A lot of my beginning adult piano students come to me dreaming of playing beautiful music on the piano. They love the piano and are committed to learning to play, but …… pretty soon reality creeps in with time constraints and the crushing weight of other responsibilities. They tell me that they love my teaching and wish that they continue, but they aren’t able to practice the way they had hoped. They then leave piano lessons behind along with a wish to continue in the future when their life changes just enough. So, this is my advice to my adult students who are starting piano lessons for the first time and need a practice instrument.
I recommend beginning students who haven’t studied music previously start with an entry level digital piano. It isn’t the type of instrument I would buy for myself because I know I want to spend a lot of time on my practice instrument, I care a lot about the sound of the instrument, and the complexity of the music I like to play demands a level of instrument responsiveness that even an expensive digital piano with the latest impressive technological advances still can’t provide me.
A digital piano is defined as a type of electronic keyboard instrument designed to serve primarily as an alternative to the traditional acoustic piano, both in the way it feels to play and in the sound produced. These instruments can take many forms such as a simple keyboard on a stand or table to a lovely spinet that looks, feels, and sounds a lot like a more traditional acoustic piano. However, for my beginning students I would recommend the cheaper simple keyboard on a stand simply because they cost less and will enable you to practice effectively until you figure out if you enjoy learning, playing and practicing enough to justify a more significant investment.
Characteristics of a starter digital piano that I think are essential:
* 88 weighted keys or a full size keyboard
* at least one pedal
* a music stand
* a dedicated stand for the keyboard itself
* an adjustable height chair or stool
* built in speaker so you can hear yourself play without headphones
My favorite digital piano brands are:
There is a significant and dynamic used digital piano market and that’s a great place to look if you have the time and energy to sift through the ads. My students typically like Offer Up better than Craig’s List. Also, maybe you have a friend or relative that has a digital or acoustic piano gathering dust in their house that you can move in for free!
I do see quite a few acoustic pianos (the kind that don’t plug in and you have to keep tuned) that people are relinquishing very cheaply these days. An acoustic piano can be a decent starter instrument if you don’t care about being able to use headphones and the instrument quality is decent enough.
The NYTimes Wirecutter Magazine recently had an article with their entry level digital piano recommendations. Digital Piano Review Guide also has a lot of information about buying digital pianos. Here’s their article on the best digital pianos under $1000.