Robert Estrin - piano expert

The Burgmuller's Studies - Part 5

Learn how to approach Etude No. 5 - Innocence

In this new video, part of the previous series on Burgmuller's 25 Studies (Op. 100) for piano, Robert teaches you how to approach Etude No. 5, titled "Innocence."

Released on June 7, 2017

Post a Comment   |   Video problems? Contact Us!
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 continuing series of Burgmuller studies, opus 100. Delightful student pieces I've taught hundreds of times and never tire of these little gems. Today the piece is called "Innocence" and it is a gorgeous little piece. The first thing I'm going to do, it's not very long, I'm going to go ahead and play it for you, and then we'll discuss some tips of how to approach this wonderful little gem.


A lot of music in that short piece, isn't there? Once again, obviously you need to learn the music and master the fingering and all of that. But what I'm going to talk about is beyond just the basics of learning the piece, how to make it sound like that. And it really comes down to playing expressively. And fortunately, the dynamics are written in a great deal. It all comes down to the rise and the fall of phrases. Once again to demonstrate without that, without rising and falling in the phrase, it's flat. Listen to this.


It doesn't go anywhere. So the first two measures, think of a rise and a fall dynamically. It brings life. Just like when you're talking to somebody, if you talked in a monotone and you didn't go up or down in your voice, you sound like a machine. You must have a rise and a fall in your voice in order to express almost anything. It's intrinsic to life, the breath. You're doing it every moment of your life. That's why when it's missing from expression, it really is lacking something, it's lacking that sense of life. Now, you also must be precise with your rests. There are a number of rests in here, and you must observe them very, very carefully or you lose something. The precision of the rhythm is paramount to the performance.

Let us now skip to the second section because there's a total change of character. You have the left hand which you can practice in chords because it's simple eighth notes repeated. So when you first learn it, it's simply this. So you can learn the left hand very quickly. The right hand, it's a combination of mastering the fingering as well as the phrasing. So you must pay attention to the staccatos and the slurs. You hear how the phrasing's articulated. The way that is done, once again, is with the wrists. Now this isn't a wrist like where you have just a single staccato note like this, which is a down and up. The first note is that, but then you have three notes in a row. So you go down in the first note and up in the third note. So once again, you have the down up of the C, and then the three notes are down and then up. Down on the C, up on the E.

That's all there is to it. Delineating phrasing is a matter of utilizing the wrist to go down on the first note and up on the last note. If it's a single staccato, it's a down and up right on that one note. And that's what gives it that nice bounciness. And this whole section has a crescendo starting in the second half of the repeat. And make a lot of that, because it really brings the piece to life. As far as the descending scale at the end, you know the drill, you want to practice slowly with a metronome and work it up so you're precise with your rhythm and the evenness of the notes.

Thanks so much for joining me. Once again, this is Robert Estrin at Thanks for joining me.
Post a comment, question or special request:
You may: Login  or  
Otherwise, fill the form below to post your comment:
Add your name below:

Add your email below: (to receive replies, will not be displayed or shared)

For verification purposes, please enter the word MUSIC in the field below

Comments, Questions, Requests:

Vic on December 8, 2022 @11:04 am PST
Thank you. I'm wondering, how do use the pedal with this piece?
Robert - host, on December 8, 2022 @12:38 pm PST
Pedal is not necessary in this piece. If pedal is to be used at all, it should be utilized very sparingly with dashes of pedal to enhance the tone of longer melody notes.
Vic on December 9, 2022 @10:33 am PST
Ok, thanks very much.
Jon on March 3, 2020 @9:58 am PST
Dear Robert,
I am enjoying watching your teaching videos, currently your Burgmüller ones. Your happy and joyful personality and love of piano playing and teaching and of your students is encouraging and is loved

I offer an idea that you could present a summary review video every few Burgmüller exercises demonstrating the progress developed by the last few exercises since the start or last review

Sometimes students might then realize that indeed they have progressed in their own playing and be encouraged

I enjoy the musicality of the
Burgmüller exercises and they will be a satisfying set of pieces to have as a repertoire and memorial to the learning process

Thank you so much for your contributions to learning and enjoyment,
Jon/beginning student
Robert - host, on March 3, 2020 @1:43 pm PST
Thanks for the interesting suggestion. I'll see what sorts of progress videos may be possible in the future.
Questions? Problems? Contact Us.