Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Adapt to Room Acoustics in a Musical Performance

Practical tips to get ready to play in any kind of acoustics

In this video, Robert gives you advice to adapt your performance to any kind of room acoustics in which you might find yourself playing.

Released on August 27, 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to and I'm Robert Estrin with a great topic today, how to adjust to different room acoustics. You know, I just played a performance last night at the Laguna Art Museum, and the room there is extraordinarily live. It's a large art gallery, and it's very important to take the acoustics of the room into consideration no matter what instrument you play. I'm going to show you a little bit about how you can approach such a thing.

Of course, with the piano you have a pedal, but the articulation you use is also critical. Here's the general key. You have to remember that the more live a room is, that is, the echo you have and reverberation the cleaner, more detached you must play and the more time you have to allow, going from loud to soft, to allow the sound to dissipate. You have to play with more clarity.

So, for example, if you were playing the Schumann Sonata in G minor in a room that has dry acoustics, you might play with a generous amount of pedal and playing very legato like this [plays piano]. Okay, I could play more, but you get the idea. Now if I was playi8ng this in a very, very acoustically reverberant room I would play with less pedal. I would delineate the notes more clearly getting a sound like this [plays piano].

So you see there's two different sounds. Now if you heard it in the actual different acoustical environment you'd appreciate how you must balance your sound, your tempos even. In a very reverberant room you might want to take things a little slower, play more detached. You know, articulation on a wind instrument or bowing on a violin, the piano less pedal.

And the converse is true. When you're in a very dry room, you want to play very lush and connected more. And you can use a generous amount of pedal on the piano to sweeten the sound as much as you possibly can.

I hope this has been helpful for you. Thanks so much for joining me. Robert Estrin here in and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Trina * VSM MEMBER * on August 13, 2014 @8:13 am PST
Thank you for this good advice! I don't believe I've ever heard this addressed before and hadn't thought about it, but it certainly is something to think about- especially if you're playing in a "non-acoustically controlled" environment...
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