Can You Get a Singing Sound Out of the Piano?

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Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. Today I’m going to show you how to get a singing sound on the piano. Piano is actually a percussion instrument, yet there are such beautiful melodies that evoke the quality of the human voice, as well as other instruments. In fact, the piano is almost like a whole orchestra, with accompaniment, melody, and many other elements all right under your fingertips!

How can you evoke the quality of the human voice in your melodies?

When playing melodies on the piano, you want to mimic the human voice, or at least a wind instrument, or a string instrument with the continuity of the breath or the bow. On the piano, the notes, as I have stated so many times before, are fading away. We’re battling it all the time as pianists! But you want to get a beautiful, singing sound. So, I’m going to show you one technique today that is incredibly important. I’ve shown you in the past how to use the weight of the arm, transferring the weight smoothly from finger to finger in order to achieve smoothness. The weight of the arm is the analog to the breath, which gives your melodies continuity. Instead of calculating from note to note, you just let the weight of the arm transfer smoothly from note to note. What I want to show today is a technique related to that, which you can use in conjunction with the weight of the arm. But instead of just a rise and fall of each phrase, I’m going to provide a tip for you that works so incredibly well that you will not even believe it!

As notes get higher, you play them louder, and as they get lower, you play them more softly.

When you are singing, naturally, you’re going to get louder as you reach higher notes, and softer as you sing lower notes. It’s very difficult not to achieve this when you’re singing or playing a wind instrument. It comes out that way naturally. So if you want to evoke that sound on the piano, you have to play louder on the high notes and softer on the low notes.

Watch the video to see this technique demonstrated!

To demonstrate this, I will play the complete Burgmüller Pastorale. It’s a rather simple piece, so you can get the concept of this. Listen to how I ignore every aspect other than getting louder when going higher, and softer when playing lower, with very few exceptions. Listen to how splendidly it works to bring out a singing tone! If it works on this simple Burgmüller etude, imagine how splendidly it’ll work on other music. Try it on your Chopin nocturnes and your slow movements of Beethoven sonatas. Let me know what you think about this technique. See how it works for you! I’m really interested, so let me know in the comments at and YouTube. Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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9 thoughts on “Can You Get a Singing Sound Out of the Piano?”


  1. Hi Robert
    Your demonstration does work from a pianistic point of view. Makes sense.
    Just wanted to add a piano technicians trick when some pianos don’t sustain very well.
    Just tune the 3 string unisons so slightly out that the sound overlaps from one string to another. ( very slow beats or a swell, almost imperceptible).It is a bit of an illusion. Never have to do this on good pianos.

    1. Yes, I have heard of this technique. Another way of achieving it is after your piano is tuned, play it. Unisons will start to go out making them slightly detuned!

  2. Robert is this the ‘he has a lovely touch’ saying’?
    Not many piano playing books give away secrets I think.
    Thank you, very interesting indeed.

  3. Not only does the timbre and volume change naturally with the rising and lowering of the pitch in voice and wind instruments, it also changes naturally with the volume on the same pitch. Thus a singer (such as a tenor or soprano) when singing a note softly may have a string or flute-like quality, yet when singing the same note loudly may have a much reedier or brass-sounding timbre. The same would be true of the french horn as I’m sure you’re aware.

    The scaling and voicing of the instrument may contribute a lot. Steinways, Schimmels, Faziolis, and Bluthners (to name a few) typically have a noticeable nuance in timbre throughout both the range in pitch and volume while Yamahas typically have a much more level timbre. That having been said, it’s sometimes easier to draw out an expressive singing nuance on some instruments than on others — as many pianists will attest in praising some instruments for their singing quality.

    1. You are spot on with the distinction between the uniform tone of Yamaha pianos compared to European and American pianos which have a timbrel shift at different volumes. In regards to singing tone, to a large extent it comes down to the specific piano since even new pianos of the same make and model differ considerably from one another.

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