Do I Need a Piano?

Purchasing a piano can be a big financial investment.  When you are not sure if your young child will stick with lessons long enough to make it worth the investment this can become a daunting step towards piano lessons.

While it may be tempting to attempt lessons without any type of piano, it is vital to have a practice instrument at home.  I will be working with my student for 30 – 60 minutes per week.  The rest of the progress comes from regular practice throughout the week.  No practice, no progress.

However, there are many options available that allow you, and/or your child, to find a piano that work for you.  The options below are listed in order of least expensive to most expensive.  While there is no wrong or right choice, it is important to make a decision with the advantages and disadvantages of each in mind.

Purchase a Keyboard or Digital Piano

 

Pros:

  • Initial cost is a few hundred dollars, compared to the thousands of dollars of an upright  piano.
  • Takes up less space.

Digital Piano

Cons:

  • Keyboards have come a long way, but can miss that ‘real’ piano feel and often require extra purchases that bring the price up.
  • Digital pianos stay in one spot rather than moved from place to place easily.  (I know there are those that would disagree with this over simplification, but this is a generality).
  • Will need to upgrade (especially if it is a keyboard) once the student reaches an early elementary level.  If the keyboard only has one pedal, an upgrade will be needed much sooner.

Things to keep in mind:

  • I recommend an instrument that has a full keyboard (88 notes), regular sized keys, a proper action and a touch sensitive response. A touch sensitive keyboard means if you press a key harder it will play louder and if you press a key softer it will play quieter.
  • Check to ensure that a music stand (attached to piano), sturdy stand, piano bench, and and attached pedals (3 pedals) are included so you do not have to order these items online.

Option:  Rent a Piano

Pros: 

  • You get the feel and look of a ‘real’ piano right from the start.
  • Instead of paying thousands of dollars upfront, you pay a monthly amount.  Some piano stores allow you to put the monthly payments towards the total cost of the piano, if you choose to purchase it.

Cons: 

  • Check what is included in the cost of the rental.  If you are expected to pay for the moving costs to and/or from the store this adds up very quickly.

Things to keep in mind: 

  • Check the contract carefully so you know what is included in the rental.  Be sure the piano is tuned at your home once it is in the right spot.  The move will change the tune of the piano.
  • Tuning a piano is a necessary annual maintenance cost.  The piano will need to be tuned more frequently at the beginning as the wood and strings adjust to the humidity and temperature of your home.  The more the humidity and temperature fluctuate, the more often you will need to tune the piano (potentially several times a year).  Keep this in mind when you place the piano. Try to avoid placing the piano by an outside door or windows that will be opened and closed often.
  • Play the piano before renting it.  If it is not comfortable to play or sound good, then no amount of lessons will change that.

Purchase a Piano

Pros: 

  • You get the feel and look of a ‘real’ piano right from the start.
  • While the initial investment is high, with proper maintenance you will not need to reinvest in another instrument later.

Grand PianoCons: 

  • It is a big financial investment so there should be a decent amount of certainty that your piano will be played.
  • Be sure to check what is included in the cost of the piano.  Will you be expected to pay for the moving costs to and/or from the store?
  • Be sure the piano is tuned at your home once it is in the right spot.  The move will change the tune of the piano.
  • Tuning a piano is a necessary annual maintenance cost.  The piano will need to be tuned more frequently at the beginning as the wood and strings adjust to the humidity and temperature of your home.  The more the humidity and temperature fluctuate, the more often you will need to tune the piano (potentially several times a year).  Keep this in mind when you place the piano.  Try to avoid placing the piano by an outside door or windows that will be opened and closed often.

Things to keep in mind: 

  • Choosing a piano is a personal choice.  It should sound good and feel comfortable to play.  It does not matter if you have never had lessons.  Even at the age of 5, I gravitated to a piano that had a full-sounding bass and keys with smooth playing action.  Thirty years later, my favourite pianos still have these characteristics.  You will know what is best for you.
  • Check the purchase contract carefully so you know what is included.