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#927828 - 05/10/06 03:56 PM Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
It was suggested to post this topic here, instead of the Piano Forum.

I am the type of piano teacher that wants my students to have the best quality instrument to practice on right from the beginning.
No klunckers, no digitals.
I have been recommending Yamaha U1 series. There is a person close to my studio that sells gray market Yamaha's at a reasonable price.
But there is much talk on this forum about Pearl River. My dream is to have a few (student, good quality pianos) availabe to sell to my students.
Have any teachers done this? And if so what line?
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member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#927829 - 05/10/06 04:06 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
w_scott_iv@yahoo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 1120
Loc: West Virginia
You'd have to have someone set up the Pearl Rivers. They really are not ready to go right out of the box. They also are not in the league w/Yamaha, but I doubt you could become a Yamaha dealer. So, if you have access to a good tech, go for it w/Pearl River. Once set-up they are a nice value for a student and the company does seem to value dealer/customer satisfaction.

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#927830 - 05/11/06 04:48 AM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I also think it is important for students to have access to good instruments for practice. I have a local dealer who caters for the lower end of the market. Nearly all of his stock is used and/or reconditioned which he does himself. The pianos are decent and affordable which is what most beginners are looking for. I know him personally and he is a great guy. It makes me feel secure that I can send students to him and know they will not get ripped off. If you have a similar relationship with the Yamaha dealer then I think it is good that you send your stundents there.

A potential problem with stocking your own pianos to sell is that people are often suspicious of this kind of thing. There was a recent thread about dealers offering commision to teachers who send students. I don't have a problem with this but it is clear that some people do. The same situation could arise if you were to start teaching someone and then tell them you have a piano they should buy. Just a thought.

As for Pearl River I have never tried one. Most new budget pianos I have played would be far better than the 'clunckers' that many students have. If you do get some stock to sell you might consider looking for relatively modern (20 years old or so) uprights of better quality. I feel they can offer better value for money IMO.
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Pianist and piano teacher.

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#927831 - 05/11/06 07:11 AM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Just an addendum to Chris's comments. There are some dealers who also offer piano lessons. It may depend on how you pitch yourslef and how you want to develop your business. Selling and teaching need not be mutusally exclusive.

A
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S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#927832 - 05/11/06 07:22 AM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
Ken Knapp Offline



Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2330
Loc: Pennsylvania
I have a new Hardman & Peck I bought from my teacher a few weeks ago. I love it so far, but I have to admit to not being a good judge of pianos. I bought it based on trust as I've known my teacher for over 30 years.

When I chose this piano I could notice his eyes light up - not because of the money he would make on it but because he felt I would be well equipped for practice.

Ken Knapp
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#927833 - 05/11/06 01:36 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
WKS70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 186
Loc: GA
I'm not a Pearl River fan. A Yamaha U1 series is great for beginners, as you stated at the beginning of this thread. IMHO, Pearl Rivers do not hold up well and are cheap clunkers. On the other hand, if you have students who are unable to afford Yamaha's, a Pearl River is much better than a digital.

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#927834 - 05/11/06 03:38 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Why not digitals? It has been pointed out
on the digital forum that top echelon concert
pianists like Andre Watts and Valentina
Lisitsa regularly practice on digitals.
This bias against digitals that persists
today is unreasonable.

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#927835 - 05/11/06 04:58 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
LWpianistin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 500
Loc: VA/MD/England...long story...
no, it's not. acoustics are better (if they're in tune). electric anything is not as good as the original. electric basses, for example - a joke compared to an acoustic. i have a digital and an acoustic piano. i like both, but i mainly use the acoustic, even though it's a Wurlitzer spinet. not everyone is going to follow your lead and claim digitals as the new piano gods.
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#927836 - 05/11/06 09:52 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
terminaldegree Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 3041
Loc: western Wisconsin
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
Why not digitals? It has been pointed out
on the digital forum that top echelon concert
pianists like Andre Watts and Valentina
Lisitsa regularly practice on digitals.
This bias against digitals that persists
today is unreasonable. [/b]
I respectfully and emphatically disagree. I do not discount the value and specific use/need for the digital piano-- I make most of my living in a digital keyboard lab as a university class piano teacher. My background and passion is in performance, however.

Andre Watts probably does not REGULARLY practice on a digital piano; maybe he checks over a couple of passages in a hotel room the night before a performance, but let's get real here-- that's not where even 10% of the real practicing takes place. Maybe he has to endorse them as part of an artist agreement...

Once you get to even a good midsized upright and actually play them [acoustic vs. digital] side by side, it's no comparison at all. I'm not saying that there isn't a practical use for digital - I'll even practice on them occasionally in an emergency. But you cannot really learn the fundamentals of producing a good sound [technically] on one.
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#927837 - 05/12/06 08:26 AM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
seebechstein Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/04
Posts: 1085
Loc: houston
It seems that teachers sometimes have studios at places where pianos are sold. That way it keeps the teacher focused on teaching but the students have an obvious place to shop at.

Most students are beginners, and there's nothing wrong with a beginner on a full, weighted digital for $1k or $2k. If the student makes progress and the parents are supportive of spending $5k to $50k on a piano, then they can go to a good acoustic. I don't believe in students attempting to learn on an acoustic piano that costs less than $5k. Learning to play is hard enough, but learning on a clunker should drive people toward digitals.

But back to the question you asked, the best upright I've played probably is the U5. I think it was pretty expensive though, so asking parents to shell out that kind of money...

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#927838 - 05/12/06 11:14 AM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
what's wrong with beginners playing on digital? it's hard to believe some teacher still have such deep doubts about current digital piano technology. don't you know that even many teachers have both acoustic and digital pianos themselves.

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#927839 - 05/13/06 10:47 AM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
WKS70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 186
Loc: GA
I don't think it's wrong for beginners to be on a digital, and I own both an acoustic and a digital. For many students who either cannot afford a better upright or who won't keep the piano maintained on a regular basis, a digital is a good option.

My digital is a very good one, but it still can't compare to my grand. The sound is so very sterile without all those beautiful undertones that shimmer on an acoustic. An acoustic piano is better for developing a musical ear in students. Another problem with practicing on a digital is that students don't develop much finger strength. I've always found interesting that my students always choose to do their lesson on my grand over the digital keyboard.

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#927840 - 05/13/06 01:09 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Watts and Lisitsa are professionals, people whose
livelihood depends on the piano, and thus
as pros they would be aware of the best
equipment that's available to them in their
profession. Just as professional pianists
centuries ago turned to the pianoforte
when it appeared, because it offered
advantages over the harpsichord and
clavichord, today's professionals have
discovered the advantages that digitals
offer over the pianoforte.

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#927841 - 05/13/06 04:56 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
terminaldegree Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 3041
Loc: western Wisconsin
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
Watts and Lisitsa are professionals, people whose
livelihood depends on the piano, and thus
as pros they would be aware of the best
equipment that's available to them in their
profession. Just as professional pianists
centuries ago turned to the pianoforte
when it appeared, because it offered
advantages over the harpsichord and
clavichord, today's professionals have
discovered the advantages that digitals
offer over the pianoforte. [/b]
To a concert pianist, there only four advantages I can possibly think of--

1. Portability over an acoustic piano [but they're not easily portable].
2. Ability to use a headset to practice silently.
3. Low cost relative to an acoustic piano.
4. No need for a tuner.

That's it. There are no other "advantages". Any mid-grade acoustic piano wins in every other conceivable scenario.
Even with unlimited funds, you can't continually move a grand piano from hotel room to hotel room.

You seem to have "ducked" all of the specifics of my last post. Are you a dealer for digital pianos?
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Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer

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#927842 - 05/14/06 02:22 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
This is what I mean about bias, a
refusal to accept something in the face
of all the evidence to the contrary, here:
someone owns an acoustic and a digital
and will not play the digital; someone
works with digitals daily and cannot
see them as anything but group learning
tools. This is probably why those awkward
acoustic/digital hybrid pianos exist,
jury-rigged devices that attempt to mimic
what a digital does for the benefit of
people who just cannot accept digital
pianos. (Similarly, there probably
were people who hung on to their clavichords
until their death rather than play a
pianoforte.)

There are many advantages digitals offer
(I'm not a dealer in anything): no tuning,
ever; no maintenance, ever; durability and
reliability--a digital should never require
any kind of repair; volume control, so
you can practice anytime anywhere; instant
record and playback at a touch of a button--
using a tape recorder today is like using a
manual typewriter, or carbon paper to make
copies; computer connectivity (this opens
up a whole new vista, like the ability
to buy a virtual concert grand piano
on a CD for a couple of hundred dollars
as opposed to more than $100,000.00 for
the real thing); portabilty;
lower purchase price; easy online buying;
greater selection; superior technique
development (this is why Virgil silent
keyboards used to be so popular with
concert pianists in the early 20th cent.);
and so forth.

Digitals are a tidal wave that is about to
engulf the piano world, and then people will
no longer be able to pretend that don't
exist like they are trying to do now.
Top concert pianists have realized
this and have gotten on the bandwagon, to
their benefit.

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#927843 - 05/14/06 02:59 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
terminaldegree Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 3041
Loc: western Wisconsin
Once again you have "ducked" the specifics of my original post.

Dealing with a few of your points directly:
"no maintenance, ever"- my digitals have been reliable. I have seen pianists break digital action parts in the past a few times. Never say never. Spill something into a ten year old piano and it can be repaired. Spill something into a ten year old digital-- good luck finding the replacement parts.
"volume control"- a convenience for a hobbyist, but totally inappropriate for developing technical control as a concert pianist.
"computer connectivity"- this has already been adapted to several acoustic pianos, and can be retrofitted to others.
"instant record and playback"- this has already been adapted to several acoustic pianos
"greater selection"- have you stepped into a piano store lately?
"superior technique development"- that you even suggest this proves you really don't understand concert level playing in the highest sense at all.
"Virgil silent piano"- have you actually played one of these? If I recall they have a real escapement type action and repetition mechanism. The vast majority of digitals you tout do not. Even the escapements [although an interesting improvement] feel phony.

I've already detailed what I think are the advantages to digital. Let me know when you're going to see Andre Watts perform on stage with a digital piano and I'll be happy to buy you the one ticket that is ever sold to see it.

So far you have named TWO concert pianists to back up your argument, neither of whom I would consider to be in the top, oh, thirty of those I would pay to see.

I think we will simply agree to disagree on this one...
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Pianist, teacher, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer

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#927844 - 05/14/06 03:58 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
toda Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/06
Posts: 58
Loc: Somewhere in Midwest
It seems to me that this thread is also drifting to acoustic vs. digital arguments. I think the real question relevant to the thread is this: Is a digital piano good enough for beginning students? It seems OP does not think so as well as a few others. I beg to differ. A digital piano has now reached a stage where it is good enough for most purposes, which is amply supported by the fact that more and more conservatories have digital pianos as their practice instrument. This simple fact makes it much hard to argue that digital pianos are not good enough for beginning students.

Does that make best digital pianos equal or superior to best acoustic pianos? Nope. They have come a long way, but still not there yet. However, who knows? Even within our lifetime the digital vs. acoustic arguments will have been a thing of the past, perhaps except for those who can afford really high end acoustics.

A quarter of a century ago, people were passionately debating CD versus LP music quality. Nowadays it is mostly over. The same thing will happen to pianos.

Digital pianos have great potential. They are cheaper, easier to maintain, convenient to use, and quality control is excellent, making instrument-to-instrument variation insignificant.

TD

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#927845 - 05/14/06 04:36 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
terminaldegree Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 3041
Loc: western Wisconsin
 Quote:
Originally posted by toda:
A digital piano has now reached a stage where it is good enough for most purposes, which is amply supported by the fact that more and more conservatories have digital pianos as their practice instrument. This simple fact makes it much hard to argue that digital pianos are not good enough for beginning students.
[/b]
Name them.
We're not talking about "group" piano labs, either.

The original post was about the "best quality piano for beginners". Many digitals are nice but all of them are a compromise as a concert or practice piano. They do have their place, and I'd probably be ok with them for a beginning student for a year or two, but only that far. This argument is independent of the other neat things digital pianos can do...

Sorry to be wasting so much bandwith, but some of these statements have to be challenged.
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Pianist, teacher, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer

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#927846 - 05/14/06 06:43 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
toda Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/06
Posts: 58
Loc: Somewhere in Midwest
terminaldegree,

As claimed internet addict, why don't you google them? For example, choose two keywords "conservatory" and "clavinova" at once and see for yourself. If your "best quality" is equivalent to "money is no object", sure, Steinways and Bosies beat the digital pianos hands down. Then are we really talking about "beginner pianos"?

TD

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#927847 - 05/14/06 07:13 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
This acoustic versus digital debate is rather dull/ Al; regulars here know Gyro is a big digital enthusiast. Get yourselves over to the pinao fourm and people will argue that such and such an acoustic brand is better than another.

No one really cares. It is just hot air. We all make our own mind up in the end when we balance what we prefer against what we can afford and what is practical in our circumstances.

And digital versus acoustic is totally off topic. The topic originator clearly said, "no digitals".

A
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#927848 - 05/14/06 07:21 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
CC2 and Chopin lover Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/06
Posts: 1981
I feel the need to get my two cents worth in on this discussion. I think the key to the comparisons being made here between acoustics and digitals should be similar to comparing acoustic pianos to each other. In other words, you would not fairly compare Tier 3 or 4 piano to a Tier 1. In the same vein, comparing the performance of the "average" digital to a medium quality acoustic is no contest. That being said, however, let me give my own experience here. I own three Tier one pianos that I adore, including a nine foot Mason and Hamlin, Steinway B and Bechstein A. There is nothing like playing any one of them.....HOWEVER, I also own a digital setup that is a hybrid I created for the very purpose of creating as close a substitute as possible to the experience of playing one of my acoustics. I believe I have succeeded, in that I can honestly say that when I play my digital it simulates my acoustics by about 75 to 85%. This ability did not come cheap though. I needed to combine several components that you don't normally see run together in order to get this result. Therefore, the practicality for a young student is a completely different issue.
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#927849 - 05/15/06 02:05 AM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Thank you terminaldegree, my feelings are with you.
It's absurd to me when people try to make a comparison between an acoustic piano and a digital piano. They are two completely different instruments in my mind. There is no comparison. There never will be either. I wish people would stop thinking that digitals are like real pianos. Why TRY to be like a real piano when you can buy a real piano? Sorry to digital fans, but lets get real, an acoustic piano is "alive" and ever changing. I like it when my pianos need to be tuned! I know I'm not playing a fake. Buy a real piano if you want to play piano. Let's just call digitals, digitals and pianos, pianos and leave it at that.
Since I happen to teach piano not digital piano, I want my students to be practicing on a good quality instrument where they can enjoy their practice time, develop their technical and listening skills in the most optimal way.
Thank you to those that have posted.
It sounds like Yamaha U series would be a first choice then perhaps Pearl River.
I saw and played a Pearl River grand. I think it was rather small 5'4 maybe, and it sounded pretty good. I was suprised at the price of 5,000.00.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#927850 - 05/15/06 10:44 AM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
toda Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/06
Posts: 58
Loc: Somewhere in Midwest
Sure, choosing an acoustic over digital is a personal matter. But calling a digital piano a fake? It is rather funny because ABRSM allows digital pianos for certification exams up to grade 8.

TD

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#927851 - 05/15/06 02:14 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
zorrodepiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/04
Posts: 24
Loc: Encinitas Ca
I have a Pearl River grand in my studio, it has been a good piano despite predictions to the contrary, maybe not the best sounding piano, but a nice feel, a very Yamaha-esque action.

One of my students has a Pearl River upright, again very solid action, especially for an upright.

The few problems I have had were handled promptly and to my satisfaction by Pearl River's customer support. I think the Pearl River would be a much etter choice than say a "Hallett Davis" or one of the other stencil pianos, a lot of these pianos are pretty bad.

zorro de piano

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#927852 - 05/15/06 03:42 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
LWpianistin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 500
Loc: VA/MD/England...long story...
digitals are fine for beginners. i would recommend the Casio PX100, which is what i have. it is only $500, and weighted. easy to carry (for a full-sized keyboard!!). reliable, of course.

Gyro, i understand all of the conveniences of a digital, as i have one. i will be very glad to have it in my apartmemt next semester, because then i won't have to waste gas going to campus just to practice. i will, however, still spend about 85% of my practice time in the practice rooms or in the recital hall. digitals are not as characteristic as pianos. they are like robots compared to humans. there are nuances and small oddities about every acoustice that make them special. the sound of my school's Steinway concert grand in the very good recital hall will NEVER be replaced by the prerecorded sounds of my digital, or anyone else's. why do you hate acoustics?
_________________________
That's right...I have the same birthday as Mozart. If only it meant something and I could have one thousandth of his genius...in my dreams, i suppose.

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#927853 - 05/15/06 05:48 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i still feel pretty strange, when a teacher ask for specifically what kind of pianos that his/her students should have or else refuse giving lessons. you know, for the best one, we could just advertize like this:

I, a superb qualified teacher (insert awards, competition winners, etc, here), will take students who only have Stainways/Fazioli/Bosendorfer piano (grand prefered), because i am only interested in teaching best students who have the best pianos and don't want to waste my time on others!

how does this sound? (laugh about it if you want to. \:D )

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#927854 - 05/15/06 07:28 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
LWpianistin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 500
Loc: VA/MD/England...long story...
\:D :p that means i couldn't even teach myself!
_________________________
That's right...I have the same birthday as Mozart. If only it meant something and I could have one thousandth of his genius...in my dreams, i suppose.

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#927855 - 05/15/06 10:07 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
signa,
If you are implying that I am this type of teacher-- to only accept students if they have a good quality acoustic, I'm not. But I am almost there.
This is why... The students I do have that practice on spinits or old uprights (that can't be regulated and/or tuned up to A440) and yes those that have digital pianos, find it a lot less satisfying to do their daily practice and do it correctly. The students that do have good quality acoustic pianos to practice on learn much faster, develop better listening skills and enjoy the process so much more. As a teacher, I consequently will strongly encourage my students, even at the beginning of their instruction, to have the best instrument they can possibly afford; thus having a higher success rate in their muscical studies.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#927856 - 05/15/06 10:55 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i understand your intention, pianobuff, and you have your right to demand anything from your students anyway, which is not what i want to argue. but, what i am saying is that you're trying (as you said 'almost there') to exclude some maybe very talented students who may not be able to afford a good quality acoustic or even some great digital pianos. i often think, since i am not in music profession and started to play for fun initially from even a much worse instrument - a cheap Casio keyboard, which doesn't even have 'weighted' action, an above average talent and strong determination are more important when doing something like learning to play an instrument. i don't have a lot of talent (or maybe just little bit to keep me on track) and never owned a piano of your standard, but i love music and had a little bit music background and was determined to play better which kept me trying on my own for 5 years before getting a teacher.

it doesn't tell much about my playing of course, but my teacher was happy the 1st time he watched me playing for him, because despite all the troubles, mistakes, nerversnous i had with each piece i played for him, he saw something good in my basic techniques. my teacher, a great one as i realize now, cares less about what piano i play on, but how i play and what techniques i had then and what he could teach me to advance my skills. that's the point i was trying to make, and i feel extremely lucky to have a teacher (my very first piano teacher btw) like that, who understands and knows how to help his students without any extra demands on instruments.

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#927857 - 05/15/06 11:29 PM Re: Best Quality Piano for Beginning Students
toda Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/06
Posts: 58
Loc: Somewhere in Midwest
pianobuff,

Your argument is a classic example of mistaking association for causation. In a nutshell, this amounts to: events A and B occur together quite frequently so A should be causing B. Just replace A with "having (expensive) acoustic pianos" and B with "better learner".

I think what's really working behind the scene is the socio-economic status and/or musical preference of the parents (or students themselves).

I suspect you would have equal or better "success rate" in teaching by recruting your students only from wealthy neighborhood or charge twice as much as the current lesson fee.

TD

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