Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Get Better at Playing The Piano

Simple tips to improve your piano playing

In this video, Robert gives you a few simple and practical tips to improve your piano playing easily and fast.

Released on January 12, 2022

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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 living ianos.com. I'm Robert Estrin here for you. The question today is how to get better at playing the piano. There's so many things. Of course, everyone would go practice. Well, that's so obvious. And of course, how you practice is a whole other subject for another video, because I know people who practice incessantly and don't get anywhere, because how you practice is key. But as I said, that's a whole other discussion. Today we're going to talk about other things aside from practicing, the obvious thing.

Number one, immerse yourself in music. Listen to music on recordings, go to concerts, and if you have friends who love music, or better yet, friends who are musicians, talk with them, and read books about music, watch films about musicians and music videos of various sorts of concerts, musicals. Just total immersion. Man, that makes all the difference in the world. Watching great pianos on YouTube. So immersion.

What else can you do? Well, one of the most obvious things in the world is to play every day. I mean every day, unless you're absolutely can't, you're on vacation or you're really sick in bed. Practicing every day, of course, was great, but simply playing every day makes such a huge difference in how you progress on the instrument. Of course, if you also practice every day and you practice effectively, that's awesome.

Another thing you could do that really can help you to become a better pianist is to play on fine pianos whenever there's an opportunity. I remember when I was at music conservatory, I would always kind of sneak in anywhere there was a concert grand. I shamefully admit, I used my ID late at night to break into some of the teaching studios to play on really well prepped Steinways.

I used to go down on the pit of the musical arts center, where they had this huge, the lowering stage for the pit. There was a concert grand on that, and I used to climb down there. I probably shouldn't have been doing that because it wasn't meant to go down there, but I did. And of course I'd get kicked out, but if I could get even 10 minutes on an instrument like that, it's like, ah. I'd know what I was striving for. So anytime you can play on a fine piano, it makes a world of difference in what you'll learn, not just from playing that piano, but play on any piano, you'll have a clear idea of what you're after and what's possible in your music.

Of course, getting a great teacher can be a godsend in getting better at playing the piano. A teacher can not only improve your playing by showing you how to approach different sections of the music to play it differently, assigning appropriate material. But a teacher also can guide your practice and show you exactly what you should be doing day after day in your daily work to maximize the effectiveness and the productivity of the playing that you're doing and the practicing and the work that you're doing.

So if you're not getting it from your teacher currently, seek out a teacher who shows you what to do. If you get home and after a lesson, you go, "Oh, that was great. Now, what do I do?" Then that's not the right teacher. You should be filled with more than a week's worth of work and know exactly step by step how to approach that if you have the right teacher.

Another thing that's really great is simply playing for people. You can practice and practice and practice and practice, but as soon as you play for somebody, it feels different, doesn't it? I'm sure you all relate to that, because practicing and playing are not the same thing. When you play for people, that is the moment of creation. When you're practicing, you're just preparing for that moment, but you're not really experiencing the performance the way you do.

Even if you're just playing for a friend or playing for family members, it is a different experience and you will grow tremendously from playing for people on a regular basis. Make yourself do it. Start off with people who are supportive and loving, who don't mind if you mess up, but make it a performance. Don't stop. Play all the way through for better or for worse so you get used to recovering. So you're in an actual performance, you'll know how to deal with situations of stress and you practice in a low stress situation with people who will forgive you.

If you have any musician friends, play with them. Playing with musicians, particularly musicians who are better than you are, is an amazing experience for growth. You will learn so much playing with fine musicians. The sense of balance, rhythm, the nuance of vibrato in romantic period music. You'll learn tremendous amounts playing with musicians. Any opportunity you have to play with people, even if they aren't better than you, you will learn something from it. Especially as pianists, we play alone so much of the time that if you could have any opportunity to play with other people, whether it's accompanying them or jamming with them on something informal, you will learn something. I promise you.

Last one you might not expect, which is sing. Yes, you don't have to be a professional singer or anything, but you know, piano, you can play a note without hearing it first. Singing, that's impossible and many instruments just to be able to get the notes to come out, you have to kind of hear them in your head first. For example, I also play the French horn. French horn has so many different notes you can get on the open horn that you have to hear the notes first really to successfully achieve them. By singing, you'll learn your music better and you'll gain a connection between the keys you're pushing with your fingers and the sound they create. You'll develop your ears. You'll be better at improvising and playing different styles of music. And it will help for recovering in the inevitable finger slip or memory issues in performance from singing your music and developing your ear.

So those are all different things you can do. And guess what? They're all fun and enriching. As long as you love the piano, you'll want to do these things anyway. So you can look at the notes to see, to refresh. If you didn't catch all of these, look at the description below the video, or here on livingpianos.com, your online piano resource. Thanks for joining me. Again, I'm Robert Estrin. And if you hit that bell and subscribe, you'll know about future videos when they come out for you. See you then.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Robert Estrin on January 16, 2022 @8:22 am PST
That's a good one!
Allen Bales on January 16, 2022 @4:40 am PST
As a teacher for piano I always advised my students, "Practice only on the days you eat."
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