On the subject of pianos

I own a piano studio. I teach people how to play classical piano. Acoustic pianos have several unique properties that allow them to produce music that is richly textured, has tremendous dynamic range, and is exquisitely beautiful. Having a good quality acoustic instrument is essential for learning piano and laying the foundation for a lifetime of music enjoyment.

While it is possible to learn to play piano music on a keyboard, I do not recommend it. In order for a keyboard to be acceptable it must have weighted keys and touch. Expect to pay $1200 – $1500 for an acceptable digital piano with weighted keys.

Keyboards without weighted keys, or that do not have a full sized keyboard are simply not sufficient for piano study. (Full sized refers to the number of keys as well as the size of the keys.)

Pianos, like any other manufactured object, have a spectrum of quality; from “piano shaped objects” to world class concert grand pianos that cost more than $100,000. While it is possible to spend tens of thousands or more on a piano, a good quality student instrument can be purchased for as little as $3,000 or $4,000. While there are good instruments available for less than $3,000, less expensive instruments often are in poor repair or have mechanical issues that will make them uncomfortable to play and will hamper a student’s progress.

I am always available to help families look at and decide about a piano purchase. I am thrilled when students and their families ask me to help them make a good piano purchase, one that will last for years and years.

I understand the reality of making a piano purchase. I traded in two quality upright pianos to purchase my first grand piano, and I still had a two year loan to pay off the instrument. Pianos, good pianos, are expensive. Good piano lessons are too. You are investing in the lessons I provide, paying for the 30+ years of teaching experience I bring to each one of your or your child’s lessons. Please invest in an instrument to match.

When your child is 16 and you purchase them a car, it will have good brakes, good tires, and good safety features (seat belts, air bags, etc.). Why? Because you want them to be as safe as possible.

Purchasing a quality student instrument for $3000 or $4000 is an investment in your child’s future. The natural, injury-free technique I teach will protect them from repetition injuries and tendonitis. Having an instrument that is in poor repair, having a fixed height bench that requires an unnatural arm-wrist-hand alignment, having a keyboard that simply can’t produce the music – all of these factors will detract from your child’s success and will potentially risk their physical health as well as their desire to continue piano.

(Written in collaboration with Mark Nichols)