Robert Estrin - piano expert

Should You Learn to Play The Piano One Hand at a Time?

Learn how to address the popular "one-hand" piano practice

In this video, Robert talks about practicing the piano one hand at a time. Is that something you've always wanted to do?

Released on May 13, 2020

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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. The question today is, should you learn how to play the piano with one hand first? I have seen so many what they call primer level books that are really elementary piano methods that go on and on and on with just right hand alone, left-hand alone. So the question is, is this a good way to learn the piano? I would say with very few exceptions this is not a good approach. Now, what exceptions? First of all, very, very young children. Let's say you have a three-year-old or a four-year-old champing at the bit to learn piano, but they've got tiny hands, short attention spans.

Maybe it isn't a really good time, but you want to do something with them. You don't want to say, "No, you may not play the piano." So maybe you show them how to do some simple things with one hand just to get the feet wet to see what it's like a little bit, not really serious study. But anybody who's really studying the piano unless they have hand problems, which is another issue, here's a reason why you must from the very beginning of studying the piano delve into playing hands together.

Now, this isn't to say that you shouldn't practice hands separately. As a matter of fact, it's an essential technique on the piano. And that's how you learn music is mastering a small section at a time, hands separately, and yes, putting the hands together. It's kind of like if you want to learn how to ride a bicycle, and you thought, "Oh, I'll just learn with one leg." You miss the whole point of the experience. And so it is with the piano. The most intrinsic difficulty of the piano is being able to play the hands together. Therefore, you must not avoid it. You need to face it. How? By practicing intelligently with small chunks where you do practice each hand separately and put them together slowly and get the feel for it.

If the music is simple enough, you should be able to play something has together. And as you mature, you'll be able to play more and more complex music hands together, of course, always relying upon hands separate work when necessary. So, that's a simple answer to this. Hands separate on the piano? You know, it doesn't really have much relevancy in my opinion. We'd love to hear from all of you. Your questions are welcome for future videos. You're welcome to subscribe and ring the bell. Again, I'm Robert Estrin here at Thanks so much for joining me.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

amber chiang on May 20, 2020 @9:30 pm PST
by hands together, do you mean at the same time? Beginning songs have left hand one measure, right hand one measure, for example. would you consider that hands together? thanks!
Robert - host, on May 21, 2020 @11:52 am PST
Music where hands play separately only does not prepare one for playing the piano which by its nature involves playing the hands at the same time the vast majority of the time.
Beth * VSM MEMBER * on May 13, 2020 @9:00 am PST
Is there a publisher of piano books that starts sooner than others playing both hands together? The basic beginner books I have seen drag out hands separate too long.

Thank you,
Beth M.
Robert - host, on May 13, 2020 @1:55 pm PST
Unless you are teaching extremely young children (pre-school), playing the piano with only one hand at a time is not an effective way to learn to play the piano. I have taught countless beginning children and have always taught hands together from the very first lesson.
Beth * VSM MEMBER * on May 13, 2020 @2:48 pm PST
Do you have a preferred piano lesson book that does this?
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