Music can play a big part in a child’s development – from developing memory to patience, plus helping with cognitive and social skills. Music is truly a universal language that benefits everyone, regardless of background and age. And if you’ve decided to encourage your child to start playing a musical instrument – congratulations! There are many instruments to choose from including strings, woodwind, brass, and percussion….but unless your child has a strong preference to play a particular instrument, learning a keyboard instrument is a great place to start. But why is that exactly?
Unlike woodwind, string and brass instruments, you simply need to press a key to produce a sound on the piano. Many first-timers on woodwind and brass instruments will struggle to get any sound out of them. A keyboard or piano is an ideal way to learn the fundamentals of music theory because all of the notes are right there in front of you. It’s a great instrument to build your aural recognition skills as well, provided that you have a digital piano, or an acoustic piano that is regularly tuned.
FIRST THING FIRST…BUY A PIANO!
Many parents ask “Can my child start piano lessons without having a piano at home?” The thought process is that the child’s time on the piano at the teacher’s house would be sufficient. In other words, the child’s only experience on the actual piano would be during their piano lessons. In this case, the answer would be, no. Having no practice time at home will severely hinder their progress – they need more time to get to know the instrument.
BEGINNER VS. ADVANCED
First, think about the family setting and the way in which the piano will be used at home. Is there anyone else in the family who plays or used to play the piano? Will the piano remain in the house at all times? Does your child like to sing as well? Is anyone else in the house musical?
Answering these questions can gauge the level of instrument that would be suitable for the entire household. If there is just one beginner in the house and no one else plays the piano, a piano that beginner-intermediate players would be ideal.
When you are a complete beginner, you are unlikely to notice the difference between a beginner’s piano and an advanced piano. But as you become more experienced, you will start to notice the differences in the keyboard action, sound projection and tone. The better the sound and action, the better you’ll feel about playing the instrument.
WHY PAY MORE? THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME…
One of the most common questions that customers ask is “Why should I pay more for that piano rather than this cheaper piano?” This is a totally valid question. One piano costs £500 and the other piano costs £3,000. They both have 88 notes, they both have weighted keys and they both have three foot pedals. So why not choose the cheaper one?
It’s all about the sound, action and the playing experience. Just like a car, the more you spend, the better experience you will have. Superior quality parts, better sound systems, high performance sound engine…they are all key components that differentiate one piano from the other.
In addition, a selected range of advanced Roland digital pianos are covered by 10 Years Manufacturer’s Warranty. This is the longest warranty period on the market. Find out more here.
Recommended Pianos for Beginner-Intermediate Players
If there is another family member who already plays the piano (regardless of whether you already own an acoustic piano and are looking for the second silent piano), a piano suited for intermediate-advanced players would be preferable.
Recommended Pianos for Intermediate-Advanced Players
Below are some technical features that you might like to look out for when choosing a digital piano.
TECH FOCUS: PIANO ACTION
Keyboard action is about the touch, response, sensitivity and feel of the piano’s keys. How the piano action responds to your playing is extremely important, as this can significantly affect your performance.
Escapement replicates the action that you will feel when playing an acoustic grand. If you press a key on the grand piano slowly, you will feel a little click – this occurs in acoustic grands as the hammer hits the strings. This sensation is replicated on the Roland digital pianos and is referred to as Escapement.
Along with the speakers and the sound engine, superior keyboard action adds to the cost of a digital piano; but the benefit is obvious, especially in the long term. Here are the Roland keyboard actions throughout the range:
PHA-50 (FP-90, DP-603, HP-603, HP-605, LX-7, LX-17, RD-2000)
PHA-4 Concert Keyboard (RD-800, HPi-50e)
PHA-4 Premium Keyboard (HP-504)
PHA-4 Standard Keyboard (FP-30, F-140R, RP-401R, RP-501R)
Ivory Feel-S (FP-80)
Ivory Feel-G (FP-50, RD-300NX, F-20)
TECH FOCUS: POLYPHONY
Polyphony = number of notes a keyboard can play simultaneously. For example, if you play a melody note and a three-note chord to accompany the melody, you are using four notes of polyphony. Once your piano uses up the maximum polyphony notes, you will not be able to add any more notes (the extra notes simply won’t play). Some keyboards have 64-note polyphony which already sounds like a lot because you only have ten fingers! But keep in mind that one note doesn’t always mean one note of polyphony. Depending on the sound you select (an orchestral sound, for example) one note can require multiple polyphony.
F-140R: Maximum polyphony of 128 voices.
HP-603: Limitless polyphony for piano category tones. Others tones have 384 voices.
LX-7: Limitless polyphony for piano category tones. Others tones have 384 voices.
LX-17: Limitless polyphony for piano category tones. Others tones have 384 voices.
TECH FOCUS: SPEAKERS
Better speakers, better sound experience. Simple.
LX-17 has 2 x 25W and 4 x 6W speakers (acoustic projection speaker system for 3D sound).
LX-7 has 2 x 30W and 2 x 7W speakers (acoustic projection speaker system for 3D sound).
HP-605 has 2 x 30W and 2 x 7W speakers (acoustic projection speaker system for 3D sound).
HP-603 has 2 x 30W speakers.
RP-501R has 2 x 12W speakers.
F-140R has 2 x 12W speakers.
THE PERFECT SPOT FOR THE PERFECT PIANO IN YOUR HOME
It is important to place your piano in a highly visible room. People don’t say out of sight, out of mind for no reason! If the piano is tucked away in a room that no-one goes into, how would it remind you or your child to play and practice?
Once you’ve decided on the room that the piano will live, you need to consider how much space you have for the piano.
Recommended for Smaller House/Apartment
If you have limited space at home, choose a piano with a compact, slimline cabinet.
Recommended for Larger Homes
All of the above, plus:
SHOULD I BUY A STAGE PIANO OR HOME STYLE PIANO?
Not all pianos will live at home. Someone in the family might prefer something portable so that they can take it out to busk, gig or rehearse with. If this is the case, a stage piano may be preferable.
Buying a more portable piano doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on the sound, action or playability.
Keep in mind that some stage pianos have no internal speakers, which means that you would need to use external speakers, like a keyboard amplifier, to hear the sound. Alternatively, you can use your headphones.
If the piano is predominantly for your home, you might want to consider a couple of things before deciding between a stage or home piano.
Stage pianos can be just as beautiful to play, except they’re great for portability. They are perfect for mobile musicians and can be tucked away if need be, not to mention that they weigh much less than home pianos. To give you an idea, the FP-80 stage piano weighs 23.8kg while the HP-603 weighs almost 50kg.
If there is a chance that the piano may be used for taking piano exams, such as AMEB, Trinity and ABRSM, a home piano would be better as some of the examination boards specify that the pedals are fixed to the main body of the piano.
Stage pianos generally come with a damper pedal that is not fixed to the piano for portability. There are some models such as FP-80 and FP-90 that offer optional dedicated stands and pedalboards but other stage pianos such as the RD series do not have the option to have a fixed pedalboard.
The advantage of home pianos like the HP and LX models is that they are much more stable. If you have young children in the house, a home piano is more suitable because stage pianos are easier knock over. Roland home pianos also have the ‘half lid’ function on the lid so that the buttons can be hidden away from young children.
Hopefully, this guide has given you a better idea for purchasing a new piano for your child to learn and play on. Of course, being able to try a piano out before purchase would be ideal. So, now that you’ve got some background on models and types, try your preferred instrument in a store with your child and see what you both like about it. Music is a tremendously rewarding gift and getting your child into music at an early age can lead them on a path of enjoyment for the rest of their life. Plus, they’ll always be thankful that you did!