Many students in Mumbai & Navi Mumbai start off in piano class, with a basic 5 or 7 octave keyboard to practise on at home, realise they need a piano & then invest in a digital or an acoustic piano as soon as their budget permits.
There are 2 important reasons why piano teachers always recommend students buy an acoustic piano :
- Weighted keys
- Responsiveness to touch, with a a capacity to produce variations in tone.
How key weight affects playing technique
Students who practise on an instrument with weighted keys learn to keep their shoulders, arms & hands in a relaxed position while playing.
The weight of the keys allows them to do this, as the keys are heavy enough, that they can transfer the weight of their arm (this is done in varying degrees, depending on the tonal effect required) to the piano keyboard.
Students who go for piano class and practise on non-weighted keyboards often struggle to adjust. They realise very quickly that their playing technique is being affected by practising on an instrument that is so very different from the piano, that it hinders their learning. And they start budgeting to buy a piano.
Acoustic vs Digital upright pianos
Digital pianos have weighted keys. The degree and quality of the key weight as compared to an acoustic piano vary with different models & budgets. Digital pianos have the following advantages over acoustic pianos :
- Digital pianos are budget friendly – you can get a reasonably good digital piano at Rs70,000/- to Rs 1,50,000/- approximately (Refer * below), depending on the quality, brand & functionality you choose.
- Headphones for practise. This is really great in small homes.
- Recording to MIDI or recording audio directly to a USB or computer, without background noise.
- They don’t need regular tuning the way an acoustic piano does, and don’t get affected by temperature fluctuations. It is advisable however, to keep them away from moisture and the direct heat of the sun.
- Easy & reasonably priced dismantling, moving and re-assembling. This is an advantage for families who live on rent & have to move every couple of years.
There’s one major disadvantage to having a digital piano, and that is that the responsiveness of the instrument to touch & the capacity to produce variations in tone is limited. So, piano students who wish to move beyond Grade 4/5, & eventually to advanced level pieces, need acoustic pianos to practise on.
The cost of buying an acoustic piano
- You can get a very basic level acoustic piano Rs 2,50,000/- budget (Refer * below). An instrument with reasonably good tonal quality suited for an advanced level student costs between Rs 4 to 5 lakhs.
- Acoustic pianos need to be tuned 3 times a year. If you live in a smaller town, check whether there are piano tuners available in your locality & what they charge. And whether they will be regular with appointments, because that can be an issue. Check out whether your piano dealer offers a service contract for piano tuning.
- You will need to install a de-humidifier to keep the inside of your piano free of moisture during the monsoon. Price & buy this when you buy your piano.
I hope this post is clear and helps you make a decision on which instrument to buy. Good luck!
* Images (excluding the header image) are provided by Furtados Music, Jer Mahal, Dhobitalao. Approximate budgets are based on their showroom prices as on May 2017.