Piano for beginners

noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
Hey all,

With Christmas coming up, I've been on the hunt for something to get the wife. She's always talked about wanting to learn how to play the piano, so I thought getting her a keyboard would be a nice gift. I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations? We live in NYC in an apartment, so size is somewhat of an issue. I would like something slightly portable if possible. If she's just beginning, is it worth spending more, or should I just get a 30-70 dollar one?

Any help is appreciated.

Posts

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Keyboards are one of those things where a lot of people buy a really nice one and then never use it again after a few months. While buying used can feel awkward for a gift, I bet you can get a nicer one used from someone who didn't stick with it.

    What is this I don't even.
    Inquisitor77NightDragonYoshisummonsShadowfireElvenshaekimedjmitchellaEvigilant
  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    It might be worth more if you buy her some lessons to start, along with a relatively cheap keyboard. If she ends up loving it, you can always buy a nicer one later.

    There's nothing that she will be learning from the very start that requires an amazing keyboard with weights and pressure sensitivity and all that craziness. Those are for serious amateurs or professionals. It will be tough for her just to remember which fingers to use to hit the right keys.

    NightDragonRMS OceanicElvenshaeMrTLiciousFiendishrabbit
  • CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    It might be worth more if you buy her some lessons to start, along with a relatively cheap keyboard. If she ends up loving it, you can always buy a nicer one later.

    There's nothing that she will be learning from the very start that requires an amazing keyboard with weights and pressure sensitivity and all that craziness. Those are for serious amateurs or professionals. It will be tough for her just to remember which fingers to use to hit the right keys.

    On this note, it takes time for your fingers to adjust to weighted keys. If your wife's just learning, it might be in your best interest to avoid a weighted keyboard until she builds finger strength.

  • noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
    Yeah, lessons are definitely going to be in the gift. I just figured a keyboard (even a cheap one) would be good for her to practice with between lessons.

  • breton-brawlerbreton-brawler Registered User regular
    now this might be a bit much but I thought it was pretty interesting,cbc.ca/radio/docproject/right-hands-wrong-piano-a-game-changer-for-small-handed-pianists-1.3819321
    It's a little radio show about a smaller piano designed for pianists with smaller hands, (this also benefits women as they usually have smaller hands) the reactions of people playing the smaller keyboard, seem to greatly ease the learning process. Maybe a small compact electronic keyboard could be the way to go for learning.

  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    edited November 2016
    now this might be a bit much but I thought it was pretty interesting,cbc.ca/radio/docproject/right-hands-wrong-piano-a-game-changer-for-small-handed-pianists-1.3819321
    It's a little radio show about a smaller piano designed for pianists with smaller hands, (this also benefits women as they usually have smaller hands) the reactions of people playing the smaller keyboard, seem to greatly ease the learning process. Maybe a small compact electronic keyboard could be the way to go for learning.

    I have small hands and played the piano with lessons for about 10+ years. This probably isn't a huge deal unless the OP's wife becomes a very serious student, but I actually am not sure this would be a great idea. A lot of playing the piano successfully comes down to muscle memory. The distance between keys has to remain constant or else you're liable to mess up the piece you're playing because the distance to a certain key has changed. It's a very similar experience to trying to type on a keyboard that is a different shape than one that you're used to - it is extremely awkward and you make frequent mistakes, because it's based on a similar system of muscle memory and innately "knowing" where the location of certain keyboard keys should be.

    For a beginning pianist, a normal keyboard will do just fine, and IMO might me more beneficial in the long-run to learn on. Think about how many people learn the piano as children with even tinier hands. You may not be able to play a large chord that stretches 9 keys across, but you're not going to need to for the first few years of playing - the pieces you play are going to be more simple and the chords not as complex or difficult. If you're a more intermediate/advanced player like this article suggests however, a smaller piano may make sense. Adapting to a smaller keyboard, at that skill level, would be easier. I personally prefer the ability to retain identical playing ability across the board on many different pianos, because most pianos are going to be standard in the size of their keys and not specially-made for smaller hands.

    Also, though my hands are tiny, I'm able to stretch over an octave (which is 8 keys) without issue, but that's likely due to having played for so long.

    OP, if you can find a 2nd-hand keyboard that's high quality, I think that would definitely be your best bet. You also probably won't need a "full" size keyboard with 88 keys for a beginner, but it wouldn't hurt. Weighted keys can help build finger strength, but I find are sometimes are "over-weighted" and don't mimic a real piano very well. Weighted keys on a good quality keyboard will be better than unweighted keys, however. Learning how hard to press the keys is another important skill to learn, and without the weighted keys, you don't really get that experience.

    In my opinion, this is what you should be aiming for:
    • Keys that offer a difference in loudness depending on how hard they are pressed (some very basic keyboards do not do this)
    • Weighted keys (if you find a keyboard MUCH cheaper without weighted keys, go for that instead. If your wife sticks with lessons and wishes to continue learning, definitely move onto a weighted-keys keyboard when you're able to.)
    • Good keyboard size (88 keys is a full keyboard, try to aim for a minimum of 61. Do not buy a keyboard that is only 3-4 octaves.)

    If you're able to land a pedal as well, that's additional fun but not necessary just starting out.

    NightDragon on
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  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    OP, this looks like a pretty good deal: https://www.amazon.com/Alesis-Recital-Beginner-Full-Size-Semi-Weighted/dp/B01DZXE9NC/

    It's $200, well below the several hundred you'd pay for one of the fancier keyboards. And you'd have to pay ~$100 for a standard keyboard that isn't a child's toy.

    Otherwise, I'd stick with something cheap and then invest in something nicer once she knows it's a long-term hobby.

  • TechnicalityTechnicality Registered User regular
    Whilst I don't think spending an outrageous amount too early is a good idea, it is worth mentioning that for me (and quite a few other musicians I've met) their passion comes from a love of the instrument.

    An instrument that looks beautiful, feels magical and blows your mind every time you play a note is something you are going to be dying to get home from work so you can play (even if you don't yet know what you are doing). Something that isn't any of those things might well be stuffed in a cupboard and occasionally reluctantly dragged out. Expensive instruments are more likely to fulfill these criteria, but not all expensive instruments will, and not all cheap ones won't.

    If you have a good idea why the piano appeals to her so much, that should probably guide your purchase to some extent. If she thinks that playing the piano is just the coolest looking thing ever, spending a bit more on something that looks classy might well be worth it. If she sat at one once, ran her fingers over the keys, pressed one, felt the mechanism move and thought "wow", weighted keys that feel like the real thing might be a dealbreaker. If she just has a music collection full of piano music and is in love with the sound, it might be worth focusing on sound quality when you look.

    If on the other hand she just really wants to put on the legwarmers and hairspray and rock out the intro to Van Halen's jump, you probably don't need to worry about any of these things (and a keytar might then be the perfect gift).

    handt.jpg tor.jpg

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