WHAT INSTRUMENT DO I NEED TO TAKE PIANO LESSONS?
First, you need a Good Piano Teacher. Call our store (or see our Recommended piano teacher’s page on this website) for highly recommended Piano Teachers in our area. JML Piano – Fayetteville, NC Area: 910-323-9187
You MUST have an acoustic piano, or a good quality digital piano with an 88 key weighted action to Take Piano Lessons! You CANNOT learn to play on a 61 key $50 keyboard with non weighted key keyboard with less than 88 keys!
*****The information below comes from one of our recommended piano teacher’s website concerning what instrument you NEED for Piano lessons. Many of our recommended piano teachers have told us exactly the same thing…and based on our 38 years in the piano business…we agree with this statement 100%!!
WHY DO I NEED A PIANO?
Many people have asked me through the years if a piano is necessary in order to learn to play the piano. My answer to this is most emphatically, YES!
The fact is that with any sport, hobby, or profession that you endeavor to enter it is critical to have the proper equipment. Students are assigned music to work on and technical exercises with the very first lesson. A piano is necessary for home practice and in turn home practice is crucial for successful mastery of the instrument. After all, can you learn to be a master chef with no stove? An artist with a paint brush, but no paints or canvas? A soccer player with no soccer ball? It is the same for learning the piano, either an acoustic piano or a digital piano with 88 weighted keys and a sustaining pedal will make the most of your child’s piano study.
The next question I am frequently asked is, “I have a small keyboard, can’t I learn on that?” Well, let’s go back to the master chef. Do you believe that one can learn to be a master chef on an Easy-Bake Oven? A fine artist with a paint-by-number set? What about a soccer player with a deflated soccer ball? Certainly, one can see the necessity for having the proper equipment. Even the earliest beginner needs to have a full-sized keyboard with fully weighted keys and a sustaining pedal. My students begin exploring all 88 keys from the very first lesson. We also begin working on mastering the technique necessary to produce beautiful tones and to play expressively. Smaller keyboards with spring-loaded keys and no sustaining pedal are not the best choice and can actually be detrimental to your child’s progress…
***** If your piano teacher says it is OK to start taking piano lessons on a portable keyboard without 88 weighted keys… we recommend getting another piano teacher because this simply is NOT correct!
TOP 10 THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN SELECTING AN INSTRUMENT TO PRACTICE ON:
Are you Taking PIANO Lessons or KEYBOARD Lessons? If you are taking Piano Lessons, starting on an electronic keyboard will NEVER help you to play piano! Keyboards have 61 or 76 keys, they have a plastic non-weighted touch, and they typically don’t come with a pedal or bench. In our 37 years of business, we have NEVER seen or heard of anyone who learned to play by owning one of these keyboards with less than 88 keys and a NON weighted piano action. Consider a Digital Piano: A high quality digital piano will have 88 keys, the touch of a piano, pedals, and a bench. You CANNOT LEARN to play piano properly with a keyboard just as you cannot learn to drive on a golf cart or go cart, or learn to play basketball while wearing Ice Skates!
Why not a Keyboard? See our section below “What Piano Students CANNOT Learn on a Portable Keyboard”. Lots and Lots of reasons!
Why 88 Keys? Most students will have music in the first few lessons where they experiment the full 88 key range of a piano. Even if you are only playing in the middle of the piano, you peripheral vision will see all 88 keys. If you practice on less, then go to your teacher’s piano, it can be confusing and disorienting to the student.
Weighted Touch? It is extremely important to have a fully-weighted-hammer-action piano touch to teach proper technique from lesson NUMBER ONE! Good (and bad) habits are formed from day one.
Touch Sensitive (Touch Responsive)? If you choose electronic, the question to ask here is “How many levels of sensitivity”? A keyboard may be touch sensitive, but only on a scale of 1 to 5, while an acoustic piano has a touch sensitivity of 1 to infinity. A Roland digital piano has this type of touch sensitivity.
What about a used piano? Always hire a piano tuner / technician, or piano store representative to evaluate a used piano. This person looks deep into the inner workings of the piano itself. A small fee for a professional opinion can save you thousands! Generally speaking, a used piano under $1,000 is rarely going to get you a very good piano. What looks to be the “deal of the century” on craigslist, classified ads, or from your neighbor may cost you a whole lot more than the piano is worth! Add the price of moving ($175 and up), tuning / adjusting / regulation ($300 – $800), and the cost of the piano itself… it’s easy to spend much more than what the piano is worth in just repairs! Seek professional advice when buying a used piano or you could be “playing the blues”.
What about a hand-me-down piano or a piano advertised “Beautiful” or “Antique” or “Free”? A piano might look beautiful on the outside but might need hundreds or thousands of dollars of work on the inside to make it into a decent piano. Good intentioned family members probably have no idea how much work the piano they are trying to pass down to you really needs. Always seek professional advice about used pianos! Old “Antique” pianos (built before 1960) generally cannot be tuned nor do they have any antique value. Generally, we dispose of these old upright pianos that were built before 1960 as they probably cannot be tuned and will cost much more than they are worth to repair.
What is the maintenance? An acoustic piano should be tuned at least twice per year, and needs voicing and regulation about once every 5 years. An acoustic piano has over 10,000 parts which include leather straps and felt that wear out and deteriorate over time. Most acoustic pianos should have major work or rebuilt at least every 25 to 35 years. Even one of the best pianos in the world, Steinway and Sons, says this! A piano is a fine precision instrument that needs to be properly cared for. It should be tuned a MINIMUM of once per year if it is played or not! If you want to play piano and don’t want to maintain it, you should buy a high quality Digital Piano that is maintenance free!
Is Practice Important? You cannot be successful playing piano without practice just as you cannot be successful at sports without practice. Having a piano at “Grandma’s House” or at your church does not offer the adequate situation for you to practice. The only way to learn to play piano is to have a piano or quality digital piano in your home to practice on.
Is Silent Practicing Important? It may be if you have younger children with naps, early bedtimes, or even if Mom or Dad had a stressful day. Some children are self-conscious about practicing. A digital piano with headphones allows practice at anytime without disturbing anyone in your household.
WHAT STUDENTS CANNOT LEARN ON A PORTABLE KEYBOARD WITH LESS THAN 88 KEYS AND NON WEIGHTED PIANO TYPE ACTION:
The foundation of piano technique
Posture & Seating position and optimal hand / arm alignment
Musical expression and sensitivity
Learning how to produce a beautiful tone
The concept of weight using hands, arms, and shoulders
Arm drops and cushioning with the wrists
Approach and release of chords
Legato, staccato, and portato touch
Finger dexterity and evenness of touch
Finger muscle development and large muscle motions
Finger, hand and arm strength to develop dexterity, endurance, and stamina
Balance between melody and accompaniment using finger pressure
Dynamics of sound
Phrasing and voicing
Pedaling: una corda (soft), sostenuto (bass sustain), and damper (sustain)
Effective practice habits
Performance confidence and competence Studies show that children and adults taking piano lessons who practice on portable keyboards DO NOT progress as those students who practice on acoustic pianos or high quality digital pianos with a weighted key action. 99% of all piano teachers will NOT recommend practicing on a portable keyboard, and most professional teachers will NOT even accept students unless they have the proper instrument to practice on (an acoustic piano, or an 88 key weighted action digital piano). Most piano students practicing on a keyboard simply stop playing because they can’t practice and learn properly. Since practice is the foundation to the development of any skill, it is important that we equip piano students for success by providing them with a quality instrument for learning. Playing the piano should be fun and exciting… creative and expressive, giving the player feelings of musical joy and deep satisfaction. Again… It’s not recommended by any professional piano teacher or music professor to use a portable keyboard to learn piano on! Having a quality piano or digital piano at home for practice will help any piano student develop to their full potential and enjoy a much richer musical experience!
THE RIGHT INSTRUMENT = A SUCCESSFUL START!