If you are taking piano lessons, you'll need to have an instrument to practice on daily. This will most likely mean having a piano at home. But with all the different kinds of pianos offered nowadays, you can easily feel overwhelmed even at this very first step. Here are a few explanations about the different options, to help you get started.
First of all: there is not only one right answer to this question, and there are a few answers that are very wrong!
Basically, the choice is between an electric and an acoustic piano, but there are also combinations of the two.
Keyboard instruments have a long history and have changed a lot over the centuries. Here is a quick timeline overview showing how they developed from 1400 until the 21st century.
The so called Acoustic Piano is an instrument with no electrics, no on- off button. Sometimes I have difficulty convincing my younger students that the acoustic piano they are playing on really and truly is not plugged into anything! Its sound is created by physical hammers hitting physical strings inside the piano. The acoustic piano is responsive to the touch of the pianist and the better the piano, the more response you can expect. It is heavy and costly to transport and it needs to be tuned once or twice a year. But the sound of the acoustic piano is real, it's genuine, it speaks to the heart (when it is in tune!) and is an invitation to make music.
The upright acoustic piano is actually a compromise. The piano you will hear in concert halls and on artist's recordings is the Grand Piano. But the grand piano is a lot more expensive, takes up a lot more room and is a lot harder to move around, so the acoustic upright piano was created to overcome these difficulties and fit comfortably into the living rooms of most houses. Having said this, a brilliant teen aged pianist I know, literally has most of his bedroom space taken up by a wonderful grand piano. It really is a matter of priorities.
The electric instruments are a creation of the 20th century and here you will find a wide range, with many pitfalls. When we talk about Electric Pianos we do NOT mean electric keyboards. The electric piano or the Clavinova will have 88 keys like the acoustic piano, it will have a damper pedal, and the keys will be weighted. Electric pianos try and have a responsive touch, but this is of course an artificial imitation of the acoustic. The sound of the electric piano is an electric sound, imitating the real sound. Its big advantages are that being electric, you can plug in headphones and play at all times without disturbing anyone, there is no need to tune it, and it is easier to move around.
Since both the acoustic and the electric pianos have their ups and downsides, there has been a new 21st century invention combining some advantages of both. An electric panel is built INTO the acoustic piano, so that you can switch over to electric and put on headphones if the playing disturbs anyone. This is called Silent piano. These instruments cost more than the plain acoustic upright. You can read more about electric/acoustic combinations in this pianoways blogpost.
When choosing the instrument a major consideration is the environment. Having Neighbors and/or family members who may feel disturbed by the sounds of the piano and would therefore restrict the practice possibilities could be an argument against an acoustic instrument. (For instance, a baby who would wake up at the sound of the piano, or a jumpy neighbor). But if we would like to encourage sensitive musicality, the acoustic or combined (acoustic with the built in electric) instrument would be the best choice in the long run.
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- Acoustic? Electric?What is this?