Ok, so you’ve pinned down a great new teacher for your little one and you’re all set to go. The teacher is coming next week and you’ve got to get an instrument sorted out pronto. Where do you start?
First of all, you don’t need to panic and get something before the first lesson. If you need a bit more time, just speak to your teacher to let them know you won’t have an instrument straight away. They should have plenty of fun starter activities that will keep you going for a few weeks. Also, if you don’t want to commit to a purchase you can always hire something – most music instrument retail stores hire out keyboards and pianos from £25 per month (please do check your prices in your area!).
Here at MusicMaps, we think one of the main decisions is working out where you are going to put your instrument. Think carefully! It needs to be somewhere your child can play on their own terms in their own space. But also you’ll want to keep an ear out for that chance to give some well-timed praise.
Once you’ve fixed a spot, then that will help you decide whether you want a keyboard or a piano. You might want something with a traditional look or you might want to move it around – pianos are harder to move around and some keyboards are a lot more portable than others. You might want to be able to put things on top of the piano or have a keyboard with a shorter length. By the way, keyboard quality and tone is better than ever and keyboards are more than fine for beginners. As you progress, you might like to switch to a piano (or have regular access to a piano). I prefer pianos because they are authentic and simple, but I bought a keyboard for my young daughter so I can turn the keyboard off, use headphones from time to time and move it about.
When you get your piano or keyboard home, set a few rules for when it can be played and get your practice routine set up as soon as you can. One minute every day at a set time is a good start for a very young student, going up to ten minutes for general beginners and more as your child is older and more advanced.
That’s our basic advice but please do get in touch with us at MusicMaps if you want to talk in more depth with one of us and get recommendations for particular retailers. Below is a little more detail on pianos and keyboards – please do bear in mind prices change and there are lots of deals available.
Prices for Pianos
Going to a shop and trying different pianos is a good way to find what you want. Pianos are generally more expensive in shops, starting from £2000 and going up to £10,000 for a very high end model. £2000 will get you a very good beginner piano. You can buy very good pianos second-hand via classified ads for about £500 to £1000.
Moving a piano is very easy for professional movers, but there will be charges (approx. £100 per floor level). You’ll need a van and some very committed friends to move or collect a piano yourself.
Prices for keyboards
There are many excellent models available and it’s difficult to go wrong.
Make sure you buy a:
1) Weighted keyboard with at least 5 octaves of notes
2) Good brands are Yamaha, Kurzweil, Roland and Korg
After that there is a lot of choice – keyboards that just sit on a stand, ones that are in a case or fixed stand, ones with lots of extra fun sounds on them and lots of buttons to do fun recording things, ones that look more like a piano and designed to give that aesthetic appeal. Any of them will enable steady progress with the right teacher.
You can pick up good keyboards for as little as £200 but we would start at £500 and consider getting something really nice for £2000. That said there are often great offers around if you dig a bit. The Yamaha NP32 is a great starter and is often available on a sub £500 deal with a seat and headphones bundle. It has built in speakers and a USB output so you can connect it to your computer. Shops do hire purchase schemes so you can try one out and then hand it back if you don’t like it.