Robert Estrin - piano expert

What are Etudes?

Learn what the term "etude" means

In this video, Robert talks about the term "Etude" and how it can mean different things. Also, don't miss our Back to School page we have just released, perfect to get ready for school!

Released on August 23, 2017

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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, this is Robert Estrin at The question today is, what is an etude? You've heard of etudes before, and the answer to this question is... Well, it's a two part answer, because there are fundamentally two different types of etudes, that are completely different from one another, even though they're both called etudes. Well, what are these types? Well, there's one type of etude that's strictly an exercise. etude just means "studying," it's the French word. And they usually entail some technical challenge that you must overcome. So there are famous Czerny etudes and Hanon etudes, particularly Hanon, are really just exercises. You would never program this kind of music. The other type of etudes are musical etudes, the Chopin etudes, Liszt etudes, Scriabin etudes. These are masterful works of music that explore different technical problems, like double thirds or octaves and as such.

So let's first see what the non-musical type of etude is like. Well Hanon, you've probably are familiar with it, they're just really repeated patterns. You would never play this in concert. And so it goes. And there are many different etudes. There are Brahms etudes, that are also not musical etudes, that have certain fingers down and certain fingers that come up. Czerny etudes, some of them are quite delightful actually, but they really are not concert pieces as such.
Now the other type of etudes, I mentioned this mammoth works, you know, when talking about Chopin, you know. The revolutionary etude or Scriabin etudes. These are amazing pieces of music. But you might think to yourself, "What does that have to do with me?" If you're someone, for example, as a student or intermediate player, you may think, "Can I actually do anything with musical etudes?" Actually, absolutely yes. Because there are some masterful little gems on intermediate level, etudes of Burgmuller and Heller are gorgeous little pieces that can solve technical problems while enriching your repertoire with music that people will really want to hear you play. I'm going to give you an example of such an etude. This is a Heller etude in A minor.


So you can see that they're richly awarding pieces of music on many different levels, from student level to absolute virtuoso etudes, both musical and non-musical. I think that they both have value. In my teaching, I really like students to have the experience of playing great music, so whenever possible I try to find etudes that are also great pieces of music. It makes practicing much more a joyful experience.

Thanks so much for the great questions. Again, this is Robert at Robert Estrin here at livingpianos, your online piano store. Thanks so much for joining me.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Douglas Baker Adelaide Australia on June 28, 2018 @7:24 pm PST
Wonderful how you remember this Etude. You are very clever. Great to watch you play.
Robert A Estrin - host, on July 2, 2018 @4:36 pm PST
Glad you enjoy!
Ramona Walter * VSM MEMBER * on November 8, 2017 @12:23 pm PST
Thank you so much for all your help. You are great !
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