How to select the best piano for a beginner?
Congratulations on starting piano lessons at the New Tampa Piano and Pedagogy Academy! Now you just have to select the right piano! For someone new to this purchase, the term “best piano” may be on the same footing as someone buying their first vehicle: what is the “best car”? Just as there are many cars, there are also many pianos. But just as a driver does not need the most expensive or the fastest car out there to navigate the streets, the piano student does not need the top tier instrument. However, some basics need to be in order so that the time spent practicing produces satisfying results.
Investing in a “better piano” is a statement that walks hand-in-hand with the desire to maintain the best possible outcome from the time and money spent on learning the art of the piano. Quality instruments (acoustic or digital) help form good habits in students, unlike ‘tinker’ instruments which are for short-term use only, and they can form bad habits, such as improper note identification. Proper sound quality and basic features (full keyboard and pedal) are important for instilling interest in continued piano education. A quality instrument from the start is one of the premier reasons for a student continuing to study piano/music.
Just as a car needs brakes, so does a piano a “full keyboard.” A small or partial keyboard (anything smaller than 88 keys) doesn’t from an accurate visual correlation to the keyboard, hence limiting the beginner student in the ability to play ‘high’ or ‘low’ on the keyboard. Contrary to popular belief, elementary piano repertoire uses the full keyboard, and not just the middle register.
For proper “steering control,” the piano needs “weighted keys.” A weighted keyboard means that the keys are touch sensitive, and with this a student can produce soft and loud sounds. Finger technique and aural development are developed through the ability to manipulate sound in this way. Lack of this feature prevents a student from playing expressively. The sooner a student makes the jump to a weighed keyboard the better.
Lastly, a piano needs at least one pedal. A digital instrument has the options of adding one or more pedals, but the traditional acoustic piano will already come with three. While it is not necessary to have all three at the beginning, an upgrade will be needed down the road for more advanced repertoire. The Sustain Pedal is a foot-controlled lever that allows the sound to keep sounding/ringing even after the keys on the piano have been released. This pedal is a bare minimum for even the semi-serious pianist.
There are actually just a few basic requirements for a quality instrument that will last a piano student for years: 88 keys, weighted keys, at least one pedal. If these requirements are met, then you can rest assured that the student will have satisfaction from the practice session. So, get out there on that road of music adventures!