So last night was #1’s first piano lesson. He had a great time (they went for a full hour instead of just 45 minutes), and was excited about practicing that same night. We’ll see how it pans out for 20 min twice a day, including at least one weekend day.

The bad news is, I have discovered that our “piano” is possibly inadequate. I thought we had a digital piano with “piano touch“, but it turns out the Kurzweil Ensemble Grande Piano we were given by my parents actually has “76 weighted keys with velocity sensitive action”. I.e. the harder you hit a key (more accurately, the faster you depress a key), the louder the synthesized piano sound plays. But it doesn’t really feel like a piano, i.e. the weighted keys are not exactly Graded Hammer Action. I don’t know how important that is at the earliest stages. But the bigger (?) problem is 76 keys (instead of 88). It’s probably not much of a practical limitation, but in the first exercises of getting acquainted with the entire keyboard, #1 can’t practice at home the same way he will play at his lesson.

So I’m thinking about getting a piano. Given my family’s history with pianos (dad‘s previous career as a tuner, technician, rebuilder, refinisher, and reseller of pianos kept our family in government cheese), I could undoubtedly launch an extensive and time-consuming search for just the right piano at just the right price. But I’m not really interested in buying a good piano, at least not at this point. Why buy a good piano, when pianos are apparently falling from the sky (look out!), and virtually free for anybody with access to a pickup truck? (At these prices, I’d be surprised if I couldn’t make a profit from reselling the steel, lumber, and veneer)


8 Responses

  1. Our first several years were on a ‘keyboard’ with some of that action. I think it was less than the amount of keys you have, but they did just fine going to the piano teachers real piano once a week. We did finally get a real piano, but it never seemed to hinder our children.

    Thought you might like to know.


  2. Sounds like you got the spiel from a teacher about the importance of key pressing feedback. I could give you the spiel about the importance of making sure your young student plays on a Steinway concert grand. In my mind, the reality is the importance of doing what you can to make the piano playing experience enjoyable. That translates to not making him play on junk.
    I personally think the key press feedback theory is bogus. Here’s why.
    What if your goal was to get your kid to be a roller-skating rink organist? What if your goal was to get your kid to be church organist? What if your goal was to get your kid to be a Hammond B-3 jazz organist? What if your goal was to get your kid to be a jazz pianist playing a Fender-Rhodes electric piano? What if your goal was to get your kid to be a baroque harpsichordist? What if your goal was to get your kid to be the guy playing “Give Me that Old Time Religion” at travelling evangelist tent meetings on an old upright? (All the above have a different touch-key mechanism).
    What if you didn’t care about any of the above and wanted to use the keyboard as a means of teaching your kid music and as a means of inculcating the joy of music performance in your kid?

    I looked at the craigslist of pianos and for the most part they will make it hard for #1 to enjoy the playing experience (except possibly the Baldwin Acrosonic, if it is in good shape).
    My recommendation, if you are concerned about the lack of 88 keys, is to go to Guitar Center and look at what good electronic keyboards are like these days. In the meantime, monitor his playing experience to see if he still likes it and save up for that Steinway.

  3. Hey wow. Something your dad and I can agree on! :)

    I am still looking forward to meeting him.


  4. I think we agree on the Apostle’s creed, no?

  5. When “our” Julie bought a house, our church small group bought back the old upright grand that the girls had learned on from one of C’s colleagues and gave it to her as a housewarming gift. She has made music on it ever since. When J gets settled in a house of her own and we retire, we want to give her our baby grand so that she can make music. (Since one of my retirement goals is to relearn piano, we’ll have to replace it, of course–and find an equivalent instrument for E). Persist to find the right piano (or keyboard). Even if #1 doesn’t take to it permanently, who knows about # 2 or #3 or T or you!

  6. I feel it appropriate to kindly remind you of my warning against free pianos

  7. Ha! I’ll let you know if I ever run across that piano — maybe it ended up getting passed around like the theoretical world’s only fruitcake!

  8. Bruce,

    Hey! Wow! That’s TWO! ;)


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