Robert Estrin - piano expert
Music Theory and Piano
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Robert Estrin's latest Music Theory videos
Robert Estrin's latest piano videos
About Robert Estrin
Robert EstrinRobert Estrin is a pianist who truly lives his instrument. Not only does he play and teach with proficiency and passion, but he also knows just about everything there is to know about pianos - from their construction to their history. Music is "all in the family" for Robert, with his father, Morton, a concert pianist; his sister, Coren, a pianist as well; his wife, Florence, an accomplished flutist; and his daughter, Jennifer, a violinist of great acclaim.

Robert studied piano and French horn at New York City's Manhattan School of Music, and he also received a degree in piano performance from Indiana University. He performs with symphony orchestras, at arts festivals, for music teachers' associations, at museums, and on college campuses. His most unique performance experience, however, is his Living Piano: Journey Through Time. In this creative endeavor, Robert dresses in period costumes and plays historic instruments, from his own collection, to tell the story of the piano over time to a wide variety of audiences - not just piano enthusiasts.

Robert maintains a vibrant online presence, with countless videos on YouTube and through Virtual Sheet Music. His videos, which have been viewed by millions, are engaging, entertaining, informative, and sure to enhance the knowledge, skills, and overall playing experience of pianists from beginners to the most advanced.
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Questions, Comments, Requests:

Jeanne Cochran Allie on October 31, 2018 @5:15 am PST
Robert: This combination happens so frequently. What exactly is it? I'll give an example in G major.
G major triad, followed by
F sharp, C,D (G7 chord)
G major triad.

Is there another name for this progression? Jeanne
reply
Robert Estrin - host, on November 2, 2018 @2:21 pm PST
I am not familiar with that chord progression. Perhaps you mean G - F - C - D which is a very common chord progression in popular music. Although I'm not sure what the G7 in parenthesis is about.
Edward Grabczewski call me Eddy on October 15, 2018 @2:49 pm PST
Hello Robert
I've recently discovered your website and I'm finding it great fun watching you videos about such a wide range of topics. I've just reaslised that you are exactly the person I've been looking for to ask my question about piano keyboards.

When I used to own an 1896 Broadwood 8ft straight-strung grand, I learnt a lot about pianos. As you know, the Viennese action in these pianos is as simple as they come. I couldn't help noticing that when you hit a bass string then it required a lot of momentum, whereas when you hit a high note then it was so light. I always assumed that this was a feature of traditional pianos, and so when digital pianos first came out (Clavinova for example) then I was surprised to find that the "weighted" keyboard was equally weighted throughout - from bottom to top. In fact, my girfriend at the time, who played piano, complained that it hurt her right hand, having to apply more pressure than she was used to.

My question is: why do digital piano manufacturers who claim to produce "weighted" keyboards ignore this important aspect of simulating the feel of a traditional piano?
reply
Robert Estrin - host, on October 15, 2018 @4:30 pm PST
You ask an excellent question! Yes, indeed, pianos have longer keys with heavier hammers in the bass section. So, the key weight is heavier the lower you play on an acoustic piano. While any decent digital piano has a weighted action, it is now quite common for digital pianos to have "weighted-graded actions" which account for the difference in weight of the action across the keyboard.
Judith Stijnis * VSM MEMBER * on September 6, 2018 @7:51 am PST
Hello Robert.
Thanks a lot that I can reach you with a question on your website.
My question is: How long must an intro be? Is a short intro also perfect.?
(I play organ for a church choir.)

Many thanks.
Judith Stijnis
judstijns@hotmail.com
reply
Robert Estrin - host, on September 6, 2018 @4:07 pm PST
You are always welcome to contact us at info@LivingPianos.com. The length of an intro is dependent upon the music as well as the situation. For example, an extended work may have a long introduction, like an overture to an opera or musical.

When directing a choir or congregation to sing hymns, a simple 4 bar intro that establishes the key so everyone knows when to start and on what note may be perfectly appropriate.
James Potter on August 17, 2018 @2:11 pm PST
hello Robert, my question today is, what is a good price for giving piano lessons?
reply
Robert Estrin - host, on August 18, 2018 @11:06 am PST
There is a tremendous range for piano instruction based upon the location of the teacher, skill level and marketing abilities. Search online in your area to find out what others are charging to get an idea of your local market. Assess your own skill level and what reach you have to attract students. Then you can set your rates accordingly.
PHILIP * VSM MEMBER * on August 2, 2018 @4:52 pm PST
Is there a way to learn to acquire "muscle memory" when repetition is failing? In other words, is muscle memory a gift to be claimed in childhood but not to be earned later in life in a way similar to the gift of sight early in life?
reply
Robert Estrin - host, on August 3, 2018 @7:02 pm PST
I believe that everyone has muscle memory. The more you perform any action, the more automatic it becomes. While the brain has incredible plasticity in youth, I believe you absolutely can train an old dog new tricks!
Kathie Zakresky * VSM MEMBER * on July 30, 2018 @5:12 am PST
Hello Robert and VSM! Love your sites!
My inquiry...How are keys "weighted" on an electronic keyboard?
Thank you !
reply
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on July 30, 2018 @9:09 am PST
Thank you Kathie, and thank you for your kind comment! I am glad to know you are enjoying these videos and our site

To answer your question, most of "weighted" electronic keyboards have keys with a metal core, hence the "weighted" effect.

I am sure Robert will have more to tell you, but basically that's it.

Thank you again and enjoy your stay!
Robert Estrin - host, on July 30, 2018 @11:56 am PST
There are many techniques employed in mimicking the feel of grand piano actions in digital keyboards. However, grand piano actions are incredibly complex:

https://rennerusa.com/resources/virtual-piano-action/

With the exception of some hybrid digital pianos which are as expensive as acoustic baby grands, no digital pianos have the sophisticated mechanism employed in grand pianos.
Gclef * VSM MEMBER * on July 24, 2018 @2:44 pm PST
Hi Robert,
Have played for about 30 years using top line and chords. I've memorised chords from c major through to D flat. Have been teaching myself to play piano with both hands for over two years now. I have a Yamaha Tyros 4. Can you suggest how I may speed up my left hand reading speed and develop a technique to read in bars or phrases (as it should be).
Many thanks
Pete
reply
Robert Estrin - host, on July 25, 2018 @12:42 pm PST
The best way to develop your sight-reading is to play with other musicians. This forces you to keep going. Here is a video on this subject for you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31ag-P4fBvg
beth miller * VSM MEMBER * on June 13, 2018 @5:53 am PST
Can you produce in three or four parts the Doxology for bells?
reply
Robert A Estrin - host, on June 13, 2018 @11:03 am PST
You might ask Fabrizio if he can produce this for you.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 13, 2018 @7:50 pm PST
I am sorry to have missed this, this question isn't actually related to Robert's videos.

To answer your question Beth, we currently don't have that music for bells on our site. We have it for other instruments:

https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com//se/doxology

But not for bells. Since I guess that version for bells has some kind of copyright restrictions, I'd suggest to find it on the JW Pepper website:

https://www.jwpepper.com/Doxology-for-Bells/10074444.item#myratebox2

I hope that's the music you are looking for.

Thank you.
beth miller * VSM MEMBER * on June 13, 2018 @10:22 pm PST
Thx for your reply...thought you guys could write arrangements for all types of instruments! 🙃
Kathie Zakresky * VSM MEMBER * on June 5, 2018 @8:52 pm PST
Are there electronic keyboards that have actually weighted keys?
reply
Robert A Estrin - host, on June 6, 2018 @11:45 am PST
Yes - weighted action digital pianos are quite common. Many digital pianos have weighted, graded actions meaning that the bass notes are heavier than the treble notes just as on acoustic pianos. However, the mechanism on digital pianos are far simpler than the double escapement system found on grand pianos which have nearly 100 parts for each note.
Kathie Zakresky * VSM MEMBER * on June 6, 2018 @5:33 pm PST
Thank you for the response, Robert. to leave your reply
I understand the how the acoustic piano keys are weighted...
How are the digital piano keys weighted?
Kathie Zakresky * VSM MEMBER * on June 18, 2018 @10:21 am PST
Hello Robert...Please respond to the second part of my inquiry June 6th.
Thank you.....
Meg * VSM MEMBER * on May 17, 2018 @9:59 pm PST
According to my metronome on my iphone, MM 2/2 time minim = 80 is the same tempo as 4/4 time, crotchet equals 80. But some people differ, and say the 2/2 minim = 80 is the same as 4/4 crotchet = 160,i,e, twice as fast.
I am very confused about this, and I know I will get the correct answer from you.
Thank you very much.
Meg from Australia.
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