The Digital Piano Buying Guide17/04/2021
Why settle for lessons on a digital piano when you can have lessons on a grand piano?
Why did you decide to learn piano?
For many of our students, the inspiration was an exquisite sound they heard one day - perhaps from a film. For others, it was a serendipitous night at the concert hall that sparked their curiosity.
That sound you fell in love with was the sound of a grand piano.
But in London, where space comes at a premium, many piano lessons happen on digital pianos. And students end up wondering why their playing never sounds like the sound they've come to love.
Of course, not everyone can accommodate a grand piano at home. But at least once a week, you should get to experience the inspiring sound of a grand piano at your lesson.
So here are four reasons why beginners and advanced players alike need to play on a professional grand piano:
The keys of a grand piano are more sensitive, and the touch and feel of the keys are incomparable to the plastic keys of a digital piano.
The keys also have more resistance when pressed, which aids beginners in building strong, independent fingers.
Fast repeated notes
Developing one’s technique is an important element of piano playing, especially for beginners.
One of the first techniques you learn on our Foundation Programme is playing fast repeated notes.
If you were to play a key on a grand piano, you can replay it without having to release it completely, which allows you to play it fast. This is just not possible on a digital piano.
Creating nuanced sounds
On a grand piano, the keys respond to how they are pressed. This allows for artistic control and playing with finesse.
Whereas on a digital piano, the keys are less responsive. However you press the keys, you will not get the same nuanced response as you would on a grand piano.
A digital piano, or digital keyboard, simply imitates the sound of a grand piano. But that's where the similarities end. The sound of a grand piano is very complex.
More than 200 long strings vibrate to create the rich, deep sound that so many have come to love.
Even with today's technology, a digital piano will never match a grand piano's resonant tone and nuanced expression.
You get used to playing on many instruments
Unlike violinists and flautists, we pianists cannot carry our own instruments wherever we go. We are always faced with a foreign instrument every time we play.
Whether it be a formal exam, a piano in a mall, or an impromptu performance for friends, pianists need to learn to adapt to the piano they are faced with.
Grand pianos have a distinctly unique sound from each other, and having as much exposure to it at least once a week in your lessons will prepare you for these occasions!
Most digital pianos don't have a pedal - you have to buy a separate one to plug into the piano.
Not only do they move around and are not very sturdy, but you also don’t have all three pedals, which is needed to produce different sounds.
In our Foundation Course, we start teaching students with both the right and the left pedal from the beginning. The left pedal (Una Corda) will change the tone and produce a soft, almost muffled sound when depressed.
Together with the right pedal, you can create the most beautiful sound and that can transform your playing.
The middle pedal (sostenuto) is used in more advanced pieces. Compositions by Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Debussy would require using the sostenuto pedal.
You have finally bought your dream home, and are now looking to furnish your home. Imagine a beautiful living room and a digital piano. It doesn’t work, does it?
Grand pianos are elegant. Imagine the dark, smooth wood. The lid is open and displays the brass strings and knobs.
That’s more like it.
"When I started learning the piano, I bought a hybrid digital piano. I was told by my previous teacher they were an acceptable alternative to acoustic pianos. He came to my home for lessons, so I never had a chance to play on pianos other than my own.
When I got to the exam, I finally played on a grand piano. But I didn't perform as well as I would have liked. I felt so disoriented because everything was different - the touch, the sound, the keys were much narrower. I didn't even know where to begin. It was like playing a completely different instrument.
Now that I'm at W Piano Studio, I have my weekly lessons on a Bechstein grand piano, and it's a definite game changer. In the beginning I had to recalibrate my playing for the grand piano, but ever since I got used to it I wish I had the space for one at home."
Fraser, current student