Robert Estrin - piano expert

Reinventing Yourself as a Musician

How expanding your music horizons can change your life

In this video, Robert talks about how music can be easily used to change your approach to life, your tastes, and your mindset.

Released on January 1, 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

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin at Today's subject is reinventing yourself as a musician. Now, what am I talking about here? Well, it's a funny thing in life, not just in music, there's an illusion that you can have a total stability, that you can just stay the same. It's impossible. Everything around you is constantly changing, even though some things seem stable because we live in a very limited realm of time and space, but if you actually try to stay the same, it's impossible. One proof of this musically is, let's say for example, you play a performance of a piece and it goes absolutely great, exactly the way you want it to. So the next time you perform that piece, you go, "Hey, I'm going to play it just like I did before." Guess what? It's never going to happen. You'll never be able to recreate that performance exactly the same,, any more than you could recreate a conversation with someone.

Each one is unique. Just the fact that you had that performance, now you are in a different mental state about that piece. You've experienced something new, it adds to your whole repertoire of performances and what it's all about. So, if you start chasing things you've done in the past, you'll never really move forward, and you'll never really reach those same Heights you reached before. Now, what are some ways you can reinvent yourself? Well, obviously studying new music that you've never done before is a tremendous way to enrich yourself, and add to your musicianship, and see things in a different light. Interestingly, learning a new piece of music not only offers you the possibility of playing new repertoire, it also is going to change your outlook on other pieces you've studied. For example, if you've studied several pieces of Beethoven, and you venture into a later piece of Beethoven, you might have understandings of Beethoven and how his mind worked and how his music comes together better, from studying more Beethoven.

But, it's not just that. You might study a completely different piece of music. You might even delve into a completely new style of music. Maybe you've never played jazz before, and you start learning some jazz. If you go back to your classical piece and realize, Whoa, this cadenza ... Like that cadenza in the G-minor by Chopin, is not dissimilar from a jazz riff of something improvised. In fact, we can think of these little cadenza passages in Chopin, as what Chopin might've done while improvising because it's not a structure like a Bach fugue. It's more spontaneous, gives us a glimpse what Chopin played like. Also, what are some other ways that you can have a new outlook of your whole musicianship? Well, having different instruments to play on is unbelievably valuable. Now, over the past, well my whole life, but certainly in the last 10 years, 15 years with Living Pianos, I've had the opportunity to play so many pianos that it's enlightening, and it's helped me to grow as a musician.

But even if you just have been practicing on the same piano all the time, and then you have an opportunity to play a nicer instrument, or if you've venture to buy a new instrument, it can change your whole outlook of music, because the sounds are different, the touch is different. Your connection is different. So you must completely reinvent yourself as a musician all the time. I remember my father, he always would learn new repertoires his entire life. Into his eighties he was learning mammoth new works, and when he'd sometimes see colleagues from years and years ago playing recitals, and he'd go, "That's the same program they played when they are at Julliard 25 years ago." He had no patience for that. You know what? Those pianists and other musicians who keep recycling the same music over and over again, they oftentimes stop growing. It's important to expand your repertoire, expand your playing experiences.

If you've always played recitals, maybe do chamber music. If you've always done solo recitals, maybe you've done concertos a great deal, maybe then you should try something else. Always expand your outlook. It'll keep you fresh. It keeps your music compelling, and it's the secret to growth, that's not only as a musician, but as a human being. You must give yourself new experiences all the time in order to keep life fresh and vibrant for yourself. I hope this has been a good lesson for you, and love to hear from you, and how you all feel about your music and reinventing yourself. Is this something you have done, and how has it worked for you? Put in the comments below, and remember to subscribe and hit that bell. You'll know about all our fresh videos. Again, I'm Robert Estrin at, your online piano store.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Jeanette Hamilton * VSM MEMBER * on January 2, 2020 @6:43 am PST
Great lesson, Robert! I needed to hear this at the beginning of a new year and new decade.At age 67 with arthritis in my hands, I tend to stick with my “tried and true” pieces. I think I will tackle some fresh new repertoire instead!
Robert - host, on January 2, 2020 @3:30 pm PST
Glad to hear I've inspired you to tackle some new pieces! Just be sure to provide yourself with adequate rest between practice sessions to allow your hands to relax.
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