Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Take Your Phrases Further in Music

Learn how to improve the performance of phrases

In this video, Robert gives you tips to improve the performance of musical phrases. Although the examples in this video apply to the piano, all instrumentalists can learn the same concept to be applied to their own instrument.

Released on March 1, 2023

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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'm Robert Estrin and this is How to take your phrases further in music.

You know, the biggest challenge sometimes when you're playing lyrical music is being able to control the ends of phrases to get a nice diminuendo. Like for example in the second movement of Clementi's Sanatina in C major, Op. 36, No. 1.

Now I purposely played simple trills that are effective, that you can negotiate easily, so you don't have to be distracted with highly ornamented trills. It's not necessary to get the beauty of this music. Trills are left up to you. If you want to play more notes, by all means, but don't spend an inordinate amount of time on just being able to play fast trills. Instead concentrate on the beauty of the music and creating a singing line. Of course the challenge of this movement, like so much other music, is twofold. It's the vertical and the horizontal. You want to have melody above accompaniment throughout and you also want to have the rise and the fall of each phrase. So the secret to be able to control phrase endings to make them quiet is to peak later in your music. Remember to start softly so you can grow in the middle of the phrase and keep growing further than the middle so that the ends of the phrases don't end up like this. Now I'm going to play it without peaking. I'm going to peak more in the middle instead of later in the phrase and watch how difficult it is to end these phrases quietly.

You can see not only is it hard to control, but it loses the intensity, the support. It sounds like a singer who doesn't have enough air at the end of a phrase. Once again it's all about utilizing the arm weight, which you can look at some of my previous videos to understand what I'm talking about there. But by and large you can make life so much easier for yourself and make the music have more life by supporting the phrase further than the middle so that the phrase endings have a nice taper and you don't struggle to end a phrase without notes dropping out. I'm sure you can hear a huge difference there. Once again I'll play just that first section, playing the phrases, peaking later so that the phrase endings can be beautifully controlled.

You can make life so much easier for yourself while creating a longer musical line that projects all the way to the end of the phrase without worrying about notes dropping out. So that's a tip for today. If you like these videos consider subscribing, ringing the bell with a thumbs up, and once again Robert Estrin at Go to for the accompanying article to this video. See you next time. Thank you so much for joining me.
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