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:

Megan * VSM MEMBER * on September 24, 2023 @11:10 am PST
Hi! I am a beginning-to- easy-play older adult student. 1. Do you have an index of your piano videos or must I scroll through every page to see what is available? 2. I can read sheet music but find it takes me a long time to learn "easy" pieces. I would like to learn to play by ear; do you have a video on learning to play by ear?. Thank you.
Robert - host, on September 24, 2023 @1:22 pm PST
There are over 1,500 videos with accompanying articles. You can search with keywords here: It looks like I don't have a video specifically about how to play by ear. I will make one for you!
Megan * VSM MEMBER * on September 24, 2023 @4:57 pm PST
Thank you, Robert!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on September 24, 2023 @4:48 pm PST
Robert, actually you made this video about that subject:
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on September 24, 2023 @4:58 pm PST
You are most welcome! Smiley Face
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on September 24, 2023 @5:04 pm PST
That's wonderful! Welcome to the family!

Please always feel free to contact us ( and me) with any questions or ideas you may have; we will always be glad to hear from you.

I really hope you'll enjoy your time here on VSM Smiley Face

Keep playing great music!

All the best,
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on September 25, 2023 @11:26 am PST
You are very welcome Smiley Face
Kenneth A. Spencer on July 17, 2023 @3:06 am PST
I have often wondered about the correct way(s) of "spelling" accidental musical notes in various keys.
A video on this topic would be quite helpful in understanding exactly how it should be done. Thanks!
Kenneth Spencer
Robert - host, on July 17, 2023 @9:30 am PST
Here is a video that relates to your question: Please let me know if this clarifies things or if you would like a video on this subject.
Kenneth A. Spencer on July 18, 2023 @2:42 am PST
Thank you for that Robert.

I have viewed that video as you suggested. In fact I recognised it and realised that I have already seen it, probably when it first came out (I have been watching your videos for many years now.). And, yes, that video does help of course, but my question was subtly different, and I hope I won't waste your time if I explain a little more clearly.

I play piano, organ (including in a local church for services, just twice per month), and guitar. Although I have quite a reasonable grasp of musical theory, and have written some music for those instruments, I am actually a very poor reader, when it comes to transferring the music from page to eyes to brain to fingers/feet. But sometimes (OK, rarely!) I come across a short musical phrase where accidentals occur and of course have to be fitted into the score taking account of the scale of the piece. This can result in the Cb, B#, Fb and E# which you mentioned in your previous video. But of course if the note is already sharpened or flattened in the scale, there are added issues of double sharps or flats etc etc. Which note name to you sharpen or flatten; when might you write F## rather than G (if that is a sensible question!)?

Is there a rationale to all this? I certainly recall a friend of mine, who is an organist, looking at a page and saying to me: "Is that little phrase not mispelled?" Are there rules (I am sure that there are!) that can easily be explained?

If I have said enough to make myself clear, and if you have time, a video discussing this topic would be much appreciated (though I doubt that it would improve my playing!).

Many thanks for producing those helpful and interesting videos!

Kenneth A. Spencer
jjjude1 * VSM MEMBER * on March 26, 2023 @5:00 pm PST
Robert, can you direct me to your video that had the piano with the bite marks from Beethoven. Did I misremember this?
Thank you for your musical instruction, insights and inspiration!
Judy Jollett
Yarmouthport, Ma.
Robert - host, on March 27, 2023 @8:57 am PST
You are close. The bite marks were from Thomas Edison who had lost most of his hearing. Maybe Beethoven also bit his piano!
Paul M Boos on February 24, 2023 @8:38 am PST
I have a few questions from your counterpoint video. Could the 2 melody lines run at a different tempos? And if that is true, then perhaps even start at the same time? And if one is at a different tempo, could it also then just run for only part of the length of the other? I just wasn't sure if that is considered counterpoint if you do that... Thanks in advance!
Robert - host, on February 24, 2023 @9:55 am PST
While having different tempi within a given section of a piece isn't possible, this affect can be achieved by notating longer note values in one line compared to another. This is called augmentation. Diminution is the opposite: having a line faster than the other line. So yes, this is the way this is achieved.

In this case, if it is the same subject that is being played at different speeds, one would end earlier than the other. The intertwining of voices within complex counterpoint found in fugues can involve many types of interesting interactions!
Paul Niehoff * VSM MEMBER * on July 24, 2022 @3:08 am PST
Hello Robert,
I would like to apologize for my past criticism of a your playing of a Chopin Ballade No 1.
I have been a subscriber to VSM for oiver 15 years and have listened to your wonderful lectures with great appreciation for as long as I have been aware of them.
I had a question but your previous answer on February 3rd to Fred and Rita was exactly what I needed. Thank you.
On the humourous side, while I was accompanying my wife singing "Oh Divine Redeemer" by Gounod, she accidently added an unwritten repeat. Exciting times in front of 7000 people, but we managed to finish together and most would not have noticed.
Regards Paul
Robert - host, on July 25, 2022 @9:27 am PST
You may like this recent performance of a piece of Chopin I just learned:
Maikel Gilis on May 29, 2022 @3:42 pm PST
Dear Mister Estrin,

I just saw two videos of you. The one where you explain how to play the piano with small hands. But that made me wonder if you are able to play the 3th movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Maybe I'm to old to learn how to play the piano. I'm almost 32. And the reason I ask you this is because I also have small hands and I really want to learn how to play that piece on the piano. Because Beethoven is my favorite composer of all time. And the Moonlight Sonata is my favorite piano piece. Especially the 3th movement like I mentioned before. And in a other video you mention that the piano is losing in popularity. Not with me because I'm a huge Classical and Jazz enthusiast. And in both music genres piano is my favorite instrument. Sorry for my long email. But I hope you find the time to answer my question. Thank you in advance.

Sincere greetings,

Gilis Michael
Robert - host, on May 30, 2022 @11:55 am PST
There are no large reaches in the 3rd movement of the Beethoven Moonlight Sonata that should make this piece difficult for people with small hands.
Jan Booth * VSM MEMBER * on March 3, 2022 @5:54 am PST
Robert, I always enjoy your videos with much information and ideas. Many families do not want to invest in a piano but only a keyboard. Do you have a presentation of pros and cons for piano vs. keyboard? I have a parlor grand for their lesson time. I find keyboards so limiting but parents don't understand the difference. Thank you.
Robert - host, on March 3, 2022 @8:15 am PST
Here is a video & article on this subject for you:
Rita Luise Chamberland on February 5, 2022 @2:45 pm PST
I am trying to do Chopin Nocturne 55 Op 2 and the 3 against 5 has me baffled! Cam you help?
Fred * VSM MEMBER * on February 3, 2022 @2:03 am PST
Robert, in most classical pieces, the treble clef notes are in some fixed relationship to the bass clef notes. I have difficulty trying a Chopin Nocturne Minor Op.9, No.1 where e.g. in bar 4 the treble clef are spaced unequally. I just can't get a fluid, natural flow. Do you have any suggestions for practicing these parts?
Robert - host, on February 3, 2022 @9:19 am PST
So glad you asked! These cadenzas in Chopin provide a glimpse into how Chopin may have improvised on the piano since they are not measured. Here is a video and accompanying article that discusses this:
Frieda deHaan * VSM MEMBER * on January 19, 2022 @8:37 am PST
How do I get motivated... Lost interest dring covid
Robert - host, on January 19, 2022 @9:39 am PST
With more time at home, it could be a great opportunity to spend more time at the piano. You can try working on music you have always wanted to learn. If you just start playing pieces you enjoy, it may motivate you to play more!
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