Students with skipworthy pianos...

Questions on learning to play the piano, and piano music.

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shinybead
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Students with skipworthy pianos...

Post by shinybead » 21 May 2011, 19:10

Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum, been teaching piano for about 10 years on and off, much more seriously for the last 3 or 4, now it's my main income and I really enjoy it. I have over 20 students, it's all going really well except that quite a few of them are playing on really awful pianos or keyboards, and I need some advice on encouraging them to get hold of something much better.

I'm not being picky about fine details of tonal quality - I mean at the most basic level, saying that they need to get a keyboard that actually has touch response, or that a piano with missing keys, pedals all wonky and a wooden frame that won't take concert pitch is not ok 'even for a beginner'. Argh!!

1. If money is the issue, what's the best tactic? Do you think it's always best to have 'a real piano' no matter how cheap, or would you recommend a digital piano (or even keyboard) under a certain value?

2. If the problem is that people just don't understand how much more they or their child will enjoy playing on a piano that actually works, how do I get this across?

3. Then for the students who are doing 'fine', on reasonable digital pianos, but I'd love for them to have a real piano because I think it'd really help improve their technique and enjoyment - how do I convince them to upgrade something that's 'fine' already?

Any suggestions gratefully received!

Gill the Piano
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Re: Students with skipworthy pianos...

Post by Gill the Piano » 22 May 2011, 15:36

These days you can pick up a piano reasonably easily on Freecycle or Freegle; some of my clients have picked up piles of firewood, 'tis true, but most of them have got something tuneable and playable, and three of them have got pianos for nothing of which I am frankly envious. They want to learn the piano, not the keyboard, so I think a piano is the best thing to have. But then I'm biased, as I've never played an electric piano/keyboard I liked.
I had a flurry of people ringing up asking if I could tune/mend their pianos anytime before, say, ooooo, yesterday - no hurry! I found out that the reason was a local teacher was getting her house decorated and had announced that for the next two weeks she would be visiting her students at home to teach. Panic in the streets... :roll: :lol:
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didgeridoo
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Re: Students with skipworthy pianos...

Post by didgeridoo » 30 May 2011, 07:53

I don't know, it's not so easy to convince anybody to do something unless they feel like doing it. So, to my view, you got to introduce your students to an instrument which you especially like yourself. I mean, if you know that there's something special in the sound of a specific piano, well, then explain that to them and let them play it - they should notice the difference. And after that, it would be simpler for them to buy that instrument or ask their parents to buy it - they would think that they really need it.

Talking about sound-making nuances, once again, you got to explain your students that they really need a new instrument in order to play better. Tell them that existing one limits their possibilities and while they may think that they can't get any better, this is wrong: it's only limitations of their piano. Don't overdo it, though: even though touch response seems vital, if a student can't keep simple rhythm, he or she should work on it and it's just too early to talk about dynamics...

As concerns digital pianos, speak the truth boldly. Tell your students that if they dream of a serious pianist's career, they do need upgrade. If they only want to have fun playing their favorite pieces - well, probably it doesn't make much sense, but if you see the talent, it would be a crime to let it go to waste - you should do everything to make sure it will blossom out, and if it's impossible without a piano of a higher class, I think you will find necessary words 8)

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Re: Students with skipworthy pianos...

Post by Sharma » 06 Jun 2011, 18:30

Lol, I know what it's like. Best is to be straight with them. If the piano is really holding them back they should know. The art's council in the UK offer a scheme called take it away where they are willing to give a 9 month interest free loan of up to £2000 for the purchase of musical equipment. Perhaps they have similar schemes in other country.
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MarkGoodwinPianos
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Re: Students with skipworthy pianos...

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 07 Jun 2011, 07:31

Sharma wrote:Lol, I know what it's like. Best is to be straight with them. If the piano is really holding them back they should know. The art's council in the UK offer a scheme called take it away where they are willing to give a 9 month interest free loan of up to £2000 for the purchase of musical equipment. Perhaps they have similar schemes in other country.
Sadly, they have just changed the scheme. You now have to be aged 26 or under to qualify for the Arts Council loan.
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