I often hear parents and prospective students ask two questions when starting piano lessons: 1) What is the best type of piano for beginners? -and- 2) Do I need an acoustic piano, or could I use a digital piano as a beginner? In this article, we'll address both of these questions.
The Best Piano for Beginners
The short answer to this questions is that it depends on a number of factors. Does anyone else in your home play piano? What is your budget? How much space do you have? Do you live in an apartment or a house? A major consideration when purchasing a piano for a beginner who is also a child is that you can never be certain how long they'll continue lessons, or if they'll even enjoy it. It can be difficult to justify dropping tens of thousands of dollars on a brand new grand piano if you're not certain if your child will continue lessons beyond a few years, or even months.
For someone who wishes to go the route of an acoustic piano, I'd suggest purchasing a quality upright piano from a reliable piano dealer. A great option would be something from the Yamaha U Series of upright pianos. These pianos hold up extremely well when maintained properly, are of a professional quality, and can often be purchased used for as little as $3,000 to $5,000 USD. Also, they hold their value quite well, which is a huge plus in case you decide to sell it or trade up to a grand piano down the road. I'd always suggest purchasing from a reputable dealer, such as Faust Harrison Pianos here in New York City. You'll likely pay a little bit more, but most dealers will be able to verify that the instrument is in good working order, they'll often include moving expenses and an initial tuning, and they'll be available for customer service after your purchase. Another benefit is that often dealers will offer a trade-in program should you wish to purchase a larger piano down the road, allowing you to trade in your piano and receive your full purchase price toward a more expensive piano if you decide that you'd prefer to have a grand piano in your home.
I've purchased two pianos from Faust Harrison and the service I've received from them has been excellent, and worth every penny of the purchase price.
Should I Purchase A Digital Piano for a Beginner?
Many students and their parents often ask if it's okay to use a digital piano for a beginning piano student. I would say that while a digital piano is perfectly fine for a beginner, eventually you'll need to switch to an acoustic should the student plan to study seriously. Only an acoustic piano can offer the feedback necessary to develop the technique needed for serious study of classical and jazz performance. But in the beginning, if space, sound, or budget considerations take precedence, I'd encourage prospective students to consider a digital piano if that is deemed the best option at the time.
Another advantage to starting with a digital piano for a beginner is that it allows the use of headphones, so a beginning piano student who is self-conscious about their playing can simply practice with headphones until they gain enough confidence to play using speakers. In a home with other family members, this can also allow the student to practice quietly without disturbing siblings who might be concentrating on homework during the times that piano practice is taking place. And if the piano student should decide to explore music production at some point, a digital piano can easily be repurposed as a MIDI controller for a home music production studio.
What is the Best Digital Piano for Beginners?
The digital piano I always recommend for beginning piano students is the Casio Privia PX-160 Digital Piano (Black), which can be purchased new for as little as $549.99 from Sam Ash Music. The Casio Privia has a great action and fantastic sound, making it satisfying to play on, and is has internal speakers. I've recommended this keyboard as a rehearsal instrument for the dressing rooms of many Broadway conductors, and they've all been very satisfied. By going up in price, you can find digital pianos which boast of superior sound and action as well as a whole host of other features, but once you get much over $1,000, you begin to get into territory that makes considering an acoustic piano a reasonable option. At $549.00 (and even less if you purchase used), the Casio Privia offers minimal risk and can also be a great unit to use longterm for quiet late night practice sessions or as the foundation for a digital music studio.
As you can see, there isn't a clear cut answer. The question of finding the best piano for your beginning student is highly personal and dependent upon a number of factors. If you need help choosing an instrument that's appropriate for your needs, feel free to contact us and we'll be glad to offer suggestions based on your needs.