So you or your children want to take piano lessons, but you don't have an instrument at home yet. What is the best choice for your household? For many folks, purchasing a new or used acoustic piano is not economically feasible, but that's not the only way to get a keyboard instrument worth playing.
Choosing an instrument is both an artistic and a financial question. Playing on an acoustic piano is a more satisfying and enriching experience, but electric pianos and electronic keyboards have vastly improved over the decades. I've listed the common options below.
1. Rental. In many major metropolitan regions of the United States, it is possible to rent a good quality piano locally. Your local piano tuner can connect you with a showroom or dealer who rents out instruments on a monthly or yearly basis.
2. Electric. You could also choose to purchase an electric keyboard. Many families with young children choose this option because keyboards are easy to store and cost a fraction of the price of a piano. Plus, keyboards can be easier for smaller hands to play, as fine motor skills are still developing.
Unless you are very familiar with the parameters and criteria you expect from a keyboard purchase, I suggest visiting a brick-and-mortar music store rather than buying an instrument online, sight-unseen. The prospective piano student should be able to touch the keys and hear what the keyboard sounds like. Weighted keys are essential because they mimic the feeling of an acoustic piano's mechanical action. Regular pianos have eight octaves and 88 keys. I personally wouldn't purchase a keyboard that had less than 64 keys for a piano student. And don't forget to purchase a damper pedal, a stand, and a comfortable stool or bench. Sitting at the correct height will keep the student from overexerting back and shoulder muscles.
3. Giveaways. The third way is to look for classified ads and online notices of people giving away pianos locally. Estate sales, churches, and newly empty "nests" are all common sources. It happens more often than you think, and it's how my parents got their baby grand! Of course, there is no such thing as a free piano: moving, tuning, and making any necessary repairs to the instrument should be done by professionals. Again, your local piano technician can be a big aid in this process.
Did I miss any common or creative solutions? Let me know in the comments!
Photo by Meridy