It is really important to have access to an instrument to be able to work on pieces and technique at home between lessons.
Choosing or finding an instrument can be fun and a little daunting.
One of the things will be to look at how much you want to spend where you are able to place it and the upkeep. Pianos and keyboards can also become a piece of furniture.
Keyboards have the advantage of being more portable and for being able to plug in headphones for practice time and there is no regular ongoing maintenance required as long as you have access to power!
The details below are my personal opinion from my own playing of pianos and keyboards over time.
Standard keyboards are not weighted (this means you can’t alter the tone or volume of your playing by how hard you press the keys down). In some cases you can get a little bit of sound difference, and in many cases none. This means that an instrument like this will not respond like a piano at all. This kind of keyboard is okay begin on and a very good place to start while you decide if playing is for you. It is the sort of instrument that a piano student will grow out of very quickly though.
- With keyboards, often the manufacturers have added other functions like lots of funky sounds and drums etc. This is particularly the case with most keyboards you may have come across or seen in the past.
- If you look at a standard keyboard, I would recommend looking at a touch sensitive 61 or 76 key keyboard, and a stand. It won’t respond or sound quite like a piano but is a great beginner instrument. You can pick these up a good prices new or secondhand.
The next grade of keyboards are the weighted ones that will respond like a piano.
They come in 3 sizes:
- 61 Keys
- 76 Keys
- 88 Keys (same as a piano)
My personal preference is Yamaha because of the sound quality and finish on the instruments, the others are beautiful instruments as well and rewarding to play.
Yamaha’s current models are: NP 12 (61 keys), NP 32 (76 keys) and P115 (88 keys) or P45.
I have a Yamaha P105 which I use in concerts and rehearsals with my children’s choir. It is a lovely instrument and sound. It feels like a piano to play.
The sounds are digitally sampled from top quality acoustic instruments. It’s bass is particularly lovely to play. It was recommended by a colleague in England and I chose this with another piano teacher because it was the one we both liked the best.
- Piano stools/benches are another thing to look at for posture and comfort of playing. Stools vary from $20 to $250+ if sold separately.
- Stands and pedals for electric keyboards are about $40- $60 each. Many new keyboards should come with a standard pedal but not the NP12. If you are beginning lessons you wouldn’t need to buy an extra pedal initially.
It is possible to pick up pianos for free sometimes or under $100 fairly easily but some may need repair and a tune. Sometimes of course, people aren’t aware of their value. You could most likely be able to get a reasonable beginner instrument for about $500-$1000.
Every time a piano is moved its tuning alters because it is a string instrument. The “old heavy pianos” have iron frames, the 1930s+ pianos have wooden frames. The old iron frames will most likely be pianos that have ivory keys which will be yellowed. The 1930s saw the move to plastic keys to protect the elephants.
It is recommended that pianos are placed on an inside wall where the temperature is more consistent. In damp homes, piano heaters can be installed to keep the piano regulated. Being a string instrument the sound can alter with the heat and cold.
My own piano is an Eavestaff piano – it’s also the one I learnt on and have spent many hours working at.
If you purchase an acoustic upright piano, a tune is about $130 and recommended annually
***Posture at an instrument is very important- so seat height and comfort are things to also consider.***