How to Play One Hand Louder Than the Other on the Piano


This is a very important topic and a fundamental part of playing piano. I have another video about how to play louder with notes in the same hand but this video is going to cover how to achieve this with different hands.


This can be a real challenge when you have slow notes that have to be louder than fast notes. Why is this so difficult? On a piano, the longer a note holds the quieter it becomes. So when you have a slow melody against faster notes it presents a challenge to make the slower notes stand out.


In the video example above I play the beginning of the Chopin Prelude in E minor and play the two hands with equal force. You will notice that the right hand melody is completely covered up by the chords in the left hand. So what can you do?


It’s actually a very basic principle that’s based upon the human voice. To get a singing quality on the piano you have to translate the power of the breath to the weight of your arms. But how do you practice such a thing? My father Morton Estrin would demonstrate this to me by playing on my arm. What I noticed was that it wasn’t just the beginning of the notes where I could feel the pressure, it was the entire time he was playing a slow melody. I could feel the downward force throughout the entire melody! By doing this, the weight of the arm translates from note to note and creates a constant musical line – much like singing.


You should also keep in mind that if you are replicating the human voice when playing the melody you should build up to the middle of the phrase and decrescendo to the end of the phrase for a natural sounding musical line. This is achieved by using your arm weight to build up the sound and volume of the notes until you reach the climax of the phrase and slowly bring the phrase down in volume by decreasing the arm weight. This is how to make the melody “sing” like a voice.


But how do you control the volume of your other hand? You should touch the keys gently and use minimum motion. That way the melody notes in the other hand will project well.


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