Editor’s comment/ Many piano teachers are dead against digital pianos – especially for young beginners – as this article sets out to explain the reasons why digital pianos are not ideal to learn on.
Many people don’t know the difference between an acoustic piano and a digital piano. I will give you the right advice on which type of piano is best to learn on, especially from a young age.
The best time to start playing piano is when you are very young. The ideal age is 5.
An acoustic piano is the best type of piano to learn on for young beginners. This is because from their very first days you will get used to hearing the real, original sounds of the piano. Your finger muscles will also get used to the weights of the piano keys from an early age and will strengthen them up for later in life.
Digital pianos tend to have a lighter key touch than acoustic pianos and practicing too much on a digital will leave your fingers weak and you will find it difficult to adjust to the touch of an acoustic piano.
I don’t advise learning classical music on a digital piano — It won’t be the same ‘beauty’ or ‘feeling’ — It will be the electric (digital) feeling and not the natural original sounds of an acoustic piano.
Most – if not all – examination centres have acoustic pianos. So if your child has been practicing on a digital piano at home and he/she is confronted with an acoustic piano, they will find it a real struggle to play the exam centre’s piano. Your child will probably not score as high in the exam as he or she should and will end up being disappointed with the result.
Who buys digital pianos?
Musicians that want to compose their own music or practice with their band. They need all these buttons and background sounds. They can connect to their computers. But not for young beginners who will more likely be distracted by these extra features on the piano.
If you have no choice because an acoustic piano will not fit in your house or your child’s bedroom, then the best choice is to go for the ‘most plain’ digital piano that hasn’t got lots of buttons, features (gimmicks I call them!) and has weighted keys with a progressive piano action.
A progressive piano action mimics the weight of the real piano. The bass notes have a heavy touch and they get progressively lighter as you go up the keyboard. This really is a ‘must-have’.
If you are used to driving an automatic car then you will find it very difficult to drive a manual one. But, if you always drive a manual car, then switching to an automatic is much easier. This is the same thing for acoustic and digital pianos. If you learn on an acoustic piano then it is dead easy to play a digital piano. If you learn on a digital piano, or especially a keyboard then you will find it very difficult to adjust to playing an acoustic piano – mainly because of the feel and weight of the piano keys.
Advantages of an acoustic piano
• The acoustic piano has got a VERY long life (if you look after it of course)
• The only maintenance required is tuning once or twice per year
• You can sell it anytime, it never goes out of fashion
• The piano’s value (if looked after) can be more than you paid for it over time
• Acoustic pianos have real, natural sounds
Disadvantages of a digital piano
• If something goes wrong it can cost over £100 to fix.
• New models come out every 2-3 years, technology advances and no one wants to buy an old model
• Digital pianos continue to depreciate over time and will be worth less the more time goes on
• Electric sounds are unpleasant and can put you off practicing
If you are starting to give a music education to your child, think very carefully about which piano you buy for them to practice on at home. If you make the wrong choice, you may regret it in the future.
About the Author
My name is Hejran Stogden. I’m founder of the ALL Talents Music School and Author of Hejran’s Piano Method. I’ve been teaching piano for over 25 years and have set up music schools in Enfield, Finchley, Walthamstow, Stoke Newington, and Worcester. You can find information here: www.alltalents.co.uk and www.hejran.com.
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