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#2425448 - 05/27/15 11:26 AM Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano?
viettube22 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 16
Could you pls help me?

I am looking for a digital piano for my child, who started learning piano a few months ago.

However, my mother thinks that a six-year-old child, who starts learning piano, should not use a digital piano yet. Some likely reasons:

- The sound is not good enough. I think many have already debated this topic. Personally I think the sound is no longer a problem.

- There are too many features in a digital piano: too many sounds, midi, too many buttons. These may distract a child, especially if he is a beginner. Perhaps when he is in Grade 4 or above, a digital piano is good, but not now.

What do you think about the second point?

Thank you

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#2425454 - 05/27/15 11:35 AM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
Cue Zephyr Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/15
Posts: 47
Loc: Eindhoven, Netherlands
Sound isn't a problem. I found the Yamaha DPs to have great sound for built-in speakers. Not surprising, they get good sound out of the very small speakers that are in a Yamaha THR10 portable guitar amplifier.

There are quite some features in most even basic DPs, but there's few buttons and much of the features require some button combinations to access them. Having said that, there's a few features that may be useful to a beginner for practice etc.
_________________________
Guitar, mandolin and banjo player, hobbyist producer.

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#2425463 - 05/27/15 11:46 AM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
MacMacMac Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 4100
Loc: North Carolina
In a digital piano, sound is a problem for anyone with skill. But for a beginner, not so much.

But touch is a problem at all levels of skill. A digital piano is very unlike an acoustic. Skills learned on a digital must be unlearned on an acoustic ... if the goal is to reach a high level of skill.

Does your beginner expect to attain a masterful level? If so, he'll need an acoustic piano before long.

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#2425468 - 05/27/15 11:52 AM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
JazzPianoOnline Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 111
Loc: raleigh, nc
Digital pianos today have excellent sound and the actions are quite sophisticated and, i believe, superior to older uprights which are common for parents of young beginners to start on.

if you get a digital, avoid the slab models and get one that is on a stand that comes with a bench (like the Yamaha CLP 500s). the reasoning is that the keyboard/bench is perfectly set up for good posture so your child won't get into bad habits if, for instance, you have a slab keyboard on a kitchen table where hand/foot/body position will be out of whack.

good point about the distraction aspect of the various voices and other features. i always thought that those features would help engage kids but you can certainly look at it from both points of view.
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#2425472 - 05/27/15 12:11 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
viettube22 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 16
Thanks a lot. Your replies so far make me think I should not buy a digital piano yet.

I live in the UK. Do you think £3,000 can buy an old upright piano that is really good and can last many years?

Regards,

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#2425478 - 05/27/15 12:22 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
bennevis Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 6256
Originally Posted By viettube22

However, my mother thinks that a six-year-old child, who starts learning piano, should not use a digital piano yet. Some likely reasons:

- The sound is not good enough. I think many have already debated this topic. Personally I think the sound is no longer a problem.

- There are too many features in a digital piano: too many sounds, midi, too many buttons. These may distract a child, especially if he is a beginner. Perhaps when he is in Grade 4 or above, a digital piano is good, but not now.

If it's a child learning piano, I believe that an acoustic will be better. If there's no problem with space or neighbours, there's really no reason to prefer a digital over an acoustic.

And I speak (or rather, write grin) as one whose piano is a digital, and has never owned anything else. I've seen how many people who learnt exclusively on digitals never develop the requisite control of dynamics and tone - they just thump all the time - because they play their digitals at unrealistically low volumes. Which means that they never develop the control to vary their touch and play softly - they thump on digitals because they can. Doing the same on an acoustic would soon deafen them.

And children will almost certainly play with the controls - especially the volume control - even more so than adults. I've also seen parents who tell their children to turn down the volume, because they're too 'loud' and 'noisy', compounding the problem. A child playing an acoustic will just have to learn to control his touch; a child on a digital just twiddles a dial.

Last but not least, as you've said, all those dials, levers, knobs, switches and colourful flashing lights are just an invitation to a techno-savvy child to play with them rather than practise........
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2425484 - 05/27/15 12:33 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
bennevis Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 6256
Originally Posted By viettube22


I live in the UK. Do you think £3,000 can buy an old upright piano that is really good and can last many years?


Definitely.

You can even buy a decent new one for that. Have a look at Pianist magazine, which has regular reviews of pianos as well as lots of advice for pianists, from beginners to advanced, plus several pages of music scores to play from: www.pianistmagazine.com
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2425492 - 05/27/15 12:49 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
viettube22 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 16
Thank you again. So it seems I should spend my time looking at upright pianos instead.

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#2425519 - 05/27/15 01:49 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
Bachus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/29/15
Posts: 61
I dont think there are many upright acoustic pianos under 10k that can compete with a Kawai MP11, it got better keyfeel then most of them and several great piano sounds.. And top of all, your kids can excersise with a headset so you can keep on friendly standing with the neighbours...
_________________________
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#2425552 - 05/27/15 02:16 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: Bachus]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2600
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By Bachus
I dont think there are many upright acoustic pianos under 10k that can compete with a Kawai MP11, it got better keyfeel then most of them and several great piano sounds.. And top of all, your kids can excersise with a headset so you can keep on friendly standing with the neighbours...

Way off IMHO, you can't have played many 'quality' uprights. For me the K500 beats anything digital for piano, and you could arguably include even the old workhorse U1 as better; the K500 beats many a baby grand. ... and I say this as a digital fanboy. You really need to get out more. smile
OP was using £.


Edited by spanishbuddha (05/27/15 02:18 PM)

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#2425574 - 05/27/15 02:36 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
ElmerJFudd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 484
If space is available, neighbors and noise not a concern, and you want the student to learn to play the piano - a new upright or well maintained upright from Kawai or Yamaha (and others if you do your research - check the acoustic forum here) would of course still be preferable to a digital piano. Access to a good teacher is just as important.

On the other hand, economics have brought very playable digital instruments within the reach of families who cannot afford a decent acoustic upright. Space and noise is no longer a concern, or the cost of maintenance and tuning. In todays world I have a lot more families that opt for the digital alternative and I do not turn them away. These kids are learning to play and making music has become a life enriching part of their education. Will we see concert pianists spring up from the current crop of students that began their lessons on digital instruments? Only time will tell. But I suspect passion and desire are always the drive. For surely some wonderful pianists began their lessons on some pretty lousy upright pianos.


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#2425648 - 05/27/15 03:58 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
phunqe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/21/14
Posts: 65
If you don't have wall to wall neighbors an upright is always a good bet.
Otherwise I would take a look at the already mentioned Kawai MP11 (if budget allows).

I agree that the action needs to be up to par with an acoustic and the MP11 fits that bill. I am not saying it's exactly the same, but from my experience with pianos I don't think your child would have any issues going to a real piano if learning on the MP11.
There's other advantages to a digital one as well, you might see all the buttons and functions as distractions, but they can also nurture and spark creativity.

Being able to use headphones is also a plus in my opinion. If your child is very keen and creative you might think it "cute" to listen to it for 5 hours straight now, but check back later on and tell if you feel the same way smile


Edited by phunqe (05/27/15 04:00 PM)

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#2425659 - 05/27/15 04:10 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
phunqe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/21/14
Posts: 65
To finish my ramblings; I understand your concern regarding the fact that your child is only 6 year's old and the learning of piano theory and practice should be the focus.
Ultimately only you can take into account everything, being the parent and knowing your child's traits and personality smile

Good luck.


Edited by phunqe (05/27/15 04:16 PM)

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#2425660 - 05/27/15 04:17 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: ElmerJFudd]
bennevis Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 6256
Originally Posted By ElmerJFudd
Will we see concert pianists spring up from the current crop of students that began their lessons on digital instruments? Only time will tell. But I suspect passion and desire are always the drive. For surely some wonderful pianists began their lessons on some pretty lousy upright pianos.


Lang Lang practised on a cheap Chinese-made upright (much worse than anything we can buy today for £3000) for most of his childhood. He didn't do too badly, I hear wink .

But it was still an acoustic, and he was able to develop his touch and tone, and keyboard control, on it. Under the scrutiny of his parents.

A child playing a digital with headphones (as someone recommended) could be practising Chopsticks with all the wrong notes in the wrong order, and his parents would be none the wiser......
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2425664 - 05/27/15 04:25 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
ElmerJFudd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 484
Indeed, indeed. I'm not Lang Lang by any stretch, but I learned on a piece o' ____. At some point my parents were able to get a second hand Everett, very common in the north east, school piano model. Something like this,

And I played that throughout high school before university where they had much better pianos. Ha ha

I am thinking a gently used K500 or U1 is still in the $7000 area?

For families that have the space and enjoy the sound of practice, I always recommend they give PianoAdoption.com a shot. With a little digging, some healthy nephews and a pickup truck - free is always a good price, and with a little luck, it still holds tune. Done.

But again, the reality is becoming that these refurbish-able pianos are winding up in the trash, especially the ones near 100 years old. They don't hold tune anymore, the sound boards are cracked, everything is worn and its too much to invest in. Where an acoustic is not possible, the digital is better than nothing - actually in some cases, much better.

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#2425672 - 05/27/15 04:35 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
Springmissy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/11/15
Posts: 6
Loc: Greece
I would get him or her a digital. When I used to practise the piano as a child I used to find people's - my parents mostly, comments about my playing really annoying, even if they were positive comments. I would have got on a lot better if I could have practised in true privacy and at any time of the day or evening - with headphones on. Also I think £3000 is a huge amount of money to spend on an instrument for a child. What if he gives up after a year or so. I now have a new digital piano a Casio Privia and it's brilliant. I love being able to practise and learn new songs without disturbing other people or the noise inviting my kids to come along and tell me how bored they are of hearing that!

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#2425677 - 05/27/15 04:51 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
fizikisto Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 1051
Loc: Hernando, MS
6 year old children are often smarter and more self aware than we give them credit for. Have you talked about tis with your child? Maybe take them to a store that has both digital and acoustic pianos in your price range and let him see if there are any that he really likes. He's the one that's going to be playing it after all.
_________________________
Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800

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#2425679 - 05/27/15 05:04 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: fizikisto]
bennevis Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 6256
Originally Posted By fizikisto
6 year old children are often smarter and more self aware than we give them credit for. Have you talked about tis with your child? Maybe take them to a store that has both digital and acoustic pianos in your price range and let him see if there are any that he really likes. He's the one that's going to be playing it after all.

Is there any child who would pick a drab black & white wood & metal behemoth over an all-singing, all-dancing, all-flashing, multicolored gizmo that looks like something from Star Wars?

Just like, is there a kid who prefers an ancient iPod Classic that can only play music over the iPhone 8 (or whatever number it's now got to)?
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2425704 - 05/27/15 06:01 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
Lester Burnham Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/13
Posts: 498
Let's be honest - at the age of 6, and for the first few years of piano exams, realistically it's not going to make a blind bit of difference, if a competent digital piano is used, as opposed to an acoustic.

Some of the acoustics I had to play on, and take exams on, in my childhood were ropey old things that had neither inspiring acoustics or great touch. Several of them had a touch that felt like you were changing gear in an old van and stirring porridge with the gear-stick.

As to the choice of the child - well whatever keeps them motivated and enjoying it - in the assumption that they're not going to be ruled with a rod of iron and forced to do what the parent wants them to do. Music should be fun - perhaps not solely fun, but not bereft of it, either.

So long as they're putting in the right amount of time and effort at what they should be doing, wouldn't it be of benefit if they found other things they enjoyed, even if off-curriculum.

Honestly, some times I'm taken aback by this place - the majority of answers are nearly always with this foisted ivory-tower nonsense.

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#2425706 - 05/27/15 06:02 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
MacMacMac Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 4100
Loc: North Carolina
So why contribute more nonsense to the nonsense? smile

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#2425714 - 05/27/15 06:08 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
David Farley Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/13
Posts: 621
Loc: Illinois
If you're actually considering an MP11 keep in mind you'll need speakers. The MP11 is a stage piano.

But I really think you could find a more decent digital console model from Kawai, Casio, Roland, Yamaha, etc. There are plenty of options.

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#2425717 - 05/27/15 06:13 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: MacMacMac]
Lester Burnham Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/13
Posts: 498
Originally Posted By MacMacMac
So why contribute more nonsense to the nonsense? smile

Because everything is tinged with this sort of unrealism.

Like digitals are all inadequate and acoustics are the one chosen piano and without them you'll never amount to anything. It's complete and utter tosh, and seventeenthly hugely presumptious that the values and priorities of some are automatically the position of the subject.

In my childhood I was taught for 10 years, and followed the ABRSM exams, and yes, I had a true acoustic piano to learn and practice on - it was decent, and my parents always paid to have it regularly tuned. But there's not ONE piano either belonging to my teachers, or the ones I took exams on, or ones I played at school, that I'd describe as inspiring.

Most of them felt or sound a bit poor to be honest - the odd one sounded or played decently - but more the exception than the rule.

Fast forward around 30 years, and have the acoustic pianos around magically become superior to what they were?

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#2425728 - 05/27/15 06:36 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
maurus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/11
Posts: 982
Ideally, everyone should learn the piano on the real thing, no doubt about it. And with a good teacher. For learning the piano, a digital is always a compromise, and often not a good one. I don't accept the argument that a wall to a neighbour alone should point you to a digital.

Among other things I am saying this as a parent of a daughter who began to practice some of her time on a digital piano, and some of her time on an acoustic piano. The amount of difference it made to her was unexpected and striking. After a few months she was refusing to practice on the digital. (A few years later, she still plays the DP, NOT for practicing however, but for experimenting with sounds etc.)

That said, there are some good and fully convincing reasons for using digital pianos. But none of them has to do with the wish to learn the piano. It is also true that practicing on a good (!) digital piano can get you somewhere. But still it is a compromise and if you can avoid it, do so.

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#2425733 - 05/27/15 06:42 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: maurus]
Lester Burnham Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/13
Posts: 498
Originally Posted By maurus
Ideally, everyone should learn the piano on the real thing, no doubt about it. And with a good teacher. For learning the piano, a digital is always a compromise, and often not a good one. I don't accept the argument that a wall to a neighbour alone should point you to a digital.

Among other things I am saying this as a parent of a daughter who began to practice some of her time on a digital piano, and some of her time on an acoustic piano. The amount of difference it made to her was unexpected and striking. After a few months she was refusing to practice on the digital. (A few years later, she still plays the DP, NOT for practicing however, but for experimenting with sounds etc.)

That said, there are some good and fully convincing reasons for using digital pianos. But none of them has to do with the wish to learn the piano. It is also true that practicing on a good (!) digital piano can get you somewhere. But still it is a compromise and if you can avoid it, do so.

And I'll not deny that there are some compromises in both choices.

But the position argued is that digital pianos:flawed, acoustic pianos:ideal.

Problem is, there's plenty of acoustic pianos out there, that people will encounter - perhaps have to play / perform on, that are pretty ropey, uninspiring - and maybe nothing more than adequate.

And that - right there - is where the most common argument on superiority of acoustics vs digitals falls down - and it does fall down in the real world, outisde of internet forums, where people can foist their own perception of reality as universal.

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#2425736 - 05/27/15 06:56 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
ElmerJFudd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 484
Hopefully wrapping things up for the original poster, viettube22, whose kid is 6.

As you can see there is some debate over wether its better to start your child off on an acoustic or digital piano. Honestly, your kid is 6. Picking an inspiring teacher will be the most important part. Helping him/her to make practice a regular part of his/her day is your part. And finding ways to reward and build desire is everyone's part. Start him/her on an affordable instrument - be it an attainable acoustic or a digital. If there is promise there, you will know within a year or two if it's starting to stick. When the time comes, upgrade to something better and find another family in the same conundrum to take your starter instrument off your hands. You'll be in the same position to sell if it doesn't take and your child moves on to something else.

I think that's pretty solid advice, and a pretty common and safe path.

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#2425737 - 05/27/15 07:00 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
maurus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/11
Posts: 982
The real world is full of compromises. Some are better than others. As long as a piano holds a tuning and has a halfway properly functioning action it is far above most digitals *for learning to play the piano*.

For those having learned to play years ago the question of which compromises to prefer is a very different one.

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#2425741 - 05/27/15 07:17 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
viettube22 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 16
I really appreciate all your kind replies. After reading all the comments, I feel that I should go for an upright piano. To me, a digital piano may be a distraction for a child, although I believe it can be a wonderful instrument when one gets older. I really wish someday I can buy one.

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#2425753 - 05/27/15 07:53 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
fizikisto Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 1051
Loc: Hernando, MS
viettube22
If you purchase the piano used, be sure to hire a technician to check it out for you before you make the final purchase. There may be problems internally that a technician would be able to spot and warn you about. In terms of picking the actual piano, you might ask that your child's teacher accompany you to check out the ones you're considering. The teacher can check the playability of the piano, and you will be able to hear how it sounds when it's being played.

Good Luck with your purchase!
_________________________
Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800

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#2425756 - 05/27/15 07:59 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
Kawai James Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 10561
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By viettube22
However, my mother thinks that a six-year-old child, who starts learning piano, should not use a digital piano yet.


May I ask, is your mother a proficient pianist? If so, what kind of experience does she have playing modern digital pianos?

I would argue that an entry-to-mid level digital piano from one of the major manufactures will be suitable for a 6 year old beginner. For example:

- Roland RP401
- Kawai CN25
- Yamaha CLP-525
- Casio AP-250

If the student shows promise and develops rapidly (and funds/location allow), it may be worthwhile purchasing a entry-to-mid level upright piano to complement the digital.

I would also suggest asking your daughter's teacher if he/she would be willing to accompany you to a digital piano store to play-test the above instruments (and others) and provide recommendations.

Best of luck with your decision, and for your daughter's piano development.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2425764 - 05/27/15 08:27 PM Re: Should a child begin his lessons on a digital piano? [Re: viettube22]
Pedro_Henrique Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/12
Posts: 77
Loc: Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, B...
Guys, y'all have to remember that a perfect pitch only comes in childhood. So not at all, a good digital it's not bad, and it's even better than a cr***y acoustic out of tune.

Ok, and about technique, with a good teacher, the kid will develop a good technique. The only thing you have to have in mind is... keep your child trainning the ear as early as possible. It's FUNDAMENTAL. And find a good digital. If you buy an acoustic, keep it in tune ALWAYS. Don't let it get out of tune.
_________________________
"But its got a crap keyboard action Dave ... no amount of great sounds help that."
Dr. Popper

Piano Student at University of São Paulo - Ribeirão Preto
Piano Pedagogy and Peformance Student at Music Department of FFCLRP - University of São Paulo


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