Robert Estrin - piano expert

Does playing Jazz affect your classical music skills?

An effective answer to a common question among classical pianists.

In this video, Robert gives you an answer to a common question that classically-trained pianists ask themselves: does playing jazz affect my classical music skills?

Released on January 8, 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, this is Robert Estrin with and with an interesting subject today, does playing jazz hurt your classical playing? Now this is a great question. I've heard a lot of different opinions about this, so we're going to explore this today, and I will tell you right out front, I have an opinion about this which will soon become apparent. I know a lot of teachers, and when their students start playing jazz or rock, they're worried that they're worried that they're not going to have the delicate touch necessary for classical music. More than that, jazz is an improvised style where the exact notation is not really the part of the music, you want to just grab the basic structure and take off from there. That's the last thing you the world you want to do with a Mozart sonata, for example.

So is it going to hurt your playing? Well, I'll put it to you this way. Imagine you've grown up in this country your whole life and then you decide to study French. Is that going to destroy your English? I don't think so. And the way I look at it is you can expand your horizons. Now, it is necessary to know what style you're playing in. But this isn't just an issue of jazz versus classical, after all, when you're playing Chopin, you don't want to play with the same style as Mozart or Bach. Each period has its own demands of structure, articulation, and other factors in order to play the music so you bring the best out of it. There's no difference. Jazz is another style and I encourage students to explore different styles of music. And more than that, for anybody trying to go...have a career performing music, the more styles you can play, the more marketable you will be.

I have attached on here a couple of videos of an extremely talented student I worked with for years, Bijan Taghavi. And you'll hear, at 15 years old, he won a concerto competition, played the Grieg Concerto. He's also plays Rachmaninoff's, Tchaikovsky, all kinds of things. But more recently, he's gotten into jazz, and I put a little rendition for you of "Summertime" that he kind of was inspired by Oscar Peterson. Has he heard of his classical playing? Not at all. Although I will say, the challenge of finding time to practice all of that different music is the biggest challenge of all. So if you're willing to devote the time to it, you can enjoy all sorts of music.

Thanks for joining me. Robert Estrin here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Steve Borcich * VSM MEMBER * on June 1, 2022 @7:12 pm PST
Well said, Robert! A pianist who is adept at playing a wide range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, rock, soul-funk, Latin jazz, ragtime, top 40 and Broadway show tunes can always find work and make a successful living as a professional pianist!
Ken Cory on October 18, 2017 @8:02 am PST
I love playing both jazz and classical. I wouldn't have it any other way, and even if one style hurt the other style, so be it. After all, if you can play both jazz and classical, any other style is a piece of cake.
Robert - host, on October 18, 2017 @11:32 am PST
Diversity in music can be richly rewarding as in life - enjoy!
paul.plak * VSM MEMBER * on April 2, 2017 @1:43 pm PST
Hi Robert & editors

the summertime video seems to be no longer available ?

Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on April 3, 2017 @8:39 am PST
HI Paul. I am sorry, but I don't know what videos you are talking about, I don't think we have ever published videos about "Summertime". Unless I am missing something... please, could you tell me more?

Thank you!
Paul Plak * VSM MEMBER * on April 3, 2017 @9:36 am PST
Hi Fabrizio, in the video near the end there are two URL links that lead to two videos. One of these works, the other leads to summertime and this video cannot be reached.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on April 3, 2017 @5:44 pm PST
Oh yes, thank you Paul, I see that. Well, being this a video by LivingPianos, Robert can help with that. Robert and his team have edited this video. I guess that link is expired. Am I correct Robert?
Ken Cory on October 18, 2017 @8:05 am PST
You can just search Youtube for Bijan Taghavi. Lots of jazz and classical videos of him.
fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on March 30, 2017 @7:06 pm PST
I am a bit puzzled that having met a few professional classical musicians, one has played clarinet in the National Symphony Orchestra for 40 years, I find that they like jazz as their second preferred type of music. I just cannot see the two types of music being liked by the same person. Any idea why this seems to be fairly common? (I can't stand jazz! )
BarbaraRB * VSM MEMBER * on June 1, 2022 @8:25 am PST
Lots of people love multiple musical genres. I certainly do! Don't you like different genres of literature, different cuisines, different forms of art, etc.?
Laurin Poydras on March 29, 2017 @5:03 pm PST
Dear Mr.Estrin,

In my mind you are always the Mozart, the Beethoven, the magnificent one in the room; any room! Thank you for all your knowledge, you genius, your boundless energy, your "beautiful mind."
Laurin Poydras
Robert Estrin - host, on March 30, 2017 @11:44 am PST
I am humbled by your kind words - thank you.
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