Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Cement Corrections in Your Piano Playing

Useful tips to improve your piano playing

In this video, Robert gives advice on how to lock in corrections in piano playing so you don't remake the same mistakes.

Released on February 24, 2021

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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, your host. Today is how to cement corrections in your playing.

One of the most difficult things there is about practicing is you work on something, you get it right, you think you've got it. And then later on the same mistake creeps in again and again. You wonder, "What am I supposed to do" if you correct it, and then we still have the mistakes, how can you possibly get rid of them? You thought you got rid of them the first time. Well, what can you do?

Well today, I'm going to show you two techniques that are going to help you to cement corrections in your playing. Now the first one is really incredibly important, and I've talked about this a number of times which is how to be able to approach the mistake or more likely the correction and know you're even there. And for this, I have a little brief story for you.

Just imagine there's someone who goes to school every day, and his mom packs his lunch and this and that, and he's getting ready to go to school. And his mom says to him, "Oh, hey, by the way you got this library book that you took out. It's due today. Can you drop this off at the library on the way home from school?" It's only a couple blocks out of the way. He'll say, "Of course, no problem." So he's got this kind of a big book, and he's carrying it around to all his classes all day long. Every time he's going from one class to the next is the annoying extra book, but his mother asked him to do it, and so he's thinking about it all day long every time he changes classes.

Well, the end of the day comes. What happens? The bell rings, and bam, he makes a dart for that door. And next thing he knows, he's walking to the front door and his mom says, "Oh, did you drop off the library book?" He'll say, "Uh oh," and there it's sitting under his arm. He'd been thinking about it all day long, every single time he went from class to class. So how can this possibly happen?

Well, this is indicative of what happens when you make a correction in your music and yet, the mistake happens again anyway. It's because when you're coming to it from a certain place, you're used to missing it, even if you corrected it. So how do you alleviate this problem?

Well, what you need to do is once you make a correction, you need to cement that correction by going back and being aware of the correction when you arrive at it. You must do this going back different amounts of time, and I've talked about this technique. This is one really valuable technique.

There is another completely different technique I want to introduce to you today, and this is a really crazy kind of thing that I can demonstrate for you. Take almost any word and say it over and over again, like the word over. Over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over. You say it enough times, and it becomes meaningless. As a matter of fact, you wonder, "Is that really a word?" Now have you've ever done this, where you just say a word so many times that you lose context into what it even is?

Well, the same thing can happen in your piano playing. You've play something so many times up to speed at a certain point, you approach your music, and it seems completely unfamiliar. How can you eradicate this?

If you go extraordinarily slowly in something that you can play up to tempo comfortably, and you go really slowly, it's going to feel totally different to you. It's going to almost be as unfamiliar as saying that word over and over again. Is that even a word? Is that even a phrase? Am I playing the right chord?

And it comes down to intentionality. You must have a musical intelligence looking down upon yourself, making sure you're going to the right place. And this is absolutely essential, particularly when you're making a correction in your music. You must know where that correction is as I mentioned previously and know what the correction is on such a deep level that you've extraordinarily explored it to excruciating extent by slowing something way down, something you've played a million times, but then you slow it down, and you realize every single... that little turn in the E-flat Nocturne of Chopin.

Maybe you never really thought about it. You just go. You always played it like just... it came right out. Never even thought about it, and then for some reason you were missing it again and again. You go, "What the heck is going on there?" And then you play note by note. You study your fingers. You realize, "Oh, wow." What started with a third finger on that C, then goes to the thumb, and you start to understand it on a much deeper level by this intensely slow practice. Just this in itself may solve your problem.

Sometimes, it takes metronome speeds, progressive metronome speeds to put the correction into context, but sometimes just going through slowly can be of tremendous value. In fact, I have a whole video on the subject I made years ago, and it's worth reiterating that one of the most important types of practice you can do on any music you have already learned, and you can play on whatever level is to slow it way down, take out the score, take the foot off the pedal, put the metronome on really slowly, and play everything very definitely, maybe a little bit stronger than usual because when you play slower, the notes have to last longer, so you have to play them with more energy. And this is a great way to reinforce your memory and your performance.

So these are two techniques to cement corrections in your playing. I hope these are helpful for you. Lots more videos to come. My Patreon members get to ask for video subjects. You might consider joining Patreon.

In the meantime, thanks for joining me. If you like the video, ring that bell and share it with your friends, and we'll see you next time.

Again, I'm Robert Estrin here at, your online piano resource.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Willene Botha * VSM MEMBER * on February 24, 2021 @11:07 am PST
The tip was very helpful thank you. Mistakes have to be erradicated immediately ...from the students point of view.Fix the problem now!
Robert - host, on February 24, 2021 @2:25 pm PST
You are exactly right!
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