Robert Estrin - piano expert

The Burgmuller's Studies - Part 3

Learn how to approach Etude No. 3 - La Pastorale

In this third video of the 3-part series on Burgmuller's 25 Studies (Op. 10) for piano, Robert teaches you how to approach Etude No. 3, titled "La Pastorale."

Released on July 6, 2016

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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

This is I am Robert Estrin welcoming you today to a third in a series of Burgmuller studies, wonderful pieces that I studied as a child and I've taught countless times. I love these pieces and I love getting students involved in this music as early as possible because it's such refreshingly dynamic and emotionally charged music, and more than that, each piece in the book has tremendous, unique qualities, both emotionally and technically.

We're going to move on to Pastorale. Pastorale is one that I do introduce the pedal for students. I am going to play it for you and I'm going to use the pedal and let you hear what this piece sounds like. Then I'm going to go back and show you how to practice the piece and how to approach the pedal as well as the hands.

If you followed the last Burgmuller video I did on Arabesque, you'll note what a completely different piece of music, and that's what's so refreshing about these pieces for students, the variety. Now, how to approach this. Again as in the first Burgmuller, Frankness, which was the first video in the series, utilizing the weight of the arm to get a smooth legato with rises and fall is intrinsic, but this has the added challenge of a left hand that has a little bit more going on. Instead of just whole notes in the left hand, you've got this pattern.

Notice as I just demonstrated, without using the pedal. That is a very difficult thing to do, what I just did. Try it and you'll be surprised at how hard to make the left hand sound that legato without using the pedal. This is the way you will probably sound if you don't give it much thought.

The secret is keeping the hands very close to the keys, playing very delicately. Listening for the top note, in this case the D's, that they are legato as they possibly can be without using the pedal. Again, listen to how legato they can be.

So if I were to play hands together without the pedal, I'm going to leave out the first two measures since there is no left-hand part there. But listen to the hands together with no pedal and how legato the left hand is, as well as the right hand, which you would expect to be legato. Now, adding the pedal.

So why is it so important to play it legato if you're going to be playing it on the pedal anyway, you might wonder? The pedal's going to hold it, right? Well, not completely. Because the very first note, you'll have to catch the chord in the pedal. For example, if I were to play this carelessly and try to capture those notes with the pedal, they're so short, I'm likely not to grab all of them uniformly, and so you'd end up with this.

Do you hear how the first one is kind of chopped? You kind of hear...because that first eighth-note chord has to be down long enough to be able to get the pedal and get all those three notes of the chord under the pedal securely. That's one of the reasons for playing so super legato, because you will get the pedal and so all the notes of the chord will sustain.

Now in the next section, after the double bar, there's no need for the pedal, but you do have repeated notes in the left hand, and here again there's two rhythms. You've got the dotted half-notes which hold, and then the D's which play...and you want to strive, once again, to make these notes long, tenuto. Otherwise, you'd hear this. But you don't want that; you want legato. Not just in the right hand, but in the left hand.

Now the next part is really interesting. Because you've got repeated notes that must be legato, and the secret to being able to play repeated notes on the piano legato is to change fingers for each note, because you can have one finger going down while the next finger's coming up to get extraordinarily connected. So here, for example, the three B-flats. Notice 4-3-2 on those three B-flats. If you were to play them with just one finger, you'll get this sound. To contrast with...and then the right hand has the same thing. Again, if you don't change fingers on those E-flats, 2-3-4, you'll end up with this. You hear the difference?

So listen to hands together how beautiful it is. First I'm going to play it without changing fingers, then I'm going to do it appropriately, changing fingers for more legato on the repeated notes. Now the correct way, changing fingers for repeated notes. Quite beautiful, isn't it? Great challenge, being able to play repeated notes in a slow piece where they're connected. Remember, the secret is to change fingers.

Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin at, with a series on Burgmuller studies for piano.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Henrik on November 12, 2017 @3:18 am PST
Is it possible to play the chords legato on an upright piano? I only have an upright.
Robert - host, on November 13, 2017 @11:58 am PST
It is certainly possible to play legato on a decently regulated upright piano. But uprights fall short with dealing with fast repeated notes.
vani on June 12, 2017 @3:27 pm PST
Hello, I love your videos..I sit through my daughters Piano's lessons and have noticed that even the most popular teacher don't pay attentions to such technical details. Thank you for doing such an amazing job.

My daughter has just been introduced to Burgmuller's music. Can you please make a video on La Styrienne-burgmüller. Would love to see how she can improvise her performance from your tips,
Robert - host, on June 15, 2017 @2:36 pm PST
There will be other Burgmuller tutorials. As for La Styrienne, your daughter should use the wrist to achieve light, short staccatos in the left hand. Hope that helps!
Ken Cory on August 4, 2016 @8:29 pm PST
A great lesson, but I wonder why you play the acciacaturas in bar 3 and elsewhere so rapidly. I'm no expert, but I would give the grace notes a little more value.
Robert Estrin - host, on August 10, 2016 @2:29 pm PST
It comes down to personal preference how long to play those notes. Incidentally, they written as grace notes, not appoggiaturas which gives some justification for playing them shorter.
Mac * VSM MEMBER * on July 6, 2016 @11:09 am PST
Thanks again, your instruction is excellent.
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