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When and Why Should You Invest in a Piano

With 88 keys, over 200 strings and over 5000 other parts, the modern piano is a complex instrument with an immense range of volume and color. It can mimic a flute's golden line, a jazz bass's pizzicati, or the rich voices of the full orchestra. We are endowed with a boundless body of literature that is as broad as the piano's sonic potential; there is certainly more than we can study in a lifetime!

Piano vs. Keyboard

Many students and their families are uncertain about when to invest in a real piano. The cost, size, and volume are often limiting factors that keep students practicing on keyboards. However, no electronic similation, no matter how sophisticated, can replace the real instrument. Real instrumental training requires an active relationship as we respond to the instrument that responds to us. It should engage a deep critical hearing as we respond with our countless muscles, our intellect and intuition. The weight of keys, action of the keys, hammers, and dampers, and the physical resonance of the strings are priceless qualities that simply cannot be replicated through other technologies. 

Some parents of young beginners worry that it is risky to make the financial commitment. Know that a piano can always be re-sold, and often without any depreciation of value.

Students should not spend more than six months or so on a keyboard or digital piano if they expect to fully benefit from their piano studies.

Buying a Piano

Buying a piano requires much research and consideration. Prices range from free to over $50K with everything in between. While you generally get what you pay for, it is possible to find a decent instrument on a limited budget (say, $2000 and up).

Resources

Piano World: An online forum with discussion on just about any topic related to pianos. 

The Piano Book: Buying & Owning a New or Used Piano by Larry Fine 

An excellent reference, this is the authoritative text on buying a piano. Among many things, Fine gives tips on how to inspect a used piano and includes detailed information dozens of makes of pianos.