Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Connect Sections of Music

Learn an important music technique to improve your performances

In this video, Robert talks about connecting sections of music for a better result. This rule is explained with practical examples on the piano, but can be easily applied to any instrument.

Released on September 16, 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

Hi, welcome to and I am Robert Estrin with a viewer question, which is how to connect sections in music. Now, recently I did a video on the band-aid approach, and I got a viewer asking me, "Well, what about... you fix all the problems, how do you put them all together?" Which got me to thinking, this would be a perfect subject, how to connect sections in music. And there's a lot more to this than you might think. So I'm using for an example, Clementi's Sonatina op. 36 no. 1 in C major. And I'm gonna play the first little section and then I'm going to explain how you might approach connecting a particularly difficult part of it.

So that's the exposition of the first movement. Now you notice in the very first section, there's the part that's a little bit difficult. Lot of students have difficulty with that one part, so you might practice a bunch on that. You might first practice it in thirds in the right hand and then perhaps plays the hands together again, with thirds on the right hand, then break it up as it's written. And you might even work with a metronome, increasing the speed, finally getting it all ironed out with various practice techniques and I could show you other techniques to learn this by the way.

You might think now you've got it. Let's see you do it three times in a row or five times in a row. You think, "Okay, I'm gonna start at the beginning and see if I can do it." And guess what happens. You get to it and you miss it again. Why should this happen? Well, you see, the problem is that if you've always missed it before and maybe you've played it a hundred times and never quite had it solid, even though you've played it five times in a row and you think you've got it, when you get there, you're going to forget to play it the right way because you're so used to playing it with, you know, sloppily. So you must first, here's the secret, start just a little bit before it. So instead of going all the way back to the beginning, start just right before it.

You might even just take a little hesitation at first so you realize, "Ah, this is the part I've practiced". Like this. That moment, just to relax and realize that yes, this is the part I can play perfectly five times in a row instead of just continuing on the way you have so many times before not playing cleanly there. Now after you get rid of that little gap and you can play it smoothly starting just before, then you go back to the beginning. And you might be surprised to find that even though you've played from right before many times perfectly just like you had just that section, now you've connected with the previous section, but when you start at the beginning guess what's going to happen. The first couple of times you play it, you might not have it smooth and it might not be accurate, because you're still used to missing it starting from the beginning.

So the secret to connecting sections is to first iron out the problem; second go back just before it until it's smooth, comfortable, accurate, and reliable, then go back further to either the beginning of the section or the beginning of the piece. I suggest stopping just before the new section many times to get comfortable with realizing you're there. Sometimes another technique is to start on that very first note after the section before, like this. So you play that note but don't continue on. It gives you the opportunity to relax so you're ready to go on, and this is how you solve the problem of integrating corrections within your music.

Just correcting is not enough. Remember, get it solid first, go back just a little bit, get that solid, then go back to the beginning of the whole section or movement and you will be able to integrate your corrections into your music. Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin, here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Ioannis Raftopoulos * VSM MEMBER * on January 25, 2021 @12:03 am PST
do you think that changing the counting in difficult parts is a good practice? example- a difficult part of a sonata with triplets sixteenths writen at a meaasure of 4/4, in order to make it more easy, inestad of measuring quqrter notes 1,2,3,4 measure 8th notes 1,2,3,4,5, up to 8...
hope you understood what I mean (counting while playing to be sure timing is corret)...
then, in a sonata containing sixteenths triplets we can measure o-ne-and, two-u-and etc...instead of o-o-o-o-ne-and etc...
thnak you anyway!
Ioannis Neoclis Raftopoulos
Robert - host, on January 25, 2021 @3:37 pm PST
Using subdivisions of the beat as you describe is helpful in figuring out rhythms. Once that has been accomplished, using a metronome to establish the beat can be quite beneficial
Ioannis Raftopoulos * VSM MEMBER * on January 30, 2021 @1:53 am PST
Hi! thank you for your quick reply! you described exactly the methdology that I follow.
I use the subdivision when starting to practice a new comoposition, while I still play at a very slow speed.
later, as you say I use the etronom.
thank you!
Ioannis Neoclis
Dale on January 13, 2021 @12:38 pm PST
My biggest challenge on the violin is integrating sauille bowing after on-string bowing (making a smooth transition). The speed has to first be fast enough to sustain the sautille bounce. Practicing slowly to get the string crossing and building up to the spring of the bow integrated with the fingers, then finally tying in the preceding on-string preceding section.
Larry on January 13, 2021 @7:26 am PST
Absolutely BRILLIANT. The idea of starting a bit before that difficult part opened my eyes to how to integrate corrections with the whole piece. I plan to apply this to my clarinet practice - it should work since your description of why we hesitate or still play a section poorly even though we have "got" that particular difficult part under control. Habits certainly haunt us.
Thanks for this important tip.
Robert - host, on January 13, 2021 @12:05 pm PST
You are right - this technique is applicable to all instruments. Hope this works well for you!
Norman Kaye * VSM MEMBER * on October 21, 2020 @3:43 am PST
Hello Robert,
Suppose I have a sheet of music from which is missing the key signature. Given enough measures, is it possible to establish the key and if so how?
Thanks in advance.
Norman Kaye
Robert - host, on October 21, 2020 @11:42 am PST
As long as the proper accidentals are written in the score, determining the key should be fairly easy. Without accidentals, it may be possible to guess at what the key should be. But there could be more than one possibility in that case.
Marge Shery on November 4, 2015 @7:15 am PST
This has been a major problem for me and you just explained it in such a way that I think I can do it. Thanks
Pat * VSM MEMBER * on September 16, 2015 @5:28 pm PST
Excellent advice! Applicable to all instruments, probably, -- definitely to my flute. Thanks!
Barbie * VSM MEMBER * on September 16, 2015 @1:29 pm PST
Thanks Robert, your a wonderful teacher!!!
Tony Lockwood * VSM MEMBER * on September 16, 2015 @10:17 am PST
Thank you, Robert, that was excellent. I am a learning clarinetist and I was able to 'transpose' that advice to my instrument. Now to put it into practice. : )
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