A few years ago, after several inquiries about my recommendations, I came up with this list about the advantages of a genuine piano over one of the newer electronic versions.
It’s a bit inaccurate to call electronic keyboards pianos. By definition, pianos have felt-covered hammers and steel strings. (Pi-a-no: a stringed percussion instrument having steel wires that sound when struck by felt-covered hammers operated from a keyboard.–Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary) Electronic keyboards (aka digital pianos) lack these definitive items. They are keyboard instruments similar in some ways to pianos, like organs, harpsichords, clavichords, and virginals, but they are different in nature from pianos.
Why Choose a Genuine Piano?
- Musically: digital keyboards are limited musically to what the “programmer” put into its computer programs. Pianos can deliver a full range of musical expression depending on the pianist’s abilities. Keyboards have difficulty producing expression, color, and tone.
- Aesthetically: A properly maintained piano in a home adds sophistication. It is a work of art. Electronic keyboards have a less-sophisticated plastic look.
- Financially: With proper maintenance, pianos can last a few generations. Few products in today’s world can make such a claim. Digital keyboards are designed to need replacement every few years. Which is the better investment?
- Practically: Pianos will work even in a power outage. Their mechanisms are physical rather than electronic. They also need no amplification. Their sound waves are magnified by the built-in soundboard.
- Authentically: A piano’s action mechanism allows the pianist to control dynamics and tone color. Though some higher-priced keyboards may have touch sensitivity that attempts to imitate a piano, most do not. Lack of touch control on a keyboard is a big issue for skilled fingers and feet. Pedal usage on a digital keyboard, if available, differs greatly from genuine pianos.
- Skill Mastery: Pianos have capabilities and range necessary to play music of all kinds. Some skills can only be learned on a genuine piano. For example: Students who have practiced on a piano, who transfer fortissimo power to a keyboard can watch the digital version scoot across the floor under their practiced blows.
- Physically: The development of skills such as eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, and full body involvement in musical expression is limited in a digital version to what was programmed into the computer by programmers who may or may not have been musicians.
- Personally: It is rare for a student who starts on a digital keyboard “to see if they like it” to progress very far in piano study. Serious students need the best piano they can afford in order to minimize frustration. Some piano teachers will not teach students beyond beginner levels who don’t use genuine pianos for home practice.
- Emotionally: Piano owners fall in love with their instruments in a way that is unseen with digital keyboard owners. Love your piano; it will love you back.
- Spiritually: Under the practiced hands of a skilled pianist, a piano can “come alive.”
I can now add another reason. Electronic keyboards lack the intrigue of an acoustic piano. I cannot imagine making a plastic, computerized keyboard instrument an integral part of a suspense novel, like I did the genuine pianos in Sundrop Sonata. If you are like me and love the real thing, you might enjoy reading the story of Isabel Woods as she discovers disturbing things in some of her neighbors’ pianos.
Sundrop Sonata–A Novel of Suspense by Ann Christine Fell. Available now as an electronic book at Amazon.com.