Am I Too Old To Start Learning The Piano?

Spoiler: absolutely not.

Have you ever heard an amazing piano player whilst visiting a piano store or shopping centre? You think to yourself ‘that’s beautiful, I’d love to play piano like that’. You move closer to the sound, and as you’re in eyeshot of the piano, you discover the person playing is about ten years old.

Suddenly you feel deflated, ’I could never play like that, I’d be starting too late!’.

I have good news for you: you are NEVER too old to begin learning the piano. Having the drive and passion to learn something new as an adult is not to be underestimated, and it isn’t uncommon for adults to progress well through piano lessons for that reason.

Pianote offers some really useful information for learning the piano, and is a must watch for anyone considering getting started.

This teacher jumps right in with a musical, melodic phrase that you – the student – will be able to play by the end of the lesson. If you have a keyboard at home already, why not give it a go!

She also shares some great tips for learning the piano as an adult, the first being: ’know what you want to play, and be really clear on that’. This is excellent advice. There are a lot of teachers out there that teach a lot of different styles – be sure to be learning from the one who suits you and your goals.

Let’s take a look at this video where teacher Cory Hall is teaching his 66 year old beginner student Christine.  This video is jam-packed with information, so I’m going summarise the most important points.  

You’ll see early on that Cory is correcting the way the Christine is positioning her fingers. Starting with the correct technique in this way is exactly why it’s best to get a teacher from the get go. It’s always harder to correct bad habits and incorrect technique than it is to learn the correct from the beginning!

The student is learning basic scale patterns and note reading right away – this is the best way to learn the keyboard because you are gaining a solid foundation on which to grow your skills and understanding of music. Through these piano exercises, she is also developing her finger muscles and dexterity.

Cory likens learning the piano notes to learning a new language, where in both cases, the goal is to naturally do so without thinking about it.

As you can see from both videos, the approach is not overwhelming.  

Learning the piano is a lifelong journey – even as a professional musician, there is always more to learn, and different styles to explore, but as a beginner you will be surprised at how quickly you will be able to play a few tunes.

There is no better feeling than learning a beautiful piece of music that you are able to play forever, so we hope you enjoy your lessons, and we look forward to finding you the perfect instrument to practice on at home – and maybe even perform on!

For piano recommendations to suit your needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our friendly live chat specialists, call us on 1300 888 279, or visit your nearest store.

Please note: this post is not sponsored.

Upcoming Australia Based Piano Competitions You Should Know About

Whether you’re planning to compete in the future, or you like to be part of the audience, jot down the dates of these competitions because you don’t want to miss them!

The Sydney International Piano Competition

The Sydney International Piano competition is a major event that aims to recognise and celebrate unique musical artistry in it’s prizewinners. It inspires both pianists and audiences, and provides a platform to showcase superb all-round pianists who are ready to undertake major international careers. 

How it works:

32 competitors are chosen by a preselection panel consisting of five pianists/musicians of international experience. Due to covid, the applications received for the originally scheduled 2020 competition and will become the competitors for the 2021 Sydney International Online Piano Competition. An additional 33rd competitor will be admitted to the competition for 2021 only. 

The competition is well underway with results of the preliminary round being revealed to the contestants and public on July 9, 2021. The semi final round is scheduled for July 15, 2021, and the grand final for July 18, 2021.

Live stream tickets can be booked now via https://thesydney.com.au/

Australian International Chopin Piano Competition

The Australian International Chopin Piano Competition is a triennial partnership between The Australian National University and its School of Music, the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Australia, and the Friends of Chopin Australia. It was established in 2011 and seeks to return to the 19th century ideals of interpretation and music making. 

Of the competition, Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Brian P. Schmidt says ‘Chopin Piano Competition focuses on celebrating excellence, performance, and a rich history of intelligent creativity, all through Chopin’s unforgettable legacy.’

How it works:

The 2021 competition boasts 16 international competitors from 11 countries around the world coming together over seven days for their love of Chopin, competing for their share of cash prizes. The jury consists of 8 esteemed pianists, educators, composers, and conductors. 

There are three winner’s recitals: September 19, 2021 at Sydney Opera House’s Utzon Room, September 20, 2021 at The High Court of Australia in Canberra, and September 24, 2021 at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Brisbane. For the performance schedule and to buy tickets, visit https://www.aicpc.org.au/

Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition

“We would like to wish the young pianists the power to fully realise their creative potential. We hope that the audience will enjoy taking part in this event and will support the young musicians by sharing their aspirations”  – Natasha Vlassenko, Oleg Stepanov – Artistic Directors. 

The Les Vlassenko Piano Competition is open to permanent residents and citizens of Australia, as well as those from another nation who have studied in Australia for at least one year within the last three years, between the ages of 16-30. Due to current travel restrictions, overseas applicants are not eligible to apply. As the Grand Final is fast approaching, applications for 2021 have now closed.

How it works:

After auditions close, 12 contestants are selected to present a 90 minute recital in either Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne. 

Of those 12 contestants, 3 will go on to perform at the competition final where they will be accompanied by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

The Grand Final will be held on July 16, 2021 at the Conservatorium Theatre, Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. For tickets, visit https://www.lev-vlassenko.com/

The Grand Final will also be live streamed via the website. Past recitals are currently available for immediate live stream.

International Cochran Piano Competition

The International Cochran Piano Competition is the first entirely online competition, and was inspired by the music of Australian composer and virtuosic pianist, Julian Cochran. 

With dedicated mentorship programs, a unique judging system, and no upper age limit, the International Cochran Piano Competition is an amazing opportunity for pianists. There is also no upper age limit. 

How it works:

The repertoire has to consist of Julian Cochrans music. The performances are evaluated by a jury that do not communicate with each other. They also provide written feedback, providing each contestant further opportunity to develop. Each participant is also offered a Skype conversation with the jury member of their choice. Take a look here https://www.cochranpianocompetition.com/icpc-2021

Brisbane International Youth Music Festival

Brisbane International Youth Music Festival is an international competition for young classical musicians. BIYMF is a non-for profit organization, operating exclusively for educational purposes. Part of their mission is to ‘not simply to select the best musicians, but to acknowledge and reward those talented and aspiring young performers who demonstrate a passion for music.’

This competition is open to both piano and other instrumentalists of any nationality aged 25 and under. If you’ve been considering entering a piano competition, applications are being accepted up until August 15, 2021.

How it works:

There are five age categories, with the youngest being ‘under 9’s’. Applicants are required to record and submit a video submission of one piece of their choice, either Baroque, Classical, Romanic, or Modern work. Non classical works will not be considered. The application fee is currently $99.

The festival will be held online between August 25 – September 15, 2021, and will be judged by a minimum of three distinguished international musicians. 

To read more and apply, visit https://brisbaneyouthmusicfestival.org/

Mistakes people make when beginning to learn the piano

Have you been thinking about playing piano for a while? Do you have a child who has expressed interest in playing piano, but you’re not sure if they’ll stick with it? 

Getting started the right way is very important. Not only will it determine how much you enjoy playing the piano, with the right guidance, you will discover just how capable you are of learning an instrument. 

Whether you dream of taking to the stage or are just playing for fun, here are three things to avoid when getting started on your musical journey:

1. Investing in lessons without buying an instrument

This is exactly like booking in a 30 minute weekly session with a personal trainer and then not doing any exercise during the week.   

By the time you buy an instrument, you or your child won’t be in the habit of practicing, so setting up a practice schedule will potentially be a challenge. Getting better at anything requires consistent practice, and piano is no exception!

2. Buying an instrument with no plan on how to learn

Taking regular piano lessons is always the best option to maximise your learning potential.

Ideal scenario: You see a teacher at least once a week. You enjoy your lessons with the teacher so you leave feeling inspired, and you know exactly what you need to practice at home. 

Potential for failure: You buy a piano because a friend said they could teach you. You don’t see them regularly, so you don’t have any structure, and don’t feel motivated to practice. Because this isn’t a strong plan, you eventually stop playing.

Potential for failure: You decide to buy a keyboard because you’ve seen some courses online which have made self study look achievable. Having never played music before, you struggle with some of the music theory and come to a dead end. 

While online courses are great, and absolutely suitable for some learners (particularly people who have previously studied music), there is no substitute for having a teacher. I am not discouraging having a look at online lessons, but if you find you aren’t progressing as fast as you’d like, or are getting stuck on certain concepts, it may be time to look for a teacher, rather than thinking ‘I’m not good at this’. 

3. Overspeculating   

Concerns such as ‘will I be good at piano?’, and, ‘I don’t know if my kid will get bored of playing the piano soon’ are common considerations, but ultimately, with the right guidance and instrument, I believe anyone can learn the piano. If kids like their teacher, and therefore enjoy their piano lessons, they will want to keep playing.

Let’s say, for example, you don’t know how much time your child will have to focus on the piano once they reach their senior high school years. That’s ok! Perhaps piano will be something they do to relax after studying. Playing the piano is meant to be enjoyable, challenging, and satisfying, so if the goal is to play piano just for fun, it’s not the end of the world if they miss a day of practice.  

What do you think of these points? Do you have any more of your own to add? Let us know in the comments.

To discuss getting started on the piano, feel free to get in touch with our friendly live chat specialists. Alternatively, for expert piano advice, call 1300 888 279 to reach your nearest store.

Five Australian Pianists You Need In Your Life.

Looking for some inspiration to kick off your evening practice sessions? Look no further. We’ve picked five incredible Australian pianists who have done, and are continuing to do, amazing things in their music careers.

1. Van-Anh Nguyen

Van-Anh Nguyen is an Australian-Vietnamese pianist, producer, and composer currently signed to Universal Music/Decca Records.

With 7 album releases under her belt, she has hit #1 on the Australian iTunes classical charts three years in a row.

She was awarded her AmusA at age 9, and her LmusA at age 12, has won several awards throughout her piano studies such as the Kawai Piano Award (Australia), and the Audience Prize in the 13th Sommerklavierfest, Bad-Bertrich (Germany), and performed internationally at major concert halls.

Incorporating music, fashion and DJ’s to her concerts, Van-anh is also active on Instagram where she posts her new music, practice, and behind the scenes, with a bit of food and wine. Follow her here: https://www.instagram.com/vananhofficial/

2. Hoang Pham

Hoang Pham is a concert pianist who was born in Vietnam and came to Australia as a baby with his parents. He describes playing the piano, not only as his job, but his greatest hobby. He often performs as a soloist, sometimes with other musicians, and on special occasions with orchestras.

As much of the world is in lockdown, his production company ‘Hoang Pham Productions’, is presenting high quality performances, viewable for free on youtube, or facebook. Take a look! https://www.facebook.com/hoangphampiano/

Hoang Pham also teaches the piano to all ages and levels of experience. More information can be found here on his website: https://hoangpham.com.au/teaching/

3. Mekhla Kumar

Mekhla Kumar is an prize winning Australian concert pianist from Adelaide. After studying at Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium of Music, she completed her post graduate studies at the Freiburg University of Music in Germany where she was awarded 100% for her final examinations – a rare and impressive feat.

Mekhla Kumar has also been the recipient of multiple scholarships, has performed as a soloist with the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, and has collaborated with Grammy nominated bassoon virtuoso, Martin Kuuskman.

4. Julian Cochran

Julian Cochran is an English born, Australian composer and pianist. Interestingly, he was also trained as a mathematician.

At fourteen years old, he received a scholarship to the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide for advanced piano studies. He also began teaching himself to play other instruments – some virtuosically. 

Jeffrey Williams of the New York Concert Review pointed out that when one hears ‘mathematician’ and ‘composer’ in the same sentence, it’s not unreasonable to anticipate a music style with a mathematical base, however it is not the case with Julian Cochran, who stylistically, can be compared to romantic composers such as Chopin, and Debussy. 

His music continues to be performed globally at some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls. The Cochran Piano Competition began in 2014 and is usually held annual in Warsaw, Poland, however, as all piano competitions are cancelled due to covid, the fifth edition will be held online, with participants able to send in their audition videos.

For more information, visit:

https://www.cochranpianocompetition.com/about

5. Simon Tedeschi

Simon is one of Australia’s most renowned pianists, performing as a soloist with the counties leading orchestras, and internationally with various jazz and classical collaborators. In 2009 he performed at Carnegie Hall and was the recipient of the ‘New York Young Jewish Pianist Award’. By then, he was no stranger to the stage, he first performed at the Sydney Opera House at the age of 8!

He is currently performing across Australia as part of various collaborations, including Echo’s Of The Jazz Age, The Genius Of Gershwin, and Rhapsody in Blue with the Clarence Valley Orchestra.

Alongside a symphony orchestra, Simon also has a concert series especially for kids and their families. The self-described pianist and prankster takes his audience on a journey, sharing his experiences as a classical pianist.

He also performs a concert designed for little ones aged 2-5 titled ‘Meeting Mozart’. Take a look here!

For more information including current concert dates, visit his website: https://simontedeschi.com

Product Guide: Casio Celviano AP270, AP470 & Privia PX770, and PX870

Have you ever walked into a piano store and looked at two keyboards side by side and wondered why one is more expensive when they look almost identical?

Navigating the world of pianos for the first time can be tricky, so we’ve broken down the features of four popular home style Casio digital pianos so you can discover which is the best model for your needs. 

Celviano Series: AP270 and AP470 

AP270:

The entry level model into the series is an excellent choice for both beginners and hobbyists looking for a beautifully designed model that has a great feel and sound. Designed to feel like an acoustic piano, it has weighted keys with a wood-like texture. This technology, patented by Casio, is called ‘Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II’. 

Casio’s sound technology is called ‘AiR’ – ‘Acoustic and Intelligent Resonator. Through piano sampling, Casio has created a piano sound that is natural, rich, and resonant. 

AP470:

The next model up also features Casio’s Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II and AiR sound technology, but this time steps it up a notch with a more advanced speaker system – 2 X 20W. The result is not simply that it can go louder, it produces a beautifully full and rich sound. 

When deciding between these two models, I encourage you to have a play (or listen to someone else play!) of both side by side. Even if you haven’t played music before or claim to be ‘not musical’, you’ll notice the superior sound on this model.

The lid is also able to be opened. Much like an acoustic piano, the lid position alters the sound and volume. This impressive feature gives the player control over their desired sound. 

The AP470 also has a USB port positioned in the front of the keyboard so you can record straight to your USB and then plug into your computer for listening, sharing, or recording. Handy!

Both of these models have a metronome, built in record function, a lesson function, and app connectivity via cable. They both have 22 tones – Grand Piano 1 (concert, mellow, bright), Grand Piano 2 (concert, mellow, bright), and a selection of electric pianos, strings, and organs. 

Privia Series: PX770 and PX870 

The first thing you’ll notice is that the PX770 and PX870 are cased in a modern, slimline shape, rather than the traditional cabinet of the Celivano Series.

Whilst this sleek design can be simply a design preference, it also has the practical benefit of taking up less space in the home without sacrificing on sound quality. 

These models also feature Casio’s Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II and AiR sound source. The PX770 features the same speaker size as the AP270, and the PX870 features 2 X 20W speakers like the AP470. 

The PX870 doesn’t have a moveable lid like the AP470, but instead has an inbuilt ‘lid simulator’ function.

When compared to the AP270, the PX770 has slightly less tones – 19 instead of 22, and lower polyphony – 128 compared to the AP270’s 192. For the beginner to intermediate player, this will not make a great deal of difference. These two models also have a metronome, built in record function, a lesson function, and app connectivity via cable.

Both the PX870 and AP470 have a polyphony of 256. 

The AP270, AP470, PX770, and PX870 all have a folding lid to protect the keys from dust, little fingers and pets. They’re also available in three colours – Black, Brown, or White. 

To read more about Casio’s technology, visit their website article here https://www.casio-intl.com/asia/en/emi/privia/info/#air

For a closer look at these models, feel free to visit us in store. Our experienced piano experts will guide you through each of the features on our demonstration models.

Roland Unveils their new FPX series

Roland’s popular FP series has had an upgrade!

The FPX Series at a glance: 

The high quality soundivory feel keys with graded hammer action, and app connectivity make this series an excellent choice for beginners, gigging musicians, songwriters, composers, and anyone interested in having a piano playing experience with a portable digital instrument.

Throughout the range, there have been great app and connectivity additions, additional sounds, and even better sound quality. As for versatility, all three models in the FP-X series – the FP-30X, FP-60X, and FP90-X have the option of adding a fixed stand and pedal board. 

For more information on the apps available to use with the range, take a look at Roland’s Piano Everyday and Piano Designer apps.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the three models and their new features:

FP-30X

This keyboard again uses Roland’s PHA-4 keyboard and superNATURAL sound technology with 2 X 11W speakers, but this time, uses a more advanced chip processor, resulting in a clear, brilliant sound. 

For those looking to gig on a budget, the FP-30X now has dedicated stereo ¼ line outs which can be used to connect to external speakers.  

The FP-30X also has three selectable speaker settings

1.    OFF (which would be used when connected to an external speaker). 

2.    DESK (bass is reduced for more clarity when being played on a desk at home). 

3.    STAND (bass is increased to allow the sound to disperse below the stand as would be the case when sitting in front of an acoustic piano).

Tones

The FP-30X contains 12 piano tones, 20 electric piano tones, and 24 ‘other’ tones- everything you need to play a wide variety of music. 

Weight

The FP-30X comes in at 14.8kgs. Stand and pedal options for this model can be viewed here.

The FP-60X

Also using Roland’s PHA-4 keyboard and SUPERnatural sound engine, the FP-60X now jumps up to a more advanced speaker system, 2 X 13W,  which is powerful enough for an intimate live performance, or simply an amazing sounding home instrument. 

A more powerful speaker means a richer, deeper tone, even when being played at a softer level.

Singers, rejoice! The FP-60X now contains a mic input for recording and practicing.

Recording can be done to both USB, as well as directly onto the keyboard. Practicing at home with a microphone is a great way to work on your performance technique ahead of the gig.

The new My Stage function allows you to pair piano tones with ambience types to create an immersive experience of playing in different environments such as concert halls, clubs, and studios.

Tones

The FP-60X contains a whopping 358 sounds (including 8 drum sets and 1 SFX set), giving you everything you need for gigging, and creating music at home. Whether you like to play with different sounds and styles, or stick to your select favorites, the FP-60X gives you fantastic options to choose from.

Weight

The additional speaker size makes this model a little heavier compared to the FP-30X, yet still easy to carry around at 19.3kgs.

If you’re looking for the next step up in sound quality and functionality, this model ticks all the boxes.

FP-90X

At the top of the line is Roland’s flagship portable piano. Featuring Roland’s PHA-50 hybrid keyboard with wooden keys, and PureAcoustic Piano Modeling, the FP-90X delivers a truly stunning piano playing experience – all cased inside a portable digital mode for the first timel. 

This model goes above and beyond with its powerful four speaker system – 2 X 25W + 2 X 5W.

The speakers are powerful enough to do an intimate performance without needing to connect to an external sound source such as an amplifier or PA system. 

Mainly using it for home practice? The FP-90X also delivers an incredible sound when being played at a lower volume, retaining a great depth of tone.

The FP-90X also contains a microphone input and My Stage function.

Tones

The FP-90X contains 362 tones, including eight PureAcoustic pianos, 12 sampled pianos, and famous synths such as Jupiter 8, and D50.

Weight

23.6kgs.

The Roland FPX series is ideal for anyone wanting to get started, or level up.

Please note: the FPX range has replaced the now discontinued FP range.

Visit your nearest Australian Piano Warehouse showroom to experience these pianos, or feel free to get in touch with your local store on 1300 888 279 for more information.

How much do I need to spend on a digital piano in 2021?

Wanting a digital instrument that feels and sounds like a piano? It may cost less than you think. While digital piano technology has advanced significantly over the past few years, prices are lower than ever before. 

Our customers often say that they don’t care about the ‘bells and whistles’, or they don’t need it to be ‘fancy’.

Some models contain a large variety of sounds and rhythms, but the ‘bells and whistles’ are generally not what make a digital piano more expensive – it is the technology behind both:

  • The piano feel
  • The sound

Rather than using strings, hammers, and a wooden soundboard like a real piano, a digital instrument uses speakers, and technology to create a piano playing experience. (With the exception of the Kawai CA99 – a digital model that features incredibly advanced technology, including a wooden soundboard).

Now that I know what I am paying for, how much do I need to spend?

It’s so important to have an instrument with weighted keys so you can develop the muscles and dexterity in your fingers. 

This means that at minimum you will be looking for something with 88 keys and weighted action between the 700-800 price range* such as Portable entry level models like the Casio CDP135, Yamaha P45, Roland FP10 or Kawai ES110.

Next models up from there include options like the Yamaha P125 or Roland FP30. These come within the 980-1050 price range*. These models are a step up in sound quality compared to the entry models. They also have better controllability, and in some cases, the option to add a fixed 3 pedal unit which is advantageous for those studying piano. 

These models will take you further in your piano playing journey without needing to upgrade. 

Next, let’s take a look at cabinet style models. 

If you’ll primarily be playing your piano at home, cabinet style models are a great choice:

  • They look like a piano, only smaller 
  • They’re cased in either a slimline design, or a traditional style piano cabinet
  • Often include a matching bench

The Kawai KDP110 boasts an impressive 40W speaker system and premium wood like finish, making it an excellent choice for beginners and experienced players alike.

The Kawai KDP70, includes a matching stool, and features Kawai’s expressive EX concert sampled piano sounds. This model was designed to be an affordable addition to the KDP range. Both models include a matching stool. 

Other models worth considering under the $2099 mark are the Casio AP270, Casio PX770, Roland F140, Yamaha YDP164, and Yamaha YDPS54. Whilst each model has very similar features, they each use their own unique technology and thus feel, and sound, slightly different from one another. 

Let’s jump into premium cabinet models.

Why buy a premium model? 

Premium models have the most superior sound and feel. This means that features such as wooden keys, superior speaker systems, and the most advanced technology all come together to create a piano playing experience. 

Premium models are not just for advanced players. If you want to begin your piano playing journey on a digital instrument that is as close to a piano as possible, kick start your journey with a model from Roland’s HP700 or LX700 series, Yamaha’s Clavinova series, or Kawai’s CA series**.   

If you have been wanting to play piano for some time and you’ve reached a point where you are ready to buy an instrument and make piano playing a part of your life, it’s always better to buy an instrument that:

  • Will carry you through your playing without needing to upgrade
  • You love the sound and feel of 

We have a large range of digital and acoustic pianos to suit a variety of goals and budgets***. For any specific enquiries, feel free to reach out to one of our friendly piano specialists in store, our live chat, or on 1300 888 279 

*All prices current at time of posting on December 2020

** Specifications vary between models.

*** Our range of digital pianos extends beyond this article

How long does it take to learn the piano?

With a bit of practice and consistency, you’ll be playing all your favorite songs! 

Thinking about learning the piano in 2021? Take a look at the inspiring journey of these YouTubers who began playing the piano and documented their progress from day one. 

1. Matt Southam

Matt documented his journey from day one to a year. He offers some excellent advice for anyone thinking about getting started. He also performs a concert during his first year of learning the piano!

2. ROANAH 

This journey video is from someone who has a background in music as a guitarist and composer. In his description ROANAH explains how he approached his practice, as well as how and why he got into music theory. 

If you’ve been thinking of adding the piano to your instrument playing palette, give this video a watch. 

3. Jacky Kuah 

This video by Jacky Kuah demonstrates how you can start playing your favorite songs right away. He also takes some time to discuss how he approached teaching himself the piano. Great insights for those wanting to learn solely from the Internet.

4. James2x

Another self-taught piano player. In between his piano clips, James gives some great commentary into the journey of learning the piano, and discusses how he pushes through the inevitable challenges everyone faces when learning a new skill. Very inspiring! 

5. Piano Progress

This video is a clear and concise look at the progress that can be made in three months using the Alfred’s Piano Books. This channel also features music from the Alfred’s Adult Piano course books, so is useful for anyone planning to take that route.

You will notice that everyone has taken slightly different approaches, so don’t be afraid to get started by learning your favorite songs, and be sure to build your technique and music theory bit by bit.

Taking piano lessons is the best way to fast tracking your playing, but as a lot of these videos have demonstrated, there are also a lot of great learning options available online and in music books.

We’ve got a range of pianos to suit your budget and lifestyle so feel free to visit us in store, or speak to one of our friendly live chat specialists on the website. 

Decoding digital pianos

Feeling unsure of what exactly to look for in a digital piano?  Here’s a basic, easy to understand overview of the main specifications and features of a digital piano.

Number of Keys

88 Key: This is the same number of keys as a real piano and is most ideal for learning, practicing, and playing the piano.

76 Key: Though a less common choice for learning the piano, 76 key models such as the Yamaha P121 can be a good choice for those wanting the feel of a piano, as it has weighted keys. Not all 76 key models have weighted keys however, so it is important to check

61 Key: Ranging from keyboards with hundreds of sounds and rhythms to explore creativity at home, to workstations and synthesizers suitable for the stage. 76 key models also exist in this category.

Sound Engine

The sound engine is the technology used to produce the sound. Unlike acoustic pianos which produce sound from a hammer striking a string and resonating through a wooden soundboard, a digital instrument uses recorded samples of a piano, or a type of technology called ‘modelling’ which closely models the sound, feel, and behaviour of an acoustic instrument.

Each brand has their own name for the technology that they use and they all sound slightly different from one another, much in the same way that different brands of acoustic pianos each have their own distinct sound.

Keyboard Action

The way the keyboard feels is often described as the ‘action’. You might have heard of ‘weighted keys’ – it’s important to learn piano on an instrument with weighted keys to develop the muscles and dexterity in the fingers.

Graded Hammer Action technology takes it one step further in giving the player an authentic piano playing experience. If you’ve ever had a good look inside an acoustic piano, you’ll see that the hammers that strike the strings are larger – and therefore heavier – in the bass end of the piano, and smaller at the top. The natural effect is that the keys at the bottom feel heavier and gradually get lighter as they go up.

Digital piano technology emulates that feeling by making the keys heavier at the bottom, and lighter as they go up – depending on the brand, this can be called ‘Graded Hammer Action’, ‘Scaled Hammer Action’, ‘PHA-4’ (progressive hammer action) to name a few. Just like the sound engine, each brand uses their own technology and terminology.

There are also variances in the key’s texture across the different brands. A beginner is unlikely to have a strong preference (though, some do!), but an experienced player is likely to have a preference for a particular key feel.

Please note that 61 key keyboards generally do not have weighted keys.

Polyphony

Polyphony is the amount of notes you can play at once.

Record Function

The ability to record your playing and store it on the keyboard

MIDI

In the past, a specific midi cable and keyboard port was required to connect the keyboard to the computer for recording midi. These days, the majority connect via a USB cable. Once connected, you can record midi using your preferred recording program.

Metronome

A metronome is a click sound which keeps you playing in time. You can set the tempo and time signature. It’s an incredibly useful practice tool.

Headphone Jack

All current digital pianos have a headphone jack to connect headphones with. Depending on the type of headphones you own, you may need to buy a small adapter. These are not costly.

 

Any more questions related to a specific model? Feel free to get in touch with one of our experienced piano specialists on 1300 888 279

 

8 Reasons to learn to play the piano.

  1. It will reduce your stress

There is nothing better after a long day, than unwinding with your piano and a piece of music that you love. A study conducted by K. Toyoshima, H. Fukui, and K. Kuda at the Nara University of Education compared playing the piano, calligraphy, and clay moulding. Their finding was that cortisol levels were reduced after all three activities, but piano playing had the greatest effect.

  1. Improve Your Confidence

Whether you are preparing for exams, performances, or just playing for leisure, there are so many ways that learning the piano grows confidence. You will be developing a new skill and discovering new capabilities within yourself even by simply practicing at home.

  1. Learning how to read music opens you up to a whole new language

Reading music notation for the first time is easier than you think. Once you delve deeper into sheet music, you will be learning more about how composers wrote music, and how they wish the piece to be performed. If you’re studying classical music, you’ll even be learning a bit of German, Italian, and French.

  1. Improves Coordination

Playing different notes, chords, and rhythms at the same time with both hands naturally improves coordination. Don’t be daunted by this prospect! By starting with the basics you will develop a strong foundation where combining two hands feels effortless.

  1. It teaches discipline, concentration, and determination

There is a technical side to playing the piano that is equal parts challenging and equal parts satisfying. For example, you may spend ‘X’ amount of time working on a scale or exercise, and then find you are able to tackle a difficult musical passage with greater ease. It’s a great feeling!

  1. It is easy to play songs right away

Unlike wind and string instruments where it takes time to produce a pleasing sound, you will be able to play basic music in your first moments of learning the piano.

  1. It can develop into a lifelong passion

Learning the piano should be enjoyable, relaxing, challenging and fun. As a hobbyist, whether you practice every day or go a stretch of time without learning, music is something that will always stay with you. Whether you are travelling and find an old piano, or you’re at a party where there is a piano, you’ll always be able to jump on and play some tunes!

  1. It’s fun

It is enjoyable to learn the music that you love and to be able to express yourself freely through music. Feel free to chat with one of our friendly piano specialists about how you can get started on your journey with piano.

Learning to play the piano during COVID

There’s never been a better time to learn

Many people ask ‘can I learn the piano as an adult?’. Absolutely!

At the moment, more and more adults are flocking to learn the piano – and with good reason! Learning the piano is relaxing, enjoyable, and good for the mind. Whether you choose to see a piano teacher, learn through online tutorials, or pick up a music book, here are some helpful hints to get you going:

  1. Think about your goals 

What do you want to have learned on piano once covid is over and life has returned to normal?

Here are some examples:

  • To be able to play my favorite song with confidence.
  • To master Hanon exercises
  • To be able to sing and play piano at the same time
  • To learn how to improvise/get better at improvising
  • To play piano in front of my family

Why do I want to be able to do this?

  • ‘I want to do something that is relaxing and enjoyable’
  • ‘I want to be able to play the songs I love’
  • ‘I want to have improved my technique’
  • ‘I want to start performing’
  • ‘I love the sound of piano and I’ve always wanted to play’
  1. Find the right learning tools to suit your goals

Let’s take a look at what is available online

If you want to learn jazz, why not learn from Herbie Hancock? He has created an in depth lesson series on Masterclass.

https://www.masterclass.com/classes/herbie-hancock-teaches-jazz/chapters/piano-basics#

Playground sessions was co-created by music legend, and producer of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Quincy Jones

The lessons have been created by a team of instructors, including Harry Connick, Jr.

https://www.playgroundsessions.com/

Music learning app ‘Flowkey’ gives you everything you need to get playing piano right away. It was created in cooperation with Yamaha music, and gets you playing your favorite songs right away. For beginners, you can begin with a Beginners Course which covers the basics. Check it out here: https://app.flowkey.com/intro

If you are a beginner and prefer heading straight to YouTube, the channel ‘Easy Piano’ has a wide range of pop songs to learn.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPfDF8O9GllZ-79F76Q7LXA

Already know how to read music? Musicnotes contains over 400,000 song arrangements available to purchase and download on the spot. https://www.musicnotes.com/

These are just some of the tools that can have you starting, or continuing, your journey as a piano player.

  1. Find a teacher.

Nothing beats sitting down with a teacher, especially if you want to speed up your learning process. Ideally, you’ll be getting lessons, and using online materials as supplementary learning.

A good teacher will quickly identify your strengths and see where you need to improve. You are bound to have a lot of ‘aha!’ moments as the teacher tells you exactly what to work on.

If you’re feeling unmotivated, not progressing past a certain point, or experiencing ‘information overload’ from looking at a variety of different online tutorials without finding the best one for your needs, getting a teacher is the best thing you can do.

  1. Structure your practice

Break down your practice into meaningful chunks to ensure you are developing technique, building new skills, and strengthening existing skills.

For example, you might spend 20 minutes playing exercises from a book or app, 20 minutes on a new concept you have just learned – either in your lesson, or from an online tutorial, and 20 minutes playing whatever you like for fun.

We have a large variety of keyboards and pianos available for shipping across Australia. Feel free to get in touch with one of our friendly, experienced piano specialists on 1300 888 279, or simply connect to our live chat operator to find the best instrument for your needs. 

Part 3 – Guiding Your Child or Teenager Through Their Practice

Now that you’ve got the right instrument for your child and they’ve started lessons with a great teacher, the real journey begins!

‘Just practice what the teacher told you to practice!’this is a common sentiment, and not bad advice in and of itself – your child should always be practicing the material set for them by the teacher however, aside from teaching your child new skills and technique, a big part of the music teacher’s role is to guide their students through their practice.

You see, knowing HOW to practice, is just as important as knowing WHAT to practice. This is where you can also help at home.

Unlike needing to understand complicated equations to help your kids with their math homework, you will be able to help with their piano practice without ever needing to play a single note.

Here are a three issues to be aware of:

#1: Playing too fast

Playing fast is cool and fun, so a lot of students can’t resist the temptation to play at a high speed. The problem is, they often haven’t mastered the song they’re learning at a slower tempo. It’s common to hear a younger student fumble their way through excitedly. They’re playing fast – but they’re not playing well.

Have you ever heard a very skilled piano player? The way they glide their fingers up and down the keys so effortlessly with perfect timing and precision – that comes from years of slow, measured practice. You can’t run until you can walk.

How you can help:

Make sure you know how to use and access the metronome – encourage your child to practice at an appropriate tempo as set by the teacher. Roland’s HP and LX range have their metronome buttons easily accessible. Many Yamaha digital models have a user friendly interactive app called ‘Smart Pianist’ to control the metronome, amongst many other features.

#2 – ‘Practice is Boring’.

Learning an instrument should be challenging,rewarding, and enjoyable. Whilst learning any skill that requires practice and concentration isn’t going to be fun 100% of the time – it is important that there are moments set aside just for fun and creativity.

How you can help:

Once the material set by the teacher has been practiced for the day, there is no reason to discourage your child from exploring their creativity.

The Roland FP10 has an inbuilt jazz singing voice which a lot of kids find enjoyable. Both the Yamaha P125 and Roland F140 have built in rhythms which often provide a lot of fun.

#3 – There’s no time to practice

Life is busy. Between homework, family commitments, and extracurricular activities, it’s easy to let piano practice slip.

Fifteen minutes of practice five times a week is better than two hours once a week. Like anything that requires concentration, getting started is always the hardest part.

How you can help:

Make sure the piano is set up in a nice tidy area of the house where it looks inviting. If you have a portable model, never pack it down at night.

Keyboards are designed slimmer than ever so if space is an issue, Casio’s PXS1000 is a good option – it gained an award at the world’s largest trade show (NAMM) in 2012 for its sleek design.

In a cabinet model, the Yamaha YDPS54 and YDPS34 have a multi purpose design – they can be used as a desk when the lid is down. The Roland F140 features a slimline design that is aesthetically pleasing.

For a more traditional design, the Kawai CA59, Roland LX706, and Yamaha CLP745 are just some of the models that offer a superior playing experience at the fraction of the size of an acoustic piano.

More information on products mentioned, including videos, can be accessed by clicking the product links

Has anyone encountered these issues? Do you have any suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comments!

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