Acoustic pianos, whether upright or spinet, studio or grand, are the usual choice. They have actual mechanical action, giving you more sound control, and produce a better tone and timbre.
As a result, when you press the keys, you can “feel” the slight vibrations as the felt hammers strike the metal strings, hear the acoustic reverberations, and shape the sound with the pedals like a potter forms wet clay.
Furthermore, when you perform a Chopin nocturne, you know you’re playing the same instrument that Chopin used to play, ensuring a more authentic and intimate musical experience, the kind championed by renowned players like Josef Lhevinne and Andre Watts.
Nonetheless, digital pianos give unique advantages that acoustic pianos do not. They are lightweight and portable, whereas acoustic pianos are bulky and hefty. Digital keyboards do not require tuning, which can be costly, and are resistant to humidity fluctuations.
They have volume controls and headphone ports, allowing you to practise in peace without bothering others. Many keyboards include recording capabilities, allowing you to save and playback your performances, and some even connect to your computer, allowing you to produce original scores using software such as Finale, Sibelius, and others.
If you had told me years ago to select between an acoustic and an electric piano, I would have said the acoustic. Such dogmatism is no longer conceivable in today’s world. Unless you plan to be a world-class musician who mesmerizes Carnegie Hall audiences, your digital options serve as an equally valid alternative for your musical endeavours.
After you’ve decided on an instrument, it’s time to get serious about learning it. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution as you weigh your options. Even the best option for you will be unsatisfactory. So let’s have a look at your options together and consider the benefits and drawbacks of each.
STANDARDS TO BE FOLLOWED CURRICULUM FOR PIANO TEACHING:
This is the most dependable and comprehensive DIY technique because it corresponds to the approved pedagogical (“piano instruction”) curriculum. Choose from classics like Alfred piano methods, Bastien Piano Basics by Kjos, the Faber and Faber Piano Adventures series, and the Suzuki Method if you go this route.
These are the strategies used by the majority of piano teachers, and with good reason. These methods were designed by music education specialists, and these famous curricula have effectively instructed pupils for years.
Though each series will have a philosophical or pedagogical subtlety that sets it apart from the others, they all tend to follow a similar pattern. Additional but optional materials, such as books with popular tunes, Christian hymns, performance songs, Christmas melodies, duets, and more, may be provided. As you’ll see, there are numerous resources available with this DIY method.
Each book in the series can cost anywhere from $7 to $30. However, you might be able to save money by buying used editions on sites like Amazon or eBay. You will get the most comprehensive DIY learning experience possible at a reasonable budget if you follow this standard curriculum method.
Most of these curricula include clear, comprehensive explanations of key topics, with colourful markings and drawings to assist you to overcome the lack of an instructor. Even so, you’ll have to put in a lot of effort. If you don’t comprehend a concept, you’ll have to turn to Google or YouTube for help or find a knowledgeable musician ready to answer your questions.
MUSIC THEORY STUDYING AND APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN ON THE KEYBOARD:
This plan takes a less comprehensive approach than a full piano curriculum, focusing solely on music theory. This means you’ll concentrate on the textual and structural parts of music rather than the skill, style, and practice of playing the keyboard (you will have to guess at these latter elements yourself).
You’ll need some intrinsic musicality and a heightened personal capacity for applying and interpreting knowledge in a practical, musical way without outside assistance to profit from this strategy. This strategy, as tricky as it may appear, has some advantages.
You can buy just the academic books from the established curriculums I mentioned earlier for a few dollars without buying the techniques and practise books. You can also buy a book like Willard Palmer’s The Complete Book of Chords, Arpeggios, and Cadences, which is devoted to introducing piano theory thoroughly and efficiently.
This method can save a lot of money and prepares you to play the piano intelligently. You’ll learn to think about the music you play very carefully. To summarise, think of this strategy as “steroidized” playing by ear. You’ll learn to create musical sounds and melodies while understanding what you’re doing on the piano and why you’re doing it that way. You will not, however, learn how to sit, place your arms and hands, hit the keys, perform complex progressions, or express yourself as maturely as possible.
PERFORMING BY EAR:
If learning to play the piano solely through music theory is “on steroids,” then playing by ear is… well, err… playing by ear without steroids. This method can only please the most adventurous learner because you will only learn what you can uncover for yourself, and even then, you won’t know what you’ve found.
As you would expect, this is the most cost-effective choice because there is no teacher to pay and no books or curriculum to purchase. (Check out Hear and Play for some curriculum to help you follow this strategy.) Nevertheless, the most significant disadvantage of this approach is that you will receive no help or other assistance aside from yourself.
To play existing songs by ear, you must listen to the songs you want to play carefully and repeatedly. Then, by trial and error, you must attempt to play those songs on your keyboard, first figuring out the melody, then adding extra notes and harmony later.
You must first imagine the sounds in your mind before you can perform fresh music. Then you must try out the sounds on the keyboard aloud to see if you can match them. Poke around on the keyboard and see what comes out for an even more barebones approach. Then keep playing till you find some noises you like, then move on!
DIY approaches make learning the piano more economical and practical, but they limit your ability to get deep into the subject.
Traditional techniques provide unrivalled personal mentorship and the greatest conceivable ceiling, but they are also the most expensive.
Technological approaches provide entertaining, visual, and graphical materials that are significantly less expensive than conventional ways. Still, they are denied the right to provide answers to your queries and feed a diminished sense of musicality.
Finally, a novel hybrid technique makes many of the benefits of private classes available online via live video-conferencing, although it still costs a lot of money. Isn’t it wonderful that you have so many choices? It’s now time to evaluate your objectives, passions, finances, and resources. Which keyboard and learning method(s) best match your needs and fit your personality?