Is your child ready to start taking piano lessons? It’s exciting to see your child taking an interest in music and to have the opportunity to introduce them to something that you love. However, when it comes time to buy a piano, the excitement can wane. Pianos are a large instrument and an investment, and even when budgeting for an instrument isn’t an issue, you still need to know what kind of instrument that you need to help your child be successful and want to continue playing for years to come.
A Full Size Keyboard
Pianos come in a few different sizes with a couple keyboard size options. Smaller piano keyboards have 61 keys, and a full size keyboard has 88 keys. Though it is tempting to buy a smaller keyboard since your child is just beginning piano lessons—especially if they are young—it is best to buy a piano with a full size keyboard. Eventually, your child will run out of keys to play and you will have to buy a full keyboard. Also, smaller keyboards will often have smaller keys than a full size piano which can make learning fingerings and having proper technique more difficult in the future. It is usually best to invest in a full size keyboard or piano right when your child starts playing.
When shopping for an instrument, choose one with weighted keys. Weighted keys are found on all traditional pianos, as well as some keyboards which mimic the real feel of an acoustic piano. The term “weighted keys” refers to keys found in an acoustic piano and some digital pianos that require force to be pressed and played. Some cheap, digital keyboards do not have weighted keys. Learning to play the piano with weighted keys for any player is best, for it allows your child to begin to develop the finger strength and technique needed to play a full size, traditional piano. When your child begins to learn about dynamics, having weighted keys will become especially important. Dynamics are determined by the pressure that you place on the keys, and developing the muscle memory needed to create the dynamics is a must. Learning this technique while developing their feel for the instrument is important for their development as a player.
Keep It Simple
It’s easy to want to buy a keyboard or piano with all the bells and whistles, but keeping it simple for younger players is best. In many cases, extra buttons, switches, and available adjustments can become distracting to younger, curious players. To learn the piano well, all they need are the basics listed above: a full size keyboard and weighted keys.
Buy An Adjustable Stand
When you buy your child their first piano, do your best to find one with an adjustable stand or stool. If you purchase a digital keyboard, you may have the option to find one with an adjustable stand which lowers the keyboard. However, in most cases, especially if you buy an acoustic piano, you won’t have a choice for adjusting the height of the keyboard. In this case, look for a comfortable stool that can be adjusted to your child’s height. Especially if your child is younger, they will need a boost to reach the keys adequately and, as a result, develop proper technique. If your child is older or taller, the piano bench that it comes with will most likely be fine and can be “adjusted” with a cushion or two.
Buy or Rent
As mentioned earlier, it is easy to think that, to fully embrace your child’s dreams of playing the piano, you must buy the most expensive, nicest instrument on the market. If you want to invest in such an instrument, you can. However, there are other more cost effective ways to provide your child with the instrument that they need. Consider renting an instrument. This can be an effective way to have the instrument that you need without commiting to the investment of a new instrument while not knowing if your child will stick to playing or not. Also, keep in mind that if a budget is a matter of concern, renting an instrument can be more cost effective and better for your student in the long run, versus buying a cheap instrument that lacks the necessary features mentioned above.
If your child is interested in taking piano lessons, contact The California Conservatory of Music in Redwood City. We offer private piano lessons for students of all ages and regular recitals, as well as group theory classes that can help your child grasp foundational concepts needed to play music well. Visit our website to learn more about the opportunities we offer students in Redwood City!