By Julia Kossuth
In our studio, we consistently get students who either need an instrument, or would like to upgrade their instrument, so I thought I’d talk a little about what guidelines we give our students for their search.
When a beginning piano student is looking for an instrument, we will often tell them that any keyboard they already have is fine to start out with, however, they will want to upgrade, if necessary, if their student is going to stick with piano. However, one instance has raised new questions for me to ask. For a couple of months, I had a brother and sister who were just not making much progress technically, in spite of practicing most days each week. It finally came up in a lesson that their “keyboard” at home was some kind of miniature toy piano–not practical for any kind of piano practice at all! Even though the mom told me they had a keyboard at home, I don’t assume anything. Now when a student tells me they have a keyboard, I ask them or their parents how similar it is to a piano, to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again.
If a student is purchasing a keyboard or piano, here are some guidelines we give them: Look for weighted keys, preferably 88-keys, although less is ok for beginners; have a stand or surface for your keyboard at the proper level to correspond to the chair or bench; have a pedal to plug into the keyboard; for a piano, check to make sure every key sounds and feels ok; check the sustain pedal; glance inside to see if anything is loose and see how worn the felt on the hammers is; and if at all possible, have a piano tuner or technician (or one of us tecahers!) look before they buy it, if they are at all uncertain about the purchase.
What are some tips you give your students when they look for an instrument? Have you ever run into unforeseen miscommunications regarding instrument quality?