Electric Pianos: The Easy Way For
Beginning Adults To
Learn To Play The Piano



  For a few hundred bucks you can get started playing piano easily and quickly 

     Before the days of electronics, if you wanted to play the piano, you had to buy an acoustic piano, which was a sizeable outlay in cash. The cheapest uprights sold for well over $1000., and a decent grand piano could not often be had for under $5000. On the upside you could spend as much as $50,000. on a major-name grand piano.

     And price wasn't the only problem: acoustic pianos have to be tuned regularly, plus they are subject to cracked soundboards, broken strings, warped hammers, and yellowing keys. And if that wasn't enough, it would take 2 to 4 strong men to move the piano into place.

     But don't get me wrong -- I love acoustic pianos, and have several myself. But for the beginners just getting started in music and piano playing, the development of the electronic piano (sometimes called an electric keyboard) was a huge breakthrough, allowing  people who really couldn't afford a multi-thousand dollar instrument to test the musical waters for just a few hundred bucks.     

     An electric piano is an electronic, keyboard-based instrument made to sound like a piano; in fact, the instrument was created to provide musicians with a more portable version of the hefty upright or grand pianos. The sound of an electric piano, however, is not an exact replica. All versions of electric piano carry their own unique sound, which has made many of them extremely sought after (even though some types are extremely rare). An electric piano falls somewhere between an acoustic piano and an organ, but defies the sound properties of both. While it carries the same basic features as a piano -- full 88 key keyboard, various pedals and weighted keys -- the sound is more comparable to an organ than to any type of piano. An electric piano is actually a rudimentary, un-evolved version of the modern digital piano -- it was created with the same concepts of portability and function in mind -- but it's hardly seen in that light. Like many rudimentary, vintage things, the electric piano has only grown in popularity with its age; the electric piano, like early video game systems, is now a cherished and highly used piece of pop culture.

     The term electric piano isn't always used in this specific a fashion, however. Often, electric piano describes the more modern digital pianos or synthesizers; it has similarities to both. Like a digital piano, an electric piano focuses on portability and piano-like qualities. It includes pedals and weighted keys, two very piano-like elements, and strives to create the same vibrant sound. And like a synthesizer, it is strikingly electronic and easily distinguishable from any type of acoustic instrument. But unlike either the digital piano or synthesizer, the electric piano produces a very rich, vivid sound. Audiophiles sometimes cite the electric piano as the best-sounding electronic instrument ever made; it maintains it's electronic qualities without sounding tinny or canned, like some modern electronic instruments. For that reason, it is often used where an electronic element doesn't need to be overwhelming; the electric piano makes its electronic point without compromising the richness of the ensemble.

    So to get started in piano playing, before committing to an major purchase, you can put your toe in the musical waters for just a few hundred bucks, take a few lessons, and see what happens. If you find you don't care for it, you can easily sell it for half or more of what you paid for it, which wasn't much in the first place.

     But if you love piano playing as much as I think you will, you can gradually acquire other digital or acoustic pianos as you progress, meanwhile selling off the older units while being increasingly educated about pianos and what you eventually want to own.

 Acoustic grand pianos

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Duane Shinn is the author of over 500 music books and music educational materials such as DVD's, CD's, musical games for kids, chord charts, musical software, and piano lesson instructional courses for adults. His courses have been written up in hundreds of newspapers and magazines. His book-CD-DVD course titled "How To Play Chord Piano" (http://www.chordpiano.com) has sold over 100,000 copies around the world. He holds an advanced degree from Southern Oregon University and was the founder of Piano University in Southern Oregon. He has also logged time as an assistant music therapist, piano tuner, and working piano player. He is the author of the popular free 101-week e-mail newsletter titled "Amazing Secrets Of Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions" with over 55,000 current subscribers. Those interested may obtain a free subscription by going to http://www.playpiano.com/

With Mollie Wells June 2005

Piano lessons using piano chords at www.playpiano.com