Robert Estrin - piano expert

Robert Estrin - Meet The Piano Expert

Got questions about the piano? Post your questions, get your answers

Robert Estrin shares his piano expertise with our audience.

Released on March 20, 2012

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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Rayan Tan on December 17, 2017 @6:52 pm PST
Hi Robert,
i am a beginner pianist and currently i am questioning myself whether or not the way i am practicing songs is going to put me to a disadvantage if i ever decide to become a professional musician some day.

So here is what I do,I listen to the song i want to play multiple times and memorize the rhythm.Afterwards i use a music sheet and practice the song part by part without counting the beats at all(i could get the beats right only because i have listen to the song so many times).I practice a part of the song until I can play it with my eyes close and completely rely on Muscle memory.Next I move on to the next part of the song and I after I finishing practicing the song,I need little help from the music sheet,and I am only able to play the song by completely relying on muscle memory.

so my questions are:
Is the way I am practicing right now ,relying so much on muscle memory, going to benefit me in any way?
Is not counting the beats while practicing a bad habit?
do professional pianists also count the beats while practicing?
how do professional pianist usually practice?

ps. Sorry if my english is bad
Brian * VSM MEMBER * on December 6, 2017 @12:11 pm PST

Do you know of anyone that publishes Bach's fugues with each voice printed separately? I'm specifically interested in Fugue in G Minor (little Fugue). I don't have the experience yet to do this on my own and would like to see how he structured this music.

Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on December 6, 2017 @3:27 pm PST
Hi Brian and thank you for your comment. I am not sure Robert has an answer to your question, but from my own knowledge, I am not aware of any edition around with each single voice printed separately. It is my understanding that what you are looking for is some sort of transcription for a voice ensemble. Am I right?
Brian * VSM MEMBER * on December 6, 2017 @4:19 pm PST
Correct. It's almost incomprehensible to me how these could be composed with all the voices simultaneously.
Robert - host, on December 6, 2017 @4:21 pm PST
You might look for existing transcriptions that break out the voices into separate parts. Otherwise you could engage someone who is fluent with music notation software to transcribe selected fugues.
Bal Simon on November 27, 2017 @8:14 pm PST
What connects the movements of a symphony or a sonata, etc., that makes it different from the same number of separate tone poems?
Robert - host, on November 28, 2017 @11:25 am PST
Movements of a musical work are like chapters of a book or scenes of a play. Together they form a cohesive whole rather than separate tone poems or other independent compositions.
Bal Simon on November 28, 2017 @12:54 pm PST
Thank you, Robert. But I was wondering more in terms of keys, rhythms, harmonic structures, etc. For instance, The Lemminkainen (Four Legends) Suite ( by Sibelius consists of four tone poems. But Sibelius didn't call it a symphony. Similar remarks regarding his Karelia Suite in 3 parts. Yet his 7th symphony consists of a single movement. I find myself wondering what's in a name?
Cao on October 25, 2017 @5:52 pm PST
Dear Mr Robert Estrin,
I enjoy your music lessons and thank you very much for that. Would you teach me the 'sus' chord for example Csus2, Csus4...
Respectfully yours
Robert - host, on October 28, 2017 @12:18 pm PST
That's a good subject for a future video - thanks!
wayne russell * VSM MEMBER * on October 11, 2017 @3:30 am PST
Is it OK to warm up with pieces you have learned before instead of boring exercises?
Robert - host, on October 11, 2017 @12:08 pm PST
Absolutely! As long as you warm up with sensible music, you can certainly play music to limber up your hands.
Lynn * VSM MEMBER * on October 6, 2017 @6:26 pm PST
I absolutely love your videos and am learning so much. Although I have only been taking piano lessons for 2 month. This week my piano teacher has given me Chopin.. Waltz in A minor.. it is beautiful...Thank you for all you do for us!
Robert - host, on October 9, 2017 @11:50 am PST
Good going on learning the Chopin Waltz in A-minor - enjoy!
André * VSM MEMBER * on September 21, 2017 @9:54 am PST
Hi Robert, could you give some tips on how to play trills? My arm and fingers always tend to cramp up and the trills sound to heavy and slow. Thanks!
Robert - host, on September 23, 2017 @11:50 am PST
Here is a video on how to play trills on the piano: You can search among hundreds of free videos and articles with key words here:
Elie ZIADE on September 20, 2017 @2:27 pm PST
Good evening Sir.
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge in music.
Could you please give a hint for identifying inverted chords by ear in their first and second inversions?
Ive been struggling with this since a while.
Ive already mastered major, minor augmented and diminished in their root but im finding difficult to identify the root and the first inversion for example.
Thank you again.
Robert - host, on September 20, 2017 @4:17 pm PST
If the chords are played with only 3 notes (not voiced with doublings) an easy way to identify inversions is by listening to the top notes. A Major triad in 1st inversion will have the tonic on top. (C-Major chord in 1st inversion has C on top.) A second inversion chord has the 3rd on top. (A C-major chord in second inversion will have E on top.) That might be easier to hear than listening for the bottom notes.
Elie ZIADE on September 21, 2017 @11:06 am PST
Good Evening again Sir,
The exercise i've been given are randomly generated chords via a software and not following a certain Tonality. Perhaps, and if not mistaken the method you have mentioned could help if we are within a certain tonality where we can always evaluate a note with respect to a tonic.
However, being randomly generated leaves us with only the option of identifying the chord by its sound quality. Is there any hints at this point? Please correct me if i'm wrong or if i misunderstood the method you have mentioned.
Thank you so much again.
André Van haren * VSM MEMBER * on August 30, 2017 @2:52 am PST
Hi Robert. From the first time I studied piano in 1983 and all the way through Conservatory, I have had the problem that my long thin fingers end up playing on their nails, it’s some kind of reflex I must have developed, maybe because there’s isn’t enough space for my long fingers between the black keys. So as a result there is always my nail ticking sound and less control of the performance because of lack of a good contact with the keys. Do you have some suggestions how I can solve this?

Robin on August 23, 2017 @12:56 pm PST
Hi Robert,
I have a question about the Waltz in Aminor from Chopin. I now play this piece after 2 years of piano experience and have two problems, which are about trilling with the fingerings 3,4 and 2,4,3
At the first one, I'm too slow, because my hand starts to get tired and I play very irregular. The Problem with the 2,4,3 trill is, that I am too fast for the first key to get up again.
It would be really nice to see a video about techniques like this, especially in chopin pieces like his Aminor Waltz.

with kindest regards,
Robert - host, on August 26, 2017 @4:33 pm PST
Fingering is a deep topic, not just for trills. I suggest you seek out several authoritative fingered editions for reference. In addition, a great teacher can be invaluable.
Robin on August 28, 2017 @3:28 am PST
Thanks for the reply, I'll definitely ask my piano teacher about that problem, when she comes back from summer holiday.
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