Your child has just announced the news: He or she wants to play the piano! Immediately, your heart swells with excitement because there’s about to be a musician in the house, and your home will forevermore be filled with the heavenly sounds of rhapsodies and concertos.
Then reality sets in. Not so fast, you think. First, your little sweetheart needs to actually learn how to play the piano … and that means, oh man, you’ve got to buy a piano. Usually, the very next thought is that you’re just not sure your child will have the fortitude to stick with lessons for the long haul, so you’re thinking maybe you’ll just go with “a starter piano.” After all, the thought of spending a chunk of change on an instrument that might ultimately go unused is highly unappealing.
You’ve reached that pivotal moment; the next decision you take can actually make the difference between whether your new piano enthusiast ultimately succeeds or gives up. How’s that, you wonder?
Many people think spending a little as possible on a first piano is the way to go, because – if Johnny or Suzy DOES bail – you won’t have spent a few months’ mortgage on a book/mail/dust collector. But, keep in mind, most “cheap” pianos don’t perform well… that’s why they’re cheap! If it’s an old, unresponsive instrument with sticky keys and broken pedals, a new pianist will experience only frustration. The piano won’t be fun to pay. It won’t sound good when played. It won’t do what the musician asks of it. And that could very easily lead to discouragement … enough discouragement to make a child give up. For this reason alone, a starter piano should be an extremely reliable and responsive instrument that makes engaging in the creative experience as enjoyable as possible. The instrument should be able to easily allow the player to play at a wide range of volumes. It should have a very accessible and wide ranging tone – not just bright or muted, but both, depending on what the song call for. It should be a quality instrument.
In the same way we wouldn’t put children in old, lopsided, rundown shoes when they’re learning to walk… we shouldn’t give them a less-than-quality piano when they’re learning to play.