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:

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?
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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
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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
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
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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?
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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
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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?
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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?
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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 !
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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.
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