Robert Estrin - piano expert

Why You Should Not Play Expressively with Your Left Hand

Learn how to deal with expression in your left hand

In this video, Robert tells you why, most of the time, you should minimize the expression of your left hand.

Released on March 15, 2023

Share this page!
Post a Comment   |   Video problems? Contact Us!
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

It's really just subservient to the melody, which is what the audience is gonna go out singing at the end of the concert.

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin. The subject today is why you should not play expressively in your left hand. Thanks for joining me here on Now, this is a bold statement.

And in fact, there's qualifiers here. What am I talking about? Why shouldn't you be expressive in your left hand? Well, there are times when you should, and there are times when you absolutely should minimize the expression of your left hand, or whichever hand is accompaniment, which is usually your left hand. I'm gonna demonstrate by showing you a little bit of the slow movement of Mozart's famous C major sonata, cursor, 545. And I'm gonna play the left hand with as much expression as the right hand. And then I'm going to do it, playing the left hand very subservient, just a bit for the right hand to have all the expression. And you see which one you like better.

So all the natural rises and falls of the dynamics through the phrase as it gets to the top of the phrase and to the bottom was done equally with both hands. Now listen, if the left hand is minimally expressive, then almost all the expression is in the right hand.

Now naturally, it's a little bit of nuance in the left hand. It's almost impossible to avoid it. But by focusing the attention on the right hand and not overdoing the left hand, it makes the music much more rewarding because after all, nobody really is interested in hearing this.

It's really just subservient to the melody, which is what the audience is gonna go out singing at the end of the concert. So you wanna draw the attention to the melody and use the accompaniment as a bed for the music to float on. So that will make it much more musical because it doesn't distract from the beautiful melody. It just supports it. You know, orchestral musicians learn this, playing second horn or second flute, being able to be like one with that player, but always just enhancing the melody rather than overtaking it and taking attention away from it. And you can do the same thing in your piano playing. Now naturally, there are times when the melody is in the left hand and the opposite is true. For example, in Chopin's B minor Prelude, you have a melody in the left hand. Imagine playing equally expressively in both hands. It would end up like this.

Instead of letting the melody of the left hand just sing and letting the right hand be subservient. You can hear the tenderness and the subtlety of expression. You don't have to throw it on people's heads. Let them reach out and yearn to absorb that melody by making it readily available to them by not overshadowing it with the accompaniment. Usually the left hand, but as I showed you, not always. I'm wondering what all you think about that and your perceptions of the two different versions I played. Love to get your opinions on that here at and YouTube. Thank you all your subscribers and Patreon subscribers. Lots more content coming your way. Thanks again. Robert Estrin here at
Post a comment, question or special request:
You may: Login  or  
Otherwise, fill the form below to post your comment:
Add your name below:

Add your email below: (to receive replies, will not be displayed or shared)

For verification purposes, please enter the word MUSIC in the field below

Questions? Problems? Contact Us.
Norton Shopping Guarantee Seal