Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to choose which repertoire to study

Selecting the correct music to play according to your skill level

In this video, Robert gives you an easy way to select your own repertoire according to your skill level, which will help you avoid struggles, frustration, and wasting time.

Released on April 9, 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, I'm Robert Estrin, here at and Today, the question is, "How do you pick the right repertoire to study?" Boy, this is very important, and one of the things about studying with a teacher is having somebody to guide you through that process. I'm going to give you some tips here today so you know if you're studying the right piece.

All right. Sometimes, teachers trying to glorify themselves are encouraged to give their students music that 's far above them because it's very gratifying to say, "Well, I've got somebody working on this Beethoven sonata and this concerto." And it makes them feel good, plus they're working on more interesting music. However, it's a real disservice if it can take months to learn a piece, especially at the early stages of study.

Here's the key. When you're a beginner or even intermediate student, you should not really be studying music that takes months and months to learn. Instead, you can learn many pieces along the way, and months later, you will have progressed to the level where are you can learn the piece that would have taken you months In a much shorter amount of time. So, instead of tackling a sonata that might take you six months to learn, maybe you could study a dozen pieces in that half a year, and by the time you reach that six-month mark, you are ready for that piece, and then you have a bunch of repertoire you've learned in the meantime.

So, pick music that you not only can learn in a reasonable amount of time, but the other key is, make sure it's a piece you can master. It's not of any value to learn a piece that you really can't play very well or up to speed. If you're studying a piece, and you've learned it, and you've practiced it, and you've played it for months, and you still can't play it up to speed, there's something wrong there.

Now, sometimes, when you get to a more advanced level, it is necessary to push yourself into a repertoire that's above you, just so you can reach a new level, and maybe you've reached the maturity where you can spend months learning a single extended work. But, make sure, in your formative stages, that you pace the repertoire of music you can master in a reasonable amount of time, developing more and more pieces that you can play on the highest possible level.

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

Ken Cory on January 17, 2018 @11:29 am PST
And in truth, many people who hear you play, at weddings, funerals, cocktail hours, receptions, etc., will have no idea of whether the music you're playing is difficult or not.
Robert - host, on January 19, 2018 @12:45 pm PST
For people who don't play piano, anyone who plays anything is very impressive!
David Faulk on April 9, 2014 @6:14 am PST
Mr Estrtin
What would you suggest as material for someone needing to retrain the left hand and basics of playing? Suggested scale and technique books would also be appreciated...Thank you
Robert - host, on April 9, 2014 @10:18 am PST
The appropriate repertoire or exercises are directly related to your level of playing. Slow scales and arpeggios played in both hands up and down the keyboard 4 octaves in all major and minor keys is excellent for building strength and endurance in both hands. Work with the metronome and gradually increase speed.

There are etudes that favor the left hand such as Chopin's Revolutionary. On a more intermediate level you could work on Burgmullur Ballade from Easy and Progressive Studies, 25 - Op.100. (both of which are available on Virtual Sheet Music).
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on January 17, 2018 @7:17 am PST
I am doing therapy for a problem with my right hand, in the meantime I am practicing Czerny, Op. 718, Twenty-Four piano studies for the left hand. Quite useful and fun at the same time.
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