Robert Estrin - piano expert

Does playing the guitar hurt your piano playing?

Can playing one instrument affect your playing of another?

In this video, Robert discusses how playing 2 instruments can affect each other.

Released on July 22, 2015

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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'm Robert Estrin, and this is and with a viewer question. Does playing the guitar hurt your piano playing? This is a great question and I'm glad to address this. I've had similar questions about playing different musical instruments and different styles. For example, does playing jazz hurt your classical playing, which you can reference that video?

My personal feeling is the more you assimilate musically, the richer musical experience you have to offer in all your music. Now, in music conservatory, I actually majored in piano and French horn. That's right. I always felt that epiphanies I had in one instrument always translated to the other.

Guitar and piano are very different instruments. They share one aspect that is quite unique among musical instruments in that they have a rich polyphony, that is, you can play many notes at the same time on both the piano and the guitar, which is unusual among most musical instruments. However, the piano offers a visually very easy way to understand music theory because of the half step arrangement of the keys, whereas guitar is a little bit different because the strings are tuned at different intervals to one another.

I could see that the piano could be very beneficial to the guitar. How could the guitar possibly be beneficial to piano playing? One thing is that on the piano once you strike a note, with the exception of what you can impart tonality-wise with the pedaling, the tone is right there and there's not much you can do with it. The guitar, you can bend notes. You can impart vibrato. There's all sorts of expressiveness you can impart in your playing.

Why does that translate to the piano? When playing the piano, you must imagine these things and be able to try to get some sense of these type of alterations of tone with what you can do with voicing and pedaling.

The long and short of it is play everything. Sing your music. Compose. Play different styles. Improvise. Sight read. Do it all. The more you do, the better musician you're going to be. Yes, one activity translates to another.

Thanks for the great questions. Keep them coming in to, and this is also Thanks for joining me, Robert Estrin.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Bill * VSM MEMBER * on February 20, 2019 @9:17 am PST
I understand about sitting down and playing through a piece of music on the piano. But how do people play the piano while singing? Isn't it, as someone has said, like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time? It seems to me that just because you can play a melody competently on the piano doesn't mean you can accompany yourself competently while singing without using a somehow completely different skill-set - yet nobody ever mentions this. Playing and singing while accompanying yourself on rhythm guitar is one thing, but the piano is a different animal.
wayne russell * VSM MEMBER * on February 20, 2019 @2:51 am PST
Thanks Robert,

I can relate to this since I played both the French horn and guitar when I was younger, and am now also singing in a community chorus, which is also helpful with my piano endeavors!
Julia Bard on February 20, 2019 @2:33 am PST
I had to give up the classical guitar when I returned to playing the piano because you need long nails on your right hand to play classical guitar, which makes it incompatible with the piano.
Ken Cory on September 23, 2015 @8:56 am PST
Knowing guitar is good for a rock or blues keyboard player, because you can learn the basic guitar chords and voice your piano chords to reinforce them, or to contrast with them. And that's just ONE of the benefits.
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on July 22, 2015 @6:57 am PST
Great answer. I started piano at age 2, then as a teenager I was taking singing lessons and someone let me borrow a guitar, I had no problem self-teaching myself to play the guitar mostly cords to accompany my "rock-n-roll" singing. Some 10 years later I joined the Washington Swiss Folklore Group as a singer and dancer, but soon the director of the group passed away and we were left without his accordion accompaniment. I bought an accordion and I had no problem to learn that instrument also, at least enough to accompany the group, but I went further than that on my own. More recently, I also took a few organ lessons. No problem either, it just took a bit of getting used to the different touch and response of the organ keys.
wayne russell * VSM MEMBER * on July 22, 2015 @3:46 am PST
Thanks Robert! Great comments,as I also played French horn and guitar before the piano and always wondered about this question.
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