Robert Estrin - piano expert

Why you should sing your music

An interesting way to approach melody-based pieces on the piano

In this video, Robert gives you a very useful way to approach and better master compositions with a clear melodic line. He takes the Prelude in E minor by Chopin as an example, but the same concept can be applied to any other similar repertoire.

Released on July 2, 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

Welcome to I'm your host Robert Estrin with a very important subject today. The subject today is, "Why you must sing your music." That's right. Did you know that anybody going to music conservatory on the piano must sing in the choir or play an instrument in the orchestra? Because the piano is such a unique instrument. Interestingly, conversely to that, anybody who goes to music conservatory who is not a piano major must learn to play the piano. The piano has the benefit of a keyboard where you can play multiple lines and chords and harmonies, its visual, and had so much going for it, yet you can produce a tone without hearing it first. Not advisable but possible.

Singing is the absolute opposite of that. With singing, you absolutely must hear the notes first or you can't possibly sing them. So how does it help your music? Well, the shape of the piano tone is such that you have a sharp attack, a quick decay, and then a slow descending sustain. Now, music on the other hand is usually round phrases. Just like when I'm talking to you, there is a rise and a fall. Singing provides the same experience because it's on the breath. So for this example, I'm choosing the Chopin Prelude in E minor and if you listen to the melody alone without the left hand, it sounds pretty innocuous but itself, even though it's a lush, gorgeous piece. Listen, you'll see what I mean.

[Playing the piano]

And it goes on from there. You might not be able to make much sense of this. But if you sing the line, it opens up avenues of possibilities for you. In fact, there are so many different ways you can perform this piece. I have another video at how to approach the C minor Prelude that you should check out. I encourage you to listen to a variety of performances so you can get a feel for what's possible in this. But if you simply sing the melody to this or any of your other pieces, you'll understand intuitively the demands, where the breaths can actually occur. The rise and the fall will come to you as you sing it. I'm going to play the left hand part and attempt to sing the right hand part, so you can get a feel of what I'm talking about.

[Singing and playing the piano]

And you mustn't worry how it sounds. Don't be afraid to sing your music because you can understand the structure. You can understand where the music is going in a way that's all but impossible on the piano. Now after you have sung it, then when you play it, you will remember the line that you created. This is such a great technique for all your music. So listen to what it sounds like now; playing the melody with the left hand, remembering the lyrics as impossible by singing.

[Playing the piano]

So I hope this is helpful for you. Try a variety of your music, singing the melody line, and you'll understand what the composer intended because after all, the piano is an instrument of illusion. You get the illusion of a singing line, so you must understand the reality in order to create that illusion successfully. Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

wayne russell * VSM MEMBER * on July 2, 2014 @3:47 am PST
Thanks Robert!

Now I know why my teacher tells me to sing my pieces!

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