Do You Have to Keep Learning New Music on the Piano?

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This is Robert Estrin of The question today is “Do you have to keep learning new music on the piano?” If you know about piano repertoire, you know how vast it is. It is the most amazing thing. I have been playing the piano since I was a young child, and I’ve learned a great deal of music. Yet, people come up to me and say, “Do you know…” and whatever that piece is, before they even say the name, I think to myself, “Uh-oh, I hope I know it!”. It doesn’t matter who you are and how vast your repertoire is:

There is so much more music written for the piano that nobody knows it all.

Often I do know the requested piece, or at least know something similar by the same composer.

Do you have to keep learning music your whole life? My father was concertizing well into his eighties. He was in his eighties when he learned for the first time, Mussorgsky’s, “Pictures at an Exhibition”. You know this is a mammoth work. He was a firm believer in learning new music, always challenging himself, and always learning more music. I’ve got to say that I am very influenced by my father, Morton Estrin. He would lament that often times he would see some of his colleagues giving solo recitals. He would look at the program and say, “What? That’s the same thing program they performed at their graduate recital at Juilliard twenty years ago!” He used to scoff at that: the idea that someone could learn a certain amount of repertoire and keep playing the same things over and over again was anathema to his musical convictions. Is it really essential to keep learning music your whole life? Not necessarily, however, I think you’d be missing out on a great deal for two reasons. First of all:

You’d miss out on the beauty of the music and depth of expression that is possible by learning different pieces.

There is no substitution for that. For example, if you have seen some great movies, you still want to see new ones. If you’ve read great books, that doesn’t mean you aren’t ever going to read any new books in your life. It is the same thing with learning new pieces of music. More than that, by learning new pieces of music, you go back to pieces you’ve studied before and you will have gained new insights into the music. This isn’t just if you learn more compositions and genres of the same composer, but even unrelated works.

Pieces that demand techniques which expand your playing has benefits when revisiting other pieces taking them on a new level of performance.

Once again this is Robert Estrin at, Your Online Piano Store.