Robert Estrin - piano expert

The Best Piano Exercises (Part 1) - Broken Triads

A simple exercise to strengthen your fingers on the piano keyboard

In this video, Robert tackles triads with this first piano technique video of a multi-part series.

Released on June 18, 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 I'm Robert Estrin with a technique video for you today. This is an exercise that I learned in college, in conservatory, and it's a great way to build strength, so I'm going to share it with you now. Sometimes, you don't have a lot of time to practice, but you want to get the maximum amount of strength to be built in your technique. So you want something that's going to really exercise you much more thoroughly than repertoire or even scales that are pendulous and maybe you don't want to learn a whole etude of notes that are hard to figure out.

So this is an exercise that's all based upon a pattern of chords. It goes from a major triad to a minor triad, to a diminished triad, to an augmented triad. If you don't know what these terms mean, there will be future videos explaining exactly what they are, but we're going to have the notes for you here so if you can figure it out.

So we start off and the notes of the triad in both hands, so we're going to start in C major. So there's a C major triad, but we just start with the top two notes in the right and the bottom two notes in the left hand. And then you go back and forth through the scale notes. Notice how I use all five fingers and the independence of the fingers is critical here. After you do the major, then you do the same thing in the minor which just has one different note. The E goes down to E-flat.

Then we go to the diminished, you add one more flat. The G becomes G-flat and you keep the E-flat. And finally the augmented where everything changes. You start with like you were starting from the beginning except with not C, E, G, but C, E, G-sharp. Notice that's all whole tones, all whole steps. You do this in every single key. So you start in C then you go to C-sharp, then D, so it just goes on and on.

You get the idea. Here's the great thing. The whole exercise just takes a couple of minutes, so three minutes or something to go through all the keys, but boy is it a workout. And better than that, it's all fingers. And the independence of the fingers is strengthened and you build strength. It's not in an outstretched position and so there's nothing with any phrasing or dynamics. You can focus solely on your finger motion. It's strictly an exercise, not a piece of music. Easy to learn because once you've figured out the very beginning, you just transpose it up a half step again and again until you get back to C and the top octave.

Try this exercise. You'll develop a lot of strength. I hope you enjoy this. Thanks a lot. This is once again Robert Estrin here at
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Beth * VSM MEMBER * on March 31, 2018 @7:25 am PST
That is a great exercise!! Thank you for sharing it.
maria josé on June 24, 2014 @5:17 pm PST
it,s a very good exercice and difficult too.thanks
Kendah on June 20, 2014 @4:47 pm PST
Thanks a lot for that vedio technique it's so useful.
Peter on June 18, 2014 @12:51 pm PST
Inconsistence between spoken and written:
Robert says Gb, but the note show F# etc.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 18, 2014 @2:43 pm PST
Thank you Peter for noting that out. Despite they are anyway both the same note, we should have taken care to avoid any confusion. We'll keep more than one eye on that the next time! Thank you again.
beckymc1 * VSM MEMBER * on June 18, 2014 @12:48 pm PST
Always looking for ways to strengthen. Looking forward to giving this one a try as a variation from my hanon exercises.
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on June 18, 2014 @11:01 am PST
Yes, these are quite a workout, and the pain in the forearms! But persist, and it gets better after a while! I use the Hanon and the Schmitt Op. 16. Schmitt gets nasty at exercise # 34, when you have to hold down the C for the entire bar and play with the rest of your fingers. It gets worse at exercise # 65 when you have to hold down 2 notes ... Triads start with # 119. You will soon find out how weak are your fourth and fifth fingers !
Brigitte * VSM MEMBER * on June 18, 2014 @9:53 am PST
Love all your suggestions and practices Smiley Face
mary marinaki on June 18, 2014 @8:06 am PST
Thank you very much for advising and helping us. It would be better if you could attach some pictures numbered analytically explained every movement. You know pictures speak their own language very clearly regardless one speak English or not. I would understand better if I could see written the same way for all movements with your example. Thank you
Robert - host, on June 18, 2014 @2:35 pm PST
There will be master class courses available online which will be thorough explorations of piano repertoire. These will go into much more depth and offer additional materials like pictures and such. Look for these in the coming months.
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