Robert Estrin - piano expert

A Secret Octave Technique for Piano

An easy technique you can apply to your piano octaves

In this video, Robert teaches you a new and little-known technique to improve your octaves on the piano. If you play the piano, you don't want to miss this video!

Released on September 10, 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, and welcome to and We've got a great show for you today, "Secrets of Octave Technique." You know, I've had videos in the past you can reference that show the basics of what octave technique is and how to develop it. But the other... The couple of weeks ago, a very dear friend of mine and phenomenal pianist, Jeffrey Biegel was touring through Southern California performing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue at the Verizon Amphitheatre with the Pacific Symphony. And we got together and spent a delightful evening together. And in fact, there's an interview that will be posted soon, that you'll get to meet Jeff and find out about his great piano playing.

But one of the things I mentioned to him was that I was performing the Liszt B minor Sonata, which is a mammoth work. It's a 30-minute one movement. It's got everything and it's a great piece. I've been somewhat obsessed with this lately. And I mentioned it to him. He said, "Of course, octaves," and he went to the piano, started playing octaves, and he goes, "Curl the second finger." I said, "What?" And he said, "Yeah, the secret is curling the second finger." And I had never heard that before, and I started incorporating it into my technique. And sure enough, it creates a more relaxed feeling by curling the second finger.

To refresh a little bit about the basic octave technique is that it comes from the wrist because the arms are not fast enough to play octaves, as I could demonstrate. Of course, when you play with the wrist, then you go much more quickly. But what is it about curling the thumb under that helps? Well, I want you to try this because I'm going to play octaves now with the second finger straight out. I'm naturally curling that second finger. I've gotten so used to doing it now. It actually relaxes the hand. It has something to do with how it impacts the muscles because, as I've described before, creating an octave technique is like an arch. Equalizing the power of the pinky to the strong thumb, you can actually impart equal weight on both fingers by utilizing the arch. By curling the second finger, it makes this position much more effortless.

So when you get into an octave position, try curling your second finger. That's the tip today. Reference the other video for the fundamentals of octave technique, and thanks so much for joining me. Robert Estrin here at and And thank you Jeff Biegel for the octave tip for everyone. See you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Laura Impastato on September 10, 2014 @10:12 am PST
Wonderful technique secret! Will help a young student with her first multi-octave work. Seems quite simple but it does work. I, too have a habit of curving the second finger; actually had forgotten it was part of the technique I should be passing along.
Lois Owsley * VSM MEMBER * on September 10, 2014 @4:31 am PST
Never heard this....thanks for the tip!!!
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