This is a guest post written by our friends over at AudioMastered.com, where they are just as passionate about helping musicians as we are.
Buying a piano for your child can be intimidating if you don’t have a musical background. How much should I spend? What size of piano should I buy? What is the best type of piano for beginners. These are all common questions parents have. Luckily, with a little bit of info, you will be able to make an informed choice you can feel confident about when it comes to selecting the best piano for your child.
Just remember, when you are buying your child a piano, you’re not just buying them a physical object. A piano could be the beginning of a life full of music and creativity. This piano could be the first step to a lifelong passion for music. So when selecting the best piano for your child, let’s try and get it right!
Children Specific Considerations
There are a few special considerations to make when it comes to buying a piano for your child. Namely:
- Weighted keys
- Learning material
Digital pianos come in different shapes and sizes. You will have the option to buy a piano with keys numbering from 25 to the conventional 88.
What’s the best option for your child?
The reasons for purchasing a piano with less than 88 keys is two-fold: space and price. Pianos with fewer keys typically will come with a lower price tag. Additionally, they will take up much less space compared to a full-sized acoustic piano. However, you will be sacrificing playability. While it’s true your child may not have the arm span to take full advantage of a full sized keyboard, they will be limited in what pieces they can play as they grow. Intermediate-level pieces require the full range of the classic 88 key piano. You will be forced to upgrade down the road if you settle for anything less.
Remember the weighted feeling of acoustic piano keys? This is caused by the hammer mechanism used to strike the string when the key is played. This weighting on the keys plays an important role in the style and technique of the pianist. This is why digital piano companies have put a lot of thought into replicating this natural feeling.
There are 4 different types of key weighting:
- Spring action: this is what you will find on cheap keyboards. These will come in two flavors: velocity-sensitive (or touch response), and velocity-insensitive. Velocity sensitive keys will adjust the volume of the note depending on how hard you strike the keys.
- Semi-weighted: the in-between of weighted and spring action keys. These typically will be velocity sensitive.
- Weighted: Close to actual acoustic piano keys. Usually velocity sensitive.
- Hammer Action: as close to a real acoustic as possible. The lower keys will be weighted heavier to simulate the heavier hammers on an acoustic piano.
It’s best to avoid unweighted keys. While these keys will be much easier for your child to use in the beginning, they will not develop the hand strength or feel for natural keys. This may make it difficult to transition over to an acoustic piano when they are ready. The only reason to purchase a piano without weighted keys is a limited budget. As you may expect, the price increases up the spectrum from unweighted to hammer action.
Have you ever wished you could use your child’s addiction to your iPad for something productive? A few digital pianos are now taking advantage of our youth’s addiction to screens and apps. Through interfacing with apps, lesson plans and song walk throughs are provided in a way that doesn’t feel like learning. While they will never replace living piano teachers, these apps can be a great way to convince your child to sit down and practice. A number of digital pianos also offer lesson modes. While I don’t find them particularly useful, some children may benefit from this method of learning.
Digital vs. Acoustic
This question is becoming increasingly common. Should I buy my child a “real” piano or a digital piano? I’m personally biased towards digital pianos. However, I always appreciate the beauty of an acoustic piano and dream of the day when I’m in a position to get one. You can find a complete description and buyer’s guide of digital pianos here. Otherwise, here is the summary breakdown for the question of digital or acoustic.
|Inexpensive||Weighted keys can be expensive|
|Headphone jack||Sound quality tends to be inferior|
|Easy to move||Requires power|
|Takes up less space|
|Does not require tuning|
|Built-in lesson features|
|Sounds beautiful||Difficult to move|
|Natural hammer action keys||No headphone jack|
|Full 88 keys||Requires maintenance and tuning|
|Great decoration piece||Takes up a lot of space|
I know how grating it can be when someone is practicing their piano lessons. This can be tension point with the entire household. This is one of the primary reasons I would recommend parents purchase a digital piano. Additionally, the price point is usually much easier for the average household to handle.
Modern day digital pianos have come a long way from the toy digital pianos you are probably familiar with. The piano recordings they use are high-definition recordings taken from actual acoustic pianos.
The other most common question parents have is:
How much should I spend on my child’s first piano?
Most parents are unsure if their child will actually stick to learning the piano or if this is just a phase. This makes spending $500 on a piano a little nerve-wracking. The good news is, there is a piano that solves this issue. Priced just above $200, the Alesis Recital is the perfect beginner digital piano. Most other beginner digital pianos have price tags around the $100 mark, but lack the essential features of a full set of keys, and weighted keys.
Purchasing a piano for around the $200 price point is a great compromise. This would be comparable to other instruments, such as a beginner acoustic guitar.
Remember, any piano will be better than nothing. If you are on a tight budget and can only afford a small 61-key, spring action keyboard, then this will be good enough to start. The purpose of this article was to make sure you’re making an informed decision. In the end, what’s most important is that you’re nurturing the musical interest of your child.
About the Author: Glen Parry has been a musician for over 15 years. He’s done everything the hard way so you don’t have to. You can find more musical advice over at Audiomastered.com
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