How to play with rubato

By Robert Estrin


This newsletter article’s subject is about rubato.


How do you know if you’re playing too much rubato? Rubato is a practice of expressive playing in romantic music. It involves speeding up to the top of the phrase, and slowing down coming away from it. This adds to the emotionalism. When it’s done well, it can have a very profound effect upon the feeling of the music.


When rubato is done correctly, you should be able to tap along to the beat.


You might feel the music pulling you along and holding back. But you should be able to tap to it. How do you know when you’re doing too much rubato? If you try to tap along with the music, but you just can’t quite stay with it, the rubato is excessive. This is how you can check rubato to make sure it isn’t excessive.


Record yourself playing a piece, then go back and see if you can tap your foot to it.


If you can tap along with it, it might not be excessive. As long as you can feel where the beat is, you pull your listener along with you. But if you can’t tap to the music that you play, or somebody else plays, then it might be self-indulgent. Going too far with rubato loses the whole pulse of the music. So that’s the way you can check rubato in your playing. Record yourself and tap along! I hope this little tip is helpful for you.


Now watch my lesson: 




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