Piano Dealers – Baby Grand Pianos – Upright Pianos – New Pianos – Used Pianos – Yamaha, Baldwin Piano Company, Boston Piano Co., Chickering, Estonia, Essex Piano Company, Kawai, Krakauer, Petrof, Pearl River Piano Group, Samick, Schimmel, Steinway & Sons, Story & Clark, Young Chang

How to Choose a Piano?

How to Choose a Piano for the Beginning Student

So, you finally decided to buy a piano. How important is sound quality to you? Where will you place the piano in your home? How much space do you have? How much will you have to spend to get a good piano? What’s the best piano for you and your family? These are some questions you should ask yourself when choosing your piano.

A beginning piano student needs a good instrument.

Think about it. If you want your child to play soccer, would you send them out on the field in a pair of cheap flip-flops? Or would you make sure your child had a good pair of shoes? Shoes, of course! On the other hand, does your child need professional-quality $100 soccer cleats? Maybe not on the first day.

As a parent you want to make sure your child has what they need to learn, grow & enjoy learning the piano. However, you’re probably not ready to go out and buy a grand piano. Most parents find themselves battling to strike a balance between the best instrument to buy to start a child’s musical education and how much they’ll have to spend to do that. We will show you how to choose a piano that’s right for you. We hope this article will help you feel confident moving forward with a piano instrument of your choice. 

To help you choose the best piano for your child (and your budget!) let’s talk about how to choose a piano for a beginning student.

The Three Types of Keyboard Instruments:

There are three basic categories of keyboard instruments. The largest and most expensive, (and also the best when it comes to developing piano skills,) are the Acoustic pianos. There are also many good Digital and Hybrid pianos, which are smaller and less expensive that do a decent job of mimicking the sound and feel of an acoustic instrument. A third category, the electronic Keyboard, is the least expensive option, but may not have the right touch to develop playing ability and finger strength for a beginning pianist, or enough keys to play a wide range of music. (Most level 1B books begin to use the upper and lower octaves as well as introduce pedaling at which point they have already outgrown the use of their keyboard.) 

How to Choose a Piano – Acoustic Pianos:

Choose an Acoustic Piano

The sooner a student has the opportunity to practice on an acoustic piano, the better. 

Quality acoustic pianos produce sounds from natural materials offering the highest level of responsiveness, resistance and a range of dynamics. Subsequently, the beautiful tone & color created by an acoustic piano not even the nicest digital pianos can match. The sooner a student has the opportunity to practice on an acoustic instrument with a nuanced musical responsiveness, the more musically they can play. True, acoustic pianos are expensive. The typical price range for a quality acoustic upright (also called “vertical”) piano is $4,000 to $8,000. If you want a grand or baby grand piano, expect to pay $6,000 to $10,000 or more. 

***Buyers Note: The Hallet and Davis, Baldwin, Kawai or Seiler lines are a few favorites within the musical community. There are other good brands such as  Yamaha, Samick, & Young Chang. 

Where should I buy a Piano

Not only should you know how to choose a piano. You must also make sure you shop with a reputable piano store. These piano stores can offer you follow up support and warranty services which private sellers cannot. A private seller says a piano “just needs a tuning” when in fact the piano is not suitable. An acoustic piano in poor condition isn’t always easy to spot! This will only cause frustration and hinder the progress of a beginning student.

A private seller is not qualified to make the determination of what a piano needs or determine condition. Often Buyers bring home a piano only to be told by the tuner that it cannot be tuned! In most cases it will need major repairs to critical components to even function! The poor customers are left with no recourse, unable to recoup their time and money. This is a common and disappointing situation to find yourself in. If you don’t know your jewels, know your Jeweler! 

How to Choose a Piano of the Digital Or Hybrid variety? 

Digital pianos can closely simulate the playing experience of an acoustic piano pretty well, especially as technology improves. They feature an imitation hammer action and some imitation wooden keys. This gives you a more realistic feeling that closely simulates playing an acoustic piano. Digital pianos don’t require tuning and offer the convenience and flexibility of headphones for silent practicing.

Sound is either synthetic or sampled (sampled being preferred). These sounds will offer an array of piano and instrumental sounds in addition to recorded songs. Digital pianos always have a full 88key keyboard, three pedals, and a substantial case for stability while playing. (unlike X-stands which wobble). Consequently you won’t be limited to what music you can play on a full digital piano. 

Choose a Hybrid Piano

How to choose a piano of the digital variety? You must find the one that most closely mimics the acoustic piano. Hybrids are closest to acoustic pianos. This is due to authentic hammer actions (vs. semi hammer in digitals,) true wooden keys and upgraded speakers. Hybrid pianos offer a playing experience that’s virtually indistinguishable from acoustic pianos. It’s a substantial upgrade from a digital.

***Buyers Note: The Kawai and Casio-Bechstein Celviano hybrids are the most well respected options in digitals within the musical community. These are the choice instruments of teachers and composers whose musical needs include exceptional response and playability.

The quality and ease of midi and computer integration plus bluetooth capabilities also make them a favorite. Yamaha was once a widely popular digital/hybrid brand, however, in recent years Kawai has been preferred in most professional comparisons. Digitals start around 2,000 while Hybrids start around 4,000 and up. (Some dealers offer a one year trade up policy should you decide to upgrade to an acoustic in the future. Be sure to ask and select these dealers!)

Should I buy a Keyboard?

A full-size keyboard has 88 keys, spanning seven octaves and three extra notes. If you want an enjoyable keyboard experience, don’t go for less than this. Anything less than 88 keys you will find yourself regularly hitting upper or lower limits unable to play most music.  

***Buyers Note: We recommend The Privia PSX1000 ($750.00) with its 88 keys, optional case and full pedals. This is one of the most affordable keyboards still suitable for learning purposes. See videos online!

Summary: 

As we learned above, Acoustic pianos are preferred. They are the most desirable option but also the most expensive. When an acoustic piano is not possible, you may consider other keyboard instruments such as Hybrids, Digitals and Keyboards. Hybrids are preferred as they use exactly the same moving parts as a grand piano. Thus, they create a nearly indistinguishable playing experience to an acoustic grand.

Digitals don’t have the same physical parts as a real piano or a hybrid. They use various techniques to recreate the heavier touch and responsiveness with imitation components. Keyboards simulate key responsiveness without the use of any action components. Therefore they are the least desirable for learning purposes but they do offer the most compact and affordable solution. 

What is a Piano Action?

Hammer action- The highest quality and most expensive. Each key moves a mechanical hammer, giving an almost identical feel to an acoustic piano.

Weighted- Weights built into keys, similar feel to a real piano. Ok for first instrument.

Semi-weighted- Combines spring-loaded action with weights attached to the keys. Some dynamic range lost. Not ideal for first instrument. 

Unweighted- (aka “synth action”) Typically molded plastic keys creating resistance with springs. The cheapest option. Least desirable for learning.

Article by Aislyn Magrys

It doesn’t matter if You play the piano casually or are a concert pianist, these Amazing facts pertain to all who study and play the piano.

  1. PIANISTS USE THEIR BRAIN MORE EFFECTIVELY AND EFFICIENTLY

In order to properly play the piano, players and potential piano players will have to memorize the sound of all 88-keys and learn how to mix and match sounds to create beautiful sounding music.

Not only that, but they have to learn to use both hands independently and this takes great brain power and concentration.

This strengthens the frontal lobe thereby improving its overall efficiency. According to a number of studies carried out during the history of the piano, scientists have concluded that pianists develop superior problem solving, reasoning, decision making, and communication skills.

FUN FACT: Claudio Arrau rose to fame as a child prodigy and learned to read music before he could read actual words.

  1. PIANISTS ARE ABLE TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES BETTER THAN NON-PIANO PLAYERS

It is a widely accepted fact that music is an art and it is a medium through which many people are able to express themselves. Playing the piano is one way in which many people do that.

Some studies suggest that individuals who play the piano are able to “turn off” or suppress the part of the brain responsible for producing stereotypical answers. As a result, their true self is able to shine through.

FUN FACT: Arthur Rubinstein, a world-famous pianist, had a reputation for being a “grand storyteller” both on and off the piano and was fluent in eight languages: English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish

  1. PIANISTS ARE ABLE TO MULTITASK BETTER THAN NON-PIANO PLAYERS

As mentioned before, pianists are able to use their brains more effectively than non-piano players. As a result, they are able to multitask better than most non-piano players.

This is because playing the piano requires you to perform many small tasks simultaneously in order to create musical masterpieces.

When you see a Louis Lortie or a Yuja Wang going ham on a Steinway Grand Piano they aren’t just clicking keys. No sir! There are a bunch of small tasks all occurring at the same time.

So while playing the keys and pedaling, Mr. Lortie is interpreting a music sheet and keeping time.

During his performance, he also has to maintain his posture and control his breathing, while forming chords and following pitch. Still, think it’s easy? How about the pressure of having thousands of eyes and ears staring at you and listening keenly to every note. Think again!

FUN FACT: A piano can have over 10,000 moving parts

  1. PIANISTS ARE LIKELY TO BE MORE CREATIVE THAN YOU!

In order to be named among the greats in terms of the piano, pianists are forced to think outside of the box every day to stand out amongst the millions of wanna-be Beethovens, Chopins, and Ashkenazys.

According to research carried out by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, pianists develop divergent thinking abilities which allow them to come up with solutions to complex problems.

This is because playing the piano bridges the gap between the left and right hemispheres of the brain which enhances problem-solving abilities and as a result, creativity.

FUN FACT: In the past, only people who were rich such as royals and aristocrats could afford to have pianos in their home. These pianos were very bulky and could not be moved very easily. Nowadays, pianos come in many sizes and have become more affordable.

Click this link for a review of some of the most affordable pianos available today:

  1. PIANISTS ARE GENERALLY HAPPIER 

Don’t get this point misconstrued. Playing the piano does not make you happy or cure mental illnesses.

However, it has been observed that individuals who play the piano are generally happier than those who do not. At a young age, playing the piano builds children’s self-esteem, confidence and social skills.

They are more likely to thrive in school and in social spaces. This is great news for guys who wish to impress their peers and especially the ladies.

People who begin playing the piano at a later stage in their life have admitted to feeling less depressed and tired. Playing the piano has also lessened their anxiety and stress and has given them newfound feelings of independence.

Because playing the piano improves cognitive functions and dexterity, doctors who prescribe unconventional treatments recommend playing the piano to people who suffer from dementia, stroke and PTSD.

FUN FACT: Famous pianist Ludwig van Beethoven composed many of what has been considered his greatest compositions while partially deaf!

  1. PIANISTS HAVE ENHANCED NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS!

Though some pianists can play the piano for hours and can successfully operate as a “one-man/woman act”, there is something almost magical about combining the sounds of the piano with other instruments. Pianos have a place in bands, orchestras, studios, theatre, etc and in order to properly collaborate with other instruments and pianos, the pianist will need to communicate with the other players both verbally and non-verbally. As a result, non-verbal communication skills improve naturally over time both on and off the piano.

FUN FACT: Sergei Rachmaninoff had hands that were so large they spanned 12 keys! As a result, one of his pieces, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto n.3 is considered one of the hardest classical pieces to play and many of the most talented pianists will not even bother to attempt it.

  1. PEOPLE WHO PLAY THE PIANO ARE MORE DISCIPLINED

At some point in your life, you may have heard that the piano is one of the hardest instruments to master.

Unfortunately, this causes many people to shy away from learning to play. It may take several weeks to even learn a new song and you will mess up many times when you are practicing.

But, if you determined to learn, the reward is not only learning to play the song but you will increase your patience and perseverance. More importantly, you will become more disciplined.

FUN FACT: Pianos were originally made of ivory until around the 1970’s when the harvesting of ivory was proven to have a severe environmental impact. Although keys are commonly made of plastic and resin nowadays, many people still refer to playing the piano as “tickling the ivories”.

Has your mind been blown yet? There are many other interesting and amazing facts about the piano and people who play the piano that was not mentioned above. What mind-blowing facts have you discovered?

Be sure to share them with your friends and family so that they’ll want to join the piano-loving family!