Every day Thomas comes home from school and shares what National Day it is. Shared on the announcements every morning, we’re reminded of ones we should honor (National Thank a Mail Carrier Day, National Carrot Cake Day, and National Puppy Day) and schooled on the more obscure ones like National Bunsen Burner Day, National Tile Day, and National Drinking Straw Day. I wonder if our elementary school will share that today is Piano Day.
According to PianoDay.org, Piano Day is a global event that takes place on the 88th day of the year in honor of the number of the keys on the instrument being celebrated. Organizers say that one of the goals of the day is continue sharing the centuries-old joy of playing piano and is for all kinds of piano lovers — young and old, amateur and professional, of any musical direction.
Our family includes piano players of different abilities. My father-in-law is a masterful player who loves to sit down with Emily and Thomas to work out tunes, play a duet, or accompany them as they play another instrument. I played piano for years as a child and love the sound of hearing my own kids play.
If you’ve been thinking about starting piano lessons for your child, I thought I’d share some of the wisdom from my own experience with the piano in our house.
The Best Age to Start Playing Piano
Asking what age is the best age to start piano is like asking what age is best to get your child their first cell phone. It’s different for every child. Rather than focusing on age, it’s more important to gauge their interest and ensure that when they start, they’re having fun. As Today’s Parent says, “don’t feel like it’s now or never. When the interest is there, music can be learned at any age.”
Dr. Robert Cutletta also urges parents to “look at the underlying reasons a parent might want their child to take music lessons.” If parents are looking to develop music appreciation and immerse a child in a musical environment, this can be done at a young age so by age 5 they have a foundation for music lessons. Formal music lessons around age 5 can help further a child’s understanding of music. By age 10, Dr. Culetta says the skills acquired will lead to improving musical ability with their instrument of choice. For more information, read What’s the Right Age to Begin Music Lessons on PBSParents.
How to Find a Piano Teacher
There’s no shortage of places to take piano lessons but Today’s Parent encourages parents to find a music program that your child enjoys. Start by asking other parents at school or in your neighborhood where their kids take lessons and to share their experience. Be aware that different teachers use different methods and one teacher’s personality and method might click more with your child than others you’re researching. To learn about the various piano methods, read Comparing Piano Teaching Methods on TakeLessons.com that describes the Suzuki Method, Bastien Piano Basics, The Music Tree, Alfred Piano Method, and Faber and Faber Method.
New or Used? Acoustic or Digital? Tips on Purchasing a Piano
Once you’re ready for your child to start taking lessons, it’s time to start looking for a piano. A new piano is a pricey spend for families whose kids are just starting out and there’s nothing wrong with buying a used upright to start. From time to time free acoustic upright pianos will pop up on neighborhood listservs, Craigslist, or at local churches. When you find something, take your piano teacher or a piano playing friend with you to evaluate your find. If they give you the thumbs up, expect to pay a piano mover and to have it tuned once it’s in your house. Just beware that piano movers not only charge for distance but they charge per stair to remove the piano from its current location and get it into your home.
Another great option is a digital piano. Digital pianos differ from acoustic pianos (uprights, baby grand, and grand pianos) because they’re electronic instruments that reproduce sampled sounds that are stored on computer chips inside the piano. According to the Piano Technician’s Guild, they’re also different from electronic keyboards that lack weighted keys that tells the computer inside what sound to make when pressure is applied. Piano Technicians Guild says “Good quality digital pianos may have a weighted key action feature that tries to imitate the feel of an acoustic piano keyboard.” To fully understand the difference between an acoustic or digital piano and to know what to look for in a digital piano as you make your decision, Acoustic vs. Digital Piano: Which Should I Buy from the Piano Technicians Guild is a helpful read.
We have both an acoustic and digital piano in our home. The acoustic in our living room came from a nearby church and our digital is a Compact Grand Piano ($799) from Casio that lives in Thomas’ room. Unlike an acoustic piano, the Compact Grand Piano (CGP-700) has a smaller footprint than an acoustic but its firm keys and rich sound mimic a grand piano without taking up tons of space in your home.
For eager kids like Thomas, the CGP-700 is ready to use to create and play right out of the box. Upon first touch, you’ll notice the grip and feel of the keyboard mimic the ebony and ivory keys you’d find on an expensive grand piano. Press on the keys and the sound that comes from the built in speakers gives you that 9 foot concert grand piano sound. 2 dozen microphones recorded the sound to provide a range like what you’d find in an acoustic!
Besides the great touch and sound, the digital display lets you explore the many features quickly and easily. The 5.3” Color Touch InterfaceTM is a brilliant and responsive screen that allows musicians to choose tones, select rhythms, split and layer sounds, and more. There are hundreds of other tones and rhythms to choose from plus ensembles that can be selected that react to the way you play. These built-in features are perfect for anyone who wants to play and create their own music and I love that they encourage Thomas to explore his musical talent in a fun way.
The CGP-700 features six speakers that fill the room with sound. Lower speakers built into the included wooden stand allow you to turn them to face the pianist or the audience. Since Thomas already had a stand in his room, we found that it wasn’t necessary to use the included stand with speakers because the CGP-700 sounds great on its own! But it’s helpful to know that the CGP-700 keyboard attaches and detaches from the stand easily for times when you need to fill a bigger space with sound.
Other features include audio inputs that allow you to connect to a Mac, PC, or any iOS device to play music from other digital devices. There are duet and classroom modes that can be selected and even a headphone output so your pianist can practice and create music privately. Parents: Just be sure that you get a set of child-safe headphones that limits the sound output to not damage young ears!
The Compact Grand Piano CGP-700 from Casio is a fine choice for any family who is considering starting piano lessons for their child or is looking for a way to encourage their young composer to write their own music and wants an arsenal of musical tools at their fingertips. For more information about the Compact Grand Piano and other digital pianos, visit Casio’s website.
No compensation was received for this post but Casio did provide our family with a CGP-700 for review purposes. Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.