Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Play One Hand More Loudly Than the Other on the Piano

Learn how to deal with an important piano technique

In this video, Robert talks about a very important piano technique that you can apply to any kind of repertoire. One of the most famous Chopin's Nocturnes is also featured in this video.

Released on December 31, 2014

  
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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

Hi. I am Robert Estrin. Welcome to livingpianos.com and virtualsheetmusic.com, with a great viewer question. How do you play one hand louder than another on the piano? Well, I have another video which talks about how to play notes within one hand louder than the other, which you can reference after this video if you'd like. But this is a fundamental part of piano playing, and what makes it even more of a challenge is if you have a piece where you have slow notes that have to be louder than fast notes.

Why is that more difficult? Well, on the piano, the longer a note holds, the quieter it becomes. Therefore, when you have a slow melody against faster notes in the other hand, you must really accentuate the difference just to make them equal. Watch what happens, for example, if I play the Chopin Prelude in E Minor, and I play the hands absolutely with equal force. Listen how the right hand melody is completely covered up by the left-hand chords.

[Piano playing]

You don't even get a sense of the melody. Here is the way it should sound.

[Piano playing]

So how do you achieve that on the piano? Well, actually it's a very simple principle, and it's based upon the human voice. To get a singing quality on the piano requires a concept in your head that you initiate with weight of the arm. Now, how do you practice such a thing?

My father, Morton Estrin, taught me from a very young age to use arm weight and would demonstrate by playing on my arm, and what I noticed is that it wasn't just the beginning of the notes where I could feel the pressure. In fact, the entire time he was playing a slow melody, there's downward force. The weight of the arm then transfers from note to note. So it's completely fluid. You don't even feel one note to the next, much like the breath in a wind instrument or singing has a continuous effect upon the musical line.

So that's how you achieve it. Now, how do you get the other hand quietly? You make that other hand play quietly by using very, very minimal motion and minimal weight. So the left hand is just right on the surface of the keys, barely pushing the keys down, where the right hand is a heavy arm, leaning the full weight of the arm into the notes.

So as I am playing this note, I am still leaning just as heavily on this note the whole time it's holding, and the secret to getting the line is by leaning heavier and heavier as you are making a crescendo to the middle of the line and leaning lighter and lighter as you make the decrescendo, forming that beautiful phrase of the rise and the fall.

That is the secret to music, in general, and can also help you achieve balance of the hands. It's all in the weight of the arm. I hope this has been helpful for you, and I really thank you for the great viewer questions. Look for more videos. You could send in to Robert@livingpianos.com. Thanks for joining me here on both websites, including virtualsheetmusic.com. See you next time.
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