The piano is a wonderful instrument that encompasses harmony, melody and rhythm. It enables you to learn general musicianship skills that are applicable to all kinds of music. Also, music available for the piano covers a wide repertoire from classical and jazz right through to pop music that makes it appeal to people of all ages.
There are two main types of piano, the ‘traditional’ acoustic piano and the digital piano, and both have their pros and cons. The acoustic piano has a mechanical ‘action’ where pressing the key moves a hammer which hits the strings to produce the sound. It’s the best instrument for serious piano performance, as training and strengthening the fingers are essential if you want to progress to a higher level at college.
The digital piano is a clear alternative to the acoustic. As always, you get what you pay for, the better the model, the more realistic the ‘action’ will become. The big advantage of the digital piano is that the volume level is totally controllable. They may also come with a range of other instrument sounds, and on some models can be used with music software on a computer. It should be pointed out that certain (more expensive) acoustic pianos are now available with a “quiet piano” system, which allows silent practice through headphones.
What to look for
- It is always best to see, hear and try before you buy. Take your time to visit a few piano shops where the staff will be able to offer you expert advice.
- Make sure you sit down and play the piano in a shop. It should be light and responsive to play and produce a tone which most importantly, you like. Be sure to play notes at the extremes of the instrument (the very top and the very bottom) to give you a good indication of the overall tonal quality.
- The two major factors that affect the tone are the soundboard area and the length of the strings. As a general rule, the bigger the piano, the better it is. It is worth considering the largest piano to suit your home and budget.
- When looking to buy a traditional upright piano, bear in mind the size of the instrument and where it will go in your home, especially if you live in a 10th floor flat!
- Don’t disregard buying a brand new piano. Many of the leading brands now offer affordable options, and purchasing a new piano means you can rely on the quality and it will also come with a manufacturers guarantee.
- Acoustic pianos are made from natural materials that are susceptible to changes in temperature and need to be tuned professionally on a regular basis. Keep in touch with your piano shop, they will be able to advise on maintaining your piano.