Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Add Emotion To Your Music?

Interesting insights on how to add emotion to your music performances

In this video, Robert gives you practical tips to "let go" and express your musical passion during your performances for an astonishing result. When your passion shines through, you and your listeners will enjoy your music even more!

Released on June 12, 2013

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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

Hello, I am Robert Estrin here at and, and today's subject is how do you add emotion to your music. What a question? To me it's like how do you avoid the emotion in music because if you have a love for the music, it just comes out naturally but does it. That's what we are going to explore today.

Well, you might have a lot of feeling for the music but to be able to express your emotion with any kind of depth, you really have to live and breathe the music and not be encumbered by the technical challenges. So one of the things you must do is practice a great deal to overcome the technical and physiological demands that the score places on you. Yet practicing that much to still have the love. The mistake that some people make is locking themselves in the practice room so long that they lose that love.

I can't tell you how many times I have gone to recitals where there have been highly developed pianists or other instrumentalists, yet I find myself being bored. I feel like what's the matter with me? This is great music and yet I can't become engaged. All too often it's because the performer themselves have lost track of their love of the music, the love of life. After all, it's a balance between exploring people and nature and just enjoying your life and being able to share the love of the music.

Now, one of the things that I recommend very, very much that really can help in this regard is two things. First of all, do a great deal of practice with the metronome without the pedal. It's a very severe stark way to work, but when you finally get to add that pedal and not have the metronome ticking, it feels so good that the music just comes out of you. And it's refreshing plus you get the benefit of that stability of the regular beat and the clarity you developed from making the fingers do the work and really know what's going on.

Another thing you can do is play for people on a regular basis because it doesn't matter how much practice you do until you get out there and actually performing. The music really doesn't come to life any more than a conversation happens by yourself. You can practice a conversation which you may have done for a job interview or other important event, and yet no matter how much you do that until you interact with people, nothing happens on a really deep level.

So these are some things you can do, live with the music, find a balance. Sometimes getting away from the music for a while and revisiting the score can lend new insights and passion for your music. So that's it for today. Find a balance in your life. Prepare well so you're not encumbered with the technical challenges of the music and you too can share the love and passion for your music. Thanks for joining me. Robert Estrin, and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

LiPing Hudson * VSM MEMBER * on June 15, 2013 @2:23 pm PST
Would you talk about rolls and ornaments, and how to play them? Thank you.
Robert - host, on June 21, 2013 @11:18 pm PST
I will be producing a video on this subject. Please watch for it!
Cherrie Platon on June 13, 2013 @6:34 am PST
How do you approach Bach's Goldberg Variations? And how do you determine the fingering? Thank you in advance for your reply. I am a fan of your videos.Thank you for sharing your expertise,
Robert - host, on June 14, 2013 @9:49 pm PST
Fingering on the piano is an art, not a science. There isn't one good fingering for each musical passage, or for every player! That is why well edited editions have different fingering choices from one another.

The music of Bach and other counterpoint is particularly challenging in regards to fingering. I suggest getting a couple of editions and experimenting.

Generally, you want to find hand positions which can accommodate the largest number of keys you can get over comfortably before having to shift the hand position with finger or thumb crossings. However, in complex counterpoint there are many exceptions to the rules in order to play multiple legato lines.

Ultimately, you must work until you discover a fingering that accommodates the execution of the music consistently. Always practice fingering selection without the pedal so you can hear what your fingers are doing.
Cherrie Platon on June 19, 2013 @2:34 am PST
Thank you very much for your reply, The Schirmer edition has no fingering but I tried your advice (paragraphs 3 & 4) and it's helping me a lot!
Humberto Cruz * VSM MEMBER * on June 12, 2013 @9:56 am PST
Robert, thank you for your useful insights. Have a question on another topic. Have downloaded two of your favorite technique exercises, Czerny's Practical Method for Beginners and Hanon's 60 Exercises for the Virtuoso Pianist. In the past I have done some of these exercises but somewhat haphazardly. What suggestions do you offer for the most effective use of these exercises (like how many times a week, for how long, in what order?), and also any ideas you may have to keep them from becoming boring. And can you demonstrate in some future video one or two of the exercises you consider most important and/or practical and/or challenging? Thanks for your consideration. Humberto Cruz VSM member
Robert - host, on June 12, 2013 @2:01 pm PST
Generally, I believe that the piano repertoire is so vast that it is usually unnecessary to spend a great deal of time on exercises that are not great compositions since there are so many phenomenal etudes that are also great pieces of music like Chopin, Liszt and Moskovsky. Student level etudes of Heller and others also offer fine music that explores technical challenges.

In the case of Hanon, the 1st 10 exercises are useful in developing strength in preparation for working on scales and arpeggios. It's important to work every day for some time, perhaps 10 minutes on scales and arpeggios. First, learning all major and minor scales and arpeggios working with the metronome at 1, 2 and 4 notes to the beat at 60 beats per minute. When that is mastered, the speed can be increased over time. Eventually scales can be practiced in contrary motion as well as in 3rds, 6ths and 10ths.
Humberto Cruz * VSM MEMBER * on June 13, 2013 @5:09 am PST
Thanks for your quick reply, your thoughts pretty much mirror mine -- I'd much rather get my technical practice with a Chopin etude. I also have been pretty faithful on practicing scales and arpeggios over several octaves daily, can attest to its importance. Thanks again..
Toya Harvey on June 12, 2013 @8:47 am PST
How can I find a recording of First Piano Quartet's (radio, 1940's) Theme of Paganini?
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on June 12, 2013 @6:46 am PST
Thank you for your suggestions. It striked a chord when you said to "get away from the music for awhile". It is just what I am doing after practicing and practicing the same pieces for a long time, and it started to get boring!
LUIZ SETTE * VSM MEMBER * on June 12, 2013 @6:15 am PST
Yes, indeed, Master Robert, this is kind of a mistery to me: let that hard score aside for a couple days, forget its existence and when you get back to it , miracle! : things seemed to have worked silently in your brain, you can play better, recurrent flaws don't show up anymore and...well, we just play better! Isn't that awesome?
Jean-Marc Fabri on June 12, 2013 @5:34 am PST
Thanks Robert!
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