Robert Estrin - piano expert

Going from Loud to Soft

Master the art of playing loud and soft in the same phrase

In this video, Robert tackles the best technique to play passages with sudden loud and soft dynamics. Robert features an excerpt taken from Beethoven's famous Appassionata Sonata.

Released on April 2, 2014

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

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin here at with another piano technique video. Today's subject is how to go from very loud to very soft very quickly. All right. I'm going to use the beginning, or near the beginning of the Beethoven's "Appassionata" sonata. And there's a section that has these massive chords, and then it gets very quiet. Listen to what I'm talking about.


There's huge dynamic range there. Beethoven was one of the first composers to explore this capability of the piano because the piano had developed to a point where it can handle this sort of dynamic range. This is a later work of Beethoven. His earlier works, you'll notice, don't have that kind of dynamic range because the instruments weren't capable of it. So how can you achieve that? Well, first of all, it's very important on the piano to get a beautiful sound, to play close to the keys using the weight of the arm. Because if you go from above, you can get a very ugly, harsh sound, as I can demonstrate.

Sounds very bang, doesn't it? Because when you caress the keys with great force, it's still a beautiful sound, just like if you punch somebody, it will hurt, but a great masseuse can put a tremendous pressure and it feels good. It works in the muscles because it's gradual. It's the same thing with a piano. You get a gorgeous sound by caressing the keys with firmness rather than slapping them, which gets the harsh edge to the sound.

Now, when going and transitioning from a very loud to the very soft, it's very important to give time for the loud sound to dissipate in the room in the air. Because if you're playing in a hall, there's reverberation, and those loud chords will hang over. So you have to make just a little extra time, and more than that, delineate the top note so they come through the reverb that's still hanging on from the loud chords previous to it. If I don't do that, listen how you lose the first notes of the pianissimo right after the crashing chords.

It's not quite clear. You want that first note to have enough time and enough energy on the top voice. So it comes through like this.


So there are many things to explore with this music. You have to always consider the sound that you're getting from the instrument and the room you're playing in. Stay close to the keys exerting great energy, and you'll get a beautiful fortissimo on a well-voiced piano that will never get harsh or ugly. And remember, after very loud chords, delineate the top notes, take a little bit more time, so the sound in the air of the loud chords can dissipate and the quiet notes can still be heard. Thanks so much for joining me. 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

Comments, Questions, Requests:

James Potter on January 13, 2018 @12:31 pm PST
Hi Robert My name is James Potter, I am an accomplished pianist and I have been teaching my cousins piano for about a year now. can please post a video of tips on how to teach young children? if you could that would be very helpful.
Questions? Problems? Contact Us.
Norton Shopping Guarantee Seal