I want to learn how to play the piano, but I don’t have one.

You won’t be able to learn something that you can’t practice.  So, the answer to this statement is: get a piano.  Or, at least find a piano that’s available to you regularly.  People are often surprised by how affordable pianos and keyboards can be if they look in the right places.  Keep reading on if you’re ready for the next big step…

The second most common question about pianos that I hear from beginning students and parents is, “How do I get a piano?” (the first is “What’s the difference between a keyboard and a regular piano?”).

The answer completely depends on several things: your budget, the amount of space you have to house it, where you live (you probably want to avoid irking neighbors who don’t have an affinity for early-morning scales), and what your musical goals are.  Purchasing a piano can be an investment, so you’d want to do your research before settling on one that’s either more expensive than your mode of transportation or bigger than your designated two-foot wall space.

*Tip: look at used pianos and keyboards to save a TON of money.  New instruments (not including Steinways, Faziolis, and some nicer grands) are often more expensive.

Electronic keyboards, clavinovas, synthesizers:

Although many models come with “weighted keys,” electronic keyboards will not have the same touch and sound as an acoustic piano, regardless of the price you pay.  Despite this aspect, they’re designed to offer a variety of effects and synth patches, and can readily work with music software.  In short, keyboards are ideal for composition, rock/pop genres, gigs, and those who simply want to experiment with a plethora of sounds.

Pros: Portable, takes up a marginal amount of space, promotes experimentation, MIDI capabilities, headphone jack (to appease neighbors and/or offer privacy while practicing), never needs to be tuned

Cons: Doesn’t offer the same depth of sound as an acoustic piano, light action

Acoustic pianos:

Ideal for musicians who are serious about sound quality and technique, acoustic pianos offer complexity in sound and have a heavier, deeper action.  Because of this, players have more control over dynamics, sound quality, expressiveness, and texture.  Classical musicians should only consider purchasing acoustic pianos, as there is really no electronic substitute for pianos built to produce harmonics that resonate against a wooden soundboard.

Pros: Offers complex sounds, deeper action to produce a variety of textures and timbres, feels and sounds more “raw”

Cons: Takes up a considerable amount of space, heavy to transport, requires regular tuning (ideally every 6-8 months), cannot be easily muted

Types of acoustic pianos:

Upright:

  • ideal for smaller spaces
  • is more moveable
  • has a more limited range and depth of sound than a grand due to a smaller, more compact soundboard
  • perfect for beginning-intermediate students
Grand:
  • requires as much space as a couch plus entertainment system
  • produces a wide range in volume and complex harmonics
  • ideal for cultivating artistry and technique
  • lid can absorb and narrow some of the sound if lowered
  • comes in an array of sizes, from “baby grand” (5’1″ long, 57.6″ wide) to “concert grand” (8’12” long, 61″ wide)
To see a the full extent of grand piano size variability, check out a size conversion chart.
Pricing:

As with anything else, the pricing of pianos can rely on its amount of use and care.  Used electronic and acoustic pianos are often less expensive, but many factors, such as the make, model, size, newness, and condition of the instrument can affect their pricing.  It is wise to first consult with a piano salesperson, technician, and/or teacher before purchasing an instrument.
Fun Fact: 

The average medium size piano has about 230 strings,  each string having about 165 pounds of tensionwith the combined pull of all strings equaling approximately eighteen tons!
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One thought on “I want to learn how to play the piano, but I don’t have one.

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