6: Pianos vs. Keyboards / Points to Ponder
"Notes are silver and rests are gold. I can't hear your silence - it must be louder!" -- W.A.Mozart
No Keyboards: An electric keyboard with less than 88 keys is not adequate for even the first few weeks of lessons and should not be considered an option. The key size is often smaller than real piano keys and the touch response is poor. Wide ranges of loud and soft, high and low, legato and staccato, along with a sustain pedal, are needed inorder to properly practice techniques taught at the very first lesson. The use of a small keyboard as a student's only resource for daily practice is a disservice to any budding musician. A wise use of tight budget dollars would be the purchase of a digital piano with 88 weighted keys or a used acoustic piano in good condition.
Digital Pianos: Many families decide to purchase a computer compatible, 88 key digital piano. In fact the Sharon Renkes Piano Studio includes a digital piano along with a "real" acoustic piano. All digital instruments come with a variety of bells and whistles in a wide range of pricepoints. Many digital brands are coming closer to the touch, response and sound of a real, acoustic grand piano. No digital piano can exactly replicate the experience of playing a tuned, high quality, acoustic piano.
Make sure whatever digital piano you buy has 88 full-sized, weighted and touch sensitive keys. It should be self contained - needing no external speakers sitting on the floor. You will need an A/C power adapter, music rack, sustain/damper pedal, attached legs or X-stand, and a piano bench. Head phones are a nice option. A student sitting on a chair while playing a digital piano placed on a table, will result in improper piano posture and poor body mechanics. This can lead to poor playing technique, discomfort and pain, possibly progressing to permanent damage of muscles, tendons and bones. It is essential that the student's digital piano have attached legs or an X-stand and a piano bench.
Acoustic Pianos: The student's piano should always be an instrument of good quality with all parts working correctly. Keys must not stick or have chipped, missing parts. Pedals should not squeek. The pinblock should hold tuning pins tightly in place. The sound board should be solid, not cracked. The piano should produce a clear sound when played. An instrument in disrepair or out of tune is discouraging to any pianist, especially a beginning student. Poor quality pianos actually hinder musical progress. A well-maintained instrument, tuned yearly, will give pleasure when played, encourage frequent use and reinforce concepts and training received at the lesson.
Questions? Sharon can refer you to qualified technicians and reputable dealers for repair, tuning, rental or purchase of new and used quality acoustic and digital pianos.
Please Note: Discomfort or pain is never a normal part of playing any keyboard instrument. If the student ever experiences any type of physical discomfort while playing a digital or acoustic keyboard instrument, please inform the teacher ASAP. An incorrect piano posture or a poor body mechanics habit may be the cause and needs to be observed and relearned correctly.