I recently spoke to a customer interested in purchasing a piano for her young sons for the holidays. Having no experience with the piano herself, she had some questions about where to begin. She needed to know what kind of piano to purchase, how to get her children started with lessons and what type of technology is available to help them practice at home.
If your child has expressed interest in playing the piano, but you aren’t quite sure where to start, there is no need to worry. There are several ways to ensure that your child has the best experience with their instrument as they begin their journey of music making.
What are the benefits of playing the piano for my child?
Before getting into the options available for beginners, I spoke with my customer at length about the benefits of learning an instrument for her children. By giving her children the gift of music, she is allowing them to bring joy and creativity into their lives, as well as an appreciation for the arts at a young age. Music can also reduce stress and keep young minds active and engaged, helping in their academic studies.
Beyond that, it’s important to think of the piano as an instrument for the whole family. The family piano is an instrument that makes the home a better place musically and aesthetically. It’s a gathering point where the family can enjoy music together and it brings massive amounts of joy to the home.
What should I look for in a beginner instrument?
My customer’s biggest hesitation was that she didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on the family’s first piano.
I assured her that since her children are just learning to play the piano, it’s not necessary to buy them the most expensive instrument out there. However, a good quality instrument that fits the needs of the household will go a lot farther in her children’s musical experience, and will be a better investment in the long run.
There are a few features to look for in a beginner instrument. Whether you’re purchasing an upright piano or a digital piano, you want one that has 88 keys that are realistically weighted with touch sensitivity, all three pedals attached, and a cabinet that provides the experience of sitting at a real piano.
These features will allow your child to build up proper finger strength and playing technique, which they will need when they progress to a more advanced instrument. In fact, many piano teachers require their students to play on a traditional 88-key instrument.
Those who decide to invest in a digital piano should choose one with audio-in, headphone capability and to-host USB connectivity. This is a piano that connects to the modern way of learning!
How can I keep my child motivated and excited about playing their instrument?
I have heard countless adults say, “I really wish I’d stuck with my piano lessons so I could play piano today.” Chances are, those individuals weren’t motivated enough.
The chances of a child – or anyone, for that matter – sticking with the piano hinge on how enjoyable the experience is. The best piano instructor, learning environment and instrument, plus proper motivation at home, significantly increase those chances.
Even if you aren’t musically inclined, it’s essential to be involved in your child’s musical experience by encouraging them to practice and to show the family what they’ve learned. When your child starts out, especially while families everywhere are homebound, learning apps are a great way to keep your child motivated and excited to play.
A music teacher will generally be more effective than a teaching app, but a new player can get started on an app to get some basic knowledge before starting lessons. Once they’ve gotten the basics down, ask your local dealer if they offer private music lessons through the store or if they can recommend a music teacher in your area.
What technology is available to help my child practice their instrument?
If you are purchasing a digital piano, there are wonderful options on the market with headphone and USB connectivity, allowing children to play along with audio recordings or listen to teacher instructions or training videos through the instrument’s speakers.
Toward the end of our appointment, I showed my customer the SILENT Piano from Yamaha – a great technology-friendly model for children. The SILENT Piano combines a digital and an acoustic piano in one cabinet. This means that it’s a real piano with strings, a soundboard and a real piano action. It also has an extra superpower: it can be switched to “silent” mode and can be played using headphones! In this mode, it acts just like a digital piano and can be connected to computer music apps.
Once she saw her kids having so much fun with this instrument and how useful it would be in her home, she decided to purchase it.
Learning the piano is a journey that, with the right instrument and resources, can span decades! Many people have multiple pianos during this journey that fulfill different lifestyle requirements along the way. It’s pretty common to start simple and inexpensive and improve the instrument as skill demands. Now is a wonderful time to give the gift of music!
Jeff Bauer is the vice president of sales and store manager at Keyboard Concepts and a music composer. Jeff started playing the piano at age 11 and continued down the musical path, eventually gaining a BA in music composition from UCSB. He has extensive technical knowledge about the piano and is well versed in various brands and vintages.