Robert Estrin - piano expert

Can you Start Playing Piano Without a Teacher?

A common question with a very interesting answer

In this video, Robert answers a common question by considering personal intentions and expectations in deciding which route is best for you.

Released on October 16, 2013

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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. Welcome to and Today we have a viewer question from YouTube who asks, "Is it okay to start the piano without a teacher?" All right. Well, this is actually a loaded question. There are many ramifications to this that we're going to cover today. The short answer is, sure why not. But you have to ask yourself what are your intentions, what are your expectations. Also the style of music is very important. So for example, if you wanted to be able to play some blues, maybe some honky tonk piano you know or maybe you write, you like to make things up, you sing things, you maybe come up with some new age patterns, you might be able to do things that are very enjoyable on your own. Maybe with online resources, do things and grow as a musician.

However, if you want to learn classical music let's say, to do that without any kind of guidance from a teacher you are at a very strong disadvantage because of the complexities of reading a score and just the traditions that have developed over hundreds of years, to be able to pick that up on your own, even if you're a genius you are going to progress at a much much slower rate than having the guidance of a great teacher. The same is true really of any style of music but classical music because it's written and there's a precision to the, to the notation, it's really tough to approach that without any teacher.

As for other styles of music, informal kind of training can be very valuable. For example, if you're a jazz player or rock or country sitting in with other musicians who are better than you. If you have a friend for example, who plays piano and trying to pick up licks and things like that, you can actually learn a great deal that way and some of the greatest players of some of these other styles of music are not actually formally trained musicians. It happens all the time.

So the short answer is, yes you can to play the piano on your own. However, having somebody if you've had the right person to work with you may progress much faster and for certain styles of music that are complex like classical or sophisticated jazz, a teacher can be invaluable for you. Thanks for the very question. I really appreciate it and once again I'm Robert Esrin here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Robert Estrin - host, on January 27, 2022 @9:22 am PST
I have seen some people learn a remarkable amount of music on the piano from YouTube! However, a good teacher will provide instruction for increasing the effectiveness of your practice.
Meera on January 26, 2022 @8:21 pm PST
I agree. It is a time waster to go bumbling about without a good teacher. A good teacher will know what pieces to choose to ensure success, maintain interest and at the same time challenge you just that bit more to keep progressing. I learn a lot from you! Thank you.
Helena boggia on October 16, 2013 @8:30 am PST
You never answered my question about chords....what is the best way to play chords in a peace of music. I find it slowes me down because I have to work out the fingering etc. thank you robert
Robert Estrin - host, on October 16, 2013 @1:45 pm PST
It's difficult to make generalizations about how to practice chords without a context. However, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned working out fingering. Spending time figuring out the best fingering for chord passages is essential. Often times you should favor the top line in your fingering choices allowing for as much legato as possible even at the expense of the lower notes of the chord. In staccato chords, the wrists facilitate the chords. If you provide a specific example, I am happy to make recommendations.
Betsy on October 16, 2013 @6:03 am PST
What piece do you recommend as an introduction to classical music for a great sight reader who is intermediate to advanced but never classically trained? They want to delve into classical but not sure where to start.
Robert Estrin - host, on October 16, 2013 @1:46 pm PST
There is a wealth of great intermediate level classical pieces written by the great composers such as Bach Minuets and simpler Mozart compositions he wrote as a child. Be sure to get original compositions, not simplified arrangements of more extended works.
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