Many people have asked me through the years if a piano is necessary in order to learn to play the piano. My answer to this is most emphatically, YES!
The fact is that with any sport, hobby, or profession that you endeavor to enter it is critical to have the proper equipment. Students are assigned music to work on and technical exercises with the very first lesson. A piano is necessary for home practice and in turn home practice is crucial for successful mastery of the instrument. After all, can you learn to be a master chef with no stove? An artist with a paint brush, but no paints or canvas? A soccer player with no soccer ball? It is the same for learning the piano, either an acoustic piano or a digital piano with 88 weighted keys and a sustaining pedal will make the most of your child's piano study.
The next question I am frequently asked is, “I have a small keyboard, can’t I learn on that?” Well, let’s go back to the master chef. Do you believe that one can learn to be a master chef on an Easy-Bake Oven? A fine artist with a paint-by-number set? What about a soccer player with a deflated soccer ball? Certainly, one can see the necessity for having the proper equipment. Even the earliest beginner needs to have a full-sized keyboard with fully weighted keys and a sustaining pedal. My students begin exploring all 88 keys from the very first lesson. We also begin working on mastering the technique necessary to produce beautiful tones and to play expressively. Smaller keyboards with spring-loaded keys and no sustaining pedal are not the best choice and can actually be detrimental to your child's progress.
Used pianos can be purchased for a reasonable price and some are absolutely free! You only need to pay for moving the instrument and giving it a good tuning once it has been moved and has acclimated to your home. Should you decide to purchase a used piano, it is advisable that you hire a registered piano technician to assess its condition and whether or not they would recommend it for purchase. Although an acoustic piano is preferable for optimal development of your child's skill at the piano, another option is the digital piano/keyboard. There are many good models available with 88 weighted keys and a sustaining pedal in a variety of price ranges. Roland, Yamaha, Casio, etc. have some wonderful models to choose from. Whatever you choose, make sure that you have selected an instrument that will enhance your child's progress and help them to one day become a fine musician.