Robert Estrin - piano expert
Music Theory and Piano
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Robert Estrin's latest Music Theory videos
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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:

Mary * VSM MEMBER * on September 2, 2019 @10:19 pm PST
what do you suggest I do to improve my piano. I think I play it as if it was an organ. I tend to hold my notes down
reply
Robert - host, on September 3, 2019 @12:24 pm PST
Franc Uberti * VSM MEMBER * on July 24, 2019 @5:34 pm PST
How do you teach a student to count 32nd notes?
(8ths = 1&2&..., 16ths=1e&a, 2e&a... then what?)
reply
Robert - host, on July 27, 2019 @12:35 pm PST
Rather than counting each individual 32nd note, knowing where the beats (as well as half beats and quarter beats) fall by drawing lines in the score, can be very helpful in deciphering rhythms with very fast notes.
Kay MacDermot on July 24, 2019 @5:20 am PST
Question/comment. Robert yes our mood affects our playing in terms of expression and or choice of music.
However, mood has to do also with the ease of playing, when some days the fingers run along happily and some days struggle with the same piece. What are your thoughts on this? Many thanks Kay
Peter on May 28, 2019 @8:22 am PST
Hi Robert, I'm looking for a simple way of transposing chords, if there is one. So, if you have C chord in a song and then the C chord becomes Cmi in that song and the next chord is an F7 and the last chord is Bb. You're obviously going to the key of Bb. Then the Bb becomes Bbmi and the next chord is an Eb7, and the last chord is an Ab, going in the key of Ab. How would you notate that using the number system if that's possible? The song I'm referring to is Begin The Beguin. You can go as deep as you want, I'm pretty knowledgeable in music. Thanks, Peter
reply
Robert Estrin on May 28, 2019 @2:19 pm PST
A standard way of notating chords which makes it possible to easily transpose into any key is by using numbers which represent scale degrees. So, in C major:
I = C
II = D
III = E
etc.
These chords can also add "7" for 7th chords, or "min" for minor and "dim" for diminished as well as "sus4" or any other suspended chord Otherwise, the chords are the notes of that scale. This is a great way to be able to transpose into any key as long as you are familiar with your key signatures.
chris kopack on May 13, 2019 @9:25 pm PST
also, Robert, do you have to be a good sight reader to be a good concert performer? or can memorization sufice? thanx
reply
Robert - host, on May 18, 2019 @6:16 pm PST
Memorization and sight-reading are independent skills. So, it's possible to become highly skilled in one and not the other. Depending upon the nature of the performances called upon, a player who is good at one skill or the other may find a niche in performing. Here are videos and articles which you may enjoy: https://livingpianos.com/how-to-play-piano/how-to-practice-the-piano-part-1-memorizing-music/ and https://livingpianos.com/how-to-play-piano/how-to-practice-the-piano-part-2-sight-read-almost-anything/
chrsi kopack on May 13, 2019 @9:17 pm PST
yes, great passion Robert. Love what you are doing for us. Q?
in your Mozart/Beethoven yout video, pls tell us what make piano that is. IT suits my tastes perfectly. thank you so much, Chris
James Potter on February 15, 2019 @6:39 pm PST
Hello Robert, my question is: what is the theory behind relative minor and major key signatures?
reply
Robert - host, on February 16, 2019 @2:44 pm PST
That's a very good question. Here is a video and article which delves into this a bit: https://livingpianos.com/general/what-is-a-relative-minor-scale-music-theory-lessons/
Norman Kaye * VSM MEMBER * on February 13, 2019 @10:54 am PST
Hello Robert,
What is the best way to get up to speed with a long piece like part 3 of the "Moonlight" sonata. I have learned the first 14 bars to my satisfaction. Should I therefore get that up to speed before moving on or is that not the way to do it?
reply
Robert - host, on February 14, 2019 @3:02 pm PST
You are best off working on several fronts. Once you get to a point of diminishing returns in speeding up each section, go on to the next section and repeat the process. Each day, like an assembly line, you can increase the tempo of each section. Eventually you will get large chunks of music to work on and finally you will put the entire piece together.
Sharon Romm on January 6, 2019 @11:55 am PST
Please help with a suggestion! I'm an adult returning to piano. Finding your Hanon videos worth their weight in gold! Am now playing Clementi's Op. 36 no 1. Please could you suggest the next piece I should work on?

Thanks, in advance.

Sharon
reply
Robert - host, on January 7, 2019 @12:09 pm PST
The 6 Clementi Sonatinas (all movements) as well as the Kulah Sonatina Opus 55 No. 1 are all great formative pieces. A good companion to the Sonatinas are Heller Fifty Selected Studies.
Sharon Romm on January 7, 2019 @12:44 pm PST
Thank you very much!

Is there any chance for Beethoven, Chopin or Lizst? (Probably wishful thinking!)
Ralph Smith * VSM MEMBER * on December 13, 2018 @3:05 pm PST
Hello Robert,
My question concerns climate effect on piano.
Over 10 years ago I purchased a new August Forster grand with which I am very happy. My one concern: I live in Bucks County,PA with great weather variance. I have a house dehumidifier which keeps the humidity at 50 or below. My concern is winter cold when the inside humidity gets down to 30. Do you recommend purchasing something like the "Piano Life Saver" humidifier to ensure that soundboard, etc., get sufficient moisture (although I have had no problems to date)? The extremes of climate change have gotten me a bit concerned.
Thank you and thanks for sharing your expertise in your excellent videos!
Ralph Smith
reply
Robert Estrin - host, on December 14, 2018 @7:55 am PST
People who live in the desert where single digit humidity is normal during parts of the year need to treat the room (or use other technologies) to keep enough moisture in the air for their pianos. You should be in good shape!
Ralph Smith * VSM MEMBER * on December 16, 2018 @10:49 am PST
Thanks, Robert, for helping me decide "No" on "Life Saver"!
Ralph
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