Robert Estrin - piano expert

What is Extreme Voicing on the Piano?

Learn this interesting and unique piano technique

In this video, Robert teaches you about "Extreme Voicing" on the piano, and how this unique technique can improve your piano playing.

Released on March 8, 2017

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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 am Robert Estrin with a really fascinating show today, "Extreme Voicing on the Piano." I've done other videos about how to the voice things, different techniques. For example, playing the line you want to be brought out legato while playing all the other notes gently and staccato from the fingers is a great practice technique.

What I'm talking about today, though, is something a little bit different. Something I noticed when I was a student, a serious student in conservatory, when I would listen to performances and recordings of some of the great pianists, whether it was Richter, or Rubinstein, or a Horowitz, or just about anyone, I noticed that the melody was delineated much more than in student performances. That is to say the difference in the volume between melody and accompaniment was much greater. And this is something that I have taken to heart over the years. And there are a couple of really good examples and sometimes you listen to a performance of a slow movement, for example, it could even be the slow movement of the Pathetique Sonata of Beethoven. It could be played like this.

But here is another approach, where I'm going to bring out that melody on top extremely and play everything else incredibly delicately. It gives more of an intimate feel. Listen and see how you like it.

So, this is no right or wrong. It's just one technique you can bring to your music. Now, I will say this, though, there are times when this extreme delineation of voicing is really important. In very dense moving music of Rachmaninov and other composers, sometimes the melody can get all but lost unless you really punctuate it. A good example of this is the end of the Chopin Nocturne in C Minor, where there's just so much going on, and you could end up with something like this if you're not careful.

Where's the melody? You can't hear it. Why? Because there's so much going on, there are so many notes, this whole end section.

Now listen to it where I'm going to really exaggerate the difference between melody and accompaniment, so yes, you'll be able to hear that melody and without the clutter of all the other voices, which just end up being supportive. And this is the sound you can achieve.

So you see that there are some times you must delineate melody extremely. Practicing without the pedal and slowly, always a good technique. But particularly for dense writing like this, where you want to check your work, and be sure you're clear in your ears and in your hands where the melody is so that you can bring it out. So the listener doesn't have to be confused searching for the melody, you bring it right to their attention with your performance.

I hope this has been enlightening for you. Once again, Robert Estrin here at and Look forward to seeing you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Carol Ebert * VSM MEMBER * on March 9, 2017 @7:25 am PST
Yes! What a beautiful difference this makes!
By the way, I have the same style Steinway shown here. 1895, I think. What do you know about this piano?
Robert Estrin - host, on March 9, 2017 @4:46 pm PST
Here is a link to this instrument:

We ship pianos globally!
Carol Ebert * VSM MEMBER * on March 10, 2017 @8:36 am PST
Thank you so much for this information. I appreciate the speedy reply!
Carol Ebert
Janet Millette * VSM MEMBER * on March 8, 2017 @8:27 am PST
Please teach more about jazz, chord progressions and improvisation using chord progressions. I enjoy your teaching very much and have benefited greatly. I am not into playing classical music so much especially at the high level where you are.
Robert Estrin - host, on March 8, 2017 @2:53 pm PST
There will be more videos covering other aspects of jazz. You may want to check out my protege Bijan Taghavi's website for more help with jazz. He also offers Skype lessons:
Janet Millette * VSM MEMBER * on March 9, 2017 @8:20 am PST
Thanks, Robert. I will check out that website.
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