Robert Estrin - piano expert

Schumann: Scenes from Childhood, part 2

Second part of of an extensive piano lesson on famous pieces by Schumann

In this second video, Robert continues his lesson on the famous Scenes from Childhood by Robert Schumann, also known as "Kinderszenen." Another real treat!

Released on April 30, 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

Hi. I'm Robert Estrin here at and with part two of our Schumann "Scenes from Childhood," an iconic piece of the piano repertoire. What's great about these pieces is that there all these separate movements. Each one is a unique expression and so students on a fairly intermediate, not necessarily advanced level, can enjoy a great variety of absolutely first-rate composition. I'm going to actually talk today about "Traumerei" or "Reverie," which is really one of the classic pieces in the piano repertoire, and one that's very elusive. Many students, if they're not that sophisticated, might not really get this piece because it's a beautiful melody and yet, it kind of the's kind of difficult to figure out how to pedal because you can't really hold everything with your hands. And then there's a certain amount of freedom.

But, I'm going to talk about, how do you approach this piece? And what I'd like to do is play it for you. And I'm going to to talk first a little bit about the approach. It's very important to practice this piece without the pedal so you can learn to connect as much as possible. But, you will soon discover, you can't connect anywhere nearly enough with just your hands and yet when you'll use the pedal, it's not always obvious how to pedal. So, you have to really use your ears, the specific piano, the acoustics of the room, how much to pedal and how much to let go of in order to get the singing melody. And that is the key to this piece. You need to play all the notes as if they're vocal parts so you have a beautiful smoothness to the writing. I'm going to go ahead and play this piece for you, this whole movement, so you can hear. The pulse must be maintained, even though there's a certain amount of fluidity and freedom with retards and such. And, although you're going to use pedal, you don't want the melody to get blurred out. So, you want to connect as much as you possibly can with the hands and you'll get this effect.


It really is ethereal writing. You know, it takes a maturity to understand the significance of this composition. And the interesting thing is I encourage you to listen to different recordings and you'll find there are such a wide range of performances possible with this seemingly simple piece. But the expression is very complex. So remember, practice without the pedal a great deal so you can be honest in your playing. So, you can play all the singing, interweaving lines with great beauty and fluidity. And remember, the pedal should not blur the melody, but it is necessary to use the pedal in interweaving lines sometimes and still capture that melody by using your ears.

Thanks so much for joining me. Robert Estrin here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Tosh * VSM MEMBER * on February 21, 2018 @6:23 am PST
Beautiful renditiion Robert. You mention listening to different recordings of the piece. Several decades ago Vladimir Horowitz performed in a CBS telecast from Moscow and he played Traumerei as an was quiet and fairly slow, the notes dropping like incandescent jewels out of the sky and the entire auditorium was quiet as if the audience was entranced or transfixed. Don't know if a recording was ever made of this performance. If it was, I would highly recommend it. His performance forever influenced the way I play the piece on my violin.
Richard Blocher on May 18, 2014 @3:23 pm PST

Such beauty, comes from the Heart.
Kathy P on May 1, 2014 @2:36 pm PST
MUSIC. I enjoyed not only hearing you play this lovely piece, but watching you play it as well. With no piano teacher it helps to see and hear what the music is trying to accomplish.
Robert - host, on May 2, 2014 @11:38 am PST
This is why we produce this content - glad to hear it!
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