So you want to enroll your student in piano lessons but you don’t have a piano at home. Can you buy a cheap piano for your beginning student? Let’s answer some of your questions about the cost involved in buying a piano!
A. “Do we need to have a piano at home to take lessons?”
My answer is always, “YES, you need to have a piano at home!” Piano lessons are not like swimming lessons. You can’t show up once a week and consider that enough practice. Without a piano at home, you are wasting a lot of money on inefficient training.
It would be like asking your child’s school teacher why she has to do homework at home. Because it gives her extra practice that she doesn’t have time for while learning new concepts in class!
Lesson time should only be part of a student’s music training. Choosing a good teacher is certainly vital to proper music education. However a piano teacher can only have so much influence if the student does not practice consistently.
B. “Can we just try lessons for a month to see if he likes it before buying a piano?”
Here are my thoughts . . .
Would you pay for a month of soccer or hockey before purchasing skates or soccer cleats? How will your child know if he likes the sport from sitting along the side watching others play?
Sometimes you have to make the choice that you will pursue something seriously before knowing if you really like doing it. Half-hearted students (with half-hearted parents) don’t usually enjoy piano lessons!
I always suggest making the investment to buy a decent piano before starting lessons! Then I encourage parents and students to give lessons a full effort for at least a year. Then they can decide if they like it or not. Students may not “enjoy” the first weeks of learning many new concepts. However often their zeal increases as they begin to play music that is more fun!
C. “Can I buy a cheap piano or is a higher price range better?”
This is where I direct different families in different directions based on factors such as:
- how many kids will play this piano?
- how old are the students taking lessons?
- do you want your children to just be able to read music? Or do you want them to advance to a performance level?
- how much money do you have available for the purchase?
If your budget for buying a piano is less than $300 and your child is under 10, I would suggest this. Spend the next 6-12 months setting aside the money you would put into piano lessons each week. If you paid $15 per week for 20-40 lessons, you would end up with $300-600!
By then you would be in the habit of setting aside that amount per week so it’s already part of your budget!
D. “I saw a used piano online that is cheap or free! Would that work?”
Getting an acoustic piano that is used might be fine! But it may not be the best option either so let’s talk through the pros and cons . . .
- The piano would be little to no cost
- Lessons could start right away
- It might be an old piano that won’t matter as much if it gets marked by young children
- Usually you have to move it to your house yourself. An upright piano, especially an old one, is incredibly heavy! You may need several strong men, a truck, a cart, etc.
- If you move it’s a lot of work to relocate it again.
- The piano MUST be tuned after getting it settled at your home. It will also need to be tuned every 6-12 months as long as it is in use. This can become expensive!
- An old upright piano may have hidden issues that you will not find at first. These will cost money to make it truly playable for your student.
E. “Is a keyboard good enough for lessons?”
Great question! Obviously you don’t have to spend money on a grand piano for a beginner! However there are a few basic requirements in order for a student to be most successful. A digital piano or keyboard will suffice for beginning lessons if it has the following features:
- At least 61+ keys. Ideally they need 72 keys. Full size of 88 keys is best to allow future progress.
- Touch response. This means you can control the volume by how you press the key, not just with the volume button.
- Weighted keys. These keys give a similar feeling to acoustic pianos so the student can switch between pianos more easily.
- A sustain pedal. This pedal gives the student the ability to play smoothly as they play harder pieces.
I usually suggest that parents do not buy a fancy keyboard with many bells and whistles. Often these options only distract students from what they should be practicing! 🙂
F. “What digital piano would you recommend to your students?”
Most simple digital pianos or basic piano keyboards are sufficient to meet most needs of students until the intermediate level. Most of these will cost $250-400*. Spending $600-800* will allow you to buy a piano that will last longer for your student. Although this may sound pricey, it is relatively inexpensive compared to most pianos.
In the future I will post some specific digital pianos that I recommend to my students. If you want a few ideas, email me and I’d be happy to share them with you!