Robert Estrin - piano expert

Why You Must Play on More Than One Piano

A valuable tip for becoming a better musician.

In this video, Robert tells you how playing different pianos helps you grow as a musician and a better pianist.

Released on April 27, 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 I'm Robert Estrin. Today the subject is why you must play on more than one piano. Now I am very fortunate because I'm always surrounded by pianos. As a matter of fact, when I was born there was a piano in my bedroom, and upstairs my father had two pianos up there. So I've always been surrounded. We had four pianos in our house most of the time growing up. There was a time early when I was first married that we had 27 pianos in our house, in our home. Yeah, it was basically, people would call me for piano lessons, and usually people didn't have pianos. This was before the days that you could just buy a digital piano that would be serviceable for a beginning student. So I made it my business to have lots of inexpensive pianos around.

So I've been surrounded by pianos my entire life. Now of course, with Living Pianos, I always have, I've got a concert grand Steinway here and a 6' 2" Steinway, a Mason & Hamlin. I've got a Knabe here. So I am loaded with pianos. I got a Chickering upstairs, but what about you? How can you play more than one piano, and why should you? Why is it so important? Well, my wife is a flutist. My daughter is a violinist and naturally most instrumentalists can take their instrument with them wherever they go. So it's no surprise, just show up. Now the acoustics may offer certain challenges that you're not used to, but at least you have your own instrument with you.

As pianists, we don't have that luxury. Unless you're only playing for yourself by yourself in the same place all the time, you never want to play for anybody else, you never want to play with anybody else, then maybe you don't need to play on more than one piano. But for most of us, you want to be able to play, at school, at church, at friends' houses. Maybe you even play occasional concerts or at least informally, and when you sit down at a piano, you haven't played before everything feels different. The pedals respond differently. The touch is different. The tone is different and the only way you can really learn to overcome that is by playing other pianos.

Naturally, if you're playing a concert, you want to have a chance to try out the piano, if at all possible. Sadly, a lot of times it's not possible. You get to the hall maybe a few minutes before and there's noise. Maybe they're vacuuming. You never get a chance to try it out. I've got new news for you. Even if you get that opportunity to play a piano in a hall before a performance, or even in somebody's home, if it's an in-home concert, an informal gathering, you try the piano out, once the people come into the room, it changes the acoustics, and it feels so different.

So how can you play different pianos? Well, of course you can try to go to piano stores although piano stores are not there for that purpose, and you might not be welcome just to play pianos there. But some stores might allow you if you ask, them very nicely if there's any time that they could possibly allow you to play a piano, assuming you're not in the market. Now if you're in the market for a piano, of course, they will welcome you to try different pianos. But I would never suggest that you pretend you're looking for a piano and waste their time because they're very busy and that is their work. You don't want to take their precious time away from their job.

Another thing you can do is oftentimes schools have multiple pianos, if you can figure out how to get in and play those pianos, so maybe at your own school or church or some other place. If you're on vacation, and you're like me, and you're jonesing and for a piano, you might scope out the bar to see if there's a piano there, or maybe tucked away in a corner outside of some of the convention rooms. I always make a beeline for these pianos. So there are many different places you can try out pianos. It's really important. The way the tone develops, for example, in the base on larger grand is so different from that of a spinet or a console piano. If you're playing on digital pianos all the time, you don't even have anything close to the feel of a grand piano, even an upright. So it's really vitally important if you want to be able to adjust to pianos that you go to.

Now is that the only benefit? Far from it. You will learn so much about your playing, about your technique when you play other instruments. You may discover that a problem you thought you had is your piano. Maybe your piano doesn't repeat fast enough. Maybe the regulation isn't great. Maybe the tone of your piano is lacking in one area or another, and you're constantly overcompensating. When you go to other instruments, you realize how individual your piano is because every single piano is different. In fact, even pianos of the same make and model, brand new, are markedly different from one another. Each instrument is its own work of art.

So try to play on different pianos any opportunity you get. You will grow as a pianist and a musician, discovering new possibilities of tone and phrasing, finding new technical solutions on a different action. Try it out. Let me know how it works for you. Again, I'm Robert Estrin. This is, your online piano resource. Thanks so much for joining me and subscribing. We'll see you next time.
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