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Starting Piano - FAQs

Digital or acoustic?

Most teachers will advise you to buy an acoustic piano if possible.  Even the best digital pianos don't quite reproduce the feel of an acoustic piano, especially not the action of a grand piano.  They don't allow for quite the same finesse of touch and the strings of an acoustic piano also resonate even when those notes aren't being played, which affects the sound.  However, digital instruments provide some benefits:

Digital pianos may take up less space than acoustic pianos, depending on model.

  • Digital pianos are lighter, easier to transport, and can easily go upstairs.
  • Digital pianos may be used with headphones for silent practice.
  • Some digital pianos have keyboard facilities such as alternative voices (sounds), ability to record yourself, drum backing etc. which can be fun to use.
  • Some digital pianos have MIDI interface useful for composing.
  • Digital pianos can be a lot cheaper than acoustic pianos.

What can I get for my budget?

If you or your child is just starting out, you probably won't want to invest in a Steinway grand right now.  The following is a guideline to what you will get for what you are able and willing to spend:

 Type of Instrument
Keyboard without touch sensitivity.
Keyboard with touch sensitivity, enabling student to control loud and quiet playing with their hands.
Cheapest portable digital pianos.  Look for weighted keys, preferably graded hammer action. 
E.g. Yamaha P-35 or  P-100; Casio CDP-120.
Digital pianos in wooden case, e.g. Yamaha Arius, Casio Celviano.  Second-hand upright pianos.
 New upright pianos; good digitals e.g. Yamaha Clavinova.
 Grand pianos

Recommended minimum requirements


No instrument needed for trial.  A keyboard at home will help your child progress, but isn't necessary for this scheme.

Music for Little Mozarts:

Any children's keyboard is fine to begin, but one with full sized keys and touch sensitivity is preferable.

Absolute beginners:
A touch sensitive keyboard with full sized keys will be enough to learn the very basics; however, your progress will be inhibited and fingers will not develop strength.  You'll find that the piano we use for lessons feels very different.

Within six months (as soon as possible):
Digital piano with graded hammer action.  Yamaha P-35 or Casio CDP-120 are among the cheapest and are portable so can be stowed away when not in use.  For an instrument that looks more like a piano, suitable for a beginner, the Yamaha Arius (YDP) series or Casio Celviano models are a fraction of the cost of an upright.  Roland and Kawai also have good reputations. 

Where can I buy an instrument?

Island Music (near Minden Place carpark) have various digital and acoustic pianos in stock and can order specific models for you.  Alternatively, you can order from or Thomann.

What else do I need?

Depending on what model of digital or acoustic piano you buy, you may also need/want:

  • piano stool (preferably adjustable)
  • stand for keyboard/portable or stage piano
  • sustain pedal for digital piano (if not included)
  • headphones
  • music stand
  • pencil
  • folder for music
  • a notebook may be useful (though I try to email lesson notes)