Why An Adult Beginner Should Get a Digital Piano

“Dad! We can’t hear the TV!”

“Be quiet, you’ll wake the kids!”

“That sounds terrible!”

In the week or two after our Baldwin acoustic piano moved in, those were some of the phrases I heard from the family.  See, no one else wanted to play the old piano, but I was hooked. Unfortunately, the instrument was loud (or maybe I had no soft touch), out of tune, and I had a small child who went to bed early.  I guess a child going to bed early is not really unfortunate, but it made it tough to practice late in the evening!

So, what to do?  I searched the Internet and found the solution –  a digital piano.  Five years ago I can’t really say I knew there was a class of instruments called digital pianos.  Sure, I knew there were keyboards and synthesizers – I did grow up in the ’80’s and who doesn’t love the keyboard solo in On the Loose by Saga?

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Turns out, though, there is a huge difference in regular “keyboards” and digital pianos.  Sure, they both have keys, but a digital piano has weighted keys, just like a regular acoustic piano.  A keyboard doesn’t.   Ahhh.  I didn’t know that. Even after I understood that,   I still made  a critical mistake.  I actually bought a keyboard first and not a digital piano.  A keyboard was cheaper, smaller and lighter, and I thought I’d be OK.  After all, I had the acoustic to practice on as well.  I just wanted to practice the notes.  After a few weeks with the keyboard, I realized that was a mistake. Notes were not enough.  I needed the more realistic feel provided by weighted keys.

I won’t go into all the research and comparisons I went through, but I ended up buying a Yamaha YPG-625.  Besides eventually going to a teacher,  that purchase is one of the biggest reasons I progressed as far as I have.

Having a digital piano solved all my problems I mentioned at the top of this post.  First, a digital piano has volume control and a headphone jack.  This let me practice without the family hearing me and me hearing them.  Win-Win. Second, the DP is always in tune.  When I choose to play without headphones, the family could still tell me it was terrible, but at least I was in tune.

Some additional features have also been useful.   First, it has a built in metronome.  If you don’t know, a metronome is a device that provides an adjustable beats per minute click to allow you to practice tempo.  This is a indispensable and probably underused tool for any musician.  The digital also has the  ability to record what I’m playing and let me transfer it to a computer to play back.  Listening to your own recording is extremely helpful – and humbling.  Finally, there a a couple hundred different “voices” built in, allowing me to make the piano sound like almost any kind of keyboard instrument – grand piano, organ, even harpsichord.   There’s even a machine gun setting the kids like to play with.   I don’t use this feature much, but it is fun.

So, if you only have an acoustic piano and have encountered some of the same obstacles I have, I’d definitely recommend a digital.  Prices start in the $400’s and can go way up.

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