Many people don't
have a piano and are daunted by purchasing such a large and usually
One strategy might
be to purchase an inexpensive electronic keyboard to see if your
child has interest, and, if that is successful, go on to explore
purchasing a piano.
But what is the
difference to a child?
From my experience,
beginning piano students usually do not know what they are missing
by playing on an electronic keyboard. A keyboard will be adequate
until the child needs the pedals, and outgrows music which sounds
well on a little keyboard.
A keyboard is
adequate at first because initially a child is simply learning
geography: where are the landmark keys, which way is up, where are
the black keys, etc.
Since these factors
are the same on both acoustic and electronic instruments, the child
will learn the basics just as well on an electronic keyboard.
But once the child
advances a little further, you will want the sound and capabilities
of a real instrument.
Perhaps the most
telling sign that a child has outgrown a keyboard is boredom. I
don't know why, but children, when they have gained a little skill
at the piano, can tell that the keyboard is just a toy, really, and
realize that it is just a plastic machine.
differences between acoustic and electronic instruments are the sound
and the feel in your fingers.
On an acoustic
piano, the floor and the entire room become part of the instrument,
vibrating and making a much larger sound than an electronic
instrument may sound sort of like a piano, but the sound is coming
from a tiny, tinny speaker, and cannot compete with the strength and
richness of sound that an acoustic piano produces.
Acoustic piano keys
are counter weighted, providing a certain sense of resistance in the
fingers. Almost all electronic keyboards are unweighted, and the
feel in the keys is very light, with no resistance. While this is
acceptable at first with an electronic instrument, eventually the
child will need to experience and work the feel of real piano keys.
HOW TO BUY
Acoustic pianos can
be purchased from individuals or piano stores. In all cases, you
won't have much of an idea what you're getting, since a piano
has 9000 moving parts, none of them familiar to non-musicians.
Consult an independent professional, and never rely on the
advice of a piano salesman.
New acoustic pianos
can cost from $2500 to $150,000. You are better off with an
inexpensive upright acoustic piano unless the sky is the limit and
you want to purchase a fine instrument. A child won't know the
difference between a $2500 Chinese knock-off and a Steinway Concert
Grand costing $115,000. The
Steinway will last longer and have resale value, and the Chinese
knock-off will get you 50% at best if you want to sell it.
You can also look
in the local papers in the spring, because people often move in late
spring, selling their hard-to-move pianos at fire sale prices.
I've even seen people giving them away, since the average piano
costs at least $200 to be carted and thrown away.
instruments run from $99 to thousands. I urge you to buy the least
expensive keyboard that will do the job. All you need is about 48
full size keys (there are different sizes) and a piano sound.
Anything more is a waste unless you plan to go into the field of
Many parents are
fooled by salesmen and walk out of the store with a $5,000
electronic behemoth that "does everything" and "sounds just
like a piano." It's waste of money, aside from the fact that you
don't know if your child is interested yet.
keyboard may be better than an old, beat up piano, because old
pianos have keys that stick and other defects that kill children's
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