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 Williams * VSM MEMBER * on September 23, 2020 @9:04 pm PST
When should you use the right hand pedal
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Robert - host, on September 24, 2020 @12:45 pm PST
The sustain pedal, sometimes referred to as the damper pedal, is utilized for a variety of purposes, primarily, to hold notes down when your hands can't be over them. You should change the pedal when harmonies change so you don't create dissonance. It can also be utilized as a tone enhancement system. If you practice a great deal without the pedal, you will learn to connect what you can with your hands leaving the pedal for expressive purposes (as well as holding notes beyond your reach).
Mary Williams * VSM MEMBER * on September 24, 2020 @8:46 pm PST
Thank you Robert. I am going to play Plaisir D'Amour at a fun talent evening where all are winners' I thought I would arpeggio all left hand chords at the same time use the right hand pedal. I would call it my version of the score. Do you think it would work.?
Robert - host, on September 25, 2020 @11:54 am PST
It should work as long as you clear the pedal whenever there are changes of harmony.
Kenneth Spencer on September 16, 2020 @3:45 pm PST
Good evening Robert.
I was wondering whether it would be possible for you to give us a brief talk and explanation of the concept of "spelling" in musical notation.
Thanks indeed
Kenneth Spencer
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Robert - host, on September 17, 2020 @1:50 pm PST
Kenneth Spencer on September 18, 2020 @1:49 am PST
Thankyou Robert.
I have watched those two videos, but I feel that they don't quite explore the topic of note-spelling in musical notation.
I do feel that a video on how to notate an accidental in a score in any given key would be of value - especially in a key which already has many sharps or flats. And to make a comparison of how that same note might be properly notated in a sharp key versus in a flat key.
I am hoping that you might see scope for an interesting talk on the topic!
Many thanks,
Kenneth Spencer
Robert - host, on September 18, 2020 @11:38 am PST
This is a subject that is relatively easy to understand if you have a command of key signatures and major scales. Altered tones (raised or lowered) will require accidentals. These can be sharps, flats or naturals depending upon what is in the key signature.

The essential thing to understand is that scales are built diatonically which means all the letters in the alphabet in order without repeating or skipping any letters. Chords are built in 3rds which means they are spelled with every other letter of the alphabet. This remains true when there are sharps or flats. Sometimes double sharps or double flats must be utilized in order to retain the integrity of chords being built in 3rds and scales being spelled diatonically.

When you are dealing with inversions, things get more complex and require an understanding of how chords must be arranged in 3rds even when the root of the chord isn't on the bottom. This subject in itself would be a good lesson for a video!
Kenneth Spencer on September 19, 2020 @6:42 am PST
Thank you Robert.
I agree that chords and their inversions, especially when they appear in heavily sharp or flat keys would be of interest, in the general topic of correctly representing accidentals across all keys.
Then again, we have the augmented and diminished chords - also sometimes difficulty to read (and write?) in the sharp & flat keys.
I play guitar, piano & organ, but I admit that my reading is quite poor, especially in keys with many sharps or flats. I almost always end up transposing into something more readable!
Anyway, I shall watch carefully for any video you might add on this, and related subjects.
Keep up the excellent work!
Best wishes
Kenneth Spencer
Maggie Copus on September 7, 2020 @6:26 am PST
When you play piano reductions of orchestral music, do you consider using Una Corda pedal to pick out a certain instrument?
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Robert - host, on September 7, 2020 @11:25 am PST
Since the una corda pedal affects all the notes you play, it isn't particularly useful for bringing out notes within the score. However, the change of tonal color can be useful for creating the right sound for some orchestral textures.
Bill on August 4, 2020 @5:27 pm PST
Robert, I would like to use your excellent videos "Eras of Classical Music" in my college Survey of the Fine Arts course. Are permissions available?
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Robert - host, on August 5, 2020 @1:03 pm PST
I am happy to have you share my content as long as you credit LivingPianos.com.
Charles Ray Howard on July 22, 2020 @11:47 am PST
Hi Robert, please do an article abut peddling the the piano
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Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on July 22, 2020 @12:13 pm PST
Hi Charles. Robert made a few videos on that subject in the past, here they are:

How to use the pedal on the piano, part 1:
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/experts/robert/pedal1/

How to use the pedal on the piano, part 2:
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/experts/robert/pedal2/

How to use the pedal on the piano, part 3:
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/experts/robert/pedal3/


You can also check out all videos where he's talking about the pedal applied to specific repertoire and other related topics:

https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/expertsearch.php?vkey=pedal


I hope this helps!

All the best,
Robert Estrin on July 22, 2020 @2:32 pm PST
Here are a bunch more videos on pedaling on the piano: https://livingpianos.com/?s=pedal&;submit=Search+Videos
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on July 22, 2020 @3:18 pm PST
Thank you Robert!
Kaila on July 8, 2020 @9:51 am PST
Hi Robert, I have only been playing for 9 months and I have not had any lessons, love your videos. I have a built in Metronome, but I cannot stand playing with it on - it just annoys me so much that I have to turn it off. Is there anything else you can recommend besides the tick, tick, tick to help with timing? Kind regards Kaila
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Robert - host, on July 8, 2020 @4:39 pm PST
If you are playing more rhythmically oriented music such as jazz, blues, rock or country, playing with drum tracks (which can be software, YouTube tracks, drum machine, or built in rhythms in a keyboard) can be much more rewarding. Otherwise, just like a carpenter always has a tape measure strapped to them, your metronome should never be far from where you practice the piano so you can measure your timing on a regular basis.
Venus on July 2, 2020 @1:58 am PST
Difference between Liszt and Chopin
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Robert - host, on July 2, 2020 @12:48 pm PST
NOEL WALSH * VSM MEMBER * on May 22, 2020 @9:05 am PST
HI ROBERT

I ENJOY YOUR THEORY VIDEOS, I STARTED THE PIANO YEARS AGO AND HAVE ONLY GONE BACK TO IT A YEAR AGO. I AM GETTING ON IN YEARS BUT I STILL ENJOY IT VERY MUCH. MY QUESTION IS NO MATTER HOW SOFTLE I PLAY THE PIANO IT STILL SOUND TO LOUD. CAN I RECTIFY THIS.

CHEERS

NOEL
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Robert - host, on May 22, 2020 @3:30 pm PST
You may be able to have your piano voiced to have a warmer, less bright sound. Ask your piano technician next time you have your piano tuned.
Chiu on March 1, 2020 @6:46 pm PST
Hi, Robert! I am Chiu from Hong Kong. I am playing Beethoven Sonata No. 10 in G major, op 14 no 2, first movement. I came up with a big difficulties of polyrhythms in the development section as shown in the below link which was demonstrated by you a few years ago.

https://youtu.be/kF5CLjNa2lU

I would like to ask if you could kindly help me with this technical problem? I am very messy when playing both hands. Thank you.

Chiu from Hong Kong
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Robert - host, on March 2, 2020 @12:39 pm PST
Please try to work out the rhythms as I described in the video. Play first one hand on the piano with the other hand playing silently either on top of the piano or in your lap listening carefully for the evenness of the notes. Then reverse the hands so that the other hand is playing on the piano. This is a great way to refine your playing of polyrhythms.
Chiu on March 3, 2020 @12:02 am PST
Thank your for your advice. I came up with another question about the tempo. As I am practisting this sonata for my ATCL, the first movement is Allegro, what BPM should i use on metronome for my target? Now i am building up my speed gradually with ♪=88 (yay, i know it’s a bit slow haha). Thank you!
maryloonam29@gmail.coml * VSM MEMBER * on February 25, 2020 @2:11 am PST
Hi Robert or anyone! Do you know of any duets for flute and cello n the classical period. thanks Mary
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Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on February 25, 2020 @6:37 am PST
Hello and thank your for your inquiry.

We have a few titles of transcriptions and one original title by Beethoven that may be of your interest:

Mozart's 12 Easy Duets:
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/score/MozartDuetsFlVc.html

Pleyel's Six Easy Duets:
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/score/PleyelDuetsOp8FlVc.html

Beethoven's Three Duets for violin (or flute) and cello:
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/score/AL-131470.html

I hope this helps!

Please, let me know if you have any further questions.

All the best,
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