Choosing the right Keyboard for a beginner

Choosing a Piano or Keyboard for your little Mozart

A beginning in any field of music needs a good instrument, I mean think about it, you wouldn’t send your little clone onto the football pitch with an old pair of flip-flops? No, you’d at very least get him/her a pair of sneakers for try-outs… I mean, it’s your kid, you want them to have the best chance at making the team, right? On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want to buy them a pair of R2,000.00 signature Neymar Nike cleats without at least knowing that they are in it for the long haul.  

As a parent, you want to find that perfect balance between giving them a good experience while they are starting out without having to take out a second bond on your home to fund the full-length grand piano only to find that junior would rather be a Drummer... To remedy this, we have gone ahead and put together this helpful “buyers guide” to hopefully help take out some of the guesswork when buying a starter piano for your little Mozart. 

There are three basic categories of “keyboard instruments” available for consideration, the largest and most expensive of which is the Acoustic Piano. Teachers and professionals agree that it is also the best when it comes to developing your skills as a pianist. There is also an entire range of digital pianos, which are smaller, less expensive, and come very close to accurately replicating both the sound and feel of an acoustic piano. And last but certainly not least in this trio is the electronic keyboard, which is by far the least expensive option, but can be a very restrictive for a learner as it doesn’t have any proper resistance when playing which would lead to improper hand strength development for a beginning pianist. Not to mention that it may not even have enough keys to play a wide range of music.

Acoustic Pianos

The sooner little Billy (*Joel*) or Alicia (*Keys*) gets the opportunity to practice on an acoustic piano, the better.

Yamaha JU109PE Upright Piano

Ahh, there really is nothing quite like the sound of resonating strings inside a real wooden cavity. The incredible level of responsiveness and range of dynamics and tonal colour than that of an acoustic piano. The sooner junior has the opportunity to practice on an acoustic instrument with that kind of nuanced musical responsiveness, the better. With that said, acoustic pianos are expensive and typically ring in anywhere from R40,000 to R100,000.

If you want a grand or baby grand piano, expect to pay upwards of R100,000. Here at MiTech Direct, we consider the Yamaha JU109PE Upright Piano a great addition to any household looking for a stylish upright acoustic piano, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, this beauty will fit the needs of either perfectly. 

Digital Pianos

While it’s nearly impossible to faithfully recreate the experience of playing on a proper acoustic piano, today’s digital pianos have blurred the line quite considerably.

Yamaha Arius YDP-143R

Digital pianos have evolved considerably since the early ’70s and today digital pianos are designed to feel and sound as much like an acoustic piano as possible. Keys are weighted to provide the right resistance to touch, they are sensitive to speed and pressure to give a range of dynamics (forte meaning loud and piano meaning soft). They generally come installed in a cabinet-style console and are smaller and less expensive than an upright piano, usually anything from about R8000 all the way to around the R60,000 price point. 

Here at MiTech Direct, the digital piano of choice is the Yamaha Arius YDP 143R. That’s not to say that companies like Roland arent bringing the heat with their offering in the form of the Roland HP603. Not the cheapest option, but the sound…

Honestly speaking though, I personly have a little studio and very happily use my digital piano to recreate the masterful sounds of the acoustic piano with very little left to be desired. In fact, a good digital piano would do the job any day of the week and would work as an “instructional” much more effectively than an old, out-of-tune acoustic piano with sticky or even broken keys.

Electronic Keyboards

Welcome to the “Bargain Bin” well sort of… While electronic keyboards are by far the most affordable option, there are very notable points to consider when learning to play the piano on a non-weighted non-full-size keyboard. Factors that could even discourage a beginner all together. We strongly recommend taking the leap to a digital piano, sooner rather than later. You will thank us in the long run.

Casio LK-260K2

If you’re not ready to drop a few thousand Rand on an instrument for a beginner, there is no rule that states a beginner cannot start with an electronic keyboard… Electronic keyboards come in many forms with a price tag to match. Rather than authentically simulate the experience of playing a real acoustic piano, electronic keyboards are more like a mini synthesizer, commonly coming preset with many different instrument sounds and even pre-recorded rhythm tracks. What’s most important for a new piano student at this point would be the number of keys and whether or not the keys are weighted or not.

Remember that learning on a keyboard with 88 weighted keys gives a beginner a great advantage. The weighted keys aid with dexterity and hand strength and generally feels more responsive. The true downside to most electronic keyboards is that they tend not to have weighted keys and even less have 88 keys.

If a keyboard with 88 weighted keys is still out of your price bracket, consider using a keyboard with at least 61 keys in order to be able to do all the exercises required of a beginner. Also, if an electronic keyboard is the way you are leaning, remember to purchase a bench and a keyboard stand. A keyboard setup on a table or makeshift stand will more than likely not be at the correct height your child seated in a chair. Ideally, the keyboard and bench should be set at the right height so that the player’s arm from wrist to elbow is parallel to the floor.

And with that, the end of our three-part back to school “how to choose an instrument for beginners “blogs. If this all seemed a little much for you to take in, we have provided you with a nifty little table to help you navigate through these unchartered seas with a bird's eye view. I hope this was helpful and informative.  For more information, please contact your friendly MiTech Direct support specialist. 

Piano & Keyboard Comparison Chart:

 

Grand Piano

Upright Piano

Digital Piano

Electronic Keyboard

How much does it cost?

R100,000.00+

R40,000.00 - R100,000.00+

R8,000.00 - R60,000.00

R1,000.00 - R10,000.00

How much space does it take up?

1.5m wide, 1.5m - 2.5m long

1.5m of wall space, extending 1m - 1.5m into the room when in use

1.5m of wall space, extending 1m - 1.5m into the room when in use

Similar to a digital piano for 88 keys, for smaller keyboards an area 1m - 1.5m square when in use

How much sound does it make?

Lots of volume, will be softer if you close the lid.

A good amount of sound.

Ranges from loud to silent (the player can wear headphones)

Ranges from loud to silent (the player can wear headphones)

What does it cost to maintain?

About R2,000.00 - R5,000.00 per year for tuning and maintenance

About R2,000.00 - R5,000.00 per year for tuning and maintenance

Nothing

Nothing

How long will it last?

30–50 years (if well maintained)

20–30 years (if well maintained)

5–10 years

3–5 years

How easy is it to move?

Difficult

Hard

Easy

Very Easy

 

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