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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2296613 06/29/14 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by bigsmile
Thanks for the reply.

To be honest, I'm not that into classic music. I have no intention of entering my son into serious competitions, at least not before he show any sign of being talented at this, he's not the competitive type.

I like music myself, as I said, I learn piano by myself on and off. I mostly want to introduce my son to music. I also want him to be good at piano, but I'm not that keen about him being able to play difficult classic works, but just having a way of expressing himself through keyboard.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I just want him to be mediocre. I actually want him to be good, but I don't want him to just be good at playing difficult piano musics, but to be good at a broader sense, to be proficient in keyboard music or even music in general.


Also a parent here, and I shared much of your sentiment when I started my daughter on piano -- and that's what is motivating me to respond. This is just my perspective. I had no particular affinity for classical piano either. I just wanted my daughter to enjoy and appreciate music. Personally I am much more of a rock and blues enthusiast. But so far, my daughter is more interested in playing classical music. She is not that motivated about experimenting yet, which I consider to be pretty essential for rock / blues / jazz. In her case, she really needed an acoustic piano to develop the right techniques to play these classical pieces. So I would recommend keeping your child's need in mind in figuring out if and when to move to an acoustic piano. If my daughter had been more interested in blues / jazz, I probably would thought seriously about moving to high end digital piano instead.

My daughter was also five when we started her. She played a digital piano for three years. I will say that while her basic playing skills developed pretty well, i.e. sight reading, rhythm, fluency, she did not come close to being able to get tone or articulation out of an acoustic. It took her some time to adjust her technique after we got the acoustic. In retrospect, should we have started with an acoustic? Without knowing what she will actually enjoy -- NO!!

Last edited by rlinkt; 06/29/14 06:34 PM.
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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2296730 06/29/14 08:16 PM
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I am just a parent also, but my kid has been playing for 8 years and started at 5. He's now pretty advanced and works on concertos, big sonatas, etc. He plays primarily classical, but has learned some jazz, done some improv, will accompany, and can sight read fairly well now.

I think it really depends on the teacher. My kid's teacher was teaching classical technique and listening for good tone with good finger position from day one. He requires an acoustic from the get go. And we do not have a fancy one - it's a rebuilt 100 year old piano. We also have a Casio PX now too, and we use the casio on the road, but it does not come close to the subtlety that can be achieved on this not very fancy piano.

If you really want to start on a digital, look for teachers with more of a non-classical and non-competitive angle. I do agree, not every teacher is willing and able to start a 5 year old. Unless you're child is very precocious and self motivated, I would not start with a teacher that doesn't have experience teaching young kids at this age.

Last edited by kck; 06/29/14 08:16 PM.

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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2296757 06/29/14 09:22 PM
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I have only read up to half way through page 2, so I am not sure if I am contradicting someone here or this has already been covered, but I am going to use three of my students for an example. (Regardless of the piano these students have, I have a very good quality grand that I teach on, so they are getting to play a good piano for half an hour a week.)

Student one comes from a working class family (not poor, but I am guessing can't afford to run out and buy a new upright or grand) and at home she has an upright that was passed down from her grandmother. I believe they recently had it tuned after it being out of tune since she began (this is her third year learning), and this student always jokes about how the second E above middle C on her piano doesn't work! ANYWAY, In the three years I have been watching her progress nicely, a little slow at first, but nothing I should be speaking to her parents about, but once she developed a love for playing and performing suddenly she was making leaps and bounds in her playing simply because of her love it- because she loves the music and the piano she practices more than any 10 year old I have ever taught! And her piano at home hasn't changed, it's still that old heap of "fire wood", but because she is keen to learn and loves it, she is happy to continue working on what she has for now!

Student two comes across to me as a little bit of a spoilt child (just to give you an idea of her personality- one time she demolished a piece she was performing at a recital and would not take any criticism from me, and continued to tell me someone switched the notes around on the piano) ANWAY, her parents bought her a new digital piano and she then began lessons, a couple months later they bought her a second hand upright (but in good condition- they got it from a dealer) and this student doesn't work hard because she seems to expect that the ability and skill will just fall into her lap. She has this very high quality instrument at her disposal and she hardly ever practices.

Student three has a Samick upright and a Yamaha digital (one of the cheaper ones- DGX-620 or something like that), and he made very nice progression in his playing when he only had a digital, then when he upgraded to the upright, I noticed a good lurch forward in his playing.

I guess the point I am making is, if the student has the thirst to learn and the love for it, they will put up with whatever piano they have until they get a good one, on the other hand, someone could have a top of the range grand and if they don't practice or have a passion for it, then that grand is going to waste and they might as well have a crumby old upright.
Also, the point I tried to make with that third student I spoke about, is that a digital is fine for the first few years but eventually the student will get to a point where the digital cannot take them any further. But this is exactly the same- eventually a pianist will outgrow an upright and will need to upgrade to either a grand or even a full size upright.

Yes I understand crumby instruments can cause bad habits, but I think until students (such as my first student mentioned) can get a quality instrument, the best thing to do is to bring these issues to their attention so they can be aware of what could happen if they are not careful.


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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
kck #2296837 06/30/14 03:20 AM
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Originally Posted by kck

If you really want to start on a digital, look for teachers with more of a non-classical and non-competitive angle.

There are teachers of classical piano who teach students who have digital pianos, and do so seriously. That has already been established in this thread. It does not make sense, if somebody has a digital piano and wants (their child) to learn classical, to look for a non-classical teacher.

Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
TheAccompanist #2296906 06/30/14 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by TheAccompanist


I guess the point I am making is, if the student has the thirst to learn and the love for it, they will put up with whatever piano they have until they get a good one, on the other hand, someone could have a top of the range grand and if they don't practice or have a passion for it, then that grand is going to waste and they might as well have a crumby old upright.


I grew up playing a heap of firewood, too, like your first student. If I had a better instrument, I would have progressed much faster than how I did. I would have not gotten frustrated when the piano would not respond to the sounds I was trying to coax out of it.

Did I survive? Yes, but I also think that if I had a decent upright or even a nicer digital I would have been better off. I actually hated practicing and would only play when I had to because of how awful this piano was. It was my great grandmother's and so it was in the family, but not maintained at all.

So even if the student is doing alright and practicing well, continue to encourage the parents to upgrade ASAP. Start looking into options now and save up for a nice digital or a better acoustic.


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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
rlinkt #2296908 06/30/14 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by rlinkt
Originally Posted by bigsmile
Thanks for the reply.

To be honest, I'm not that into classic music. I have no intention of entering my son into serious competitions, at least not before he show any sign of being talented at this, he's not the competitive type.

I like music myself, as I said, I learn piano by myself on and off. I mostly want to introduce my son to music. I also want him to be good at piano, but I'm not that keen about him being able to play difficult classic works, but just having a way of expressing himself through keyboard.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I just want him to be mediocre. I actually want him to be good, but I don't want him to just be good at playing difficult piano musics, but to be good at a broader sense, to be proficient in keyboard music or even music in general.


Also a parent here, and I shared much of your sentiment when I started my daughter on piano -- and that's what is motivating me to respond. This is just my perspective. I had no particular affinity for classical piano either. I just wanted my daughter to enjoy and appreciate music. Personally I am much more of a rock and blues enthusiast. But so far, my daughter is more interested in playing classical music. She is not that motivated about experimenting yet, which I consider to be pretty essential for rock / blues / jazz. In her case, she really needed an acoustic piano to develop the right techniques to play these classical pieces. So I would recommend keeping your child's need in mind in figuring out if and when to move to an acoustic piano. If my daughter had been more interested in blues / jazz, I probably would thought seriously about moving to high end digital piano instead.

My daughter was also five when we started her. She played a digital piano for three years. I will say that while her basic playing skills developed pretty well, i.e. sight reading, rhythm, fluency, she did not come close to being able to get tone or articulation out of an acoustic. It took her some time to adjust her technique after we got the acoustic. In retrospect, should we have started with an acoustic? Without knowing what she will actually enjoy -- NO!!
I like the point here and want to emphasize it: just because the parent doesn't care for classical music does not mean the child won't.

I wanted to add to bigsmile that a good teacher won't enter a student into a competition if they don't feel they will do well at it. Not every teacher finds competition important, but there are some music festivals that they play for a judge and get awards and stuff like that, but they are not competitions - you only compete with yourself. Try not to make judgments about things before you get to them. Be open to what your child and their teacher have to say. Your opinion counts, of course, and you may know what is best for your child more than your child does. A teacher needs this information to help guide the student. But when it comes to music tastes and trying something new, try to be open.


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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
keystring #2296976 06/30/14 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by kck

If you really want to start on a digital, look for teachers with more of a non-classical and non-competitive angle.

There are teachers of classical piano who teach students who have digital pianos, and do so seriously. That has already been established in this thread. It does not make sense, if somebody has a digital piano and wants (their child) to learn classical, to look for a non-classical teacher.


The OP posted he (or she) was not into classical music and did not want to necessarily follow a competitive track and had already spoke to many teachers that would not take a child without an acoustic.

I don't doubt there are teachers that will take a kid with a digital, but my kid goes to a large program with about 30 different classical piano teachers and none will accept a student with a digital for any longer than a few months. I live in a large urban area, and many of the classical teachers are pretty intense. My brother lives rural and the more laid back teacher he has for his kid has no problem with digital or even an organ. It will vary by location. It didn't sound like the OP was having much luck and sometimes thinking outside the box helps.


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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2297047 06/30/14 05:10 PM
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There are more options today. In fact, I'd suggest that it's maybe better to be buying a piano these days than any time in the past. When my sister and I started lessons around 1970, my parents bought a new Yamaha upright. It was not top-of-the-line, but it still cost around $2,000. According to the CPI index, that's about $9,000 in 2013 dollars. That was a hopeful investment for kids who had never played piano. My point is not that they spent that much money, but that there weren't the options available yesterday that there are today. Let's say they were doing the same thing today and spent $2,000 on a really nice digital piano. That's maybe $128 in 1970 dollars according to the same CPI index (I'm taking the low end of a range). But there were no digital pianos in 1970 and nobody was selling $128 uprights either. And, in fact, you can even get a decent upright today for way less than $9,000.

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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
Morodiene #2297105 06/30/14 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by TheAccompanist


I guess the point I am making is, if the student has the thirst to learn and the love for it, they will put up with whatever piano they have until they get a good one, on the other hand, someone could have a top of the range grand and if they don't practice or have a passion for it, then that grand is going to waste and they might as well have a crumby old upright.


I grew up playing a heap of firewood, too, like your first student. If I had a better instrument, I would have progressed much faster than how I did. I would have not gotten frustrated when the piano would not respond to the sounds I was trying to coax out of it.

Did I survive? Yes, but I also think that if I had a decent upright or even a nicer digital I would have been better off. I actually hated practicing and would only play when I had to because of how awful this piano was. It was my great grandmother's and so it was in the family, but not maintained at all.

So even if the student is doing alright and practicing well, continue to encourage the parents to upgrade ASAP. Start looking into options now and save up for a nice digital or a better acoustic.

Oh yes, I 100% agree that a better piano will help her progress much quicker- apart from all the other benefits, getting a new piano always gives you a burst of inspiration smile
And don't worry, I have spoken to her parents a couple times about upgrading... I believe they are looking at digital pianos for a Christmas present laugh (Better late then never I suppose...)


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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2300111 07/09/14 04:44 AM
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I guess it depends on the quality of the digital piano. Usually if you learn on an accoustic piano then moving to other keyboard type instruments is easier. Learning on a non accoustic keyboard may pose various issues, some mechanical some accoustical (ex: how tempered is the electronic keyboard) but again with the right price one can get an electronic keyboard that comes close to a regular piano including touche etc... Of course the price of the electronic keyboard will be higher than that of a low end piano, especially a second hand one.
I guess for the first series of Alfred's courses an electronic piano will be ok. Later you will have to change.
If you're one of those that follow the virtuoso path which means private lessons from beginning to end with a virtuoso, then you will indeed need to start with an accoustical instrument since the prescribed work is quite different from mainstream.


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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2300153 07/09/14 07:42 AM
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Not sure if the OP is still reading this, and I haven't read all the replies yet, but just want to add that an alternative is renting an acoustic piano. This is what we did when my older kid started. Depending on location and particular availability, I'd say around $40 a month will get you something decent. So if you rent one for a few months, you can see how different a decent acoustic piano is from a decent digital and how interested your kid is in studying the piano, besides getting an exposure to music making through piano lessons. Then you can consider your options: a good digital, a decent (maybe used) acoustic, a really good acoustic, etc.

Good luck in your search.

Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2301085 07/11/14 10:33 AM
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I'm personally very leery about rentals.

A couple of months back I took a quick tour of several local piano shops. Those shops also had their rental pianos (uprights) out on the floor and some consignments (uprights) as well. Between the stores there were more than 20 of these pianos. I don't recall liking a single one of those I tried. Keys felt sloppy with too much play, felt just plain short, irritating inconsistencies of the action up and down. Color me unimpressed.

New uprights that I considered tolerable seemed to start at about 4500usd or so...how long before those start to loosen up I wonder?? I'm sure I could find a used piano through craigslist or whatever but I'm certain I that would require a lot of time to sort though all the abused pianos. But then used baby grands start kicking in at about 5500usd or so (if you have the room).

With the new digitals I think they started to feel reasonable around 1700usd. Going into the 3000usd range you get into some very nice digital actions. They feel nice and tight and consistent and from my experience with my 20 year old clavinova, the actions should wear reasonably well.

Maybe I'm being too pessimistic but I'm not really sure where some of these piano teachers are coming from. In an ideal world every student would have a well maintained concert hall grand piano in their house, but for most families that's just not going to happen.

Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bnolsen #2301230 07/11/14 05:08 PM
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Although your experience is valid for you, your experience is anecdotal. Perhaps the problems you experienced are due to your location - Colorado has generally a very low humidity, which would certainly cause wood shrinkage and some sloppiness in the action. Your tuner/technician could easily evaluate the cause and an estimate for bringing up to speed. Also, the size of your town, the number and quality of dealers would make a difference. As a general rule, rentals are almost never maintained at the same quality level as items for sale are. But comparing used rental pianos to new keyboards is totally unfair.

A better option might be to rent with an option to buy. The rental fee will be somewhat higher, but the quality of the instrument will be significantly improved.


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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
John v.d.Brook #2302175 07/14/14 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Although your experience is valid for you, your experience is anecdotal. Perhaps the problems you experienced are due to your location - Colorado has generally a very low humidity, which would certainly cause wood shrinkage and some sloppiness in the action.


Your tone is quite demeaning, you risk labelling yourself a snob. I explicitly stated that I did look at new uprights but tolerable new upright starting prices are more expensive than excellent digital alternatives. And no I am not a musician by trade. I quite enjoy working in applied physics research and still find time to dabble in music.

My daughter's piano teacher has 3 steinways and a kawai shigeru and it takes less than 2 months for them to audibly fall out of tune with each other. I have a policy myself of only buying laminate instruments.

Digitals are definitely not grand pianos. Guess what? Uprights are definitey NOT grand pianos either!

So given the constraint that owning a grand piano isn't an option, the question is: what alternatives can reasonably provide a learning talented musician a path where skills can easily be transferred to a stage grand? That's the question I'm wanting to have answered myself.

Technology and competition being what it is it seems that digital pianos are constantly improving. Twenty years ago a digital was more than good enough for casual piano playing. 20 years later with several major manufacturers in fierce competition trying to create a digital copy of a grand piano, it's worth it for a professional and parent alike to keep an eye on the latest advancements and to keep an open mind on the potential.

I know, the last thing an exclusive club of specialized classical piano players needs is a flood of competition enabled by accessible inexpensive low maintenance quality instruments that digitals are absolutely becoming.

Last edited by bnolsen; 07/14/14 10:24 AM.
Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bnolsen #2302181 07/14/14 10:34 AM
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What on earth are you talking about? I was addressing the sloppiness in the actions you experienced and giving some possible causes and some possible solutions.


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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bnolsen #2302184 07/14/14 10:40 AM
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OBTW, I not only own keyboards, I teach students having a wide variety of them. If that makes me a snob, I'm happy for the label.


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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
John v.d.Brook #2302694 07/15/14 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
OBTW, I not only own keyboards, I teach students having a wide variety of them. If that makes me a snob, I'm happy for the label.


It doesn't make you a snob. But it suggests that you're _flexible_, and not all teachers are.

I'm sure that Rachael Jimenez is getting some grief for her blog entries on DP's. But she's not the first classical pianist to say:

. . . "Wait a minute -- these new-fangled contraptions
. . . can really be useful!"

It'll take a generation or two for full acceptance, I'm sure. The DP's should be pretty good by then.

. Charles


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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
Charles Cohen #2302707 07/15/14 04:55 PM
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Would I prefer that students learn and practice on a piano? Yes, of course. But the realities of life are that everyone has budget limitations and must make choices. I see no reason to deny students the opportunity of music just because of the economic status or the short-sightedness of the parents, as the case may be.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2302794 07/15/14 09:07 PM
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I am all for elitism in artistic contexts, but when it comes to musical instruments the exercise is entirely cash-contingent.

Perhaps somewhere, maybe in Japan, or Latvia, or Wisconsin, the next Schubert (currently seven years old) is hammering away on a Casio, spinning out clever melodies. His father is a janitor and it was a big sacrifice just to get the Casio.

Genius does not always spring from inherited wealth, and all musicians work on whatever instrument their wallets will afford - it has been this way throughout history.

Give me a $200,000 gift certificate to purchase any instrument I desire and I will enthusiastically redefine "snobbism" to celestial heights. But until then I will make do with my mid-sized Yamaha grand. I would prefer a Bentley, but if a Honda is all I can afford then a Honda it is. Trust me, I am a determined traveler and will get plenty of milage down the road...

By the way, I do play the Lottery with the solitary goal of purchasing a brand new Hamburg Steinway D the minute the check clears, and by necessity, a spacious NYC loft big enough to hold it. [Yes, I am serious, but not entirely delusional]

Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
Jonathan Baker #2302875 07/16/14 02:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Baker
I am all for elitism in artistic contexts, but when it comes to musical instruments the exercise is entirely cash-contingent.

Let me take this from another angle for a moment. We all want music to be performed on instruments that do justice to the music.

I think we will all agree that playing the Rachmaninov 3rd Piano Concerto on anything but a superb concert grand is going to be a performance disappointment. And I'm pretty confident in assuming that this will always be so, in a live performance. Now, what happens in a studio I am less sure about, because the sound is so changed. I do most of my listening on wireless headphones, by necessity, and the difference between acoustic pianos and very good digital pianos in recordings, listening on speakers or headphones, seems to be greatly lessened. The best DPs are still woefully inadequate for this music, but I would not like to be on the wrong side of history if that changes over the next few decades.

Yet I will still gamble on the Rach 3rd being played on a concert grand in the year 2150, in public or in a studio.

But with other music, including music that has not yet been composed, I'm not so sure that piano versus other keyboards - including DPs - is always going to be that clear-cut.

More and more I would like to teach BOTH, for different reasons, for different purposes. Now, ideally I would be teaching on the best DPs and keyboards that are now being made AND on a magnificent 7 foot grand, perfectly in tune, perfectly regulated, with means to record both - both for myself and my students.

Instead, I live in a small apartment where playing on anything is a problem most of the time, and on an income that barely is paying our bills when my wife also works full time.

I just finished listening to a number of Bach keyboard concertos on both piano and harpsichord. Neither entirely satisfy me. I like both sounds, but there are trade-offs. The harpischord recordings have wonderful articulation and a "clean" sound that just does not happen on piano. So bonus points for harpsichord.

The piano has such cool dynamics, pedal, the ability to phrase in a way that harpsichord can't. And it is easier to balance with the ensemble, since its dynamics are not fixed and limited.

OK. What if someone finds a way to get that harpsichord sound but with "touch sensitivity", perhaps even allowing a sustain pedal now and then, then puts it altogether in a way that really works? A keyboard could do that. You could program touch sensitivity plus the harpsichord sound. Sustain pedal? Maybe totally a bad idea. But we don't know until we try it.

Then how about some buttons to change the sound in the manner that Landowska's harpsichord did in her old Bach recordings. She was already ticking off purists. What could be done? It could all be horrible, but it could be great. We don't know. We won't know until someone does it.

Then what?

It could be horrible. It could be interesting here and there, but mostly a failure. Or it could be ground-breaking.

We don't know.

As it is we have people playing the Bach concertos on concert grands. Well, Bach didn't intend that. Obviously. To him it would be new instrument, this giant thing we play on today. We don't know if he would like it. We don't know if equal temperament would offend him. We don't know if he would prefer the more modern string sounds from the ensemble or the "period instrument sound" now being used a lot.

So what I'm saying is this: if we are teaching our students to play Romantic music and music on into the 20th century, clearly written for concert grands, yes, we want them on these grands, an on nothing else.

But what if we are trying to teach young musicians how to survive in a dog-eat-dog musical world where the only musicians who will make money need to be extremely versatile? What part are DPs (with and without all sorts of sounds/voices) going to play in helping musicians to get a job, one moment on an acoustic, the next playing a show where there is a DP in the pit merging sounds with acoustic instruments?

I've ended up in some strange jobs, scrambling to pay rent. I've needed every bit of experience I could get on every possible keyboard just to stay in music and not end up in a 9-5 job, doing some kind of work I would have loathed. And in many of those jobs I would have KILLED to have one of our modern DPs that play well, because lots of my jobs were not classical gigs.

I played for Broadway shows, played in a dance band, accompanied in almost every conceivable situation, and I just continued picking up new skills, learning new kinds of music, doing what I needed to do.

I think a lot of teachers, teachers who just teach but do not have to scramble to make a living, lose sight of how flexible we have to be to survive outside of a rather protective, academic environment.
Quote

Perhaps somewhere, maybe in Japan, or Latvia, or Wisconsin, the next Schubert (currently seven years old) is hammering away on a Casio, spinning out clever melodies. His father is a janitor and it was a big sacrifice just to get the Casio.

Or it may be a better DP/keyboard, with technology just now being developed that will make it a new instrument that people will love. Just as people who played harpsichord could not have imagined what the piano would become, we don't know where this new technology is going. Technology is going to be part of the music that is yet to come. I don't know if that will be a good thing or a bad thing - probably both - but I would say that the spark of creativity that is in geniuses will be what drives the next great talents that will come in the future, the ones who will change the musical world, not the keyboard they learn on.

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