Robert Estrin - piano expert

Letting Go of Ego in Your Music

Learn how to let your ego go freely during performance

In this video by, Robert teaches you how to let your ego go during your music performance. Of course, this can be applied to all instruments.

Released on May 22, 2019

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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, this is Robert Estrin here at and today's show is a really intrinsically important show for a wide range of people and careers and it's applicable to almost everything. The subject today is letting go of ego in your music. Now what do I mean by that? Because in order to play a public performance, for example, you have to have a great deal of confidence. I'm not talking about that. I'm not talking about preparing a great deal and then having the confidence to go out in front of people and do your best. That's important, as long as it's reality based.

Obviously if you aren't prepared and you expect wonderful things to magically happen, then you're somewhat delusional, but having confidence and going in there with the right attitude that no one's going to get hurt and here the ego enters into it to some extent, which is it's not all about you. That's what we're talking about today because ultimately when you perform, you want to be able to let go of how people are thinking and feeling about you, which seems kind of contradictory. You're in front of people, you're performing, but this isn't just for performing. This is composing. Trying to compose, for example, music that you think people want to hear.

Like for example, you hear something that's popular, that's getting a lot of playlists and you're thinking, wait, maybe I should compose something like that. This is really not the honest approach. You want to have personal conviction for what you do and if you let go of the id and just be one with the music, you will actually reach a much deeper level.

Now where this is perhaps most challenging is not in composing where you have time to go over the score again and again at the side to to burn it if it's not an honest expression or even performing where at least you get a chance to refine the performance again and again and have a pretty good idea of what's going to come out at your performance, but an improvisation where you really let go, that is a time that I find personally is the most intrinsically challenging in order to be honest in expression because it's so hard not to have that part looking down and you're going, "Hey, is that cool? Are people going to like that?"

I must say that it is necessary to have kind of the two brains, the brain that's doing and the brain that's watching. One example of that is at a live performance when you'll make sure you're getting excited, you're in front of an audience, things are going great and you're taking a really fast tempo, maybe faster that you've taken before. You have to have that other part looking down on you in kind of a motherly or a fatherly way saying, "Be careful Bob, don't get carried away. Keep it under control, even though it's exciting."

There always is that duality, but what I'm talking about is something not about watching over yourself in a caring way, but in an egotistical way, in a way that, "Oh, am I showing how cool I am? Are those changes sophisticated enough to impress somebody? Are people going to be impressed with my technique? Maybe I should take this faster so people think I'm great. That is dangerous thought because it alienates the audience. Audiences don't care how good you are, they just want to feel what you're feeling. If you're just feeling it's all about you, then they're not going to get the sense that you care about them. I'm going to try to play an improvisation off the cuff, no preconceived notions, totally raw.

I have no idea what it's going to be and it is a little scary. It is like being emotionally naked and I hope I can keep the internal chatter at bay and just give you an honest expression of what I'm feeling wherever it takes me. I don't know where that will be until I play and get into it, so here we go and this is all about getting rid of the ego in your music. Let's see if I can achieve some sense of that here right now for you.

Well, it's a funny thing. I played free form improvisations all the time, and it's so much easier to do them when not being put on the spot. I think I got some nice things there. I wish that everything I played was recorded because some of them are different and exciting that I'd love to share with you, but I'll do more of these for you because you'd never know what will come out, but the message today is to try to let go of that ego and play from the heart without worrying about how you're being judged. This goes for everything you do, whether it's writing, painting, even talking to people in conversation. It's not about showing off and showing how great you are.

It's about listening to people and trying to reach people because that's all we have in this world ultimately, isn't it? I hope this has been inspiring to you. Again, Robert Estrin here at, your online piano store.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Joseph B. Sarnowski on November 9, 2022 @6:57 am PST
stay with- in yourself and, know your limits.
Robert - host, on November 9, 2022 @11:25 am PST
If you never try to do things you can't do, your technique will sound flawless! But sometimes experimenting with new ideas can be inspiring in performance!
Susan on May 22, 2019 @5:43 am PST
What is the name of the piece you played? It is so beautiful!
Robert Estrin on May 23, 2019 @1:35 pm PST
The music was improvised. I have been doing freeform improvisations for many years. This is an example of one of many that is unlike any I have done before or since. There is an element of chance when creating music this way. I never know what is going to come out! So glad you like it.
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