Living Pianos Summer Sale

July 21st, 2014


PLEASE CALL: 949-244-3729


  • All pianos include professional delivery anywhere in the United States. (Flights of stairs may incur some additional cost.)
  • Cash, Check, MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express and PayPal are accepted.
  • Financing and Layaway programs are available.
  • Trade-in value of pianos previously purchased from Living Pianos applies to regular price, not sale price.
  • No Sales Tax except in California.
  • Benches are included with all pianos.

1980 Baldwin Model R Grand Piano
Company: Baldwin
Model: R
Serial #: 237614
Original Price: $14,995
SALE Price: $9,995
Build Date: 1980
Color: Ebony Satin
Size: 5′ 8″

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1990 Samick Ivory Baby Grand Piano
Company: Samick
Model: SG155
Serial #: IJFG 0307
Original Price: $8,350
SALE Price: $5,350
Build Date: 1990
Color: Ivory
Size: 5′ 1″

Find out more about this Piano

PLEASE CALL: 949-244-3729

1982 Kimball U.S. Made Grand Piano
Company: Kimball
Model: Grand
Serial #: D27998
Original Price: $8,500
SALE Price: $5,900
Build Date: 1982
Color: Ebony Satin
Size: 5′ 9″

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Baldwin D Concert Grand Piano
Company: Baldwin
Model: D
Serial #: 63985
Original Price: $25,000
SALE Price: $19,950
Build Date: 1930
Color: Satin Ebony
Size: 9′

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1966 Steinway Ebony Upright Piano
Company: Steinway
Model: 1098
Serial #: 395041
Original Price: $7,950
SALE Price: $5,500
Build Date: 1966
Color: Ebony Satin
Size: 46.5″

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PLEASE CALL: 949-244-3729

Rebuilt Bush & Gerts American made Grand Piano
Company: Bush & Gerts
Model: Grand
Serial #: 53756
Original Price: $12,500
SALE Price: $7,500
Build Date: 1914
Color: Ebony Satin
Size: 5′ 7″

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US made Weber Semi Concert Grand Piano
Company: Weber
Model: Semi Concert Grand
Serial #: 19502
Original Price: $10,350
SALE Price: $8,995
Build Date: 1881
Color: Ebony Satin
Size: 7′ 3″

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PLEASE CALL: 949-244-3729

Kurtzmann Ebony American made Grand Piano
Company: Kurtzmann
Model: Grand
Serial #: 64021
Original Price: $8,500
SALE Price: $5,750
Build Date: 1917
Color: Ebony Semi-Gloss
Size: 5′ 10″

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1989 Estonia Grand Piano
Company: Estonia
Model: L190
Serial #: 4703
Original Price: $20,750
SALE Price: $14,995
Build Date: 1989
Color: Ebony Polish
Size: 6′ 3″

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Are California Pianos Better?

July 21st, 2014

So, are pianos from California really better? Often times, yes! The reason that used pianos from parts of California are generally in better condition is because of the stable climate.

You might hear about companies that climatize their pianos for certain regions and while this might sound like a good idea, this is not always possible. Let’s take California for example. There are a multitude of climates within different geographical areas. No two places are exactly the same. Right here, 10 miles from the beach, the climate is moderate year round. But there are dramatically different climates not far from here.

So what weather is best for pianos? Moderate humidity and a consistent temperature create the best environment for a piano. You don’t want them to go through drastic swings of cold and hot and you certainly don’t want your piano to have to endure extremely humid or dry environments.

California generally provides a gentle environment for pianos, but not everywhere. For example, I live about 10 miles from the beach and the weather is semi-arid and the temperature remains fairly consistent year round. Down by the beach the salt air can damage pianos in just a few years. Likewise, travel inland to the high desert not far away, and the dry climate can play havoc with soundboards and other wood parts of your piano.

In a gentle California climate a piano can reside in a home for decades without experiencing any damage to the soundboard, case or action particularly if it is kept closed most of the time and maintained on a regular basis. I have personally run across countless pianos from this region which can be well preserved gems. This is not possible in most other places in the United States – in New York a vintage piano can suffer soundboard and other damage from the wild swings from the humid summers to the dry heat of the winter - particularly pianos manufactured before the advent of air conditioning.

But beyond whether or not California is a good place for pianos the care you provide for your instrument is critical. You may be able to provide a suitable environment for a piano in any region as long as you keep it in a consistent environment. For example, you may live in a high rise in Chicago with climate control of temperate and humidity and have a great environment for your piano. People at the beach can try to mitigate the moist air by simply closing the piano at night and possibly installing a Dampp-Chaser System. This applies to pianos in the desert as well. Ideally you treat the room. When this isn’t possible, there are technologies that can help to stabilize your piano.

If you have any more questions about how to care for your piano please contact me directly Robert Estrin (949) 244-3729

How to Give a Tuning Note

July 21st, 2014

You might think this sounds simple. (All you have to do is play a note, right?) but there is actually a lot more to it. Tuning correctly with other musicians is vital to a good sounding performance.

I can’t tell you how many times my wife Florence ( and I have attended a concert where we see the musicians barely pecking out notes when tuning. Many times we look at each other wondering how they can possibly be sure of their tuning. That’s because they aren’t playing the notes anything like they will play in the performance.

One great technique when tuning is to play the tuning notes separately so you can compare the pitches. It may be easy to tell if you are in or out of tune, but to know whether you are high or low can be difficult when playing at exactly the same time. You can certainly overlap the notes, but have at least some time where you can hear the pitches separately.

The best way to play a tuning note is to alternate notes and play them out – just like you would in the performance. On a piano you can add D and F below the A forming a D minor triad which is easier to tune to. (You can also provide an A Major Chord, A - C-sharp - E and the A an octave above.)

For an example of this technique watch the video included with this article. Florence and I demonstrate our technique for you that we use in every performance we play.

Sometimes soloists are squeamish about tuning – they don’t want to play too loud if they don’t have to. (They seem concerned about alienating the audience). But it is far better to endure a few moments of tuning than suffer through an out of tune performance!

So remember to take your time with tuning and make sure the soloist is comfortable and has time to adjust their instrument as needed. You should never rush a tuning and you should always make sure you are tuned properly before you perform. Your audience will appreciate it!

Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin (949) 244-3729

The Best Piano Exercises Part 4 Octaves

July 16th, 2014

Welcome back to our continuing series of piano exercises. Today we will be focusing on developing your octave technique.

I remember growing up as a kid and watching my father Morton Estrin and being enthralled by the way he played octaves – I wanted to develop my technique to play like him and my other inspiration, Vladimir Horowitz. At the time my hands were simply too small to achieve the results I wanted but I kept practicing.

My hands even as a full grown adult never became very large. I’ve struggled my whole life developing strength in order to play octaves and large chords well. Today I’m going to share a few tips for how to improve your strength and octave technique.

If you can’t reach an octave I’m afraid this lesson wont be much help to you. You might grow into it over time. The good news is that if you can reach an octave at all, this lesson will help you develop stronger, faster octaves!

The secret to this technique, and octaves in general, is the hand position. The key is to develop an arch between your pinky and thumb equalizing the strength of your weaker pinky to your stronger thumb. Your other fingers should be up and out of the way. If you have time to watch the video included with this article it shows an excellent visual representation of this technique. The goal of this position is to generate an equal amount of force between the thumb and pinky finger – which will help greatly in developing strength to play octaves.

For octave technique you will want to rely on the arms to place the hands over the keys, not for any up-down motion. All up-down motion should come from the wrist. I have explained this technique a number of times before and it’s explained in detail in the video included with this article.

To perform the exercise, set your metronome to 60 and then play a C major scale at one note to the beat in octaves and play the notes only from your wrist using the arms to guide your hands over the correct keys. This might seem like an easy exercise but it must be done correctly in order to be effective.

As you progress through the exercise and feel more confident you can play two times on each note for each beat. As you become comfortable, add one extra note each to each beat until you reach your limit. As you play faster, be sure to keep your hands closer to the keys and lighten up to help increase your speed.

Play through this exercise every day and you will develop brilliant octaves!

Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin (949) 244-3729

5 Tips for Improving Stage Presence - #5 Take Your Time

July 16th, 2014

Welcome to our new series for developing your stage presence in 5 easy steps. Even if you are shy or uncomfortable in front of large audiences you can improve your stage presence with a little bit of practice and a few easy tips.

This series was inspired by an experience I had in high school. One year there was a performance of outstanding young musicians in our school. Everyone was taken with a singer named Judy - her performance was spectacular! A couple of days later I was excited to hear the recording but was left a little underwhelmed – it wasn’t as good as I remembered it.

I began to understand that it was not the actual singing that captivated the audience but the way she presented herself. It was exciting and breathtaking as she engaged herself incredibly well with the audience and commanded attention.

So today we start with the first tip in the countdown, number 5: Take Your Time.

When you are in a performance it’s true that all the eyes are on you. In many cases performers will feel a sense of urgency – that they should rush to their instrument and begin playing as soon as possible. This is not in your best interest.

Your time perspective is different from the audience’s. They are there to enjoy themselves and they want to be comfortable. If you walk out onto the stage and give yourself a few moments to relax and prepare yourself, the audience will do the same. They will end their conversations, get comfortable in their seats, and after a few moments they will be ready for the show.

While you don’t want to make the audience wait too long, after a few moments of silence there is a drama and anticipating that builds within the audience. If you harness this effectively they will be completely captivated by the time you play your first note.

Be on the lookout for the rest of this series in the coming weeks. Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin (949) 244-3729

The Best Piano Exercises (Part 3) – Broken Seventh Chords

July 9th, 2014

Welcome back to our ongoing series of piano exercises. These are meant to be quick techniques you can practice with just a few minutes each day to help develop your strength. The first part in the series dealt with a Broken Triad Exercise and the second was Practicing Major Scales with C Major Fingering. This week we will be covering Broken Seventh Chords.

As long as you know all your seventh chords, you can play them in all keys as arpeggios. Why would you just play major and minor triads as arpeggios? Not only is this is a wonderful way to develop your technique but when you come across broken seventh chords in your music you will already know how to approach them.

The order I play them is:

  • Major seventh chord
  • Dominant seventh chord
  • Minor seventh chord
  • Half diminished seventh chord
  • Diminished seventh chord

Why this particular order? If you play them this way, there is only one note that has to change between chords. Simply keep playing the chords one by one and go through all twelve of the keys. The video included with this article will show you a great example of this.

Here is the key on how to transition from chord to chord:

  • Major seventh chord: Lower the 7th a half-step
  • Dominant seventh chord: Lower the 3rd a half-step
  • Minor seventh chord: Lower the 5th a half-step
  • Half diminished seventh chord: Lower the 7th a half-step
  • Diminished seventh chord: That’s it!

Thanks for joining me, Robert Estrin

How to Play Music by Ear

July 9th, 2014

Many people ask me, can you learn to play by ear or is it something you’re born with? I personally believe that everyone can improve their ability to play by ear. Some people just have an innate sense that allows them to play by ear without much effort, while others will have to work harder at it; the bottom line is, anyone can learn to do it.

Now there are limits to what you can achieve. If you’re tone deaf you probably won’t get to a level where you can transcribe Charlie Parker solos but you can definitely train your ear and improve.

The single most important thing you must do to train your ears is sing. Last week we talked about Why You MUST Sing Your Music and this topic has parallels. I was very fortunate to study solfeggio, which is sight-singing with the syllables (Do Re Me Fa So La Ti Do). When this is sung correctly it quantifies all the pitches in a scale. But you can do the same thing without having to practice sight-singing for years.

Try and quantify the pitches within a scale. Take a song that you know and try it out. The example I give in the video is Yellow Submarine by the Beatles. If you break down the first note in the song you can begin to construct the other notes around it by simply singing up and down in pitch. For example, take Yellow Submarine in C major so it starts on a G. To find the next note, determine whether the pitch goes up or down (in this case it goes up) and find the next note – which is A. When you get to the next note, it drops dramatically in pitch so it’s a bit more difficult to find. If you had years of theory training you might be able to tell it’s a perfect fifth, but even if you have no training at all you can figure it out by going down step-wise through the scale. Sing the pitch of the note in the song to yourself and then sing the pitches of the scale going down one by one until the pitch matches (which in this case is a D).

With a little bit of practice anyone can learn to interpret and play music by ear. You just need to start singing and testing yourself!

Thanks for joining me, Robert Estrin

What is Breath in Music?

July 2nd, 2014

If you’ve played music for a while you’ve probably run across this term before and you might wonder what it means. Some people might dismiss it as being a term only applying to music which actually utilizes your breath but that is not the case.

The voice is the first musical instrument and to some extent all music derives from singing. Naturally with wind instruments this directly relates to using your breath but all instruments mimic the same concept. String instruments like violinists, cellists, and others utilize a technique that simulates the up and down of breathing with the bow. This technique should also apply to the piano – where phrases should rise and fall just like a breath does. When starting a new phrase it’s like starting a new breath.

Everything in life revolves around cycles and breathing is one of them. Unless you’re consciously aware of it you’d never notice your breaths but this same type of structure seeps into all aspects of our lives. Every day the sun rises and sets, ever since we were born we’ve been used to the simple nature of breathing in and out, and things like sitting at the beach and listening to the waves crash in and out are soothing things that remind of the cyclical nature of our existence. Music is no different.

But how does this translate to an instrument like the piano? You should really play every line you have like you are singing it. I encourage you to try this, you might be surprised at how much inherent expression it brings out in your music; it will give it character and life.

Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin

Why You MUST Sing your Music!

July 2nd, 2014

Singing might often be overlooked by most musicians but it’s an essential component in musical development and education. When it comes to piano, you can produce a tone without hearing it first. Singing is the absolute opposite of this – you must hear the notes first or you can’t possible sing them.

Singing lends more to music than you might think. Like we talked about in our video this week, the breath and the cyclical nature of things weaves its way into music. Understanding this relationship is extremely beneficial to a pianist and that’s why if you are a piano major at a music conservatory, you will have to either play an instrument in the orchestra or sing in the choir. Adversely, if you play an instrument or sing in the choir, you will need to learn to play the piano!

The tone the piano produces is a sharp attack, a quick decay, and a slow descending sustain. Music on the other hand is produced in round phrases – much like singing or breathing. That’s why it’s always a good idea to sing along with your music while you are learning it. It might sound silly but it’s an extremely helpful tool to get you to understand how the music should be played and heard.

In the video accompanying this article I play the Chopin Prelude in E minor. I demonstrate the benefits of singing the melody while playing the chords. By singing your parts you will start to understand the structure of the music like you never have before; it’s enlightening.

I really can’t recommend this technique enough. It’s something that every pianist must do as it helps enhance your understand of music and will greatly benefit your playing. There is no substitute for this technique so even if you cringe at the sound of your own voice you should do yourself a favor and sing along – I guarantee it will help!

Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin

Piano Exercises Part 2 – Playing Major Scales with C Major Fingering

June 12th, 2014

Welcome to the second part in our series on Piano Exercises. Last week we discussed The Broken Triad Exercise. This week we will cover a very unique practice exercise that might sound a little crazy but is highly effective in developing your skills as a pianist.

If you’ve ever played complex counterpoint like Bach fugues or other selections you will find yourself having to use complex fingering that’s not very intuitive. Normally you will want to find fingering that would be easy to achieve - like avoiding using your thumbs on black keys (unless on octaves and chords) – and most of the time you will have the luxury of breaking down fingering to make it as simple as possible. This is not always the case and you must prepare yourself for having to deal with more difficult passages.

One great way to practice this type of non-standard fingering is by playing all major scales using the fingering for the C major scale. In the video provided with this article I demonstrate this technique using the D-flat major scale using the fingering of the C major scale!

While this might look and feel silly it will really help you develop strength and flexibility in your hands and fingers.

Thanks again for joining me and stay tuned for the next piano exercise. Robert Estrin