This is Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com with a question, “What Is the Right Fingering on the Piano?” Fingering is such a deep subject on the piano that I could give courses on it and have guest artists to share their ideas because, truth be known, fingering is not a one size fits all proposition.

Are there any fundamental fingerings that all pianists follow?

There are some essential fingerings that all pianists must learn. For example, unlike the violin and other string instruments which do not have standard fingering for scales and arpeggios, on the piano there is standard fingering. I should mention a little aside here. There is another school of thought for a tiny percentage of pianists called, “mirror fingering” in which the thumbs always play the same notes in both hands in scales and arpeggios. But that is a subject for another video.

Most pianists learn proper fingering for scales from “Hanon 60 Selected Studies for the Virtuoso Pianist.”

You can get the Hanon book on Amazon or most sheet music stores. It is the Bible of fingering for scales and arpeggios on the piano. All pianists must learn the correct fingering for scales and arpeggios, but what about in your music? If you’ve ever had sheet music that has fingering in it, and then you see another edition of the same piece, you might be shocked to discover that the fingerings are different! In fact, fingerings are different in various editions! So how do you know what’s right?

Fingering is as much art as it is science.

My father, Morton Estrin, was a concert pianist with enormous hands. I have relatively small hands. Just think of that alone. Something that might lie right under the fingers of somebody with big hands would be impossible for somebody with smaller hands to reach. We must accommodate our hand size. Even the thickness of the fingers and the stretch between the thumb and the other fingers, all of these things affects us. Here’s the key: You must practice to find the fingering that works for you. Does that mean that anything goes with fingering? Far from it!

It takes many years to learn how to find the right fingering.

There is no substitute for a good teacher, as well as having authoritative, well-edited, fingered editions. I use that in the plural because there’s nothing better than having multiple resources of fingering suggestions. When you’re running through a problem with a passage, one of the first things to look for are new fingering solutions. Sometimes the fingering, even though it seems like it should be perfectly good, might not work for you. You have to discover what fingerings work for you.

There are some hard and fast rules in fingering.

I mentioned scales and arpeggios, but there are other fingerings you must follow. For example, rapid repeated notes with one hand. If you try to do that with one finger, you’re never going to be able to get it up to speed. But, by using three fingers you can go much faster. So, there is one thing that is certainly a rule. You must change fingers when playing rapid repeated notes with one hand. In fact, I like changing fingers on repeated notes even when they’re slow because of the legato quality you can get. When you play a repeated note without changing fingers, it is difficult to get a smooth sound. But by changing fingers, one finger is going down while the next finger comes up, so you achieve smoother, more connected repeated notes.

If you have technical problems in a passage and you’ve worked and worked but you never can get it, try experimenting with new fingering. Get another edition with fingerings and try them out. You will be rewarded! It is one of the things that will come to you after you’ve studied piano for a long time. You’ll start to understand fingering in a way that allows for solutions to technical and musical challenges on the piano.

I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store.
Please feel free to contact me with any piano related questions for future videos.

info@LivingPianos.com
949-244-3729

What Is the Right Fingering on the Piano?

This is Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com with a question, “What Is the Right Fingering on the Piano?” Fingering is such a deep subject on the piano that I could give courses on it and have guest artists to share their ideas because,

Thanks for joining us here at LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s question is, “Is Juilliard the Best Music School in the World?” Almost everybody has heard of Juilliard and indeed, there are some sensational musicians who have come out of the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. But is Juilliard the best music school in the world? I can tell you that the Juilliard Orchestra is made up of absolutely top-notch musicians. There are so many violin and cello soloists who go to the Juilliard School that you’ve got a whole string section of soloists! Across the board it’s a great school. Located right in Lincoln Center. What could be better?

As great as Juilliard is, there are two music schools even more elite: The Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia and the Colburn School in Los Angeles.

Curtis and Colburn are magnificent institutions with illustrious faculties. They are both total scholarship schools, so it’s a complete free ride for everyone who goes there. It’s extraordinarily difficult to get in, but a top-notch experience. At Curtis, pianists even get a piano in their apartment to practice on! Also, Curtis has the Philadelphia Orchestra right there. Many of the members of the orchestra are on faculty! And of course Colburn has the benefit of the LA Philharmonic being right there too. The endowments are incredible! So while Juilliard isn’t quite that elite, it’s certainly a great school.

There is a new Juilliard School now in Shanghai!

Shanghai is the epicenter of the piano world. To put it into perspective, there are around 6 million piano students here in the United States, but China has well over 50 million piano students! It’s pretty remarkable. It’s a magnificent idea to open a Juilliard school in China where it’s really needed. It will be interesting to see the next generation of musicians coming out of China, particularly on piano, which is so popular there.

I would love to hear from all of you!

Are there any other schools you consider to be the best? I’m sure there are many schools in Europe that are very selective and have illustrious faculties as well. I just mentioned two schools here in the United States that are incredibly well endowed. Let me know your thoughts on this subject!

I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store.
Please feel free to contact us with any piano related questions for future videos.

info@LivingPianos.com
949-244-3729

Is Juilliard the Best Music School in the World?

Thanks for joining us here at LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s question is, “Is Juilliard the Best Music School in the World?” Almost everybody has heard of Juilliard and indeed, there are some sensational musician

Hi, I’m Robert Estrin, and this is LivingPianos.com. Today’s topic is, “Can You Bring Out Notes on a Keyboard with No Dynamics?” How could you possibly bring out notes in a chord on a harpsichord or an organ? You might think it’s impossible, but there is a way!

There are a lot of keyboard instruments that don’t have loud and soft like the piano does.

I’ve had the good fortune of not only performing on piano but also on harpsichord and other early keyboard instruments. I’ve also had vast experience with music synthesizers and samplers and other types of keyboards, some of which don’t respond to touch. So how could you possibly bring out notes in a chord on an instrument that doesn’t respond to touch?

The secret is holding some notes longer than others!

When you hold the top notes longer than the bottom notes in a chord, it creates the illusion of those notes being louder. It draws your attention to those notes, even though they’re all the same volume. You can bring out the bottom line the same way by playing the upper notes in a detached manner. The piano is capable of dynamics. You can play the top notes or the bottom notes louder. So, why would you ever have to do that as a pianist? If you’re playing Baroque music written for the harpsichord, like Scarlatti for example, they didn’t have the capability of playing dynamics. The only way to achieve dynamics on a harpsichord is with a two manual harpsichord where one keyboard is louder than the other. So it’s a valuable technique in Baroque music.

You can utilize this technique in your playing to bring out notes, not just with volume.

By practicing this way, you will develop the ability of bringing out notes in volume because you’ve practiced bringing them out by playing some notes longer than others. This is an extremely valuable practice technique, particularly if you’re playing counterpoint. But it’s also incredibly valuable to develop the balance in your playing when playing chords. For example, in the second movement of Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata, you want to bring out the top line in the second movement. A great way to practice this is to play those inner notes gently with finger staccato so you delineate them in your hand and in your head. You can control them. If you can play with different articulations, with different lines in your music, you will easily be able to control them in volume. This is a great technique that is essential on the harpsichord and the organ. But it is also a tremendous practice technique to gain control of all the notes you’re playing within a chord on the piano.

I hope this lesson is valuable for you! I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store. There are lots of videos to come! We welcome your suggestions for future videos. See you next time!

info@LivingPianos.com
949-244-3729

Can You Bring Out Notes on a Keyboard with No Dynamics?

Hi, I’m Robert Estrin, and this is LivingPianos.com. Today’s topic is, “Can You Bring Out Notes on a Keyboard with No Dynamics?” How could you possibly bring out notes in a chord on a harpsichord or an organ? You might think i

Hi, this is Robert Estrin at LivingPianos.com. Today’s topic is, “Who is the Greatest Composer of All Time?” There are many aspects to this question. First, let’s consider innovative music versus joyful music. If you’ve ever listened to John William’s scores, they are absolutely fantastic – beautifully crafted romantic era style music. There’s wide variety in his scores for different films. It’s great music, yet he’s not necessarily regarded as one of the great composers of all time. Why is that? It’s because he’s writing music that could have been composed a hundred years ago or longer. There’s nothing new in regards to style and innovation.

How important is innovation?

Let’s take for example a late 19th century composer like Brahms, one of my favorite composers of all time. His crafting of music was unparalleled, yet there was nothing really groundbreaking other than the beauty of the actual scores. It could have been written decades earlier. Franz Liszt on the other hand was writing tone poems in the early 1800’s, decades before Wagner and Richard Strauss were composing tone poems, so he was a great innovator.

Aside from innovation, how else can we measure who is the the greatest composer of all time?

Obviously there are composers who are regarded as the greatest. Mozart is on most people’s short list of great composers. Because of the fine crafting of his music, the turning of a phrase that was just so elegant and perfect. But with a composer like Mozart there’s another aspect that’s important to talk about, which is the depth of the compositions. I’m not talking about depth within each piece, but a varied output. Mozart wrote choral works, solo piano works, concertos, flute concertos, string quartets, etc. He wrote for many different types of ensembles. Comparatively, let’s look at the great composer Frederic Chopin. If you take away Chopin’s piano music, you don’t have much music of great consequence in his output. So is Chopin one of the greatest composers of all time? He’s certainly one of the greatest piano composers of all time.

If we are talking about a depth of musical output we must mention Beethoven.

You had Mozart, you had Haydn, two of the great Classical era composers, as well as many great Baroque composers who preceded them. But Beethoven took the music to new places with the expansion of the forms and expansion of the instruments. He worked with instrument builders expanding the instruments. Late Beethoven piano music was written for a very different instrument than early Beethoven, in no small part because of how he worked with instrument builders. He also expanded the orchestra. He used larger orchestras, and also larger forms. Instead of three movement symphonies, four movement works in symphonies, concertos, sonatas and chamber music became much more common in his later works. So I would definitely put Beethoven high on the list of greatest composers of all time, but not because I necessarily prefer his music to some other great composers.

I’m going to get a lot of different opinions here, and they’re all justifiable because ultimately it’s like asking, “Who’s your favorite child?” That’s a really tough question to answer. If you’re like most parents, you love all your kids for what they bring to the family. I feel that way about composers. But if I had to pick intellectually, not emotionally, I would choose Johann Sebastian Bach.

In terms of innovation, output, and range of composition, it’s hard to imagine how Bach was able to achieve so much such a long time ago.

Not only that, but did you know that a good proportion of his music got destroyed and we don’t even know what he wrote? There is an amazing body of work he wrote for keyboard, organ and orchestra, the Brandenburg concertos, his oratorios and masses, the depth and the range of his compositions, and considering anything before him, it’s mind boggling to think of what Johann Sebastian Bach achieved. He also wrote in so many different styles from French, to English, to Italian compositions even though he travelled very little. He made a point of attending concerts of visiting artists who came through where he lived in Germany and wrote great music in so many different styles. So I would have to put Bach on the top of my list of greatest composers of all time. Although there are other composers whose music is no less great.

I welcome your comments, because there are many valid viewpoints. I’m not saying that Bach was absolutely the greatest composer of all time, but he’s arguably one of the greatest composers for the reasons I just articulated. I hope this is interesting for you and thought provoking.
Send your questions to Robert@LivingPianos.com so I can answer them in upcoming videos. See you next time!

Who is the Greatest Composer of All Time?

Hi, this is Robert Estrin at LivingPianos.com. Today’s topic is, “Who is the Greatest Composer of All Time?” There are many aspects to this question. First, let’s consider innovative music versus joyful music. If you’ve

Hi, I’m Robert Estrin, and this is LivingPianos.com. Today’s topic is, “Do All Piano Pedals Feel The Same?” I’m not talking about if the three pedals on a specific piano feel the same as one another. They might feel different from one another. But the question is, is there a standard way that all pianos’ pedals should feel? Believe it or not, the answer is no!

Pedals can feel drastically different from one piano to another.

Let me give you a great example. Growing up, my father Morton Estrin had several pianos. We had three or four pianos in the house through most of my childhood. Early on, there was a Steinway model S baby grand from the 1930s as well as a Baldwin L which was a more recently produced 6′ 3″ grand piano. Sitting down at the Steinway, if your foot was even leaning on the sustain pedal, it would start to hold notes. It had a very small amount of travel and it was quite hard to push. Comparing that to the Baldwin sustain pedal, which was easy to push and had a lot of travel to it, it responded completely differently! So why isn’t there a standard?

Whatever piano you play becomes your new normal and you compare all other pianos to it.

So, be sure that if you’re ever performing anywhere, try out the pedals to see how hard they are to push. See how much travel they have and at what point in the travel they start to respond. And not just the sustain pedal. The una corda, or soft pedal, for example, may seem like it isn’t even working. You may not notice any perceptible difference in sound. On other pianos, you push the pedal down, and hear a drastic change of tone! That is something that can be regulated to some extent, but there’s a certain amount that has to do with how much the piano’s been played and how it’s been voiced.

The pedals on pianos are all unique and you must be able to adjust.

Anytime you get an opportunity to play pianos, just for fun, try out the pedals so that when you have a performance, you can adjust quickly for a satisfying musical performance.
I hope this is helpful for you. Send your questions to Robert@LivingPianos.com so I can answer them in upcoming videos. See you next time here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store

info@LivingPianos.com
949-244-3729.

Do All Piano Pedals Feel The Same?

Hi, I’m Robert Estrin, and this is LivingPianos.com. Today’s topic is, “Do All Piano Pedals Feel The Same?” I’m not talking about if the three pedals on a specific piano feel the same as one another. They might feel diff

Hi, I’m Robert Estrin, this is LivingPianos.com. Today’s topic is, “Can Your Piano Tuner Appraise Your Piano?” Let’s say you’ve had your piano for a number of years and you have a trusted technician who has maintained it for you. Let’s say you’re moving or you’re upgrading your piano and you want to sell it. Who better to ask than your piano tuner who knows your piano intimately and spends their entire life with pianos?

Most piano technicians have no idea about piano values.

Unless they happen to sell pianos on the side, which some piano technicians do, the vast majority of piano technicians really don’t know the value of pianos. The same thing is true of most piano teachers. Maybe they shopped for a piano 20 years ago and they knew everything about the piano market then. But the market changes so rapidly that even 5 or 10 years ago is not the same as what it is right now.

Most piano technicians have no idea about piano values.

If you have questions about the value of a piano for any reason, whether it’s for an insurance settlement or you want to trade the piano or sell it privately, you’re welcome to contact me personally at: Robert@LivingPianos.com. We are happy to assist you in any way we can here at LivingPianos.com. Send your questions to robert@livingpianos.com so I can answer them in upcoming videos. See you next time.

info@LivingPianos.com
949-244-3729

Can Your Piano Tuner Appraise Your Piano?

Hi, I’m Robert Estrin, this is LivingPianos.com. Today’s topic is, “Can Your Piano Tuner Appraise Your Piano?” Let’s say you’ve had your piano for a number of years and you have a trusted technician who has maintai

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s topic is, “Did Wagner And Debussy Hate Each Other?” You may have heard about the rivalry and the distaste they had for one another. You can read about that. What I’m going to do is show you musically something quite extraordinary. Debussy mocked Wagner in his music and you can hear elements of humor where it’s least expected and most inappropriate, in Wagner’s famous Tristan theme from, Tristan and Isolde, one of the most deadly serious motifs and chord changes. The whole opera is built upon this chord progression.

Golliwog’s Cakewalk is a piece of Debussy that makes reference to Wagner’s Tristan theme.

But in a totally mocking way that you have to hear to believe! A cakewalk is a dance form. But what happens in the middle? If you listen to the familiar theme and how he pokes fun at it musically, it is an incredibly disrespectful use of Wagner’s music!

Stylistically, Debussy branched into a whole new type of music known as Impressionism, radically different from the deep emotional romanticism of Wagner.

THE PERIODS OF CLASSICAL MUSIC PART 4: IMPRESSIONIST

They didn’t appreciate each other. I’d love to hear from all of you about your opinions of this and you are welcome to listen to the accompanying video example.

I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store. There are lots of videos to come. We welcome your suggestions for future videos. We’ll see you next time!

info@LivingPianos.com
949-244-3729

Did Wagner And Debussy Hate Each Other?

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s topic is, “Did Wagner And Debussy Hate Each Other?” You may have heard about the rivalry and the distaste they had for one another. You can read about that. What I’

Welcome to Living Pianos. I’m Robert Estrin here in our new studio in Mesa, Arizona! Today’s subject is, “What is Beyond the Steinway Vault?” What is the Steinway vault? You may have heard about this facility that Steinway built where they keep some unusual Steinway pianos.

It’s open by invitation only, and the price tags start at over $200,000!

The Steinway Vault

Pretty spectacular instruments. Here at Living Pianos we have a collection of historic instruments from Knabe, Mason and Hamlin, Bosendorfer, and, of course, Steinway. Late models as well as restored vintage from the Golden Era. There’s a tremendous choice of pianos. The best part is, here you have pianos that everyone can afford! And if this isn’t enough for you, next door at our sister company Stilwell Pianos there are even more pianos for you to choose from!

Check out our new studio where we shoot beautifully produced videos of all these pianos for you. We offer free delivery anywhere in the continental US. International delivery available as well. It’s quite an extreme showroom. We even have a wine bar! Or you can just play the high-quality videos and get an idea of what piano you like right in your own home.

This is what we’ve been doing since 2006, and now we’re taking it to another level for you. Truly beyond the Steinway vault, unless you’re one of the one-tenth of 1% and you get that invitation.

Otherwise, you’re welcome to come visit Living Pianos by appointment seven days a week in Mesa, Arizona.

Living Pianos Showroom

I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store. See you next time!

info@LivingPianos.com
949-244-3729

What is Beyond the Steinway Vault?

Welcome to Living Pianos. I’m Robert Estrin here in our new studio in Mesa, Arizona! Today’s subject is, “What is Beyond the Steinway Vault?” What is the Steinway vault? You may have heard about this facility that Steinway bui

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store. I’m Robert Estrin and today’s topic is, “What is the Meaning of a Musical Life?” It’s interesting that the parallels of what makes a meaningful musical life also transcend to life in general. So what is life about? Boy, that’s a big topic for today!

We need each other.

We are, by our very nature, social creatures. And in today’s world nearly everything we use was brought to us from past masters. For example, I play piano. I know a lot about pianos. Could I build a piano? Absolutely not. I don’t have the knowledge of how to build a piano. Just casting the plate alone would be a lifetime achievement for me, not to mention all the other intricacies of pianos. We depend upon computers and smartphones and televisions and cars, and most of us don’t even know the basics about many of these technologies. So in this way, we depend upon each other. What about in primitive societies? Well, they too are social creatures. Think of hunters and gatherers. People were specialized and dependent upon one another to keep watch when there was danger at night so people could sleep. We are an interdependent species. The only way we survive is by working together.

The meaning of a musical life is being able to reach people.

How do you do that? Obviously, in a musical performance, you are reaching people on a very deep personal level, and that is richly rewarding to be able to share feelings that are important to you with other people. But is that the only way to reach people? Certainly not. Teaching is another way to share with others. Obviously you can share a great deal with people, but it goes much deeper. Composing music, writing about music, recording music, even managing musicians, all of this is enriching to people. And the sharing is what brings meaning, not just to a musical life, but life in general. There’s a satisfaction that we get from giving to others in order to receive what we need to survive, because none of us can survive on our own. We depend upon each other.

It’s not a competition.

The meaning of a musical life isn’t to be better than everybody else. That’s a dead end really. First of all, you’re never going to do it all. There’s always going to be somebody better than you, at least in some aspects of the piano or any other instrument. Find your unique voice. What’s most important is having a passion for sharing and reaching people in the first place. That’s really what gives the joy and the meaning to your musical life!

I’d love to hear from you and how you have been able to incorporate music in your life in a meaningful way. This is a great discussion for us to have! You can figure out how to carve a path in your musical life that gives you great joy and meaning to yourself as well as others.

Thanks so much for joining me. I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store. See you next time!

info@LivingPianos.com
949-244-3729

What is the Meaning of a Musical Life?

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store. I’m Robert Estrin and today’s topic is, “What is the Meaning of a Musical Life?” It’s interesting that the parallels of what makes a meaningful musical life also tran