it. I stopped at an early stage and since then I forgot almost everything. I found your videos rather motivating and I feel like they might as well give me the needed initiative.
Now, I have a Yamaha DGX 300 keyboard, which is far from optimal. It has got 76, non-wighted keys, but at least they are touch sensitive. Unfortunately my family is not in a financial situation where we could afford a piano, or a new, better keyboard. I have seen some second-hand August Förster uprights for ~$1000, but the "myth of the $1000 piano" makes me skeptical. My school has an upright, but it is only used for the occasional school performance and students are not allowed to play it.
What do you suggest I should do?
I mainly plan on playing ragtime, doing improvisations and transcribing orchestral pieces (not necessarily classicals).

And for the end I have some questions:
Any advice on how to develop hand and finger independence?
I've got a few lead sheets, but I have difficulty interpreting chords. How do we properly interpret them? Some chords sound pretty good, while others not (using a digital composing software).
How would you apporach transcribing complex orchestral pieces to a single piano, where there are many instruments playing all at once?
Lastly, how would you approach transcribing transitional drum solo sections or long, sustained notes played by winds and/or sung by a choir?
Robert Estrin on December 20, 2014 @10:34 am PST
If you buy a used upright for a few hundred dollars, allow a budget for getting it playing on a decent level. You may want to have a piano technician give you an assessment before committing to any particular piano.

Figuring out lead sheets is a very big subject I will cover in a future video. Anyone who delves into jazz spends great amounts of time listening and transcribing realizations of classic performances figuring out sophisticated voicing.

Transcribing orchestral music to piano requires the ability to either read a score, or play by ear. A great alternative is finding a transcription already written if available.

You must be creative when dealing with percussion instruments and sustained sounds. Sometimes you can mimic the quality of a drum by playing very low notes rhythmically. As for long sustained notes, tremolo can be very useful!
Jill Bellchambers * VSM MEMBER * on December 10, 2014 @3:30 am PST
Hello Robert, I just wanted to wish you and yours a very happy and healthy festive season and 2015 and to say how engaging and useful your 'hot tip' videos are. I'd also like to say I've got 36 of your videos received as email from Virtual Sheet Music 'flagged' from April until now to watch 'cause I've been too darned busy teaching and running my music school to watch them!!! Good summer holiday watching!
Robert - host, on December 10, 2014 @10:30 am PST
Hope you enjoy!
Hank on December 8, 2014 @2:40 am PST
How can taking music theory lessons help you become a better pianist? And what kind of music theory will help you?
Robert - host, on December 10, 2014 @9:27 am PST
Understanding the logic and structure of music you play can be very helpful for many reasons. While playing music can be a very intuitive experience, at some point you may need to quantify what you are doing. For example, understanding the form of a piece can help you avoid taking a wrong turn. Having a good sense of key makes reading more fluid. There are many benefits to having a depth of understanding of your music which is what the study of music theory is all about.
Jerre Redding on November 21, 2014 @12:05 am PST
Did you ever produce the video about college piano sales? I seem to have gotten on a list and am getting emails on these. I have no idea if they are worthwhile or something to watch out for.
Robert - host, on November 21, 2014 @11:50 am PST
This is an excellent question and one I have planned on making a video on. Look forward to one on this subject in the very near future!
Roger * VSM MEMBER * on November 19, 2014 @1:43 pm PST
Like many jazz pianists, I would love to be able to stretch tenths, particularly the b-flat to D. I can just hit the white-to-white tenths but can't walk them up and down
Do you know of any excercises, prosthesis even. that would help
People like me ?
geebo2b * VSM MEMBER * on November 20, 2014 @10:04 pm PST
The majority of pianists probably don't have the reach to make that a solid non-rolled interval. As per Johnny Mehegan , the 10ths in authentic stride playing must not be rolled. What to do? According to the Late Johnny Mehegan, the third is to be played and the root left out in those structures. What I have learned to do is (at least in my own arrangements) I split those long stretches between both hands wherever possible, and If that isn't possible, then I abide by the rule to eliminate the root and play the third (tenth).
geebo2b * VSM MEMBER * on November 19, 2014 @1:10 pm PST
I am always amazed by musician's that can take a tune such as 'Happy Birthday' and improvise it the style of a famous composer such as Liszt or Chopin. Can you give some succinct pointers on how to go about doing this? Maybe some starter 'recipe's' such as Take the melody..break it into 2-3 segments and between each segment include a 'diminished/augment scale based on (insert advice here). Something that would give immediate results along with pointers on developing it so it really sounds authentic.
Robert - host, on November 20, 2014 @7:46 pm PST
You have planted the seeds for an entire series of videos on how to improvise in the style of specific Classical composers - thank you!
geebo2b * VSM MEMBER * on November 22, 2014 @9:51 pm PST
That is exciting..Please hurry!! I actually would have a work related use for the information!
Nico Scott on November 17, 2014 @11:54 pm PST
Hi. I'm new to piano music. I'm looking for the Genre of this type of piano music. found this song on youtube and LOVED it, It's a slow dark feeling to it. What artist did or do specialize in this type of playing
Robert - host, on November 19, 2014 @1:55 pm PST
This is music created completely in the digital domain. It is textural and perfect for scoring to picture. You may find other film scores like this, particularly in occult type movies.
Paul Adams on November 17, 2014 @8:53 am PST
I am not unusual in having nerves before giving a performance. My problems are 1. Allowing my mind to wander occasionally from the music and 2. I gradually play faster instead of keeping to the tempo.
Robert, do you have any suggestins how to deal with these matters?
Robert - host, on November 17, 2014 @11:35 am PST
To play with consistent tempo, use the metronome in your practice on a regular basis. Playing with other musicians will also help you develop consistency in your playing. As far as staying focused, try playing your music mentally away from your instrument. This forces you to focus! Here is a video describing the process:
Eric Vanasse on November 6, 2014 @10:09 am PST
As a beginner, should I prioritize learning sight reading or memorizing scores?
Robert Estrin on November 6, 2014 @1:25 pm PST
Both skills are important. You should devote time each day to developing your reading skills while also memorizing music.
KEv on November 1, 2014 @3:29 pm PST
When I play the piano, the volume is sometimes quite uneven like calculated. When I play the singing line is not very expressive (more like just pushing notes). I was wandering if you know how I could improve this and play the notes evenly with more expression. Anyways great vids. Keep em up!!!!! Thanks
Robert - host, on November 1, 2014 @3:39 pm PST
Here is a video I made on how to get a singing line on the piano:
Hope this helps!
Lisa * VSM MEMBER * on October 31, 2014 @10:52 pm PST
Hi Robert,
Can you please do a session on hand independence? I am an adult student and even though I can play baroque music (with both hands) I don't think my hands move independently of each other.
Robert Estrin on November 1, 2014 @2:54 pm PST
I am happy to provide a video on this subject. Please let me know if there is a specific piece of repertoire that you have difficulty with.
LT * VSM MEMBER * on November 1, 2014 @3:35 pm PST
Thanks, Robert. I am only a beginer going for my Grade 1 exam in a few weeks. My immediate need is to play a Canon for the exam and I can play it from memory but I can see and hear the lack of hand independence. I want to play Barcarolle by Lionel Salter, and again, I can play from memory reasonably ok but it doesn't sound "complete" and I think it's because I don't have hand independence.
Sharon on October 29, 2014 @4:38 am PST
I have a small problem that I came across. This is for 3/4 time. In this measure , for the treble there is a half note( stem up), half note (stem down) and quarter note (stem up). In the bass of the same measure there is a dotted half note(stem down) half note (stem up). Also a quarter rest under the first half note in the treble and a quarter rest above dotted half note in the bass. Just wondering on proper technique for playing the beats.
Robert - host, on October 29, 2014 @10:20 am PST
When stems go up and down, you can think of the music as being separate voices. First, figure out the rhythm of all the notes with stems that go down - then figure out the rhythm of all the notes with stems going up. Often times composers write this way to allow for some notes to overlap.
Bettie Downing on October 22, 2014 @6:38 am PST
You didn't answer the question WHY are instruments in different keys? WHY aren't they all in C, for instance?
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on October 22, 2014 @11:08 am PST
Hello Bettie and thank you for your question. I think Robert has been pretty clear explaining why some instruments are written in different keys in his video below:

But I do understand that may cause confusions. As you can learn from what Robert says, some instrument are "pitched differently" (which means, some instrument are "built" to produce different pitch if no keys are pressed), but despite that, their actual built keys are similar and therefore they are played with the same fingering patterns... and then, they are easier to play by reading the "same written notes" on the score despite the produced sound is different. I hope this clarifies your question, but maybe Robert has something more to add about it. Thanks!
Bettie Downing on October 22, 2014 @11:14 am PST
I must really be dumb because I still don't understand the WHY. It seems you're explaining HOW.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on October 22, 2014 @11:28 am PST
Let's try this way: All this is just a "practical" way of playing wind or brass instruments that are written in different pitch (why? Because of their physical dimensions according to the "pitch range" they want to produce) by reading notes that are produced by pushing the same keys, but that produce different sounds... why? Because of what I wrote above: because they have been built to produce a different pitch when no keys are pressed.

Let's try with an example: the trumpet can be tuned in B flat or D. The trumpet in D has an higher pitch range than the trumpet in B flat, and when the trumpet in D is played without pressing keys, the D note is produced; whereas, if you do the same with a trumpet in Bb, a B flat is produced. OK? Both instruments share the same kind of mechanical keys (3 keys on both trumpets) and their "fingerings" are exactly the same! That means that if you read a C on the score, you don't push ANY key on both instruments to produce that note... but the so called "effect" (the actual produced sound) is different, as we said, the trumpet in D produces an actual D whereas the trumpet in B flat produces a B flat. Now, if you read the note A on the score, on both instruments you push the 1st and 2nd key, and you are actually reading the same note from both instruments, but the produced sound (the "effect") is different: the trumpet in D will produce a B note, whereas the trumpet in B flat will produce a G note.

Why all this? Because the same trumpet player can switch from a trumpet to another by reading the same note with the same fingerings, without worrying about the produced sound. That's just a "practical" way of approaching wind and brass instruments.

Instruments in C such as the flute, oboe, bassoon or even the trumpet in C (yes, there is a trumpet in C), they read and produce the exact same notes they read, like the violin, piano and all other non-transposing instruments.

I hope this helps :)
Robert - host, on October 22, 2014 @12:41 pm PST
I hope Fabrizio's explanation clears things up for you. It may seem counterintuitive that instrumentalists who play the same note on their instruments will sound different because of the range and pitch of the instruments. But it makes it much simpler to conceptualize for the musicians playing.
Tom on October 20, 2014 @7:14 am PST
How would you approach a Lead Sheet when you only have a melody line and chord symbols.
Robert - host, on October 20, 2014 @11:25 am PST
I have been planning on presenting a video on how to read a lead sheet. It is a complex subject which I may devote a small series to in the near future.
TOM on October 21, 2014 @6:54 am PST
Thank you. I am looking forward to it
Kendah on October 20, 2014 @2:17 am PST
Thanks a lot my teacher I'll watch it right now.
Lucrecia * VSM MEMBER * on October 12, 2014 @7:03 am PST
Dear Robert,
Our daughter (17) will be playing the Flight of the Bumble Bee for our State Fair Regional Contest soon. (Tues, 10/14) She will have to play the piece on a keyboard so she has been practicing using one. She's finding though that she can't launch into the piece and keep up her speed without first warming up. Are there any warm-up exercises you would recommend? How do others that perform warm up before going on stage?
Lucrecia * VSM MEMBER * on October 11, 2014 @8:25 pm PST
Dear Robert,
Our daughter (age 17) will be representing our county at the State Fair regional Youth Talent Show this coming Tuesday. She plans to play "The Flight of the Bumble Bee". How do you recommend she warms up before playing her piece? She will have to play the piece on a keyboard so she has been practicing on a keyboard here at home. She's finding though that she really needs to warm up before she can get her fingers to move very fast and consistently. Have you made any videos on this?
Robert - host, on October 13, 2014 @11:19 am PST
Your daughter should try to warm up thoroughly at home the way she does normally each day before the talent show. I recommend playing through her piece slowly with the music and no pedal to secure her memory and reinforce the music. If there are no pianos available off stage at the talent show, you could consider bringing a keyboard (even if there is no electricity to hear it) to continue limbering up her fingers if she finds this helpful.
Lucrecia * VSM MEMBER * on October 13, 2014 @5:19 pm PST
Thank you so much for responding. We do plan to take her keyboard and that's a great idea to practice even without electricity.
I really appreciate your counsel.
Thanks so much.
Chanel Zhang on October 9, 2014 @7:19 pm PST
Hi Robert! I am wondering if you could do a video on time management preparing for recital (since there are soooo many pieces that one has to prepare that it gets really crazy and pressured when practicing.
Robert - host, on October 11, 2014 @10:27 am PST
That's a really good topic. Here is a video that relates very closely to this subject:
Kendah on October 9, 2014 @2:39 am PST
Hi mr.robert, how are you? I want to ask you how to play the measure no.33 (3/4) in nocturne 20(c#minor)for Chopin because I feel as a fairly rapid.thanks a lot .
Robert - host, on October 13, 2014 @4:21 pm PST
Here is a video on how to play faster which may provide you with some help:
robertfields * VSM MEMBER * on September 29, 2014 @2:00 pm PST
Thanks A lot.
I will have to break it down measure by measure.
It's just that it is a piece like i've never played before.
It's very beautiful and rich , and its in a weird Key too, Db . come on i hardly ever play in Db.
Maybe the "Clear the Room" Piece
Im trying to be funny here.
But maybe that's adding to the difficulty here for me.
Thanks again Robert Fields
Robert Fields * VSM MEMBER * on September 28, 2014 @11:20 pm PST
Hi Robert
I was wondering how to go about learning the Brahms intermezzo Op 117 no.2
I have been sight reading it for a while. But I just keep reading and reading and it doesn't seem to stick.
Do you have any ideas?
Thanks Robert Fields
Robert - host, on September 29, 2014 @11:24 am PST
Hopefully this piece is within your grasp. You may be wise to consider studying easier pieces progressively until you can master this Intermezzo. Here is a video I made on how to memorize music which may be helpful:

A great practice technique for complex music is practicing in your head which you may find helpful. Here is a video on that subject as well:
Gareth on September 28, 2014 @4:30 am PST
Hi there. I how can I put the right and lefthand together in Chopin's Nocturne in C# minor in measure 15. Please Help.
Robert - host, on September 29, 2014 @11:25 am PST
I will check this out and consider making a video on this subject for you!
Gareth on September 29, 2014 @12:48 pm PST
Thank you very much Mr. Estrin. I really appreciate it.
Roman * VSM MEMBER * on September 24, 2014 @11:35 pm PST
Dear mr. Robert Estrin Your videos are super. Thank You for it. Could You say a beginner playing the piano how to learn the notes well or could You make a video of this thema?
With best Regards
Robert - host, on September 25, 2014 @10:45 am PST
This is a great suggestion for a video - thanks!
gianni * VSM MEMBER * on August 29, 2014 @6:23 am PST
Hi Mr Robert . Thank you for your reply. Another question: it is better either to buy a digital piano ( I would prefer a Mp11 Kawai) or to add a silent system to my Pfeiffer vertical piano?
Thank you a lot again
kendah on August 29, 2014 @4:15 am PST
I do not know how to thank you my teacher I hope always the best for you,thank you very much.
Kendah on August 25, 2014 @2:18 pm PST
Ok mr.robert thanks a lot but can you please give me a save web to download from because I found just Courses about logic in App Store ? Thanks a lot again
Robert - host, on August 27, 2014 @11:52 am PST
This link should get you there:
gianni * VSM MEMBER * on August 25, 2014 @3:29 am PST
Thanks very much for your videos: they are enjoyable and very useful.
A question: I stumbled upon the book by Chang. fundamentals for piano or something like that in English ( I have the Italian traanslation).
I used (and still today) the Hanon book; it helped me a lot in enlarging fingers, and the last ten exercises very useful. It is claimed in that book that it is time consuming ( it is!!) and not very helpful in tackling difficult passages. Others say that it shouid be played 10 minutes to warm up hands and it is enough, others that it should be thrown in the dustbin, and so on. But what about octaves, trills and so on? I do not think that it is sufficient to play separate hands and that all thing turns up OK; exersises can not be dismissed. I will not be of the idea of being buried together with the Hanon book like Horowitz did, one hour of study is not toto much, , what do you think about?
what is your suggestion about?
Robert - host, on August 25, 2014 @2:18 pm PST
There are many ways to develop technique on the piano. Hanon is a great resource, however, no book provides a complete resource for every technique on the piano. Here is how I like to utilize Hanon for students:

Beginners can develop strength by practicing the first exercise 10 minutes a day playing it 4 times at one note to the beat, 4 times at 2 notes to the beat and 4 times or more at 4 notes to the beat. Each week move on to another exercise. After 10 weeks, you should have enough strength to begin tackling scales. These can be practiced in a similar manner tackling a new scale each week. Then move on to arpeggios.

Other techniques like thirds, octaves and such can be worked on with other exercises including musical etudes by Chopin, Moszkowski, Scriabin, Liszt and others.
Kendah on August 24, 2014 @3:21 am PST
Hi mr.robert,how are you?in fact I tried to find the logic x program in App Store but it doesn't work so what should I do?thanks a lot .
Robert - host, on August 24, 2014 @9:30 pm PST
Logic Pro X is a computer program in the Apple App store. Perhaps you were searching for an iPad program.
Samir on August 18, 2014 @9:39 pm PST
Hi Robert! Thank you so much for your helpful videos. I watched your eye contact video and I had a question, when performing the piano for an individual audience member (a girl :D) how do you recommend making eye contact? How long should I maintain the eye contact with her and how often throughout the piece should I do it? I feel it comes across as staring/awkward with an individual audience member, especially since the piano is at the her side view, not directly in front. Thank you!
Kendah on August 13, 2014 @3:42 am PST
Thanks a lot mr.robert for helping me I'll try to find the most appropriate of me between these programs.
Kendah on August 11, 2014 @4:36 pm PST
Hi mr.robert in fact I want to write my music and recording it with a variety of musical instruments so I want one program which has these two things! Is that possible?thanks a lot .
Robert - host, on August 12, 2014 @12:13 pm PST
There are a number of programs that will accomplish this. On the Mac, Logic X is a phenomenal value because it includes everything you will need. Mark of the Unicorn's Digital Performer is another cross platform solution. Other possibilities for you are Avid Pro Tools, Steinberg Cubase, Cakewalk Sonar and possibly the free program Audacity.
John on August 10, 2014 @7:40 am PST
Can you please tell me why various instruments are in different keys? ie clarinet in B flat or eflat?
Many thanks
Robert - host, on August 11, 2014 @11:56 am PST
This is such a good question, we are going to produce a video answering it!
John on August 12, 2014 @12:59 pm PST
THanks very much. I look forward to seeing it and increasing my musical knowledge:)
Kendah on August 8, 2014 @5:31 pm PST
Hi mr. Robert how are you?please I want to know what's the best program for making music for ipad ?thanks a lot .
Robert Estrin on August 9, 2014 @1:25 pm PST
The best musical application depends upon what you want to do. Garageband which comes with the iPad from Apple is an awesome program that is fun to use and very powerful. If you are wanting software that will transform your iPad into a music reader, check out the Virtual Sheet Music application for iPad:
Kendah on July 12, 2014 @4:26 pm PST
Oh this is too much mr.Fabrizio Ferrari that's so kind of you thanks a lot and I promise if I need any help I'll contact with you directly .thank you so much for your offer & I'm sure that I'll need it.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on July 14, 2014 @11:10 am PST
You are most than welcome!
Kendah on July 11, 2014 @2:24 pm PST
Thank you so much mr.robert & fabrizio for helping me indeed most of pieces which I'm practicing on are classic for example :Hungarian rhapsody no.2 by Franz list I notice some different Especially at the ending so I don't know if the sheet music which I have it's original or not & thanks a lot for everything.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on July 11, 2014 @2:41 pm PST
Dear Kendah, you are most than welcome! Glad to help, any time.

Our version of the Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 is based ont he original manuscript, so it is reliable for your research:

If you are a Member of ours, you can access it for free. Otherwise, please contact me at, and I will be glad to send you a free copy for your perusal.

Thank you again!
Kendah on July 10, 2014 @1:08 pm PST
Hi mr.robert how are you ? How can I know if the sheet music is the orginal copy ?thanks a lot.
Robert Estrin on July 10, 2014 @3:18 pm PST
If you are referring to hand written scores, you would have to compare them to examples of the composer's calligraphy. When buying printed scores, look for Urtext Editions. These are versions of the composer's music that are researched to be as authentic as possible to the composer's intensions.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on July 10, 2014 @4:10 pm PST
Thank you Robert for clarifying this to Kendah. Most of our editions also are based on the original composer's manuscript. Kendah: If you have any title in mind for which you'd like to know if we have an original version of it, please let me know, I will be glad to help you any further on that. Thanks.
Charles * VSM MEMBER * on June 29, 2014 @3:03 pm PST
In learning to play two beats against three (as occurs in Clair de Lune), do you have suggestions on how to do this
Robert Estrin on June 30, 2014 @1:30 pm PST
Here is a video I produced on how to approach poly-rhythms:
Lindsay on June 27, 2014 @11:16 am PST
Hi there I was wondering if u could tell me what my Wurlitzer is worth its a 1980's serial # 1624340 model # 2725 it got some ware on it but it still looks amazing
Robert Estrin on June 27, 2014 @3:36 pm PST
If the piano has been barely played, has been in an environment that is stable in regards to temperature and humidity, has been tuned regularly, kept in good regulation and voicing and has no problems, the value depends upon how you go about selling it. Here in Southern California there are lots of older American style consoles (assuming that is what this piano is) that are listed on Craigslist for a few hundred dollars. If you connect with someone who falls in love with the furniture and desires this sort of piano, it could be worth more to them.
Michael on June 22, 2014 @2:47 am PST
Hi Robert. My left hand is weaker than my right hand and, as a result, I start to 'lack' in my left hand during a long and fast piece of music. It also starts to hurt sometimes. What would you recommend to strengthen the hand/resolve the problem.
Thank you in advance.
Robert - host, on June 23, 2014 @1:27 pm PST
Having a weaker left hand is normal since most people are right handed. Also, piano music tends to challenge the right hand more than the left strengthening the right hand further. Working on music that challenges the left hand can help alleviate the problem.

It is important that you are sensitive to any pain you experience. Be sure it is of the kind you get when exercising hard which is the result of the build up of lactic acid in the muscles. This is a normal result of exertion and subsides quickly. If you are experiencing some other issues, you must be careful to avoid anything that promotes this.
Michael on June 23, 2014 @11:22 pm PST
Thank you for your advice.
Kendah on June 20, 2014 @4:34 pm PST
Hi mr.robert how are you?why the most people putting the headphones while they playing on a digital piano is that make the sound better? Thanks a lot .
Robert - host, on June 23, 2014 @1:29 pm PST
A $100 pair of headphones offers a sound far superior to speakers of the same cost. Another reason people use headphones is to play or practice in private at any hour of the day or night.
Kendah on June 16, 2014 @4:11 pm PST
Wow that's will be great I'll be waiting for this season.thanks a lot .
Kendah on June 14, 2014 @4:02 pm PST
Hi mr. Robert how are you? Is the bad using of pedal can make adversely affect on the keys safety and how can I using pedal with the valse tempo? Thanks a lot .
Robert - host, on June 16, 2014 @10:28 am PST
Other than pounding the pedals, you will not hurt them by using them. Tempo is not the defining element of when to pedal. Changes of harmony necessitate clearing the sound of the previous harmonies by lifting the pedal up and then back down again to catch the next harmonies. We will be producing a video on pedaling this season.
Kendah on June 12, 2014 @4:03 pm PST
Ok,thanks a lot mr.robert for every thing.
Dawn * VSM MEMBER * on June 11, 2014 @4:51 am PST
Hi Robert! Hope your doing great today. Can you do a video about using the sustain pedal in music? I never learned this. I try to use the best I can where I think the notes should be held out but sometimes it doesn't sound very good. Is there a sign or mark on music that tells us when to use this pedal? Thank you!
Robert - host, on June 11, 2014 @10:18 am PST
I have given some tips in videos on the use of the sustain pedal, but a video dedicated to the subject is a great idea! Look forward to this addition in the future.
Kendah on June 9, 2014 @4:08 am PST
Hi mr.robert how are you? is there a program for piano which I can play with one hand and the program play the other hand and can I download it?thanks a lot .
Robert - host, on June 9, 2014 @12:36 pm PST
There are probably programs out there that can accomplish this feat. However, a much more valuable experience would be playing a simple 2-hand arrangement with accompaniment which is something I have in the works for you!
Kendah on June 3, 2014 @3:58 am PST
Hi mr. Robert I want to know is the (sf ) means (fff)?thanks a lot .
Robert - host, on June 4, 2014 @11:37 am PST
Sforzando is usually indicated with "sFz and indicates a strong accent.

FFF is very, very loud. Every time you add an "F" it adds a "very" to the Forte (loud).
TOM on May 30, 2014 @8:42 am PST
I am considering purchasing a full size weighted keys digital piano.Which would you recommend
Robert - host, on June 4, 2014 @11:38 am PST
Personally I like Yamaha for a realistic playing experience. However, Kurzweil, Korg, Alesis, Nord, Roland and others have compelling features and great sounds as well. There are many different models from all of these manufacturers with different features you can investigate.
TOM on June 5, 2014 @6:29 am PST
Many thanks for your reply and informative videos (Don't forget the Lead Sheet Video !!!!!)
Kendah on May 30, 2014 @3:04 am PST
Thanks a lot Mr.robert for this information
norma * VSM MEMBER * on May 28, 2014 @2:43 pm PST
please continue to contact me.i want to try this.
Robert - host, on May 28, 2014 @4:05 pm PST
Since I don't have your contact information, please feel free to call or email:
Kendah on May 25, 2014 @3:03 am PST
Hi mr.robert ,how Are you?how can I account trills versus the half note?thanks a lot.
Robert - host, on May 26, 2014 @10:55 am PST
Start with something slow like eighth notes. (There would be 8 eighth notes in a half note.) If you are comfortable, you could try playing eighth note triplets (12 notes). If you can play more notes move up to sixteenth notes (16 notes). Play whatever number of notes you can play cleanly with consistency.
Kendah on May 14, 2014 @12:27 pm PST
Ok thank you so much Mr.robert I'll try to do everything in the right way.
Kendah on May 13, 2014 @4:20 pm PST
Oh Mr.robert I bought a digital piano fully weighted lately but my problem is that I have many pieces which need to add the expression so what's your advice which pieces I can begin with and how can I arrange my work ? Thank you very much for your helping.
Robert - host, on May 13, 2014 @6:19 pm PST
It's difficult to make recommendations since I don't know the level of your playing. Remember that expression isn't something to be added later. For example, if the score says to play "forte" in some places and "piano" in others, and you play the same volume everywhere, you are learning the wrong dynamic since you are always playing at some dynamic level. Unlearning is much more difficult than learning. So it is more efficient to learn everything right the first time including the expression.
Kendah on May 11, 2014 @3:04 am PST
Hi mr.Robert how are you? I need your help because I learned many pieces but without pedal & expressions and now I have to add them to the pieces because I was have a keyboard and I'm really lost. So what I suppose me to do and thanks a lot for everything.
Robert - host, on May 12, 2014 @11:33 am PST
Practicing without the pedal helps you develop honest playing and smooth fingering. So adding the pedal should be very pleasing! When you say you play without expression, if you mean you have been practicing on a keyboard that doesn't respond to the touch so you can't play loud and soft, there will be a learning curve adjusting to an expressive instrument. Study the score playing slowly with the music until you learn all the expression markings. Experiment with pedaling being sure not to blur harmonies together. You absolutely need a piano or at least a weighted action, touch sensitive 88 key digital piano in order to take your playing to the next level.
Michelle * VSM MEMBER * on May 9, 2014 @5:55 pm PST
I love Chopin, but his music contains a lot of tuplets, and I find counting those really difficult (especially when they're in the same beat as regular notes). I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how to approach those and get them comfortable and in rhythm.
Thank you for your time and all the wonderful videos you've posted.
Robert - host, on May 9, 2014 @9:28 pm PST
Here is a video on how to approach polyrhythms:

I hope this helps!
Michelle * VSM MEMBER * on May 13, 2014 @8:41 pm PST
Okay, I just watched it. Thank you so much!
kendah on April 17, 2014 @4:19 pm PST
hi mr.robert how are you? when can i add the expression to music is before playing hands together then the pedal the last thing i do?and how can i create my own music? thank you very much mr.
Robert - host, on April 18, 2014 @9:35 pm PST
You must always play with expression! This isn't something you add later. You will find your practice more enjoyable and entrench yourself in the beauty of the music so you can share the joy.

Practicing without pedal is essential to playing honestly. You should make it a regular part of your practicing at all stages of learning a piece.

You can create your own music anytime you wish! Just start experimenting playing different combinations of keys and you are on your way. The rest is refinement.
Anthony Paul Whiteoak on April 17, 2014 @12:53 am PST
Hi Robert
I am 53 and have been learning the piano for 3 months. I am teaching myself as I cannot afford a tutor. I can read music as I also play classical guitar ( not very well!, but enjoyment is the main thing). I am very keen on all styles but the jazz style attracts me as a big fan of all blue note jazz. Advice on how to progress at this very tender age would be most welcome!

Kind regards

Robert - host, on April 17, 2014 @2:23 pm PST
The best way to learn jazz is by listening. The great jazz artists develop uncanny sense of pitch and style immersing themselves in the classic arrangements and solos of the legendary players of all time. If you can find others to play with informally, this can help your musical growth as well.
kendah on April 15, 2014 @4:35 pm PST
hi mr.robert how are you? i want to know when i use the sustain pedal do i have to lift my foot entirely from it when i change the chord and how i can make a control on my left hand to get a quite sound During Performance?thanks alot for every thing.
Robert - host, on April 16, 2014 @11:37 am PST
The sustain pedal responds differently on different pianos. Sometimes you must lift the pedal all the way up to stop the sustain of notes. Other times there is some play at the top of the pedal travel where no notes are sustained.

Try using less arm weight in the left hand keeping fingers close to the keys to achieve pianissimo playing.
Tyler Joseph Amador LaChance on April 14, 2014 @10:40 pm PST
Robert, I was wondering if you could show a video on how to play the piano concerto no.1 in B Flat Minor by Tchaikovsky, it is a piece that I would like to memorise. Thank You so much.
Robert - host, on April 16, 2014 @11:40 am PST
The Tchaikovsky B-flat minor Concerto is a monumental work that lasts over 30 minutes. There are a myriad of technical and musical challenges throughout the work. I may offer a video on how to play the opening chords for you. I commend you for embarking upon the memorization of this milestone work!
TOM on April 13, 2014 @8:00 am PST
I taught myself to play the piano using chords and progressed from there which was obviously completely the opposite way that you approached music.
How would you approach music from a "Lead Sheet"? IE producing your own rhythm and style
Robert - host, on April 14, 2014 @10:14 am PST
You bring up an excellent point. There are some styles of music that are played primarily by ear. A lead sheet can help you figure out the melody and chords, and you can come up with your own arrangement. I will be covering how to read a lead sheet in a future video.
Adams on April 11, 2014 @6:56 pm PST
Hi Robert,I am learning classical piano.My friends are saying that classical music is no more relevant in the world.So i am planning to shift to Rock keyboard(like ELP,Dream theater).But piano teachers are always asking us to learn classical piano.Will it become a problem for me if i shift my way to Rock keyboard?
kendah on April 11, 2014 @3:51 pm PST
hi mr.robert,how are you? how i can make my fingers harder to play easly on piano? thanks alot.
Robert Estrin on April 12, 2014 @2:28 pm PST
If you are talking about developing strength, working on and simply playing a great deal of repertoire, scales, arpeggios and exercises will make your muscles firm. As for developing callouses, be sure to be gentle in how you clip your nails. Over time you should have nice pads on your finger tips for protection.
Jose on April 11, 2014 @11:13 am PST
Good Morning ,I saw your Hanon technique video.It was very helpful.You told to practice one exercise in one week.Now i completed the 1st exercise in the first week.Now i am going to start the second exercise tommorow.Should i need to practice the first exercise also along with it?I found a vid on youtube named 'Better than hanon'( Is this single exercise useful than 60 hanon ex?
Robert - host, on April 11, 2014 @1:43 pm PST
The purpose of the first Hanon exercises is simply to build strength so that you can move on to more substantial technical work. The exercises progress methodically so by the time you have solidified 10 exercises, you should have enough strength to begin working on scales and arpeggios.

As far as what other exercises may be beneficial, there is a great range of exercises and repertoire that can help you develop technique once you have sufficient strength and facility. But Hanon can be an indispensable tool in the initial stages of building your technique. The video you references is much more advanced for this purpose.
Tom on April 10, 2014 @7:47 am PST
I found your video on voice leading very interesting.Could you do a video with examples.I understood the movement you are talking about but in what context?.Is the voice leading from one chord to the next for a smoother change or used like passing tones fro m one to another.You didn't mention movement from the 1,3 or 5 (the chord tones themselves)
Robert - host, on April 10, 2014 @11:08 am PST
Voice leadings can be thought of both horizontally and vertically. So while each chord resolves smoothly to the next, each voice within each chord create smooth lines.

You may want to check out Bach Chorales. These provide classic examples of excellent 4-part vocal writing which typifies excellent use of voice leadings and resolution. There are many examples on Virtual Sheet Music.

1 - 3 - 5 are restive tones and don't demand resolution. Look for a future video here discussing active tones and restive tones.
TOM on April 10, 2014 @12:24 pm PST
Many thanks for your reply. I look forward to the future videos
clobbered on April 2, 2014 @1:36 pm PST
I am an adult taking the piano up again after a long hiatus and I'm having great fun! My back is killing me though. Can you address posture at the piano? I must be doing something wrong. And thank you for the videos, they are great.
Robert - host, on April 2, 2014 @5:44 pm PST
Hopefully this video will help you with how to sit at the piano:
David Staddon on March 27, 2014 @4:07 pm PST
Hi Robert,
Thank you so much for these piano videos!
I looked though the video archive and couldn't find one on playing trills or tremolos. Could you help me learn to play these?
The video on how to play repeated notes is very helpful.
Thanks again.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on March 27, 2014 @4:19 pm PST
David, you can checkout Robert's video below about music ornaments:
Robert - host, on March 27, 2014 @6:57 pm PST
Here's another video I made on trills for you:
Karl on March 12, 2014 @6:02 pm PST
Do you do Solfeggio?
Robert - host, on March 13, 2014 @12:06 pm PST
Funny you should ask - I am a Solfeggio fiend! In fact, it's how I hear music. Once I have a starting note I can match people with perfect pitch in identifying notes all by utilizing my engrained Solfeggio training I started as a young child with my father, Morton Estrin.
James on February 14, 2014 @4:41 pm PST
Hi Robert,
I have a question about learning to play piano. I look at my hands and the keys while I try to play a song. My piano teacher gave me a suggestion. She said while playing on the piano Try to never look at the keys or hands after you figure out fingering, She said playing the piano is like learning how to type on a typewriter. Keep your eyes on the Sheet music and let your hands and fingers learn the keys on the keyboard. Why is it so hard to remember key positions when learning. Well, I tried as she said. I figured out the fingering and practice that for a hour and then I looked up at the ceiling and practiced that way for a bit, and before I knew it I could play one line of music and not having to look at my fingers. Why do you play better when you don't have your eyes on your fingers? Is it because you can concentrate on the tones more? Just seems a little backwards logic wise to not look at something and be better. Any help of suggestion are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Robert - host, on February 14, 2014 @7:44 pm PST
It's a remarkable thing that there are some phenomenally great blind pianists including the jazz great Art Tatum and Nobuyuki Tsujii, winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano competition.

There are two distinctly different types of piano playing - reading and playing from memory. When reading a score, as in accompanying or playing chamber music, it is essential to keep your eyes on the music. You learn to play by feel. Looking away from the score isn't an option since you can easily get lost.

However, when playing from memory, there is no harm in looking at your hands. In fact, when negotiating leaps, it is incredibly helpful to see what you are doing. If practicing memorized music without looking at your hands solidifies musical performance for you, then you certainly can work out your music that way, but looking at your hands can be beneficial and should have no deleterious effect when playing memorized music.
kendah on February 13, 2014 @3:04 pm PST
thanks alot mr.robert for these informations.
kendah on February 12, 2014 @2:56 pm PST
hi mr. robert, how are you? please i need your advice about yamaha p155 what's your opinion about it? thanks alot.
Robert - host, on February 13, 2014 @11:38 am PST
P series Yamaha digital pianos offer a decent action and sound in an inexpensive keyboard. However, the onboard speakers are barely adequate for a satisfying sound. You also will need to invest in a heavy duty stand if you plan on doing any serious playing.
wayne russell * VSM MEMBER * on February 12, 2014 @4:06 am PST
I second the comments of the retiree below! I am 67 and started taking lessons again just since I retired a few years ago and am passionate about learning new music as well as perfecting some pieces I worked on years ago! I am fortunate to have a dedicated and patient teacher to work with also! I have really enjoyed your videos, which are a wonderful supplement to my personal lessons.
kendah on February 10, 2014 @2:45 pm PST
hi mr. robert, how are you? please i need your davice about yamaha p155 what's your opinion about it? thanks alot.
Adam on February 9, 2014 @6:55 am PST
Chopin prelude no.20 is it a polyphony piece, it's just chords???????
Muhammad on February 6, 2014 @11:01 pm PST
H Robert,
Richard Strauss Klavierstucke opus 3 ''Andante'' Is it a polyphonic piece?? and how to know if a certain piece is a polyphonic one, thank you.
Robert - host, on February 7, 2014 @12:24 pm PST
Polyphony is simply having more than one note at a time - so Richard Strauss Klavierstucke opus 3 ''Andante'' is certainly polyphonic. Some pieces which have intricate interweaving lines make use of something called "counterpoint". Richard Strauss employed great complexity in his compositions with rich harmonies and masterful counterpoint.
Kelsey * VSM MEMBER * on February 5, 2014 @6:34 am PST
Dear Robert, My heartfelt thanks for your invaluable advice. I so look forward to your weekly videos! I am 66, and retired back to my native France. I had always wanted to study music, and never had a chance to do so – as a (so-called underprivileged) child or (much overworked) adult. I started taking private lessons 6 years ago. My first teacher kept telling me teaching adults was such a chore... In spite of my expressed eagerness to learn, the second one wouldn't bother to teach me basics (surely, at the ripe age of 60 +, I couldn’t envision a career as a musician!). I finally found a gifted and dedicated teacher, and after two false starts, at last, I’ve been progressing in leaps and bounds. I don’t have unattainable expectations, but I do work hard and am enjoying music, life, myself, tremendously. Thank you again for your talent and generosity!
PS. And yes, I do have a question: any Android tablet(s) you'd recommend for downloading sheet music?
Robert - host, on February 7, 2014 @12:26 pm PST
There are many Android Tablets that will work fine. I would look for one with a larger screen. Samsung in particular has some great technology.
kendah on February 1, 2014 @3:18 pm PST
thank you so much mr.robert i understand the meaning of that now. thanks alot.
kendah on January 27, 2014 @3:05 pm PST
hi mr.robert,how are you?i want to ask you what's the meaning of that roland stage piano is sampled on a Steinway concert grand? thanks alot.
Robert Estrin - host, on January 29, 2014 @7:10 pm PST
Roland, like other digital piano manufacturers record the sound of real acoustic pianos. So, when you depress a key on the Roland, it triggers a recording of a key played on a Steinway grand piano.
Esther on January 20, 2014 @3:39 am PST
I cnt even change mi finger fast, and even i feel difficult to recognise da notes fast,,,, plz sir, how do i overcome this problm....
Robert Estrin * VSM MEMBER * on January 20, 2014 @2:01 pm PST
Just like when you first learned to read English, things were slow. Spending time every day you will grow more comfortable and fluent with your reading and your playing.
Esther on January 20, 2014 @3:35 am PST
Iv been learning paino 4 the last 5 years, i kno da scales, arpiggious, n all, iv completed 5th grade also... I can play by lukng 8 the staf notes.. Bt i wan to b a professional expert in playng, Bt i find it difficult to play, witot looking.. Wen i see people playng piano fast n smoothly, i admire it and want to b like them. Bt i cnt.. Y sir can u plz help me,. I cnt even play paino by hearing da sounds... I wan to improve miself,,... Plz help me sir...
Robert Estrin * VSM MEMBER * on January 20, 2014 @2:02 pm PST
The secret is memorizing your music. Here is a video on how to memorize music:

Best of luck!
kendah on January 15, 2014 @2:51 pm PST
thank you so much mr.robert for helping me.
James on January 13, 2014 @5:23 pm PST
Hi Robert,
I asked my piano teacher about Circle of Fifths In learning Chords and scales exercises. She told me that The Circle of Fifth was only important when composing music. Is she right or must I find a better informed teacher. The last thing I want to do is learn bad habits with bad teachings. Learning is easy, Unlearning and relearning is hard.
Robert - host, on January 17, 2014 @12:34 pm PST
Understanding the circle of 5ths is important information for any classical musician. However, if you are playing mostly by ear in a limited range of styles, it may not be essential for you.
James on January 17, 2014 @7:15 pm PST
Thank you !! You have a gift of making things easy to understand.
kendah on January 13, 2014 @3:14 pm PST
thank you so much but if i have a piece without expression can i make it by my sense?
Robert - host, on January 13, 2014 @9:11 pm PST
Good question - you absolutely must play expressively regardless of what markings are in the score Remember - the score is only the skeleton. You must flesh out the music!
kendah on January 12, 2014 @3:35 pm PST
hi mr.robert how are you? what's the meaning of ( lento a capriccio),and if i have a piece without expression can i make it by my sense? thanks alot.
Robert - host, on January 13, 2014 @11:14 am PST
This is an interesting combination of terms! Lento means slow. Capriccio is a playful, free form. However, Capriccio is usually a faster tempo. In this case I would say the composer is after a slow, yet free, improvised sounding style.
James on January 10, 2014 @10:59 am PST
Hi Robert,
I'm having a problem controlling fingers #4 on both hands when I use either #3 or #5. The #4 finger wants to go with them. Is there an exercise to overcome this problem?
Robert - host, on January 10, 2014 @1:28 pm PST
The 4th finger is the weakest finger. When choosing fingering it can be tempting to avoid the weak 4th finger. Make sure you rely upon it in your playing so you develop strength over time.

There are stories about Robert Schumann being frustrated with the weakness of his 4th finger. He devised some sort of technology with weights or pulleys that ended his performing career. So be patient and rely upon your 4th finger and strength will come!
kendah on January 9, 2014 @2:48 am PST
thank you so much i understand now what is the aux pedal.thanks alot mr.robert for helping me.
kendah on January 7, 2014 @2:49 am PST
hi are you? i want to aske you what is the aux pedal ?! thanks alot.
Robert Estrin - host, on January 7, 2014 @11:36 am PST
By the aux pedal, I assume you mean the sustenuto pedal which is in the middle which can selectively hold only notes held down before depressing the pedal. Here is a video explaining all 3 pedals:
kendah on January 3, 2014 @3:36 pm PST
thank you mr.robert for every moment you spending to teach us .
Muhammad on January 2, 2014 @1:52 am PST
Hello Mr Robert Estrin, i have a problem in playing piano that i could not undestand why, which is my hand start getting tired when i play a fast piece, For example when i Play the Revolutionary Etude of chopin My left Hand start getting tired and aching and i start doing wrong notes, same thing in fantasy impromptu ,my right hand start aching me, SO I hope that i get an answer from you sir,, or a video about it if it's that important, My english is bad i know :p, i hope you've understood me, and Thnx a lot for all those vidéos that really helped me :)
Robert Estrin - host, on January 2, 2014 @12:46 pm PST
There are several explanations for your fatigue. I will cover this in a future video for you.
Muhammad on January 3, 2014 @7:06 am PST
Thank you so much!
James on January 1, 2014 @3:53 pm PST
Hi Robert,
After watching your Youtube videos over 1 period month I finally got up a lifetime of strength at the age of 42 to finally learn to play the piano ( A life long dream of mine ). I went straight out and bought a Yamaha P-35 Digital Piano. After 4 weeks of learning proper positions, reading/learning notations, and daily lessons/practicing. I finally went to a Very good Piano teacher and was surprise to hear the teacher say I have a natural gift to be playing as well as I am in only a month. I'm so proud and happier than I have ever been. For all of this, I want to Thank you for being a true inspiration to me and all those who watch you.
kendah on January 1, 2014 @2:16 am PST
hi mr.robert, how are you? i want to ask you when can i add the expression to the piece ? thanks alot.
Robert Estrin - host, on January 1, 2014 @5:35 pm PST
You must never wait to add expression to your music! It's like asking, when should you start enjoying life - every moment like every note of music is to be enjoyed as fully as possible!
kendah on December 10, 2013 @2:50 pm PST
hi mr.robert, how are you?actually I need your advice,what's the better yamaha p 155 or cp33 and how many Dynamic levels in both of them?
second question: are cp33 & p 155 fully weighted?
and thanks alot
Robert Estrin - host, on December 11, 2013 @1:42 pm PST
I would suggest going to They have an excellent website that has tons of information about almost anything to do with music technology. Their sales staff is also very knowledgeable.
Martin on December 8, 2013 @3:39 pm PST
Can you make any suggestion relating to back pain when playing the piano. I watched your previous posture video, and although my stool isn't height adjustable, I think it's height gives me straight arms.
Robert Estrin - host, on December 9, 2013 @12:58 pm PST
This video may provide some help for you:
kendah on November 29, 2013 @3:17 pm PST
hi mr.robert. if i want to buy a portable piano what's the best yamah, kawaii or roland .thank you so much.
Robert Estrin - host, on December 2, 2013 @3:54 pm PST
There are good digital pianos from Yamaha, Kawai, Roland, Kurzweil and others. It comes down to personal preference and features desired which make and model is appropriate.
sirroman * VSM MEMBER * on November 10, 2013 @4:20 am PST
Hi Robert,
Would you please do a lesson on trills and grace notes?
I find these most difficult.
Robert Estrin - host, on November 10, 2013 @10:39 am PST
Here is a video I made on how to play trills on the piano:
LT * VSM MEMBER * on November 6, 2013 @1:11 am PST
Hi Robert,
What does colour mean in music? How do I play in a different colour?
Robert Estrin - host, on November 6, 2013 @3:41 pm PST
It is very difficult describing music with words. However, when speaking about colors of sound, this is referring to the varying shades of tone you can accomplish with different playing techniques. For example, striking the keys with great force may produce a bright tone. Combinations of different articulations of the fingers along with the use of different pedals can also change the character or color of the sound. So, it's not a direct relationship to specific colors but just the range of tones you can achieve. You may want to listen to Impressionistic music of Debussy and Ravel to get an idea of the concept of different colors in music.
Tom on November 1, 2013 @1:36 pm PST
Love your videos Robert. Is there anyway to make practicing scales and arpeggios more fun and interesting? I have been following your advice by learning a new scale each week but its got to the point where it is such a chore to do every day. Also, are there any piano exercises apart from scales that develop strength, speed and co-ordination? Thanks :)
Robert Estrin - host, on November 1, 2013 @6:35 pm PST
The secret to practicing scales and arpeggios is to do just a small amount of practicing every day so it is manageable. You can keep things interesting playing with different dynamics and phrasing, like playing a gradual crescendo all the way up the keyboard and a decrescendo descending. Or you could play one hand staccato and the other hand legato, or play 2 or 4 note slurs.

Incidentally, any playing on the piano you do will strengthen your hands. So, if you learn a couple of blockbuster pieces, simply playing through them will keep your hands in shape (remembering to warm up well first!)
John Grosbeck on October 31, 2013 @5:08 am PST
Hi, Robert. Love your videos! I always look forward to them. I'm a beginner student (age 48) and I'm confused about when to use the sustain pedal? I'm learning from Piano Adventures for Adults Book 1 and am about 3/4 of the way thru it. Granted, it shows when to pedal in the score, but other easy sheet music doesn't.
Robert Estrin - host, on October 31, 2013 @3:36 pm PST
The pedal must change whenever there is a change in harmonies so you don't get clashing tones. You must perfect your music with no pedal first in order to learn how to connect with your hands as much as possible. Then add the pedal a phrase at a time as you learn each section.
Anna Marie on October 30, 2013 @9:23 pm PST
Hi, Robert. I thoroughly enjoy your videos, which have been very helpful to me as a piano teacher. I do have one problem I hope you can help me with. One of my students LOVES the piano and is a very wonderful musician (sings, plays violin, and piano). He is in the 6th grade in school. His problem is that he is double-jointed and collapses his knuckles where the fingers meet the palm (think claw instead of nice rounded hand). I gave him some slow exercises to try and build up his fingers in the proper position, but when he plays pieces that are up to his level and speed, the knuckles collapse again. He even has tried to play supporting the knuckles of each hand with the fingers of the other hand pushing up from below. His right hand is not too bad, but the left is more pronounced. He works hard and tries to improve, but I am worried this problem will keep him back from a music career of some sort down the line.
Robert Estrin - host, on October 31, 2013 @3:39 pm PST
Sometimes it can take years for fingers to develop enough strength to avoid collapsing. If he continues spending a good deal of time at the piano each day, he should develop enough strength to overcome this tendency. You are right to remind him to reach with the fingers to avoid collapsing joints.
Michael on October 27, 2013 @4:26 am PST
Should you put pedal into jazz music - if so, where/how often.

Thank you
Robert Estrin - host, on October 31, 2013 @4:13 pm PST
Naturally jazz can be enhanced with the pedal. Style and context determines proper pedaling. Generally you change the pedal whenever harmonies change to avoid clashing tones.
Michael on November 1, 2013 @10:43 am PST
Thank you - this is very helpful
Robert Elliott on October 25, 2013 @6:09 am PST
In a lot of your videos you place emphasis on the metronome. I studied with a concert pianist and teacher from Germany who toured Europe and taught at a Paris conservatory. Being Jewish, she and her husband escaped during Hitler's control. During my 12 years with her (winning every competition I entered including first in the state for high school students) she would say "play with feeling" not "play with metronome". Please perform Beethoven Sonata Pathetique with a metronome. I can't comprehend playing any classical piece without feeling meaning breaking tempo.
Robert Estrin * VSM MEMBER * on October 25, 2013 @12:12 pm PST
It seems like a contradiction, but practicing with the metronome helps develop a strong rhythmic foundation which offers you freedom in your playing. The idea isn't to play metronomically all the time, it's to know where you are in the beat at all times. Then you are in control of your expression without ever losing the pulse of the music.
kendah on October 17, 2013 @2:50 am PST
Mr.robert How can I fix the mistakes if it is discovered After I finished the piece?
Robert Estrin * VSM MEMBER * on October 17, 2013 @11:17 am PST
Here is a video on how to correct mistakes in piano playing:
kendah on October 15, 2013 @3:43 pm PST
that's what I need thank you very very much.
Aven on October 15, 2013 @12:46 am PST
Hey Robert, can you make a video about whether diet and exercise contribute to how you play?
Robert Estrin - host, on October 15, 2013 @11:31 am PST
That's an interesting subject. I will consider it for a future video.
kendah on October 9, 2013 @3:42 am PST
Mr.robert how I can divide the irregular rhythm on the regular rhythm?
Robert Estrin - host, on October 15, 2013 @11:33 am PST
Perhaps this video will help you:
kendah on October 9, 2013 @3:42 am PST
thank you so much Mr.robert and I hope that we have a video for Liszt Rhapsodie very soon.
kendah on October 8, 2013 @2:19 pm PST
thank you so much mr.robert for helping me.
kendah on October 8, 2013 @2:14 pm PST
Is there a certain technique for Hungarian_Rhapsody_No2 especially friska?
Robert Estrin - host, on October 8, 2013 @3:55 pm PST
The Liszt 2nd Hungarian Rhapsodie has so many different techniques that it's impossible to offer help in this brief response. There will be in depth tutorials of certain selected works coming. Perhaps this Liszt Rhapsodie could be a possible selection at some point in the future!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on October 8, 2013 @8:23 pm PST
Yes, would be great to have a video on that wonderful piece. Robert, let's try to make it in the coming weeks!
kendah on October 7, 2013 @2:52 am PST
When I can be able to increase the speed of performance ?
Robert Estrin - host, on October 7, 2013 @5:24 pm PST
You can attempt to play faster at any time. Sometimes simply playing lighter with fingers closer to the keys enables you to play considerably faster immediately. Other times you must practice diligently with the metronome increasing the speed one notch at a time to get the tempo moving. Often you may use both techniques at different points of the piece since not all music is equally challenging. Sometimes there are specific techniques that are useful for increasing the speed such as practicing in chords where applicable. In a nutshell, try to be creative in utilizing various practice techniques that help you to increase the speed of your performance. Sometimes it takes days, weeks or even months to get a piece up to tempo.
LT * VSM MEMBER * on October 2, 2013 @3:39 pm PST
Hi Robert,
I am an adult beginner going for the preliminary piano exam next month. I can't sing! Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.
Robert Estrin * VSM MEMBER * on October 3, 2013 @1:00 pm PST
Everyone can sing. You may not like what you hear, but stay with it and you will improve. You can sing when no one is around, like in the shower!
Tom on September 25, 2013 @11:06 am PST
Hi Robert, I have a quick question. Is it Okay to take a day or two break from practicing piano? It won't set me back if I miss a day of piano practice? Thanks Robert.
Robert - host, on September 25, 2013 @4:03 pm PST
Unlike wind instruments where even one missed day effects tone production, on the piano it is possible to get back into shape much more quickly with a measured, progressive approach. So by all means take breaks when you want. Just make sure to ease back into playing so you avoid injury.
Stefania on September 7, 2013 @11:51 am PST
Hi Robert, I admire you for your teaching and you performance. I'd like to h ave your opinion about the idea of practising Hanon, Scales and difficult segments using different rhythms. The question is which rhythms should be used. Some pianists recommend to avoid dotted rhythms because these csn lead to uneveness
Robert - host, on September 25, 2013 @4:05 pm PST
Practicing with various rhythms and accents can be valuable in practicing scales and arpeggios. So long as you don't avoid practicing them straight playing evenly, alternative practice techniques are sometimes quite helpful.
Geri on September 7, 2013 @10:01 am PST
Saw a reference to a 'how to memorize' video, but can't seem to find it. Please help.

Also, great video on being small-handed: I'm 5'1" and figured out how to play Rachmaninoff in my teens just as you have ;-).

How about a general video on how to add color to piano music (and figuring out when it is called for)?
Robert - host, on September 8, 2013 @1:51 pm PST
Here is the memorization video:

How to add color to your music is a great topic I may use in a future video!
Tom Joiner on August 24, 2013 @1:45 pm PST
How do I pick a shop to rebuild my 1925 Knabe?
Robert - host, on August 26, 2013 @11:29 am PST
Please tell me where you are located. Also, what is the condition of the piano and what are you planning to have restored?

You must get an opportunity to see examples of the work of any technician entrusted to restore your piano. Try to get an opportunity to speak with others who have had their pianos restored. If they are reputable and have been around a while, this should be no problem.
Tom Joiner on August 27, 2013 @1:10 am PST
I'm in Atlanta. The piano is playable but in terrible condition and sounds awful. I don't believe any work has ever been done on it. It would probably be a total rebuld. It's hard to separate the reputable from the not so reputable. They all sound good and will sometimes snipe at each other.
Robert - host, on August 27, 2013 @11:06 am PST
If you provide specific information about the piano you are interested in restoring (brand, style, size, year, history), I may have resources for you.
Tom Joiner on August 29, 2013 @12:32 pm PST
It's a baby grand Knabe about 5'2''. My parents are too old to remember when they bought it, but we lived in Maryland and it's been around a long time. I'm 57 years old so its been in our family for decades. The number 102391 is stamped on the gold frame. Baltimore is also engraved in the frame. Thank you for your assistance.
Robert - host, on August 29, 2013 @3:59 pm PST
The piano was built in 1927. If it requires complete rebuilding, the average cost is around $15,000. (Some rebuilders get twice that much!) I have a Knabe baby grand in great condition for sale right now for only $7395. So you will have to weigh the sentimental value carefully since the rebuilding costs may exceed the value of the piano after the work is performed. (Incidentally, my prices include delivery and set up.)
Tom Joiner on August 30, 2013 @10:15 am PST
Thank you for the info Robert. Any hints on selecting a shop for the rebuild.
Robert - host, on August 30, 2013 @12:11 pm PST
There is no substitute for speaking with people who have had their pianos restored and getting their stories.
Garry * VSM MEMBER * on August 9, 2013 @8:45 pm PST
Always nice to see your enthusiasm, details and trivia.
Thanks so much,
joyce on July 4, 2013 @9:54 am PST
I am studying Chopin's Prelude No.4 Opus 28. The left hand chords are difficult to play softly without losing sound from some of the notes. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.
Robert - host, on July 5, 2013 @7:04 pm PST
First, you must practice without the pedal to achieve smooth legato of the chords and the melody. Keep the left hand right on the keys at all times. Use a constant weight of the arm on the right hand melody notes so they project and you get a smooth line. This should help you achieve the right balance between the hands.
Bev * VSM MEMBER * on June 28, 2013 @5:38 pm PST
What does it mean when no numbers indicate the number of beats or the kind of note getting a beat?
Robert - host, on June 29, 2013 @11:14 am PST
It is possible the piece is in "common time" which is denoted with the letter "C". This refers to 4/4 time.

A letter "C" with a vertical line through it indicates "cut time" or "alla breve" which is 2/2 time.

Any standard notation will have a time signature at the beginning of the piece or movement and possibly changes of times signature within the composition. However, it is not posted on each new line of the staff as the key signature is.
Lois55 * VSM MEMBER * on June 26, 2013 @9:23 pm PST
I am a "mature" pianist who did not learn appropriate technique when I learned to play. I now want to focus more on classical music -- I learned to play hymns and gospel songs for church where I used the music as a guide -- and want to relearn fingering, etc. to tackle more challenging classical piano (Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, etc). Any tips, aside from turning back the clock?


Robert - host, on June 27, 2013 @10:38 am PST
The good news is that you can continue learning your entire life! Since you have played the piano before, you are at an advantage since there are pathways developed in the brain from earlier study. My suggestion is to find the best teacher you possibly can and make sure you have a good instrument to practice on a daily basis. Immerse yourself in music - go to concerts, listen to recordings and enjoy playing whenever you have the time! You can also sign up for my piano newsletter by emailing me at
Lindsey Miller * VSM MEMBER * on June 26, 2013 @6:32 am PST
I want to thank you for making these videos and sharing them. At 75 yrs, I am still trying to learn and your tips are very helpful. I have interest in leaning your memorization method. I know that playing music that you have memorized is so much more fun. Please tell me of instructions that you offer
Robert - host, on June 26, 2013 @1:11 pm PST
There are many more tutorial videos coming to Virtual Sheet Music. You can see archived videos on my YouTube channel:
Michael on June 14, 2013 @3:04 pm PST
How do you/what is technique for playing a cord in the right-hand and a cord with an arpeggio-ornament in the left-hand?
Robert - host, on June 24, 2013 @12:16 pm PST
If you could reference the score with measure number, I am happy to provide suggestions for you. It may be on Virtual Sheet Music!
Michael on June 25, 2013 @10:59 am PST
The piece is called:
Waltz in A flat. No. 15 from Waltzes, Op. 39
Johanneses Brahms

Thank you for your help
Robert - host, on June 25, 2013 @2:56 pm PST
If you are talking about measure 3, the small notes come before the beat. You can play them as 32nd notes. So, the broken chord in the left hand comes in after the ornamental notes.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 25, 2013 @3:49 pm PST
Thank you Michael for your reply. For everyone interested, the Brahms' Waltzes Op. 39 can be downloaded from the link below:
Michael on June 25, 2013 @11:40 pm PST
Thank you both for your comments
Michael on June 14, 2013 @3:02 pm PST
How to bring alive/add emotion to music by Bach
Robert - host, on June 14, 2013 @4:52 pm PST
Each composer requires unique aesthetics of expression. While Romantic music has obvious emotions with rubato (give and take in the timing) and other expressive elements, when you have mastered a piece of music, whether it is Romantic, Classical, Baroque or other period style, the emotion of the music and your personal connection is bound to come through.
Michael on June 14, 2013 @11:48 pm PST
Thank you for your advice
Lyse on June 9, 2013 @8:58 am PST
I want to learn Nocturne of Chopin in E minor, but the 2 against 3 and 3 against give me so much trouble....Do you have in mind some excices to help this polyrhythym pleas?..
Roque E. Avila * VSM MEMBER * on June 8, 2013 @4:00 pm PST
Hi Robert,

I'm a piano enthusiast but I don't have enough experience in playing piano. I read notes because I was a member of a college marching band where I played the slide trombone, but that was many decades ago. As a musician, I have read and heard lectures about irregular time signatures, but believe me, I have never heard anyone put it into practice. I need to hear how irregular time signatures are played on the piano. Thank you so much and I appreciate sharing with us your expertise..
HiremBig * VSM MEMBER * on June 8, 2013 @10:28 am PST
I love your tips, although I play a flute everything for the most part is helpful, Thankyou I have a question that is probably stupid. What in the world is a Fake Book, I can not seem to get a answer that I can understand. Would it help me any as I play mostly gospel hymns? Thank you.
Robert - host, on June 9, 2013 @10:42 am PST
This is an excellent topic. You can expect a video soon explaining exactly what a fake book is!
HiremBig * VSM MEMBER * on June 10, 2013 @11:30 am PST
Thankyou, very much.
Zuhair Bakdoud, M.D. on May 22, 2013 @8:55 am PST
I think your reducing piano technique to hand position and finger pattern is INGENIOUS. However, when I listen to your videos, I find it hard to follow because of very fast speech. I apologize for saying this, but what you have to say is so FANTASTICALLY true and scientific that I want to hear everything you say. Thank you, sir.
Robert - host, on May 22, 2013 @1:02 pm PST
I will keep this in mind in future video shoots. However, there are some that have already been produced ready for release which may have the animated speech you spoke of. Thanks for the feedback!
Zuhair Bakdoud, M.D. on May 22, 2013 @4:14 pm PST
I wonder if you could let me know when these (videos?) will be released, and how I can access them. Thank you.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on May 22, 2013 @5:33 pm PST
Zuhair, just be sure to subscribe to our Newsletter to get weekly video music tips from Robert Estrin and other music experts:

Thank you for your interest!
David * VSM MEMBER * on May 7, 2013 @12:29 am PST

I just finished watching your interview with Fabrizio Ferrari and I was fascinated by your experience with the piano and its physical "structural" and tonal nature. I am a craftsman and I enjoy building and repairing musical instruments. I have not done much with the piano, simply because of its size and expense. I wish to know more about the construction and repair of the piano. Where does a person start and how can a person obtain training in piano repair and maintenance? Are there any good kits where a person could build a piano; or, is it advisable for a person to attempt to build a piano? Musically, I grew up playing the trumpet and my mother is a self-taught violinist. I am now 57 years old and am a self-taught accordion player. I currently play early-intermediate level music (mostly single note and some double note) and a lot of lead sheet music for my churche's praise team. I play a Roland Lucina synthesizer midi keyboard with our church praise team. I eventually hope to extend my keyboard abilities to the piano. I have developed right hand skills (that still need improving). What should I do to start developing left hand technique on the piano? I want to see how far I can go on the accordion and piano as an older person. Hopefully, I will be able to play well enough, in the near future, that people will want to come and hear me play.

David E. Morrison

PS. I would love to have you come out to rural Nevada and do one of your presentations at our restored, historic, Oprah House in Eureka, Nevada. We have government funding that helps us have special guests perform at the Oprah House on a monthly basis. Here is a link to the Oprah House if you are interested:
Robert - host, on May 9, 2013 @10:59 am PST
Building a piano is an incredibly ambitious project. While I don't know of any kits, there are harpsichord kits available. Zuckermann and Hubbard both make them. This is much a more practical first step for you.

Learning the craft of piano repair and restoration is best learned as an apprentice to a fine piano technician. It is a challenge finding such a relationship because even if you work for free, you will take more time from the technician training you than the value he or she will get from your work.

It is natural for your left hand to be weaker than your right (if you are right handed). However, the strength of both hands will continue growing as you develop your playing. You can choose music that has challenging left hand parts in order to foster growth. You can continue growing musically your whole life!

The historic Oprah House in Eureka looks fascinating - I would be very interested in exploring possible performing there. Please contact me and maybe we will get a chance to meet!

Robert Estrin
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