Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cheap Keyboard vs. Used Piano For Students

Thinking about getting a keyboard for your new piano student? CHECK WITH YOUR PIANO TEACHER FIRST.

Most reputable piano teachers frown upon keyboards for students. There are several reasons why piano students should own a traditional "acoustic" piano rather then a cheap keyboard.

First off, it is very important that students practice on a piano that has the right "touch" or keyboard feel. The piano is a percussion instrument. A piano student practicing on a cheap keyboard is like a percussionist practicing on practice pads, instead of a traditional "trap" drumset; the feel is close, but not as accurate as the traditional instrument. If possible, it is best to have all music students practice on the best instrument available. Even if they are in college, it is better to wait for a practice room with a quality acoustic piano to open up, rather than to settle for practicing in the dorm on a cheap keyboard.

Second, even an old, used acoustic piano usually has three pedals. Once a student gets into their second book, they will need to practice pedal techniques. Keyboards usually have no pedals at all or come with a cheap version that does not have the same touch as a traditional piano pedal.

Third, the sound is not really the same. Learning how to make a note or chord sustain at the right time, for the right length of time takes practice on the right instrument.

And finally, what will the "teachers" think? It's a funny thing, but during the first lesson, piano teachers typically try to set their students at ease by having the student tell them a little bit about themselves. One the questions that ALWAYS comes up is, "...do you have a piano at home right now?" and "...what kind of piano do you have?"

The answer in my house once was, "...my Dad refurbishes and sells pianos, so we've had about five of them, but he keeps selling them!"

Now I'm happy to report that the answer finally is "...a Yamaha studio piano."

Believe it or not, when the student tells the teacher they have a quality piano, the teacher knows that they don't have to keep begging the parents to "try and buy a used piano soon."

(When I first took piano lessons, the teacher would not take you as a student unless they saw an acoustic piano in your living room...no piano, no lessons!)

In the end, if the student always practices on a traditional instrument, they should develop their technique much faster with less frustration. (After all, you wouldn't teach your teenager how to drive a car by taking them out on a John Deere riding mower, would you?)

So take the plunge - invest in a used or new acoustic piano and keep your student off of cheap piano "imitations" if possible.

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