Robert Estrin - piano expert

Surfing on the Piano

An interesting concept to improve your musical interpretation

In this video, Robert talks about "waves" in piano playing...what does that mean? Watch the video to find out.

Released on January 22, 2020

Post a Comment   |   Video problems? Contact Us!
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, this is Robert Estrin at, your online piano store. Today's subject is surfing and playing the piano. Well, you might've clicked on this because you're wondering what the heck is this going to be about? Now I'm not talking about playing the piano while you're surfing, although that would be quite a trick, and I bet if I searched hard enough on the internet, I'd find somebody with some strap on piano keyboard doing it. It sounds like a fun thing to get a lot of views.

But what I'm talking about is the implications of the mentality of surfing and the mentality of playing the piano. Now maybe it's just because I've been living in California for a while that this thought even occurs to me, but there are times when I'm playing the piano that I feel that sense of going in and out of the wave. It's not the wave so much, but being in the zone when surfing.

Now, I've never surfed, just a disclaimer, so if I get this wrong, please any of you surfers out there let me know. But to be able to ride the wave, there are times you have to make a decision, a snap decision as to how you're going to negotiate what's in front of you because you can jump to a certain point that you think you can land on right, or you can try to play it safe and you have to instantly be able to make those decisions.

Well, for example, if I'm playing a piece that's got a lot of technical challenges in it, I might want to push the limits a bit, but make sure I land right where I don't fall down and wipe out. So for example, let's just take the first section of the B-flat, minor, pardon me, Scherzo. How far can I take this? I'm going to kind of push the envelope a bit on just this first section and you'll see what I mean where I'm taxing myself, going for it, and holding back and trying to ride the wave. Not too far, not too close. You have to challenge yourself, otherwise you'll lose steam on the whole musicality. But you've got to push far enough that you can keep it going.

So I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to play with abandon, because if I wipe out here nobody gets hurt, right? I'm just playing the piano. So here's the beginning of the B-flat minor Scherzo of Chopin. I'm going to push it to its limits and hopefully not wipe out and see if you can get a sense of what I'm talking about. As a matter of fact, I could even demonstrate playing it safe first. Let's do that. I'm going to play it safe first then I'm going to go back and play with more abandon where maybe I'll wipe out and maybe I won't. All right, here's the first one. The safe version.

There was nothing wrong with that, and quite honestly it's kind of hard for me to throttle down and in doing so, in some ways, I was in less control. Just like if you're trying to ride a wave safely, you might not keep going. You've got to take those risks and take those jumps at the right moment where you're going to land in the right place.

So now I'm going to let it go and see if it's better or worse. Let's find it out.

Well that was interesting, wasn't it? There were aspects of each that I liked and it's finding that balance of how far can you push things and still land in the right place? And that is the parallel with surfing. It's thinking instantaneously and being in the zone. More than that, I'd love to talk to any of you surfers out there, particularly those of you who are surfers who also play the piano. The fact that you have to get into a certain zone. We are not even thinking in words, you're just in the moment controlling what is around you and trying to stay on top of everything, whether it's a wave or it's Chopin, it's all the same. It's a mental state that you must achieve in your music and in life.

Thanks so much for joining me again. This is Robert Estrin here, at We'll see you next time.
Find the original source of this video at this link:
Post a comment, question or special request:
You may: Login as a Member  or  

Otherwise, fill the form below to post your comment:
Add your name below:

Add your email below: (to receive replies, will not be displayed or shared)

For verification purposes, please enter the word MUSIC in the field below

Comments, Questions, Requests:

Steve Borcich * VSM MEMBER * on January 22, 2020 @1:37 pm PST
I think when a musician or an athlete is "in the zone" it means your mind, body, heart and soul are all synchronized to the point that you're operating at peak efficiency. This enables you to perform your best, for now you're playing more freely and easily.
Robert - host, on January 22, 2020 @5:07 pm PST
That feeling of being at one with what you are doing can be experienced in a wide array of activities from sports, to the arts. People performing crafts can also experience this feeling of being in the zone.
Questions? Problems? Contact Us.
Norton Shopping Guarantee Seal