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#909534 - 01/05/03 09:53 PM Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
txranger Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 11
Loc: Houston, TX
Hi everyone,

Before I get started, this is a little long and if there have been previous posts that answer my questions (didn't find any in the first few pages), I will be happy to look them up. TIA.

My 8 year old is about to start piano lessons, offered in conjunction with the school. The program is MIDI accompaniment based and is supposed to be lots of fun.

1. Does anyone know anything about these types of programs? I was a very good trumpet player and the teachers seemed to say some good things.

2. The cost is about $300 for 3.5 months, student:teacher ratio of 6:1. Is this about right?

3. The digital pianos they are touting have FDDs and rent for $90 a month (which is the way we will probably start out to see if he likes it). The use the Roland KR-3 (purchase about $2600)

4. Growing up my sister took piano and we have a couple Baldwin uprights in the family. I found the Kawai pianos to have a much more realistic feel. CP110 is their lowest new model with a FDD. Does this matter? Can anyone make some comparisons with other models?

5. The used market here seems pretty lean, and I have no idea what models are what as they seem to change model numbers every year. Can anyone suggest anything?

What am I missing? What should I know that I don't? Any and all advice is welcome at this point.

Thanks.

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#909535 - 01/06/03 12:09 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
Dave S Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/03/02
Posts: 247
Loc: Houston TX
Though I think group keyboard lessons are not always a bad thing, I firmly believe they are not as effective as private lessons.

I also believe you should explore the option of a real piano in lieu of a digital keyboard. The keyboards are a lot of fun but ultimately they are not a piano in sound or touch.

I am pleased to hear that your child will be taking up lessons. If you decide that you would like a private instructor I would be happy to provide you a list of teachers in the Greater Houston area. Just give me a shout.
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Houston Piano Company- Houston, TX
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#909536 - 01/06/03 05:10 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
Briguy65 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 285
Loc: So California
I assume FDD means floppy disk drive. Is this feature necessary in your search for a piano, be it digital or acoustic? I know you can use it to record and playback music. But really, learning how to play is mostly doing it yourself. Although I'm sure a part is also listening to the song as played by someone who knows how it's supposed to sound.

Kawai acoustic pianos are very good, and I really like the touch on them - so I'm sure if you like their digital pianos you should get one. They do sound really good nowadays. Back in the 80s they never really approached the sound of an acoustic piano. Now it's pretty hard to tell, of course my ears aren't the best.

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#909537 - 01/06/03 09:19 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
txranger Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 11
Loc: Houston, TX
Thanks so far.

The floppy disk drive is essential to the learning process in this program. Stand alone Midi players with FDDs are expensive. And for an eight year old, I see the digital as the way to go for interest level and cost.

Dave, I know where your store is at, drive by often. I will qualify your answer with the fact your business sells pianos in a large, posh store in a high dollar area, and even if you sell digital, acoustic is much more expensive and probably equates to higher commissions and profits. I found the Kawai digital to have great sound and the feel was equivalent to a top piano, much better than a used Baldwin upright, for the same price (you are right about the feel of the Roland). Please convince me that you don't have a conflict of interest.

If there are equivalent digital pianos for less, or better quality for the same prices I am interested. Also, where to get the best deal.

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#909538 - 01/06/03 10:00 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10452
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
I think you will find that many posters here would agree with Dave.
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Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

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Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#909539 - 01/06/03 10:08 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14048
Loc: Louisiana
Dave doesn't have to convince you. Take a bit of time and read back through most of the old threads on beginner pianos. This bunch, taken as a whole, is pretty conservative towards the piano, and feel that the acoustic is the best way to go.

As for Forshey's - we have had an overexuberant salesperson from them on the board before, but it wasn't DaveS. The dealership is pretty well regarded in the piano world, and has been written up as one of Steinway's better dealers.

Yes, Forshey's has expensive pianos. But Forshey also handles less expensive lines as well. And until you walk in the door, and see for yourself, I don't understand how you can make a blanket statement about how high their profit margins are.

To address group lessons: I think they are good for learning some basic aspects of music. I feel that if the competitive enviorment is harnessed properly, it can be an advantage. At the end of the day, however, if your daughter aspires to be a pianist, an acoustic piano and private lessons are mandatory, IMO.
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#909540 - 01/06/03 10:32 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
txranger Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 11
Loc: Houston, TX
As an accomplished trumpet player, I took eight years of private lessons. 1:1 private lessons are a must, I agree, and we would go that way fairly quickly. I also certainly know the value of a quality instrument. However, as an 8th grader, I competed with and beat out senior HS players in a very competitive Jazz environment for 1st chair with a beginner trumpet. My parents were poor. A Bach Strad would have been a dream (and seems to be a standard at local HSs now), but not necessary to develop my love of the instrument. I was probably 15 before it made a real difference.

However, my child must learn to love the instrument, show talent and develop a commitment, before I will consider the possibility of becoming a concert pianist or paying $10k for a piano. Frankly, I don't have a desire for a piece of unused furniture. I am just hoping he likes it enough to keep going.

Just as $200 Adidas Predators (cleats) for a budding youth soccer player are a waste of money. They make no difference in the ability of an eight year old to develop skills over a $50 pair. I intend to avoid the cheap $25 pair, but don't see the value in the added cost.

Prove me wrong, please.

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#909541 - 01/06/03 11:03 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
i have no vested interest. and if your interest is in your child developing a love of the instrument, an acoustic piano is a must. there is no way to "prove" you wrong. this is a matter of opinion and values, based on experience and knowlege.

most of us learned instruments as children, too. one thing i learned as a child musician is there is no substitute for starting off with a good teacher and a good instrument. to do otherwise is to create bad habits and handicaps that cost the child a lot later on, and may ultimate kill the child's desire to play.

you are right that you don't need a $10K piano to start. but you can get a really decent console or studio vertical on the used market for far, far less. it will serve a young beginning pianist far better in the long run than a digital. unless of course, you want them to fall in love with the digital as an instrument. imho, a digital is a digital, not a piano.

reading the piano book by larry fine and reading the previous threads on this forum should help shape your decision as well.
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#909542 - 01/06/03 11:04 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
Stand alone Midi players with FDDs are expensive.
Hi TX,
You may have seen stand alone MIDI sequencers and not a MIDI file player. There's a significant difference between these two devices. Sequencers are built for recording AND playing music via MIDI and have elaborate editing capabilities. Sequencers also don't usually have a sound source built-in. If they did, they'd be quite pricey.

MIDI file players are just that -- they are devices that play MIDI files. They are very simple to use and have no recording features. It is possible to customize the MIDI file on playback. You can change tempo independent of key, and key without changing tempo. You can even change what instruments are being heard.

This might be of interest to you as it opens your search up to include digital pianos or even acoustic pianos without a floppy drive. Who knows -- you might even save money!!! My personal opinion is that you should consider the Roland MT-90S. Sweetwater, an online music store, has them for less than $400. Here's a link:
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MT90S/

Disclaimer: I have no association with Sweetwater other than being a frequent customer. I do work for Roland occasionally as a clinician/consultant, although I am not an employee (I also work with other manufacturers in similar non-sales capacities and have no stake in what brand you purchase).
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#909543 - 01/06/03 11:12 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14048
Loc: Louisiana
A few opinions:

1. I am a person of modest means. I own one of the least expensive new grands on the board, but I searched like a maniac until I could find a piano with the performance characteristics that I would accept in my price range. If I couldn't have found it, I wouldn't have bought it, and I would have had to increase my budget. At no time did I consider a digital. Digitals are nice for their MIDI interfaces, and for the multitude of samples available - but I've never found one you could coax, nudge, pound, bend sound out of like an acoustic. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the way an acoustic produces sound is mechanical, and the player has much more control over it.

2. Both of my kids started on piano. Neither considers the piano his primary instrument. My son has a performance scholarship in college (percussion), and my daughter is a first chair high school flutist since eigth grade. Son also plays guitar, daughter doubles on sax. But I still find them coming back to the piano, from time to time, as I suspect they will all their lives.

3. The above are just reasons to play piano, not a digital vs. acoustic argument. In your shoes, I might consider the digital starting out, myself. Two opinions I have: A)Digitals depreciate faster than acoustics, and eventually become obsolete. IMO, 10 years is the life of a digital. and B)If your child takes to piano, you will be buying an acoustic in about 36 months, if you wish him to progress as a pianist.

I can understand starting out on digital if the price were less - that's the usual scenario facing parents. At the price levels you were talking about ($2500ish), though, an acoustic and private lessons could be a viable alternative.
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#909544 - 01/06/03 11:40 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
txranger Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 11
Loc: Houston, TX
Ahhhh, "I see", said the blind man.

Yes, I can now understand that it could be very difficult to get a range of softer and louder out of a digital piano. Never thought of that, and it's pretty basic stuff.

Am I missing anything else?

Thank you so much for the help so far.

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#909545 - 01/06/03 11:43 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
I don't know Jolly, but I like him. His posts are always well thought out and seem to come from a genuine desire to help people -- not just to spout off. He also doesn't seem to have that need to defend his own purchase decision at all costs like some people have. His most recent post here is no excpetion -- very helpful -- good post. That said, I want to provide an alternative view to what he expressed.

I grew up playing a lousy Everett baby grand that was built somewhere in the 1930s or 1940s. All the keys worked, but the tone and action were hideous. To better illustrate, I actually preferred a beat-up Yamaha spinet that was in a classroom at our church to our Everett baby grand! That was my only piano for over 15 years (my parents still have it!!!).

Today, I make my living in the music industry by playing, composing, arranging, programming, consulting, etc. The point is that it is indeed possible to overcome the limitations of a lousy piano. I'm fortunate to have a wonderful instrument in my living room today. But I'll also say that I'd take my $2500 digital synthesizer over the Everett I grew up on. The touch/tone on my synth is actually more responsive than the Everett. I have not played every entry-level piano. But I can tell you that I'd rather have my $2500 digital than any of the acoustic pianos that I played on my piano search that were under $10k. That's not to say that they digital is better. I'm saying that the price/value ratio is better to me. I can think of lots of other things my $7500 can do (unfortunately, so can my wife!).

I also am not quite as sure about the statement that digitals depreciate faster than acoustics. Are we talking a $2500 digital vs. a $10,000 acoustic? I can't imagine a $2500 acoustic piano holding its value for any significant time. Also, the life span of digitals is short, not necessarily because of malfunction, but rather because of technological advancement rendering them obsolete. But what about the lifespan of a $2500 piano? I can't imagine that instrument being a viable one 10, 20, 30 years from now. But then again, I could be wrong.

Bottom line: The digital that I now own is a superior instrument than the instrument that I grew up on, and would therefore not impede my ability to excel in music at a serious level (although I'm not always very serious).

I enjoyed reading of Jolly's piano quest and mean him no disrespect. I never did play a Nordiska and will take his word that it is a good instrument.
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PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#909546 - 01/06/03 11:45 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
whew -- that was a long post! You'd think I was getting paid by the word...
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PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#909547 - 01/06/03 11:47 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
FYI -- digital pianos (almost any manufacturer) have a loudness/softness range of 128 increments.

There's a lot of music in those 128 levels...

(I'll stop now)
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PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#909548 - 01/06/03 12:16 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
txranger Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 11
Loc: Houston, TX
So Steve,

Are you saying that as hit the keys softer and harder you get different volumes? I really am clueless as I didn't think to test that aspect.

Thanks so much.

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#909549 - 01/06/03 12:46 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
Michael P. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/02
Posts: 24
Loc: Long Beach, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by pique:
if your interest is in your child developing a love of the instrument, an acoustic piano is a must.[/b]
I am a strong advocate of the acoustic piano and for many applications would choose a digital over an acoustic in my personal use. However I must disagree with the comment made above.

If TX's ultimate goal is that his child develops a love for music/music-making the particular instrument on which this is done is simply a vehicle. It could be an acoustic, digital, trumpet or trombone.

If the digital piano is viewed strictly as a less expensive substitute for an acoustic, then surely it will fall short in the two areas of importance, touch and tone...but then so does a trumpet when compared to a piano. However, when seen as a unique, individual instrument with multiple capabilities: keyboard, sequencer, composing tool, ear trainer, theory trainer, etc. I think most would agree that a digital is far more versatile than an acoustic.

As for obsolesence, even though the pace of change in technology is rapid, the instrument is only obsolete when the user receives no utility from it. Just as the ancient uprights many of us first learned on were not obsolete, (even though they wouldn't hold tune, had chipped key covers, sticking dampers, and any other myriad of problems), the digital will not be obsolete if the player enjoys playing it.

Group lessons vs. private study. Group lessons provide an educational and social atmosphere. The environment may be competitive or it may be a nurturing one where the less-than-average students learn not only from the teacher, but the other students. My opinion is that group lessons for children helps make music more fun. Isn't that the goal for the vast majority or are we striving to raise prodigies only and forget the average and below students?

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#909550 - 01/06/03 12:50 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
Michael P. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/02
Posts: 24
Loc: Long Beach, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Michael P.:
I am a strong advocate of the acoustic piano and for many applications would choose a digital over an acoustic in my personal use.?[/b]
Oops! Sorry my first sentence should have read..."for many applications would choose an acoustic piano over a digital..."

I guess that blows the legitimacy of any of the points I was trying to make. DOH!

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#909551 - 01/06/03 12:52 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
TomK Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/02
Posts: 2611
 Quote:
Posted by Jolly: My son has a performance scholarship in college (percussion), [/b]
Dear Jolly,

I'm sure he's a great kid--but I hope he went away to school.

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#909552 - 01/06/03 02:09 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14048
Loc: Louisiana
TomK,

He's been at home on break, and I am very fortunate my neighbors are wonderful people who live at least a half mile away! \:D

SteveY,

I think you have the best handle on the ins and outs of digitals, since for you thay are a working tool. So yes, for digitals, I cede the last word to you, and gladly. \:\)
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#909553 - 01/06/03 03:16 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
michael p., not only are you not a careful writer (switching digital and acoustic to change the meaning), you are not a very careful reader, either. \:\)

you say you disagree with my post because a child can learn to love music through any instrument. but that is not a contradiction of my post, which you quoted and then failed to address accurately:

 Quote:
Originally posted by Michael P.:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pique:
if your interest is in your child developing a love of the instrument, an acoustic piano is a must.[/b]
I am a strong advocate of the acoustic piano and for many applications would choose a digital over an acoustic in my personal use. However I must disagree with the comment made above.

If TX's ultimate goal is that his child develops a love for music/music-making the particular instrument on which this is done is simply a vehicle. It could be an acoustic, digital, trumpet or trombone.

If the digital piano is viewed strictly as a less expensive substitute for an acoustic, then surely it will fall short in the two areas of importance, touch and tone...but then so does a trumpet when compared to a piano. However, when seen as a unique, individual instrument with multiple capabilities: keyboard, sequencer, composing tool, ear trainer, theory trainer, etc. I think most would agree that a digital is far more versatile than an acoustic.
[/b]

i specifically said if he wants his child to fall in love with the instrument i.e. the piano. you don't fall in love with the piano by playing the trumpet, or the digital piano, for that matter. you yourself go on to say the digital is an individual instrument in its own right that helps a child learn about music. there is nothing contradictory about this--it is still not a piano!

and when you say a digital is more "versatile" that really depends on the kind of versatility you are looking for. if what you want is to have the capability of playing chopin with sensitive musicianship, the digital is definitely NOT more "versatile."

also, private lessons are not just for prodigies. i'm sure you didn't mean to imply that. group lessons may be OK to start, but they may also be a breeding ground for bad habits and can be a poorly laid foundation for future learning. it all depends.

personally, i'd go with a good private teacher and start my child off right so they have every chance of learning the instrument well. that is the best hope for them sustaining interest.

perhaps what matters most is how important music is to the parent. if music doesn't have a lot of personal meaning for them, then i can see why they might think a digital and group lessons are good enough. it wouldn't be for my child, but that is me and nobody else.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#909554 - 01/06/03 03:30 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
bcarey Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 3378
Loc: North Carolina
txranger,

Right off I'm going to say, get the child a real acoustic piano. If you want your child to be a pianist, get a real piano. If you want your child to be a digitalist, get a digital. There is a world of difference between the two.

First, most digitals do not have a full set of keys. If they do, they are very expensive. It will be very frustrating for your child not to be able to play all the notes in a piece of music after advancing beyond of playing in a two octive range.

Second, the touch and responsiveness of a digital can never really be duplicated by a digital.

Third, though digitals try to sound like the real thing, they can never sound like a real piano.

Fourth, learning how to make notes produce a myriad of volumes, sounds, and pedaling to create a desired effect that ultimately leads to development of a pianist's style can not be accomplished on a digital.

If you are serious about wanting your child to learn to play the piano, why not go ahead and invest in a low-end upright, new or used that is in good working order. They are very close in price to what you would pay for a digital anyway, especially if you find one used. Should you want to sell the digital, later you may find no takers. Obsolete technology doesn't sell for much. Ever tried to sell a 3 year old computer? If you paid $2,000 for it, you would be lucky to sell it for$200.

If you want to teach your child to add, you don't give him a calculator, you teach him to add 2 plus 2. If you want him to learn music and play piano, get the acoustic, not the digital.

Digitals are nice, but only a toy compared to an acoustic piano.

Disclaimer: I admit to being an acoustic snob and make no apologies for it. \:D

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#909555 - 01/06/03 03:34 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
TomK Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/02
Posts: 2611
 Quote:
Postd bt pique: perhaps what matters most is how important music is to the parent. if music doesn't have a lot of personal meaning for them, then i can see why they might think a digital and group lessons are good enough. it wouldn't be for my child, but that is me and nobody else. [/b]
Sorry to agree with you--but you are so right, pique. My daughter takes piano lessons privately, but also takes French horn lessons in school in a group--which is fine. The group lessons are for fun--the private lessons are for real.

Also, We have a number of pianos, an acoustic piano, a Kertsweill (or something of the such,) digital piano and a little harpsichord. All fun, and we enjoy them all. But the kid takes lessons on the piano. She PLAYS the piano. And the rest are fun things--(and a HECK of a lot better than video games.)

For our family the actual training of the child in music is on the piano--all the rest just adds and enriches.

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#909556 - 01/06/03 03:52 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
txranger Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 11
Loc: Houston, TX
Is there any touch sensitivity to a digital piano?

I am looking at the piano as a base for musical interest, learning to read music, understand chords and keys (like the key of C). From there, my sons may choose trumpet, sax, drums, clarinet, or even choose voice. I just think piano is a great starting point for which all kids should get some exposure. Just as I have no expectation for my son to be a professional soccer player, or even win a scholarship, he is crazy about the sport and he participates. I have two boys and see this as a good start, at a reduced expense. If they want to play in a band, you have a keyboard player.

Obviously, if they get good and want to continue on, we would get an acoustic. We have two in the family that are currently collecting dust, but unfortunately, 1800 miles away.

The big sticking point is touch. I cannot tell, by hitting the keys for resistance, the difference between the Kawai digital and a $8-10K acoustic. The Roland is obviously different. However, I did not test to see if you could get different volumes that made sense with different strikes on the keys. I see that as pretty important.

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#909557 - 01/06/03 04:17 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
MikeMcf31 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/02
Posts: 194
Loc: Northern NJ
There was an interesting story about the advantages of a digital piano in the NY Time posted on another forum this week....

From the New York Times , 01/02/03:

ROB REIS, a 49-year-old electrical engineer in Palo Alto, Calif., was in his mid-40's when he resolved to redress a big regret in his life: he had never learned to play the piano. He decided to start taking lessons. Trained to approach challenges methodically, he gauged that it would take roughly five years to become proficient at what he calls "cocktail party piano."

Being the electronics-happy fellow that he is, Mr. Reis settled on a digital piano, which he credits not only with speeding the vexingly slow process of learning the piano, but also with helping him get through a three-month period of stagnation that nearly caused him to quit.

For most adults, learning to play the piano is the musical equivalent of watching grass grow. Frustration over one's own lack of coordination and the struggle to play what an 8-year-old with a year's experience can knock off with ease makes piano study a wide-open market for electronic learning aids.

Not surprisingly, there are more to choose from than ever before. Digital pianos do a better job than ever at approximating the action and sound of acoustic pianos, providing new enticements for beginners and performance-level musicians alike. And for those still mastering the instrument, many instruction books now come with disks that can be inserted into a digital piano or a stand-alone box, letting the student hear a piece in any number of ways. There are also specialized CD players that can slow the music down to the novice's pace without changing the pitch.
---------------------
The rest of the story is at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/02/technology/circuits/02pian.html

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#909558 - 01/06/03 04:26 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
Are you saying that as hit the keys softer and harder you get different volumes? I really am clueless as I didn't think to test that aspect.
Yes, this is the case on most digitals these days. It's actually called "velocity sensitivity". I'll explain why if you really want me to, but suffice it to say that it's what you're talking about when you say "touch sensitive". Virtually all digitals will have 128 levels of dynamic range (that is the MIDI specification) although some digitals will apply this technology better than others.

I actually prefer the Roland touch/tone to just about anything out there. You mentioned that the Kawai you played was more expensive than the Roland. You might want to compare apples to apples. I'm sure Roland has a similar offering to the Kawai.
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#909559 - 01/06/03 04:35 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
Mom of 3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/02
Posts: 46
Loc: Mercer Island
Hi, 13 months ago our family bought a digital keyboard (Technics) as an inexpensive way to see if our daughters really wanted to learn to play the piano. Of course (naively) we thought we would "trade in" the keyboard on an acoustic piano if needed. Well, we have just bought a grand piano in addition to the keyboard. My kids love the keyboard, they change the instrument sounds all the time - especially the 8 year old, but they keep practicing. The piano won't be here for a few more weeks, but I will be interested to see where they choose to practice. I think they will head to the piano, but maybe not. Our keyboard is touch sensitive to a point, but if you push they key down, you will always get some sound no matter how you strike the key.

On a side note, our oldest daughter started trumpet last year, and it was pretty handy to be able to play her music, using the B flat trumpet on the keyboard so she could check her playing.

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#909560 - 01/06/03 04:41 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
First, most digitals do not have a full set of keys. If they do, they are very expensive.
Not true. Should read "SOME digitals do not have...". It seems that the digitals that TX is looking at all have 88 keys.

 Quote:
Second, the touch and responsiveness of a digital can never really be duplicated by a digital.
Obviously a misprint, although I know what you mean. I'd say this is true unless you're dealing with a high quality digital vs. a lousy acoustic.

 Quote:
Third, though digitals try to sound like the real thing, they can never sound like a real piano.
True (although they are sounding better and better). Again, this is assuming we're comparing a good acoustic to a good digital. But this is unfair as a good acoustic is going to be significantly more than a digital.

 Quote:
Fourth, learning how to make notes produce a myriad of volumes, sounds, and pedaling to create a desired effect that ultimately leads to development of a pianist's style can not be accomplished on a digital.
According to whom? I disagree with the notion that a child cannot start on a digital and graduate to an acoustic at a later date.

 Quote:
Should you want to sell the digital, later you may find no takers. Obsolete technology doesn't sell for much. Ever tried to sell a 3 year old computer? If you paid $2,000 for it, you would be lucky to sell it for$200.
A 3-year old $2000 digital would sell for considerably more than $200. Although the spirit of what you're saying is true, I could say the same for a $2000 acoustic. Case in point: look at all of the postings on this forum every week from people trying to sell their "antique pianos".

I really don't have a bias toward digitals. I own several, but I also own a very expensive acoustic. In fact, I would never have spent the amount of money on a digital that I did on my acoustic piano. I consider myself a pianist first and formost. And one can really only pursue that goal on an acoustic. But when you're talking about young children who have two levels of dynamics when they play (loud and louder), a digital with weighted keys can keep them engaged and learning while not putting the parents out too much financially.
Digitals are not just imitation acoustic pianos. They are legitimate instruments unto themselves. My kids are learning on both acoustic and digitals.
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#909561 - 01/06/03 06:08 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
txranger Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 11
Loc: Houston, TX
Thanks Steve (and everyone) for the info.

Steve,

If you have not tried the Kawai, their lower end model, the CN270 is actually a little less in cost than the Roland HP1. The feels are the same on the keyboards at both ends of the Kawai scale. It seems that as you go up in price with the Rolands, HP to KR-3,5,7, that the difference is sound quality, not feel. The low end Kawai at $1500 has a better feel than the $2600 Roland. Again the difference between the Kawais seems to be features and sound, not feel.

I believe 128 pitches is enough to learn on and enjoy. Add the advantages of headphones, and never having to tune it, and I believe we have an acceptable purchase. Besides, the $3500 used acoustics I've seen are horrible.

I cannot find any decent quality used digital pianos. While there is the option of the stand alone MIDI player, built in seems better. Can you offer any older model numbers to look for with a floppy disc?

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#909562 - 01/06/03 06:18 PM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
Michael P. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/02
Posts: 24
Loc: Long Beach, CA
Pique, I guess neither of us is a careful reader...and I don't even profess to be a writer!!! \:\)

 Quote:
you say you disagree with my post because...[/b]
I actually said that I disagreed with the statement, "if your interest is in your child developing a love of the instrument, an acoustic piano is a must."

And I still continue to disagree with that statement and what I believe to be the premise of your original post. Practicing on a digital piano does not hinder one's ability to learn to play the acoustic piano. Particularly at a young age and particularly on a good digital. I think TX mentioned the Kawai CP110. Don't you know many digital and upright owners who have "developed" a love for the sound and feel of a 9' concert grand without owning one? I do.

I also made very clear what I meant by versatility where digital pianos excel and went as far to list examples. Your reference to playing a Chopin piece while perhaps accurate, is very narrow in scope when it comes to a discussion about versatility. I don't think you've made a good point there.

 Quote:
"also, private lessons are not just for prodigies. i'm sure you didn't mean to imply that."[/b]
Of course that wasn't what I was implying. I took private lessons for over 20 years and as far as the collegiate level. I'm no prodigy to be sure; had I been I wouldn't have needed all those lessons!!! Studying the piano is enough of a solitary activity what with all the necessary hours in the practice room. And I agree that bad habits are possible in group lessons and maybe even less likely to be caught by the teacher than in private lessons. I was however, making reference to the idea that playing the piano should be fun...especially when kids today have so many other alternatives to music pulling at them. Group lessons are very good at facilitating this, often with a very qualified teacher at a less expensive rate than private lessons.

 Quote:
"perhaps what matters most is how important music is to the parent. if music doesn't have a lot of personal meaning for them, then i can see why they might think a digital and group lessons are good enough. it wouldn't be for my child, but that is me and nobody else.
[/b]

I'm sure you don't mean to imply that people who buy digitals and send their kids to group lessons care less about their kids than you do. Even so, you are entitled to your opinion.

Maybe you mean that private lessons are necessarily better than group lessons. For some, but perhaps not others.

But consider this, the importance of music to the parents isn't necessarily a reflection of the importance to the child who is actually taking the lessons.

Steve Y has very well summed up the digital/acoustic debate so I'll leave it at that.

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#909563 - 01/07/03 12:19 AM Re: Help! Clueless Dad just getting started
Briguy65 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 285
Loc: So California
I suppose it all comes down to how interested the student is at working to learn the piano. We also see many people in bands that play a piano-like instrument. They are usually called keyboardists. I'm sure they are also able pianists as well. I believe that a digital piano with the right touch sensitivity and weighting of the keys and pedal can help someone learn how to play.

What I'm not sure about tx is the statement that the floppy disk is essential to learning the piano. Is that something that the teacher requires? I suppose it helps to be able to play back your performance to critique it but it helps more to continue to practice the song for a longer period.

The statement that digital pianos become obsolete is absolutely true in my mind. At this technological point in time all of them use speakers to reproduce the piano sound. While they come close, they don't reproduce the sounds exactly like a piano. I'm sure in the future there will be better technologies that will improve sound reproduction even more. But right now we're stuck with speakers.

One point slightly off topic, was that Tx mentioned that you could use headphones to help protect others from listening to your practice. I for one, hate playing with headphones. For one thing the cord bothers me because it gets in the way. The other is something I can't quantify. I think I like the quality of big soundwaves moving through the air. The bass in headphones, while good just isn't the same to me as a nice subwoofer. Forget about the comparison to an acoustic piano. It can be an almost euphoric experience hearing how each note resonates through the air and around you. Sitting back and listening to someone play can be a great experience as well.

Anyway, before I go all over the place off topic, good luck with your search.

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