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#1409593 - 04/02/10 05:56 PM Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference?
IramChZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 47
Loc: Michigan, USA
A teacher recently posted in the digital piano forum that "the results are clearly different between students who practice on a real piano, students that practice on a digital piano and students that practice on keyboards". Do all you teachers see a difference in results between students who practice on digital pianos and students who practice on acoustic pianos?

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#1409625 - 04/02/10 07:02 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: IramChZ]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 855
Ah. So you feel like starting a war on this forum? Of course there are differences between these students. But you will find the digital supporters won't notice these differences and will complain that the piano supporters are imagining things.

P.S. Why do you ask?


Edited by Candywoman (04/02/10 07:02 PM)

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#1409634 - 04/02/10 07:22 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Candywoman]
IramChZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 47
Loc: Michigan, USA
I definitely don't want to start a war. I know there is some controversy in this area, but the reason I ask is that my daughter and I are both going to be starting piano lessons in the next few months and I need to buy a piano. I had thought that I would buy a digital, but now I'm having serious second thoughts.

Maybe, in order to avoid conflict, someone might report to me simply "what they have heard said" regarding any specific differences there might be between students who practice on acoustics and students who practice on digitals.

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#1409642 - 04/02/10 07:47 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: IramChZ]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
I can ALWAYS tell when a student has been practicing EXCLUSIVELY on a digital piano. When a student practices on both an acoustic and digital I honestly cannot be sure that I can tell the difference.

There are fantastic digital pianos out there, having said that, and if you do want to go that way (for reasons of space and being able to control the volume living with neighbours on the other side of the wall, say) make sure that you get a digital piano that replicates absolute everything that a piano does: this may mean you are looking at an instrument that costs about the same as a good basic model upright acoustic piano new.

The things most noticeable about students who play digital pianos exclusively are a poorer execution of legato playing and a reduced ability to create dynamic contrasts. I had a wonderful student who had a digital piano only for the first 6 years of her lessons, and by the time the parents finally got an acoustic piano it was really holding her back! Now she's working on an acoustic she is flying ahead, but of course, she is getting reasonably advanced these days.

Moral of the story: it's a disadvantage, but a good digital piano can reduce these disadvantages to negligible for the first few years of lessons, but if you want to learn serious repertoire you absolutely need to have an acoustic piano.


Edited by Elissa Milne (04/02/10 07:48 PM)
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
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www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1409703 - 04/02/10 09:50 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Elissa Milne]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
I tend to think that if you are starting out and not sure if you are going to commit yourself to the instrument for years then start out with a GOOD digital piano. You will have some drawbacks, and you should be aware of that upfront, but then again, you won't have to pay great amounts of money. I personally think that basic, beginners repertoire doesn't inhibit the learning process. It's only when you start to hit the intermediate level and early advanced pieces were you should seriously consider purchasing an upright. I learned on an acoustic piano since I was young, when I started to play digital pianos at performances were a piano wasn't there, I noticed that the sustain pedal doesn't 'mesh' the sound as much as the acoustic piano does (so listening for pedal changing can be hard), I also noticed that the touch was very different and on top of that the sound wasn't the same as an acoustic piano.
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http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#1409756 - 04/02/10 11:09 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: IramChZ]
Fingerprints Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 12
Loc: Ohio
I don't know about digital piano's.. but I can tell you that I can hear a definite difference between my son along with three of his friends who are all playing keyboards... and another friend who has a piano. The keyboard players fingers are not as "strong" as the boy who practices on a "real" piano. I can see where not having a acoustical or a really good digital has hampered my son's progress.

I agree with the above about getting away with it for the basic beginner.. but I left it too long. You really do need to upgrade before the 2nd year of lessons. I'm going next week to put my down payment on a new piano. Hope to have it soon enough to help him with this years recital piece.
_________________________
Lisa

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#1409819 - 04/03/10 01:50 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Fingerprints]
lechuan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 180
I'm a student who practices almost exclusively on a digital piano. I always find it frustrating at my lesson to play with the right touch and volume on the Grand Piano. Now that I'm getting more serious about my lessons I'm going to try to get more practice time on an acoustic. Not all digitals are created equal however, I recently tried out the (expensive) Avant Grand N2/N3 and found the touch to be practically identical to an acoustic grand; practicing on one of those would pretty much be like practicing on an acoustic.

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#1410199 - 04/03/10 06:28 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: lechuan]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
We are twenty yrs. into the Digital Piano Age, and yet many piano
teachers still have never played a digital piano, will
even refuse to enter a room where there is one, and will discourage
students from having one. There are even teachers who will
not take students with digital pianos, even a marvelous one
like the Roland V-Piano, which is essentially a concert
grand that will play rings around any acoustic piano.

This is probably what happened in the 19th century when the
pianoforte started to replace clavichords and harpsichords.
There must have been great resistance from diehard clavichordists
and harpsichordists who refused to give up their instruments
for the new instrument that "wasn't a real keyboard" and
that would "ruin your technique" for keyboard playing and
on which you "couldn't develop the proper technique" for
playing. These people stubbornly clung to their clavichords
and harpsichords until their deaths and never tried the
new pianoforte.

We are now in an era where digitals are replacing acoustic
pianos. Digitals have made acoustic pianos all but obsolescent
for home use. And with advances in software and circuitry,
the day is not that far off when a digital will be able to
replicate the finest concert grand.

I use a budget $600 digital that I bought sight-unseen online
last yr. This inexpensive digital is satisfactory for playing
anything, including the biggest concertos.

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#1410208 - 04/03/10 06:39 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: IramChZ]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: IramChZ
Do all you teachers see a difference in results between students who practice on digital pianos and students who practice on acoustic pianos?


Yes, of course! The difference is night and day!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1410214 - 04/03/10 06:46 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Gyro]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: Gyro

I use a budget $600 digital that I bought sight-unseen online
last yr. This inexpensive digital is satisfactory for playing
anything, including the biggest concertos.


It's my personal preference to hear piano concertos performed live on inexpensive digitals too - but I really struggle to find performances to my preference in this regard.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1410547 - 04/04/10 08:07 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: AZNpiano]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: IramChZ
Do all you teachers see a difference in results between students who practice on digital pianos and students who practice on acoustic pianos?


Yes, of course! The difference is night and day!


Do you always know what a student plays at home? Maybe keep it as part of the records?

If not, the ones who stand out as either better or worse than average could easily get assigned to the acoustic or digital erroneously.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1410565 - 04/04/10 08:55 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: IramChZ]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11810
Loc: Canada
IRamChZ, a couple of years ago I resumed piano after almost 40 years (self taught as a child). I had played for about 3 months when I played in the house of someone I knew. She was a former piano teacher. Her first words were, "I can hear that you are practising on a digital piano." That was correct. "The development of your playing will be limited by this." which I had also already noticed.

This former teacher noticed it when I had played barely 10 minutes, and I had only been using a digital for a few months.

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#1410608 - 04/04/10 10:50 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: lechuan]
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: lechuan
I'm a student who practices almost exclusively on a digital piano. I always find it frustrating at my lesson to play with the right touch and volume on the Grand Piano. Now that I'm getting more serious about my lessons I'm going to try to get more practice time on an acoustic. Not all digitals are created equal however, I recently tried out the (expensive) Avant Grand N2/N3 and found the touch to be practically identical to an acoustic grand; practicing on one of those would pretty much be like practicing on an acoustic.


No, it wouldn't, and no, they will never be the same.

For the money, you're better off getting an acoustic.

Gyro, keep up the humorous posts. I haven't been back here in a year and forgot how entertained I am by you.


Edited by Minaku (04/04/10 10:51 AM)
_________________________
Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

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#1410730 - 04/04/10 02:47 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Gyro]
Tweedpipe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/08
Posts: 432
Originally Posted By: Gyro
......the Roland V-Piano, which is essentially a concert
grand that will play rings around any acoustic piano....


If this is Gyro’s attempt at humour, I vote that he now be promoted to court jester!
This is really very, very, bad and sad advise he is giving, and to me at least is living proof he has never, ever, played - and especially 'felt' - the thrill of a really good upright or grand acoustic piano.
Gyro occasionally gets close to some truths, but here instead of hitting the mark he misses by a mile in adding the word ‘any’.
Let’s get one thing clear. The Roland V-piano is an extremely fine, capable instrument. I tried one for about an hour, and did I like it? I simply loved it! And it’s certainly better than a huge number of upright acoustic pianos, and indeed certain new baby grands that I've tried. However, no way would I prefer it to many of the better upright pianos that I auditioned some while ago. I'm thinking here names like Schimmel, Seiler, even Kawai to name just a few.


Edited by Tweedpipe (04/04/10 02:55 PM)
_________________________
Dear Noah,
We could have sworn you said the ark wasn't leaving till 5.
Yours sincerely,
The Unicorns



------------------------------


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#1410876 - 04/04/10 06:50 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: TimR]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: IramChZ
Do all you teachers see a difference in results between students who practice on digital pianos and students who practice on acoustic pianos?


Yes, of course! The difference is night and day!


Do you always know what a student plays at home? Maybe keep it as part of the records?

If not, the ones who stand out as either better or worse than average could easily get assigned to the acoustic or digital erroneously.

No. The point is that you can tell within ten minutes (at most, as keystring attests) that a student is not playing an acoustic piano at home. It's nothing to do with being an average student - it's specifically to do with the way the student touches and approaches the keys, nothing to do with limited practice time or a failure to understand concepts. Great students practicing on digital will still be great, apart from having this distinctive (and inappropriate/limited) manner of touching the keys, which does mean that while they are great students they are struggling to be great pianists.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1410892 - 04/04/10 07:24 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Elissa Milne]
John_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/10
Posts: 621
Loc: Bristol, UK
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
....it's specifically to do with the way the student touches and approaches the keys .... Great students practicing on digital will still be great, apart from having this distinctive (and inappropriate/limited) manner of touching the keys, which does mean that while they are great students they are struggling to be great pianists.


Elissa, could you give an indication of the manner in which a person learning on a digital piano touches the keys differently?

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#1410901 - 04/04/10 07:36 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John_B]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: John_B
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
....it's specifically to do with the way the student touches and approaches the keys .... Great students practicing on digital will still be great, apart from having this distinctive (and inappropriate/limited) manner of touching the keys, which does mean that while they are great students they are struggling to be great pianists.


Elissa, could you give an indication of the manner in which a person learning on a digital piano touches the keys differently?
Generally the ability of the student to create anything close to forte is nil, while softs are well controlled (a student practicing on an acoustic piano tends to struggle more with soft than loud, and can actually create both, even if they might struggle with soft). Aside from this dynamic deficiency students practicing on digital pianos frequently fail to create effective legato shaping across a phrase. Legato also tends to not have the tonal control one sees in students working on an acoustic (that is, notes might *bump* within a smooth phrase). Both dynamics and articulation are about how you touch and approach the keys, and this is where teachers notice the significant and unmistakable signs of students working on digital pianos.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1410905 - 04/04/10 07:40 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John_B]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I find that those who practice on a good acoustic (grand or upright) listen more attentively to the sound they produce and are more aware of the subtle nuances that can be produced by variety of touch.

I can understand why lots of people opt for DP's where a good acoustic is just not a possibility. Unfortunately it just isn't the same. Even the new AvantGrand and V-piano (both of which I have played) can't give the kind of feedback you need. It's about more than touch and tone, an acoustic piano has character. When did anyone describe the sound of a digital as beautiful, warm, mellow, dark, rich etc. The most you can say is that they sound 'just like' a grand piano. What they sound like is a recording of a grand piano which is not the same thing from the pianists perspective.

The other thing I notice is a difference in motivation between those who have digitals and those with good acoustics. A nice acoustic is more inviting to play, it feels and sounds special. It's no surprise to me that my best students are generally the ones with the nicest instruments.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1410909 - 04/04/10 07:45 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John_B]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4437
Loc: San Jose, CA
I can say, from my own personal knowledge, that I've been trying the digital keyboards from some of the best makers recently. I've been looking for a second keyboard, so I can practice 'after-hours' and so I can take advantage of the sequencer, other instrument sounds, etc. My present instrument is a 6-6 grand. The difference between them is that of throwing a switch, and of pressing a mechanical device which exploits the laws of physics to create both a 'feel' and a musical tone.

So far, I haven't found any DPs that come even close; not even close to a good upright action.

I got one of the earlier DPs twenty or more years ago (still have it), and played it for quite a long time. I'll just say that, when I started playing a real piano again, I found out pretty quickly what I'd been missing out on in terms both of sound and of the physical ability that's developed on a real piano's keyboard.

I can't bear to touch the old keyboard anymore. I couldn't recommend anything I've seen or heard recently for the use of a student.
_________________________
Clef


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#1411007 - 04/04/10 09:45 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Elissa Milne]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: IramChZ
Do all you teachers see a difference in results between students who practice on digital pianos and students who practice on acoustic pianos?


Yes, of course! The difference is night and day!


Do you always know what a student plays at home? Maybe keep it as part of the records?

If not, the ones who stand out as either better or worse than average could easily get assigned to the acoustic or digital erroneously.

No. The point is that you can tell within ten minutes (at most, as keystring attests) that a student is not playing an acoustic piano at home. It's nothing to do with being an average student - it's specifically to do with the way the student touches and approaches the keys, nothing to do with limited practice time or a failure to understand concepts.


I wondered because neither of my last two teachers asked what I had at home. We did discuss it with my daughter's teacher, as she started on an unweighted keyboard while we shopped for something better.

I practice on a digital at home, a decent upright and a grand at church. Those two acoustics are tuned regularly but not regulated or otherwise maintained, as are the great majority of acoustics. And in the church basement, in the cherub choir room, is an ancient upright next to a $50 unweighted keyboard. Nobody who's skilled EVER plays the upright, it's just too painful. Hee, hee.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1411020 - 04/04/10 10:09 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: TimR]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7410
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I am certainly thankful to read the comments of many of the newer teachers to this forum reiterating what dozens and dozens of teachers have explained over and over again for many years and many similar threads.

Perhaps a bit brutal, but I suspect that if you don't or cannot hear a difference, then you're not going to be able to play piano to the highest level. And this is perhaps why ear training and teaching touch right from the first lessons, is so important, and what is so very difficult about self teaching.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1411239 - 04/05/10 07:43 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
John_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/10
Posts: 621
Loc: Bristol, UK
Interesting comments about the playing traits of people using digital pianos.

As far as the dynamics are concerned, I wonder whether this is linked to the reason that some people use a DP, i.e. wanting to be able to play relatively quietly so as not to disturb other family members or neighbours. If you are in the habit of playing relatively quietly your dynamics are also likely to be scaled down. Of course that is not necessarily the case when using headphones - but it might be that the scaling down becomes an ingrained habit which DP users need to somehow counteract.

There is another factor that I wonder about. People playing a real piano will be aware that others are likely to be able to hear the playing or practising. This might in turn provide a discipline to play with more attention to the musicality, to listen more and, when practising, to keep the playing to the speed where it is just below where everything breaks down. All of which will probably yield better long term results.

One other matter I wonder about. When I was playing the classical guitar (which I did, off and on, for decades) if my nails were poor and I wasn't producing a beautiful sound and/or I was playing an instrument that had limited responsiveness and limited available colours my own playing was limited and rather pedestrian. Whereas if I was producing a beautiful sound and/or the instrument was expressive and could produce a depth of colours and gradations of tone my playing automatically went to a totally different level, without any conscious decision. I just reacted instinctively. I wonder whether there is any sort of parallel with pianos. (There is also the physical and emotional interaction with the instrument, of course.)

(I am posting as someone who has recently returned to the piano after ~45 years, during which time I played the classical guitar. I've started with a digital piano to avoid inflicting my practising on the neighbour but, if things progress reasonably, I will be looking to get an acoustic.)


Edited by John_B (04/05/10 07:56 AM)

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#1411321 - 04/05/10 10:44 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John_B]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: John_B


As far as the dynamics are concerned, I wonder whether this is linked to the reason that some people use a DP, i.e. wanting to be able to play relatively quietly so as not to disturb other family members or neighbours. If you are in the habit of playing relatively quietly your dynamics are also likely to be scaled down. Of course that is not necessarily the case when using headphones - but it might be that the scaling down becomes an ingrained habit which DP users need to somehow counteract.


Interesting idea, and it suggests a practical strategy.

Like it or not, the digital is here. It outsells acoustics between 2:1 and 4:1, and all but a few teachers will have to deal with students on digitals (except for those of you who just say no).

So while we might not be able to eliminate the dynamics problem many of you recognize, could we minimize it?

The digital has in theory 127 levels of dynamics between 0 and the current setting of the master volume. There aren't any instructions for the best place to set that master volume.

What if we set it very low, forcing the student to learn how to get volume out of the piano with technique rather than a twist of the knob?
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1411390 - 04/05/10 12:24 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: TimR]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7410
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: TimR
Like it or not, the digital is here. It outsells acoustics between 2:1 and 4:1, and all but a few teachers will have to deal with students on digitals (except for those of you who just say no).


Interesting observation.

I note that Margarine has been around for a while (1813 for discovery of margaric acid, 1869 for first practical butter substitute), yet no chef worthy of his name uses margarine for serious culinary efforts. An no one serious about flavor and tastes of their food uses margarine. I suspect that in 100 years, there will still be an ongoing debate over the merit of digitals for serious piano practice.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1411406 - 04/05/10 12:54 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
Sure, I like butter better too.

But more parallel: are you still buying film for your camera?

If so, where?
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1411417 - 04/05/10 01:05 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: TimR]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
At my local Walgreen's or at the Photo Shop. Wonder if Ansel Adams would go digital. I use digital for fun memories, a real camera for art photos.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
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#1411431 - 04/05/10 01:20 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: TimR]
John_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/10
Posts: 621
Loc: Bristol, UK
It would be a pity for the interesting discussion in this thread to be diverted into the usual cul-de-sac.

yawn

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#1411478 - 04/05/10 02:06 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Elissa Milne]
Dorrie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 438
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
I can ALWAYS tell when a student has been practicing EXCLUSIVELY on a digital piano. When a student practices on both an acoustic and digital I honestly cannot be sure that I can tell the difference.

There are fantastic digital pianos out there, having said that, and if you do want to go that way (for reasons of space and being able to control the volume living with neighbours on the other side of the wall, say) make sure that you get a digital piano that replicates absolute everything that a piano does: this may mean you are looking at an instrument that costs about the same as a good basic model upright acoustic piano new.

The things most noticeable about students who play digital pianos exclusively are a poorer execution of legato playing and a reduced ability to create dynamic contrasts. I had a wonderful student who had a digital piano only for the first 6 years of her lessons, and by the time the parents finally got an acoustic piano it was really holding her back! Now she's working on an acoustic she is flying ahead, but of course, she is getting reasonably advanced these days.

Moral of the story: it's a disadvantage, but a good digital piano can reduce these disadvantages to negligible for the first few years of lessons, but if you want to learn serious repertoire you absolutely need to have an acoustic piano.


I think this the most straightforward, reasonable discussion of the issue I have ever read here. I good digital can take a student through some years of lessons (maybe better than a crappy upright) but at some point, if one is going to play serious classical/art music, an acoustic must be available. The son of a friend of mine, who is completing his first year at a conservatory used a digital for his first 4-5 years of lessons and an excellent upright for his last years at home. He DID have access to a grand several days a week for extra practice for all those years.

Remember - many students who start lessons will quit before an acoustic is absolutely necessary.

I think the debate, for those who see starting a student on a digital as a possibility (but who expect the student to transition to an acoustic) is whether to advise the student/parent to get a top of the line digital (top of the line in terms of the instrument's ability to imitate a piano) OR to spend as little as possible for full size, weighted keyboard.

Dorrie

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#1411481 - 04/05/10 02:10 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John_B]
edt Offline
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Posts: 210
what's wrong with teaching students how to play piano on the digital piano?

If I want to learn jazz guitar, and I went to a teacher, and the first thing he did was force me to play on a martin dreadnought during our sessions, I would be extremely concerned, because jazz is not played on an acoustic it's played on something like an electric archtop gibson es.

It would be nice if piano teachers taught how to play on the digital, so when the student had questions like how to set up your MIDI, au, rtas, vst, whether to use a linear velocity curve the teacher could help, just like when a student of the jazz guitar asks how high up do you crank the humbucker coils, well, the jazz guitar teacher can explain it.

Right now though, students are all learning on digitals, while teachers are all on acoustics. And if the student eventually gets a gig playing piano at clubs, the odds are you will be carting around an unweighted keyboard and an amp, not even a fully weighted keyboard.


Edited by edt (04/05/10 02:13 PM)

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#1411529 - 04/05/10 03:07 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: edt]
Minaku Offline
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Originally Posted By: edt

It would be nice if piano teachers taught how to play on the digital, so when the student had questions like how to set up your MIDI, au, rtas, vst, whether to use a linear velocity curve the teacher could help, just like when a student of the jazz guitar asks how high up do you crank the humbucker coils, well, the jazz guitar teacher can explain it.


I can say with 100% confidence that in my years of teaching, I've never had a question like what you've posited. And I'm pretty sure that I will never field a question about whether to use a linear velocity curve. That seems more like a question to ask a recording engineer or a sound tech instead of a piano teacher.

Nor are my students moonlighting as jazz musicians in clubs. I'm pretty sure 9- and 10-year-olds wouldn't be allowed in there. So, yes, I will dismiss your argument; the original position that digitals can and do hinder progress on the piano technically and artistically still stands.


Edited by Minaku (04/05/10 03:08 PM)
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#1411540 - 04/05/10 03:19 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John_B]
bitWrangler Offline
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This is from a parent's point of view. We have a 10yo daughter and a relatively high end DP as well as an acoustic grand. Even 2 years ago (when she was 8) I could tell the difference when she practiced primarily on our DP vs our acoustic (she was practicing mainly in the mornings due to homework load in the afternoons). Her teacher could tell as well and pretty much forbid her from using the DP (we're not quite so strict and let her use it when circumstances warrant, but she practices primarily on the acoustic). The difference was subtle, and if it weren't for the fact that I had heard the piece she was working on many times I might not have noticed a difference, but there was definitely a difference. As others have mentioned and IMHO, it's really a 90/10 kind of deal where a DP might get you 90% of the way there, but to get that last (and some would say most important) 10%, a good acoustic is almost indispensable.

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#1411580 - 04/05/10 04:03 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Minaku]
TimR Online   content
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Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Minaku

So, yes, I will dismiss your argument; the original position that digitals can and do hinder progress on the piano technically and artistically still stands.


Now that, I think, is short sighted.

Digitals have limitations when serving merely as a substitute for an acoustic.

But they can make music in their own right. And surely making music is our goal, not achieving manual dexterity on one instrument called a piano.

To get the most out of a digital, just as with an acoustic, requires input from a teacher. This is an unplowed field at the moment - lots of opportunity for teachers to expand their horizon and their customer base. Voices, rhythms, fills, memory banks, etc. - all are necessities for the performing artist. Useless, of course, for those who define themselves solely as a classical pianist.
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#1411595 - 04/05/10 04:14 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: TimR]
Ben Crosland Offline
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I would like to ask those who have actual experience of taking on students who, up until that point, were practising exclusively on a digital, and were then given the opportunity to practise on an acoustic - approximately how long did it take for them to make up the technical shortfall?
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#1411641 - 04/05/10 05:14 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Minaku]
edt Offline
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Posts: 210
Minaku the velocity curve is actually one of the most important adjustments a digital pianist makes with his instrument. There is a linear curve which means that if you press light you get a small MIDI input, press hard you get more, but it acts in a linear fashion, press twice as hard you get twice as much MIDI. You can also use a velocity curve that bows up or bows down, so that either the keyboard responds more than your touch so that if you press twice as hard you might get 4 times higher MIDI, or you can go the other way, if the curve bows down and if you press four times as hard it will only double the MIDI number.

If you are playing a digital piano and want to add more expressiveness to your playing, selecting the right velocity curve helps. A lot of times a digital piano doesn't have the perfect touch, and instead of just giving up and buying a new piano you can fix things by choosing the right curve.

Velocity curves are essential for playing your digital piano properly. Also if your student is playing on a digital piano and you notice they are having problems building up enough strength in the fingers, you can get them to change their velocity curve from something responsive to a linear curve, since a linear curve will make them work harder to get the same expressiveness.

By the way some digital pianos have "light" "medium" and "hard" settings but it's important to find out if these are linear velocity curves or non-linear ones or if only "medium" has the linear curve because it makes a big difference in how the digital piano responds.

I think even if you teach 9 and 10 year olds knowing what they are practicing on and how it works (which usually means a digital piano not a real one) can only help.


Edited by edt (04/05/10 05:21 PM)

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#1411732 - 04/05/10 07:38 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: edt]
John_B Offline
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Loc: Bristol, UK
edt,

If you want to start a thread about velocity curves, etc please do so, but it seems a pity to take this thread off on a tangent.

Just a pity that this interesting thread has been hijacked.


Edited by John_B (04/05/10 08:26 PM)

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#1411784 - 04/05/10 09:13 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John_B]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Point is that the question is "can you tell the difference between students who practice on a digital as compared to an acoustic piano?'. And the answer is an unequivocal 'yes'.

Asserting that no one should be learning to play an acoustic piano is kind of beside the point.......
_________________________
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www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1411913 - 04/06/10 12:31 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Elissa Milne]
trillingadventurer Offline
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Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego

"When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you've become real." From The Velveteen Rabbit

Perhaps it is the warmth of the wood that draws me in.
Or the fact that it is my personal blood and bones physics that will bring out
a raw and vibrant chord
a whispering and breathy phrase
an ethereal and sustaining chime.

My parents purchased a jet black Kawaii upright when I was 7.
It took 3 strong men to move the giant thing into our living room.
It was shiny, smooth and somehow emitted a feeling of excitement
even danger. Afterall, one could smash their hands underneath the hinged fallboard.

For 7 years I played with it. No lessons. I ran my hands up and down the sturdy ivory keys. I learned some of Fur Elise by ear. (Horrible fingering I'm sure). For 7 years I visited the Kawaii and enjoyed it fully. And suddenly, severely at 14 I needed lessons. I dove into the instrument and learned to tame my wild hands, my anxious teenage mind. I sat the phone on the floor next to the sound board and played my boyfriend part of The Moonlight Sonata. He had a piano too and played me some strange chords he made up at that moment. We didn't last but the Kawaii...

That piano my parents purchased….there was no such thing as a digital anything back then. Less choices meant a 7,000 dollar done deal on a young hard working Engineer’s income. Neither of my parents were musicians but they seemed to know that having a piano seemed like a good thing to do. For them the decision was as serious as buying a car or a large appliance. There was no middle path…no “trying it out for awhile” to see if I liked it or was any good. They made an uncharacteristic leap of faith and to this day it still mystifies me. (In a good way.)

Yes, they bought that boxy, awkward, steely stringed leviathan and am I ever grateful they did.

My piano, my real acoustic
hammered and glued,
pressed and sculpted,
notched, chiseled, painted,
veneered and engraved piano is
my anchor,
my dreamscape,
my escape, my friend.

Sometimes a technician has to come and tune or replace a pad here, a hinge there. I make him a cappacino and we talk about amazing pianos that visit his shop. “The stories they tell me!” he exclaims as he gulps down the last of his drink. ‘See you in 6 months’ I see him out, shut the door and feel re-inspired by my instrument’s fresh tune-up. I know its story well. It began its life when I was little.

Now it is now part of me.
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1411938 - 04/06/10 01:25 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: trillingadventurer]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
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trillingadventurer, thumb (and where's the emoticon for shedding a little tear?)
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#1411966 - 04/06/10 02:57 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: currawong]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
trillingadventurer - that is unbelievably moving - it's fantastic writing, let alone being a powerful contribution to the conversation...... If I could memorise such a long piece of writing I would quote you everywhere I go......
_________________________
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Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1411996 - 04/06/10 05:04 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: trillingadventurer]
John_B Offline
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Registered: 01/17/10
Posts: 621
Loc: Bristol, UK
trillingadventurer,

What a wonderful, beautiful, moving, loving and inspiring post!

(By the way, your post reminded me of a really lovely book about one man's love afair with the piano: "The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier" by Thad Carhart. Very highly recommended indeed.)

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#1412021 - 04/06/10 06:51 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John_B]
Volusiano Offline
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Registered: 01/01/10
Posts: 770
What if volume control is the reason why the OP is considering a DP in the first place, although the OP can afford either an AP or a nice DP? I'm not saying it really is, just assuming hypothetically here for the sake of the question.

What if the OP has a volume control restriction (neighbor, not wanting to drive family crazy for practicing the same thing over a million times, want to practice at night, etc)? And if the OP follows the advice here and buys an AP but as a result has very limited practice time? And had the OP bought a nice DP, while not ideal for sound and feel, the OP can practice a lot more thanks to volume control? What is more important to a beginner student? Practice time at the expense of ideal touch and sound? Or ideal touch and sound at the expense of practice time? Keeping in mind that we're not talking about a crappy DP, but a nice, good DP here. Just not as nice as an AP.

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#1412025 - 04/06/10 07:10 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Volusiano]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Volusiano, the concerns you raise are addressed in the posts of substance above. A really good digital is a great choice in a lot of contexts, but it doesn't change the issues that those who practice on a digital piano but wish to play an acoustic piano will face as they develop..... Can you tell the difference between students who practice on a digital and an acoustic? Yes. Should you buy an acoustic piano if you only wish to practice between midnight and 2am and you live with neighbours on the other side of the wall? No.

It's like asking if poodles really are like labradors, and then saying, but I can only have a poodle because I'm allergic to other dogs. If you don't have a choice then this information is interesting but won't impact on your 'choice' (since you have none).
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1412071 - 04/06/10 09:01 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Elissa Milne]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11810
Loc: Canada
Quote:
If you don't have a choice then this information is interesting but won't impact on your 'choice' (since you have none).

It does have one impact - if you would like to produce something, knowing the limitations of your instrument can help - you don't go there. Example: My DP is especially poor for learning, though it can give an impressive "grand" effect at a distance. It does not sound until you have almost key bedded and the keys are especially heavy. I would probably strain myself trying to get ornaments past a certain point when the action is not doing what it ought to (heavy keys that have to descend too great a distance) so I concentrate on other things. Because I know the limitations of the instrument I can work realistically.

Quote:
It's like asking if poodles really are like labradors, and then saying, but I can only have a poodle because I'm allergic to other dogs.

My answer is that cats look cute when sleeping but I've never heard a goldfish snore.

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#1412072 - 04/06/10 09:03 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John_B]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7410
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: John_B
It would be a pity for the interesting discussion in this thread to be diverted into the usual cul-de-sac.

yawn


John, this discussion is something more on the order of hash and rehash. Every argument posted thus far has been made, ten times over, in previous threads. Only the posters are new. A little bit of diversion for flavor, please!
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#1412081 - 04/06/10 09:29 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Elissa Milne]
Syboor Offline
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Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 56
Loc: Amsterdam
I play mostly on a digital, and a few observations:

It is very important to keep the volume high. The speakers simply aren't good enough to produce good sound at low volume, you loose all the details. The salesperson sold my me current DP basically be demonstrating how terrible all the other DP's sound at 50% volume.

The way the keys resists you is different between a DP and an acoustic. With the acoustics I tried, there was an extra 'bump' of resistance just beyond the half-way point (so when the key is already half way down). With my digital, the resistance is pretty even throughout. I think that is actually very nice and predictable (if you play a DP a lot). But it makes it possible that when you pounce the key on the surface in a specific way, you give it enough momentum so that it will (very reliable) go down all the way the key bed. The same technique on a acoustic gives very unpredictable and uneven results.

My DP simulates sympathetic resonance up to the 5th harmonic. The abrupt cutoff at the 6th harmonic is a bit weird if you're specifically testing for it (ghosting notes), but I don't notice it when playing. The sympathetic resonance simualtion (which is not at all a standard feature on DP's yet) makes it possible for the pedal to create "colour", not just legato. Very nice. I haven't learned any advanced pedaling techniques such as half-pedal, and I can imagine that they would be difficult to learn on a DP. Even though the pedal is able to give a continuous (instead of an on-off) signal to the DP, I doubt that a sample-based DP can create very realistic effects from this signal (ie. it should take longer to damp the bass section than it takes to damp the treble section etc.).

I like to start lessons with a baroque/classical piece and do romantic pieces later in the lessons, when I've gotten used to the acoustic piano. I try to focus on the tactile / aural sensations when I play my first piece in the lesson, and somehow I often find myself playing better than at home (where I am often distracted / have memory lapses).

The DP has certain advantages. The harpsichord sound (and lack of dynamics when using it) is very useful, to learn "other" ways to bring out different voices. My teacher guessed correctly that I had been using it to practice my little prelude. The DP makes it very easy to record yourself and play along with your recording, and I use this a lot when learning new repertoire.

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#1412400 - 04/06/10 05:38 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
John_B Offline
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Registered: 01/17/10
Posts: 621
Loc: Bristol, UK
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
John, this discussion is something more on the order of hash and rehash. Every argument posted thus far has been made, ten times over, in previous threads. Only the posters are new. A little bit of diversion for flavor, please!


John, I take your point.

I've only been a member of PW for a few months so hadn't realised that the topic had been done to death countless times before (though it is predictable once you think about it). Your views and those of the other teachers who participate here are always very valuable.

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#1412415 - 04/06/10 05:47 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John_B]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: John_B
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
John, this discussion is something more on the order of hash and rehash. Every argument posted thus far has been made, ten times over, in previous threads. Only the posters are new. A little bit of diversion for flavor, please!


John, I take your point.

I've only been a member of PW for a few months so hadn't realised that the topic had been done to death countless times before (though it is predictable once you think about it). Your views and those of the other teachers who participate here are always very valuable.
Isn't that the difference between a forum and a reference? The same topics will be discussed by different people as time goes on.... The responsibility of a thread is surely to the OP?
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1412569 - 04/06/10 09:38 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Elissa Milne]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7410
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Oh, please understand, I don't mind the recycling of topics. I was just smarting a bit at being chastised (very mildly, BTW) for adding a little humor and spice to the topic.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1412583 - 04/06/10 10:03 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: trillingadventurer]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: trillingadventurer

"When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you've become real." From The Velveteen Rabbit

Perhaps it is the warmth of the wood that draws me in.
Or the fact that it is my personal blood and bones physics that will bring out
a raw and vibrant chord
a whispering and breathy phrase
an ethereal and sustaining chime.

My parents purchased a jet black Kawaii upright when I was 7.
It took 3 strong men to move the giant thing into our living room.
It was shiny, smooth and somehow emitted a feeling of excitement
even danger. Afterall, one could smash their hands underneath the hinged fallboard.

For 7 years I played with it. No lessons. I ran my hands up and down the sturdy ivory keys. I learned some of Fur Elise by ear. (Horrible fingering I'm sure). For 7 years I visited the Kawaii and enjoyed it fully. And suddenly, severely at 14 I needed lessons. I dove into the instrument and learned to tame my wild hands, my anxious teenage mind. I sat the phone on the floor next to the sound board and played my boyfriend part of The Moonlight Sonata. He had a piano too and played me some strange chords he made up at that moment. We didn't last but the Kawaii...

That piano my parents purchased….there was no such thing as a digital anything back then. Less choices meant a 7,000 dollar done deal on a young hard working Engineer’s income. Neither of my parents were musicians but they seemed to know that having a piano seemed like a good thing to do. For them the decision was as serious as buying a car or a large appliance. There was no middle path…no “trying it out for awhile” to see if I liked it or was any good. They made an uncharacteristic leap of faith and to this day it still mystifies me. (In a good way.)

Yes, they bought that boxy, awkward, steely stringed leviathan and am I ever grateful they did.

My piano, my real acoustic
hammered and glued,
pressed and sculpted,
notched, chiseled, painted,
veneered and engraved piano is
my anchor,
my dreamscape,
my escape, my friend.

Sometimes a technician has to come and tune or replace a pad here, a hinge there. I make him a cappacino and we talk about amazing pianos that visit his shop. “The stories they tell me!” he exclaims as he gulps down the last of his drink. ‘See you in 6 months’ I see him out, shut the door and feel re-inspired by my instrument’s fresh tune-up. I know its story well. It began its life when I was little.

Now it is now part of me.



My friend, this is a very inspiring and real to the heart essay on your relationship to your piano and your whole musical life as it has developed in the arts and in teaching!

I almost missed your richness and I'm so glad I came back to read more today as you hold the "pearl of wisdom" for the day.

Have you thought of writing and journaling more? In your spare time, of course! I was concerned for you during the earthquake in Mexico the other day and hope all is well with you. I liked your April Fool joke! (f/b) But, didn't take it as such immediately. Took me a while to catch on to it. I "hooted" with laughter when I realized the joke!

Take care and thank you so much for sharing your rhapsody about your love of your instrument.

Betty

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#1412599 - 04/06/10 10:32 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Betty Patnude]
MarcoM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 246
I don't think one can paint all 'digital' students with the same brush. Do you think somebody playing on a semi-weighed 'big box store special' keyboard with no velocity layers is comparable to somebody playing on a high end digital piano like the HP-307, or to somebody else playing on a Yamaha Avant Grand N2/N3?

And can you compare somebody playing at home on an out of regulation turn of the century upright to somebody on a solid U2 to somebody else that has access to a 7' grand?

In this day & age I would think that a good teacher would need to have at least a passable level of understanding of digital pianos and how to set them up so that they would hinder the student the least amount (right velocity curve and volume at a minimum), as much as of course the easy answer is always 'buy an acoustic grand piano and keep it in tip-top shape' by reading some posts here it seems that unless one has access to one they will never be able to learn to play.

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#1412628 - 04/06/10 11:24 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: MarcoM]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7410
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Marco, as far as I can ascertain, most of the piano teachers here either have an electric, or have plenty of experience playing one. And that may be the very reason we emphasize the need for a "real" piano for students.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1412890 - 04/07/10 12:34 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
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Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
I'm an adult student with a high-end Roland DP. I've had it for 5 years (it was light years ahead of my Casio keyboard!!). I do love my ability to play with headphones on but now that I'm late(ish) intermediate, the ONLY practicing that is satisfying on my DP are some technical exercisess, the beginning stages of learning a new piece, sightreading and using the software that I can connect to with my midi cables. I practice at least 2/3 of my time on an acoustic and can say with confidence that if you aspire to reach beyond an intermediate level, you will definitely want an acoustic. (I know my teacher will also be THRILLED when I get one.)
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#1413082 - 04/07/10 04:36 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Ben Crosland]
JimF Offline
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Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1819
Loc: south florida
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland
I would like to ask those who have actual experience of taking on students who, up until that point, were practising exclusively on a digital, and were then given the opportunity to practise on an acoustic - approximately how long did it take for them to make up the technical shortfall?


I am also interested in the answer to Ben's question. Specifically, I started out on a cheap keyboard a year ago, upgraded to a high end digital last November, and started 1 hour weekly lessons on my teacher's acoustic grand on Jan 1, 2010. I seem to have most of the symptoms described by the teachers on this thread when playing on the teacher's grand - trouble controlling dynamics, and a certain uneven quality in tones produced that I attribute to the different feel of the accoustic. The latest shortcoming to arise is in pedalling, where my digital is very forgiving if I do a complete abrubt lift off the pedal, whereas the acoustic will give a giant CLUMP if I don't do it properly.

I practice very diligently one to two hours daily and it makes me sick to think that I am baking in bad technique that will have to be unlearned.

So, I would be very interested in knowing your opinions on how long it will take to correct this growing list of technical problems once I have left the digital behind. I understand it will vary for every individual, but isn't there something you can offer as to how hard it will be to make corrections? For discussion maybe we could assume I will move to an acoustic a year from now.

Thanks for your input.

Jim
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#1413465 - 04/08/10 09:06 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: MarcoM]
John_B Offline
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Registered: 01/17/10
Posts: 621
Loc: Bristol, UK
Originally Posted By: MarcoM
In this day & age I would think that a good teacher would need to have at least a passable level of understanding of digital pianos and how to set them up so that they would hinder the student the least amount (right velocity curve and volume at a minimum)...


It's my belief that playing with the volume control set low, rather than at a level comparable to an acoustic piano, is one of the causes of the restricted dynamic range and lumpy phrasing that various teachers have said afflicts most people who play solely on DPs.

(Of course the reason some people use DPs is so they can play at lowish volumes.)

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#1413476 - 04/08/10 09:27 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: JimF]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7410
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: JimF
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland
I would like to ask those who have actual experience of taking on students who, up until that point, were practising exclusively on a digital, and were then given the opportunity to practise on an acoustic - approximately how long did it take for them to make up the technical shortfall?


I am also interested in the answer to Ben's question.


Jim, over the years, I've taken on a number of students who had electronics. Looking back, the most advanced of them was working on a Chopin Ballade. I never had the opportunity to transfer her to a piano, as she moved, but in general, her progress seemed stymied. I can't blame it totally on the electric keyboard, however, because even though at her lesson, we would solve problems, it's impossible to know what she could have achieved practicing on a piano.

A few students have started with me using electrics, but transitioned to a piano within a year, or have quit when they outgrew the keyboard and parents didn't want to spend the money investing in a piano.

I currently have one early intermediate level student using a keyboard for practice at home (my keyboard, actually) and progress is satisfactory, but not great. There are other issues involved, however. So again, it's hard to know what she would do with a piano in a proper practice environment.

John
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#1413629 - 04/08/10 02:34 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
JimF Offline
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Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1819
Loc: south florida
John,

Thanks for the response. I guess its best if I just promise myself to make the transition as soon as possible. (...gadzooks, sick I can't imagine what the quid pro quo for my wife vis-a-vis a grand piano will be...) cry

Until then, I guess I just have to work extra hard to sidestep or minimize the weaknesses. I should bring this up with my teacher.

Jim
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#1413645 - 04/08/10 03:01 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: JimF]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Go to www.montparker.com and find some of the music Carol Montparker plays on her site. She is a Steinway artist and a long term piano teacher of master class proportions, Carnegie Hall performances, she's an artist and an author.

If you hear real artistry at the acoustic piano, you realize that a digital does not work for a true artist. Digitals work well for those in the entertainment area, many being portable, able to record, compose on and have computer storage and printing, play with rhythms and interesting voices not only piano sound. The low cost of small digitals are an eager purchase for people wanting to spend the minimum investment while seeing if their children will have "fun" at the piano or not.

Digitals have a certain life span for a pianist who plays with great musicianship skills, technique and artistry, and especially anyone with a passion for classical music.

I have both with my new purchase of a digital solely for the computer and software with which to compose.

The money I spent in 1981 for a Yamaha U1 for teaching purposes and my only piano has proven itself over and over because I've only had annual tunings and never any maintenance other than tuning. I love my Yamaha U1.

The majority of inquiries I receive have small digitals and their ability at the piano has a lid to it at some point. But, a student might be perfectly happy at that point and not seek further instruction. If the student goes on in piano study the acoustic piano ownership requires different touches than the minimal needed to play a digital.

It's like aspiring to be a ballerina: you have soft ballet slippers until you get the toe shoes. On your toes elevates you to a new dimension of ballet. Similar analogy of digital to acoustic piano.


Edited by Betty Patnude (04/08/10 03:06 PM)

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#1414068 - 04/09/10 08:13 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Bunneh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 399
Loc: Berlin
As a student myself, I think buying a high-quality digital and then after a year or two moving on to a Grand, while keeping the digital out of respect for the significant other and for night-time practice and technical exercises - and also so you constantly play on 3 different instruments! - is a perfectly viable, even clever, way of doing things.

Would anyone disagree? If so, why?
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#1414109 - 04/09/10 10:00 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Bunneh]
cinstance Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 104
My son started (when he was 6 1/2) with a Roland digital piano for one and a half years. We upgraded to a Kawai RX-3 two months ago because he had outgrown the digital piano. "outgrow" here means the digital can no longer meets the teacher's requirements such as producing tone color, pedal practice, and producing consistent dynamics when switching to an acoustic for performance.

After the upgrade, my son found out that he could play a trill with faster speed and easier with the acoustic upon the first try, and he really begun to experiment with different touches and listen to the tone rather than satisfying with just playing the notes right like he were with the digital before. The transformation from digital to acoustic is not hard at all for a little boy, but I can feel how different his playing is now from two months ago.

My view is that a good digital piano might be OK for a young beginner, but it would be better to start with an acoustic to avoid the unnecessary transition later.

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#1414114 - 04/09/10 10:12 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: cinstance]
LisztAddict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: Florida
Can you tell that this person does a large portion of his practice on a DP?

http://www.youtube.com/user/doowlehc#p/u/10/xMf4bGvjbwQ

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#1414115 - 04/09/10 10:14 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Bunneh]
dumdumdiddle Offline
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1267
Loc: California
I have some students who have portable keyboards, some who practice on digitals, some who have acoustic pianos. I would say that at least half of the students who own acoustic pianos should ditch them, as they would be better off with a digital piano.

If you're comparing playing on a digital to a GOOD acoustic piano, then yes, I would always recommend the acoustic. However, in the real world, most parents will NOT pay the serious $$ needed for a good acoustic. Instead, they find a 'steal' in the newspaper or maybe they inherited Grandma's piano. Many older models have horrible action (much like the 'highly-hated' keyboards) and are out of tune. In such cases, is an acoustic better than a digital? No way.

I would love it if all of my students had a quality acoustic piano, but that's not real life.
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#1414231 - 04/09/10 01:37 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: cinstance]
fe2008 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/09
Posts: 380
Loc: Brazil
Originally Posted By: cinstance
My son started (when he was 6 1/2) with a Roland digital piano for one and a half years. We upgraded to a Kawai RX-3 two months ago because he had outgrown the digital piano. "outgrow" here means the digital can no longer meets the teacher's requirements such as producing tone color, pedal practice, and producing consistent dynamics when switching to an acoustic for performance.

After the upgrade, my son found out that he could play a trill with faster speed and easier with the acoustic upon the first try, and he really begun to experiment with different touches and listen to the tone rather than satisfying with just playing the notes right like he were with the digital before. The transformation from digital to acoustic is not hard at all for a little boy, but I can feel how different his playing is now from two months ago.

My view is that a good digital piano might be OK for a young beginner, but it would be better to start with an acoustic to avoid the unnecessary transition later.


What's the roland piano model your son used to play?
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#1414240 - 04/09/10 01:45 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: fe2008]
cinstance Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 104
fe2008,

My son played on a Roland HP 203, it is probably very similar to your CLP 330.

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#1414263 - 04/09/10 02:24 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: cinstance]
cinstance Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 104
B.T.W., we didn't make the upgrade until we changed from my son's first teacher, whom we truly loved and thanked, to his current teacher, a most expensive one in the town if it does make a difference to mention smile.

We were not that convinced by my son's first teacher to upgrade, because her main point opposing the DP is its light action. We tried a lot of acoustic pianos in the stores and find many of their actions are not noticeably heavier or better than the Roland DP. On the other hand, the sweet hamburg Steinway sound of the Roland HP 203 outperformed probably more than half of the acoustic pianos we tried.

Not until my son's new teacher, showed us her tremendous skills in creating numerous color tones from her rebuilt 1893 Steinway B, and to a less extent my son could also do it on the same piano, we begun to understand we can not wait any more.

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#1414284 - 04/09/10 03:07 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: LisztAddict]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7410
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: LisztAddict
Can you tell that this person does a large portion of his practice on a DP?

http://www.youtube.com/user/doowlehc#p/u/10/xMf4bGvjbwQ


The bear baiting not withstanding, you might consider that a person who can competently play on a piano should have little trouble using a keyboard. It's the reverse being discussed here.
_________________________
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#1414893 - 04/10/10 05:47 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
I have some students who have portable keyboards, some who practice on digitals, some who have acoustic pianos. I would say that at least half of the students who own acoustic pianos should ditch them, as they would be better off with a digital piano.

This parallels my own experience as a teacher.
Quote:

If you're comparing playing on a digital to a GOOD acoustic piano, then yes, I would always recommend the acoustic. However, in the real world, most parents will NOT pay the serious $$ needed for a good acoustic.

That also matches my experience.
Quote:

Instead, they find a 'steal' in the newspaper or maybe they inherited Grandma's piano. Many older models have horrible action (much like the 'highly-hated' keyboards) and are out of tune. In such cases, is an acoustic better than a digital? No way.

It's worse. I have students whose parents have bought new pianos, but the pianos are horrible. For the most part, parents do as they please, and tops on their list is how the piano will match the rest of their furniture. And after they get pianos, they won't tune them. They won't have a technician keep them in regulation.
Quote:

I would love it if all of my students had a quality acoustic piano, but that's not real life.

It's not real life where I live. My students have to earn better instruments by proving to their parents that they are serious, by becoming good enough players so that the difference is AUDIBLE to the parents. I didn't get a good upright until I was in my teens. A grand was out of the question. Even playing on a good one was a rare treat.

And as I have repeatedly said, once I did have grands to practice and perform on, I could not stand to play on uprights. No one seems to agree with me, but I loathe them.
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#1414902 - 04/10/10 06:08 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7410
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
It's not real life where I live. My students have to earn better instruments by proving to their parents that they are serious, by becoming good enough players so that the difference is AUDIBLE to the parents.

That's interesting. Most of my parents couldn't hear the difference between an electric and acoustical if their lives depended on it. The students, however, are another question.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
And as I have repeatedly said, once I did have grands to practice and perform on, I could not stand to play on uprights. No one seems to agree with me, but I loathe them.

There's no question that for a well trained pianist, there is a very noticeable difference between grands and uprights. But loathing just seems a bit strong!

Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
I would love it if all of my students had a quality acoustic piano, but that's not real life.

My life observations are that people buy pretty much what they want, regardless of income strata (not talking the uber rich here).
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#1415162 - 04/11/10 09:23 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: IramChZ]
Teodor Offline
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Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
What about people like me who practice daily on a poorly regulated upright acoustic piano? Is it still better than practicing on a digital such as Yamaha P140?
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#1420963 - 04/21/10 12:40 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Teodor]
elfenbein Offline
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Registered: 03/30/10
Posts: 45
Loc: USA
My husband and I like to look at houses (for sale), out of curiosity, not because we are looking to move. One particular one was a McMansion, fancy, bombastic, everything screamed "we are rich and we are not afraid to show it!" In the basement family room was a baby grand, couldn't have been more than 4 and a half feet long. Lid closed, the whole thing shoved into a corner. My husband thinks it came with the McMansion kit ...
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#1421006 - 04/21/10 02:15 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Minaku]
tdow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Canada
We always tell parents that, if the choice has to be made, a good digital piano is a better choice than a horrible "off Noah's arc" acoustic. Of course acoustic pianos are the preference if they are a quality piano.

Few beginning piano students are fortunate enough to have a family that can afford the optimal instrument (and few parents are willing to invest without first knowing ifthe piano will be a long-term interest for their children). We've found digital pianos are a great alternative to having students practice on awful keyboards or old, out of tune and broken acoustics. They're certainly the lesser of two evils! Once their children are hooked on the piano, parents have been happy to sell their digital (they hold their value pretty well!) and upgrade to a good acoustic. We view them as a very solid stepping stone.
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#1421833 - 04/22/10 03:51 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Minaku]
Smallpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/10
Posts: 270
Loc: California
When I was 18-19 years old, I moved away from my parents and live by myself in another city. In my tiny room that I share with another lady, I can't fit my piano in there and I end up buying a digital piano (88 keys,weighted) (not a keyboard) and practice on it while taking lesson from a teacher in town. After one year, somehow, during conversation, my teacher realized that I only practice on a digital piano, she was SO SURPRISE! She even ran to her husband (also a very good concert pianist in town) and tell her husband that:"I can't believe she is only playing on a digital piano at home all these months"
I think either she cannot really tell the difference or I able to adjust to both digital and acoustic?


Addition after edit:
I practice on acoustic piano since my childhood at my parent's home, and I might already develop my fingers muscle on that. Only those two years that I don't have access to a real piano, and I had only a digital piano. I think that is why she is not able to tell. Guess what, I pass my ABRSM Grade 8 with flying colors with that digital piano that I had for two years.
Anyway, I always encourage the parents in my studio to buy an acoustic piano if they can afford one, or otherwise I can accept a digital piano up to 1 year of piano studies.


Edited by small piano (04/22/10 04:02 AM)
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#1422508 - 04/23/10 07:27 AM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Smallpiano]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
small piano, I think that's exactly it - you started and continued for years to practice on an acoustic piano... I too had only a digital for a couple of years, and it did me no substantial harm, but I was already a pianist with 12 years of playing (as well as some diplomas) behind me, and access to acoustic pianos at least once a week...

This discussion is about people genuinely 'learning' to play the piano from scratch using a digital keyboard/piano.....
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#1422712 - 04/23/10 02:16 PM Re: Digital/acoustic students - Can you tell the difference? [Re: Elissa Milne]
Smallpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/10
Posts: 270
Loc: California
Agree with you Elissa Milne!
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