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Piano for children – which model should you buy?

From Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Music > Piano > What instrument should you buy for your budding pianist?

Many artists who began playing the piano from a young age (think Nina Simone, Ray Charles or even Mozart) become piano virtuosos by the time they reach adolescence.

Just like the lion has been dubbed ‘king of the jungle,’ the piano could easily be considered king of all instruments. And its often a secret relief for parents to see their children gravitate towards the piano instead of other musical instruments like the violin.

Often, a wish to see your child playing the piano is just be considered a ‘nice to have’ for many parents, but for others it’s a major goal.

The piano is a great first instrument for children, and by learning to play the piano they’re able to begin learning a whole repertoire of different genres of piano music including jazz, classical – even rap!

What model, and what type of piano is right for your child?

Why the piano is right for your child

Developing their ear for music is often a side bonus of learning to play the piano, and will feed back to improve their playing too.

Children often first learn about music through play and structured games, and it’s worth finding a kinder music class near you to introduce them to piano sounds and percussion. In the class, children will learn about the different instruments, their sounds, and the different melodies and rhythms of music.

Whether their first piano is an electronic piano, acoustic upright, or a concert grand piano, if it makes them want to learn to play piano, it’s a success.

The importance of your child’s music teacher when they learn to play the piano

Parents often neglect to consider it, but the relationship between the teacher and the child is really important. Without a good relationship, all of their musical study and discovery of notes, scales, music theory, the keys of the piano, can seem a hostile and unfriendly environment.

Just because a music teacher has a good reputation with adult students, does not mean they’ll also be skilled in teaching children the piano keys and different octaves, how to read sheet music and play their first chords.

While they’ll still be serving as a music teacher, they’ll also be taking on a kind of musical role of councillor, mediating between parent, child, and piano. It’s a role that requires a lot of skill.

Protecting the sense of joy your child gains from playing the piano

This is also an important thing to keep in mind for adults learning to play the piano…

If children find the process of learning to play the piano difficult and boring, and practicing begins to seem like a chore, they would be better off finding another after school activity.

School, chores, and all of their other extra curricular activities are already stressful enough that signing your child straight up to classes at the local music conservatory is probably not the best idea.

It’s important to make sure that your child is really interested and enjoying their music lessons before you decide that they should pursue the piano further.

Piano for children, learning about their new instrument!

In contrast to some of the easier instruments that your child could have chosen to pursue, learning the piano truly requires a lot of focus and dedication.

Your child should understand that it will be necessary to put in a good amount of work in order to really learn how to play the piano, more than just going to their piano lesson:

  • practice their chords and notation regularly
  • study their music theory and learn their scales
  • Say no to playdates on Wednesday afternoons when they have their piano lessons.

Buying a piano for the house

Whether you enjoy the tinkling of the ivory keys or not is often a subjective judgment

Just like choosing furniture, TVs, even a car, shopping for your child’s first piano, an activity which will begin fairly early in their study of the instrument, can seem like a minefield. It’s frequently discussed in online forums, and the point of this article is to answer some of your questions. Should you buy a piano or keyboard?

After their year of musical immersion and then their first few piano lessons, it’s time for your child to start practicing their music in earnest. Should you buy a new piano? If a neighbor has a free piano they’re giving away, is it worth it? Are used pianos a good deal?

In order to practice outside of lessons, and improve their playing (as well as just have some fun), you will need to secure a piano for your child to play at home.

You probably don’t want a piano organ, but is a portable keyboard the right choice either? There are several different options for parents to choose from for their child’s first piano:

  • acoustic piano
  • electronic piano
  • digital piano
  • keyboard

Define your goals before you go shopping to find the right piano for your child

In online forums, the same questions are raised again and again when parents begin shopping for a piano for their 6 or 12 year old.

Generally, they’re looking for a piano which:

  • their child will be able to use on their own, without too complicated a key bed or computer system, which won’t distract from the primary goal – playing the piano
  • Which won’t become obsolete or worthless after just a few months of use
  • Which falls within a reasonable budget, and represents an acceptable dispense for their child’s new hobby

Advice for buying a piano for your child

Lots of pianists give up their playing when they don’t continue to improve like they did in the beginning.

“Are these pianos right for my child?

Is there a better piano to play at home?

What’s the difference between an acoustic piano, electric piano and an electronic keyboard?

Are there other piano companies I should look at?”

Rent a piano before you buy

Children have a well deserved reputation for picking up and dropping hobbies frequently.

So if you aren’t sure your child will make it past learning octaves to their first recital and really becoming a piano player, it might be a good idea to rent a piano, or maybe rent-to-buy if you can find it, either a digital or acoustic piano.

For about $50-100/month you can often find piano models that will let your child practice their piano playing at home without making a long term (and very expensive) commitment. It’s worth spending that little bit more to get a piano instead of a keyboard, but you definitely don’t need a baby grand piano in your living room either.

Your rental agreement will specify a fixed monthly payment for the rental until it is returned, often with a clause to verify the condition of the piano at the end.

Avoid the ‘pianos for young children’ models

While they may seem more appropriate for little hands, and short arms and legs, we wouldn’t recommend considering pianos made specifically for children.

In contrast to the smaller versions you can find of violins, drums, or guitars, pianos for children, even though they have smaller keys, are often more of a gadget than an instrument.

Which brands of piano are good for children?

There’s a wide range of different piano brands and they all have different advantages and disadvantages, making it difficult to choose the right piano for children (even for the customer service associates trying to help you). With names like Steinway, Kawai, Clavinova, Korg and Casio floating around your head, we’ve picked out a few of the best piano brands.

Popular acoustic piano brands include:

  • Choiseul
  • Yamaha
  • Rameau

Good digital brands include:

  • Yamaha
  • Roland
  • Gem

Given all the different brands that are available and the new ones constantly entering the market, it’s best not to consider our list the be all and end all, and have a chat with your child’s piano teacher too. You never know what new brands and models might enter the market next year.

Digital pianos – a good choice for children

How much should you spend to get a good quality piano?

The digital piano often seems like a good choice for a child’s first piano. The built in metronome, ability to plug in headphones, and volume control are all an advantage – for parents as well as children.

What’s more, it’s lacking a lot of the disadvantages of an acoustic piano, such as:

  • The difficulty in moving the piano from one room, or even one corner of the room, to another.
  • The volume – you can’t control the sound on acoustic pianos
  • The price – generally more expensive, even if you find an acoustic piano with a similar price tag to a digital piano, you won’t be getting as much for your money.

They may lack a bit of style, but thanks to their weighted keys, digital pianos can often easily serve the needs of a piano student as they work on their notes, music reading, and playing their first melodies.

Choosing a portable digital piano for an affordable cost

Thanks to the profusion of portable keyboards, this segment of the market often offers a much more affordable selection, even for buying a new model.

If you’re considering buying a portable digital piano for your child, you should expect to spend about $400-600 for an instrument that will serve your child well for several years.

Considering the keys and sound quality of your prospective piano

When shopping for a digital piano, it’s key to consider the keys and sound quality on offer. These are the criteria that will help you find the right piano for your child.

It’s a good idea to prepare a piece of music in advance – something with an interesting tempo – and try out the piece on different pianos to see how they perform.

You can also play some scales on the piano to try it out, but you won’t get as good a sense of the digital piano’s musical abilities as a musical instrument.

If you’re still a very fresh beginner and working on playing your first few notes, it’s worth bringing a musician friend along to help you buy your piano.

If you’re really set on your child becoming a future professional pianist, it might make sense to make the leap and buy an acoustic piano. For them, technique will be paramount, and they’ll have a slight advantage on an acoustic piano, especially over learning on a piano keyboard. An upright piano is probably still more appropriate than a baby grand though!

If you’re shopping for an acoustic piano, it’s a good idea to see if any piano makers are offering factory discounts for new pianos, or if you can find a gently used acoustic piano for sale.

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