Selecting an instrument

Electronic keyboards vs. pianos

  • If you are investing in private lessons, it only makes sense to also invest in a good acoustic piano.  It doesn’t have to be a grand, nor does it have to be new, but it should be a quality instrument that allows the student to develop technique that produces a wide variety of sounds.  Good pianos hold their value for many years, and can be sold if no longer needed when students leave home.
  • Acoustic pianos need to be tuned at least once a year by a qualified technician.  Humidity control systems can help keep pianos in tune during seasonal changes.  Other work may be required to help bring about the best sound from a used piano.  Click here for maintenance information.
  • Many families don’t want to invest in a real piano until their children have progressed to a certain level.  Please don’t make this mistake!  An 88 key weighted keyboard is a great supplement for a vacation home, for sight reading and rhythm exercises, for learning orchestral instruments, for fun pieces, for late night practice or for composing and extra projects later on (the headphone option allows the student to practice silently).  However, it should ONLY be a temporary (as in, 6 months or less) substitute for a real instrument.  The most expensive (6- 8K or more) electronic keyboards are WONDERFUL for a variety of practice and learning activities, but they don’t support playing nuances that are part of almost every beginning piano method.
  • Playing the piano is about learning to use your body, arms and fingers to generate sound.  Keyboards don’t provide the aural or tactile response that is part of becoming a pianist.  Children  acquire bad playing habits very quickly, especially on inexpensive keyboards (using fingers only to play rather than engaging arms, playing with collapsed knuckles because the keys are so easy to press,  thin sound because the keys only have one response, an inability to use torso properly, etc.).  It takes much longer to unlearn these habits than it did to learn them.  This means that you essentially waste months/years of lesson fees if you continue to use a keyboard, especially if it’s a low end model.  Because of rapid changes in electronics, keyboards are unlikely to hold their value as would real pianos.
  • Young children should have adjustable chairs (if possible) so that their elbows are at keyboard level (this helps avoid the “Drooping Wrist” syndrome).   Don’t get a stool that spins around!!!  A stable base is needed.  Adjustable benches are available online for under $100.
  • Footstools (or pedal stools) are also important for young children so that they have something to rest their feet on (for good posture and balance at the instrument, which is needed for good technique and beautiful sound).

Local Piano Dealers

King’s Keyboard (Ann Arbor)

Evola Music (Canton)

Steinway (West Commerce Township)

Many piano technicians specialize in rebuilding instruments, and often know where to find good values.  If you are planning on purchasing a high end instrument, it’s a good idea to have a teacher look at it and give an informal opinion, and hire a technician to do an appraisal.

Piano study for students of all ages