Robert Estrin - piano expert
Music Theory and Piano
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About Robert Estrin
Robert 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:

Ben on March 13, 2018 @7:17 pm PST
Hello! Any suggestions for how to practice the opening to the third movement of the emperor piano concerto? Beethoven
Robert Estrin - host, on March 14, 2018 @12:10 pm PST
There are many techniques and musical considerations involved in playing the 3rd movement of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto. As with all pieces of music, memorizing the music first is key to being able to build a solid performance. Fingering must be figured out with great care. Slow practice with no pedal, progressive metronome work and other techniques are also useful. Without more information about what issues you have with the music, it's difficult to provide anything beyond this.
Ben on March 15, 2018 @2:30 pm PST
thank you! that is helpful!! Is it mostly wrist? and not arm? in the opening of the third movement?
Also--on the 4th page of the third movement, where there are 2 groups of 16th notes in the left hand in each measure for about 15 measures, is it ok to learn that part in 2 (6/8 in 2), as opposed to counting 1 2 3 4 5 6 like in the opening? Thanks for your help, I appreciate it greatly.
Raul Flores Suarez on February 28, 2018 @7:51 pm PST
there is no doubt you are an exelent teacher, I see your videos very often & congratulations sincerely Raul Flores
David Pippenger * VSM MEMBER * on February 28, 2018 @12:53 pm PST
I just received an email with the video " What are the different sizes of Grand Pianos" included. but when I clicked on the video, all I got was a blank page, no video. Can you send a corrected e-mail?
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on March 1, 2018 @8:23 am PST
I am sorry about that David, I have just checked the email we sent out and it look correct, maybe there was some kind of temporary issue either on our end or between your computer and our server (a temporary connection problem).

Please, try again, here is the link of that video:

Let me know if you have any further questions or need any additional help.

Thank you again.
Bill Fowell on February 21, 2018 @5:10 am PST
I need a beginning piano book for our autistic granddaughter.
Any suggestions?
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on February 21, 2018 @8:17 am PST
Hi Bill and thank you for your question. I am sure Robert will have some suggestions for you, but I love to help as well. Could you please tell me if you granddaughter already knows how to read music? Or she doesn't have any musical knowledge yet?
Robert Estrin - host, on February 21, 2018 @11:05 am PST
Repertoire for students varies depending upon many factors. After telling Fabrizio more about your granddaughter, he will probably have good suggestions for you.
Bill Fowell on February 21, 2018 @11:52 am PST
She is a product of the court system. The last foster parent didn't want her back and she was visiting with us over the holidays We are now the foster parents. As far as I know, she hasn't had any musical experience.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on February 21, 2018 @2:41 pm PST
Thank you Bill for your provided information.

I couldn't find any specific basic music book for autistic children, but I think that any child can start learning piano with a basic method like this one:

I used that book with both my children with great success. With an autistic child though, more patience is required and it is going to take much more time to move from step 1 to step 2, and so on. Supplemental material like flash cards or music toys can also help a great deal.

There are several articles on the web that can help with that, here are a few I'd recommend reading:

But I'd strongly recommend either dedicate some in-depth study into this different kind of teaching before starting music lessons (if you are a professional musician), or ask help from a professional piano teacher. I wouldn't be surprised to find piano teachers out there that have had already some teaching experience in this realm.

I hope this helps!
Verdi Ingersoll on February 9, 2018 @6:51 am PST
Is there a simple way of playing tuplets, esp. those with 4 or more beats?
Robert Estrin - host, on February 10, 2018 @2:53 pm PST
Tuplets are simply having 2 notes in place of 3 notes. Counting the larger unit of time that accommodates the beginning of the group of 2 or 3 enables you to fit the notes while maintaining the pulse. There are countless examples of rhythms which may have greater degrees of complexity. The secret is finding the lowest common denominator so you can maintain the beat while fitting in the appropriate number of notes.
Verdi Ingersoll on February 12, 2018 @6:26 pm PST
Thanks, Robert.
The same idea would apply to groups of 5 to the count of 1 beat as well? For instance, in 4/4 time the top measure has 2 groups of 5 (sixteenth notes) followed by a half note ... on the bottom, bass clef, there are 4 eighth notes plus a half note. Seems complicated.
Scott on February 1, 2018 @11:54 am PST

If hitting the keys faster makes the sound louder, how is it possible to play both quickly and softly at the same time?

Thank you

Scott on January 27, 2018 @9:32 am PST

Could you do a video on how to choose a piano teacher. Is it better to have a world-class player as a teacher? Is the old lady down the street that teaches voice, guitar and piano a good teacher? What credentials are important for a serious student looking for a teacher?

Thank you,

Robert Estrin - host, on January 28, 2018 @12:07 pm PST
When I saw your question, I went to my search box on Living Pianos website assuming I had a video on this subject. Somehow I never covered this important subject! I will produce a video for you on, "How to a Piano Teacher".
Scott on February 1, 2018 @11:53 am PST
I'm looking forward to it. Thank you.
Rayan Tan on December 17, 2017 @6:52 pm PST
Hi Robert,
i am a beginner pianist and currently i am questioning myself whether or not the way i am practicing songs is going to put me to a disadvantage if i ever decide to become a professional musician some day.

So here is what I do,I listen to the song i want to play multiple times and memorize the rhythm.Afterwards i use a music sheet and practice the song part by part without counting the beats at all(i could get the beats right only because i have listen to the song so many times).I practice a part of the song until I can play it with my eyes close and completely rely on Muscle memory.Next I move on to the next part of the song and I after I finishing practicing the song,I need little help from the music sheet,and I am only able to play the song by completely relying on muscle memory.

so my questions are:
Is the way I am practicing right now ,relying so much on muscle memory, going to benefit me in any way?
Is not counting the beats while practicing a bad habit?
do professional pianists also count the beats while practicing?
how do professional pianist usually practice?

ps. Sorry if my english is bad
Brian * VSM MEMBER * on December 6, 2017 @12:11 pm PST

Do you know of anyone that publishes Bach's fugues with each voice printed separately? I'm specifically interested in Fugue in G Minor (little Fugue). I don't have the experience yet to do this on my own and would like to see how he structured this music.

Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on December 6, 2017 @3:27 pm PST
Hi Brian and thank you for your comment. I am not sure Robert has an answer to your question, but from my own knowledge, I am not aware of any edition around with each single voice printed separately. It is my understanding that what you are looking for is some sort of transcription for a voice ensemble. Am I right?
Brian * VSM MEMBER * on December 6, 2017 @4:19 pm PST
Correct. It's almost incomprehensible to me how these could be composed with all the voices simultaneously.
Robert - host, on December 6, 2017 @4:21 pm PST
You might look for existing transcriptions that break out the voices into separate parts. Otherwise you could engage someone who is fluent with music notation software to transcribe selected fugues.
Bal Simon on November 27, 2017 @8:14 pm PST
What connects the movements of a symphony or a sonata, etc., that makes it different from the same number of separate tone poems?
Robert - host, on November 28, 2017 @11:25 am PST
Movements of a musical work are like chapters of a book or scenes of a play. Together they form a cohesive whole rather than separate tone poems or other independent compositions.
Bal Simon on November 28, 2017 @12:54 pm PST
Thank you, Robert. But I was wondering more in terms of keys, rhythms, harmonic structures, etc. For instance, The Lemminkainen (Four Legends) Suite ( by Sibelius consists of four tone poems. But Sibelius didn't call it a symphony. Similar remarks regarding his Karelia Suite in 3 parts. Yet his 7th symphony consists of a single movement. I find myself wondering what's in a name?
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