I have a 7 year old and 9 year old (and 1 year old). My older kids are starting lessons this fall. I am about to purchase a piano, and am hearing mixed suggestions regarding a piano with "heavier" keys (i.e., an Essex in the Steinway line - apparently with a touch like a Steinway) versus perhaps a Kohler & Campbell or another piano. I was told that kids should learn on a piano of as high a quality as possible -- which included a "heavier" touch, making it easier to play on a grand. Although I am sure my oldest would be fine, I am concerned that my petite 7 year old (and eventually, my youngest) would be deterred if it is too "hard" to play. Am I making too much of this issue or is this a legitimate concern? I thank you in advance for any input here.
A couple of point here. Piano technicians who are lurking can correct me if I have this incorrect. All modern keys are weighted almost identically, but the Steinway uses softer hammers and thus needs slightly more energy to obtain the same volume. The idea being that this gives the performer slightly more dynamic range.
The problem, as I see it, is that many Steinway dealers do not perform the necessary final piano prep which their factory expects. That is, voicing the instrument to the customer's playing environment.
The European/Asian piano comes with harder hammers from the factory, so have to be "pricked" if too bright in the owner's home. You pay your money, you take your choice.
All that said, I was in Seattle yesterday at Sherman-Clay, among other things, looking for instruments for two students.
The 6' Essex is very good. The 6'4" Boston is better, and the 6'2" Steinway is outstanding. Their relative prices were $24k, $38k, $52. Sherman-Clay is one of those dealers whose prices leave more room for negotiation. Read Larry Fine's "Piano Book" Annual Supplement for help in making a major purchase like this.