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Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? #2765833
09/16/18 08:17 AM
09/16/18 08:17 AM
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hexentanz Offline OP
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Is it possible to be a decent intermediate-advanced player if practicing exclusively on digital pianos?

I have a Kawai digital and whenever I play on an acoustic, the action seems far superior and my hands seem very weak. It almost seems as if my practice is for naught, because my hands aren’t building up strength and correct touch and my performance pieces are at best mediocre.

That said, I’m not sure how much of that is due to nerves/lack of practice or talent, and how much is legitimately the fault of practicing on a digital piano. (An acoustic isn’t feasible in my apartment, as I’m surrounded on all sides by neighbours.)

Looking for inspiration too - does anyone here know of players who perform well and are talented despite practicing on a digital?

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Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2765850
09/16/18 09:49 AM
09/16/18 09:49 AM
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It may take some time to adjust when going from a digital to an acoustic or vice versa, especially if you have an inexpensvie digital. If the trouble you experience occurs at lessons or in a recital situation where you have little or no time to adjust before playing it's not necessarily your fault if you have difficulty.

I can still remember when I went from practicing on an acoustic with a heavy action to playing an older Clavinova digital with a light action at the rehearsal . For the the first 30 minutes, I felt totally out of control until my fingers adjusted.

There are plenty of accomplished players who practice mostly/exclusively on a digital but it's also possible that the actions of their digitals are closer to an acoustic. One of the most famous is Kyle Landry: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk0UErv9b4Hn5ucNNjqD1UQ

If you can afford a hybrid piano, their actions are incredibly close to an acoustic. The only difference is that the change in touch when the right pedal is engaged is not present on some of the hybrids. These hybrids are suitable for even advanced professional level practicing.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIWsUhU6NGA

Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2765854
09/16/18 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by hexentanz
Looking for inspiration too - does anyone here know of players who perform well and are talented despite practicing on a digital?


I'm supremely untalented (even if I say so myself wink ), I practice exclusively on a digital (because I'm surrounded by neighbors on all sides, including the windows, the floor and the ceiling), and I perform once a month on an acoustic for a select audience (they select themselves because they want to hear classical music, not necessarily because I'm playing cool).

When I was a kid, digitals were plastic keyboards with simple springs beneath the keys, and no-one played them except babies, so I grew up on uprights of various sizes (think tiny to medium). Eight years into lessons, I played on a grand for the first time, because my last teacher was a concert pianist. I could hardly get any sound out of his two pianos......and I was still practicing on uprights in the university's practice rooms.

Eventually I adapted, grew a few muscles when none existed before (so I believed wink ), and eventually, decades later, bought my own piano - a digital. Only then did I start performing regularly, because for the first time, I could practice whenever I was at home.

It's difficult to know how students who never get to practice on acoustics fare, because there are so many variables. And the biggest one is of their own doing - messing around with the volume control, which means they never develop a sure sense of touch. I see that all too often, and read about it all too often in the Digital Forum. Use headphones if you need to (I use headphones exclusively, because my digital has no speakers) but never turn down your volume control (i.e. always play your digital at a similar volume to an acoustic, whether through headphones or its speakers). Treat your digital like an acoustic, play it like an acoustic - always.

And seize every chance you have of playing on real acoustics - any acoustic. Don't be choosy - the more you get used to various actions, the better. You'll soon find that there are all sorts.........and don't forget that depressing the sustain pedal lightens the action considerably, which your digital doesn't emulate.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2765896
09/16/18 02:26 PM
09/16/18 02:26 PM
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The answer to the question is yes, if performing on a digital. But performing subsequently at that same level on an acoustic, which seems to be a goal, will need practice on an acoustic. This will be so until you are quite experienced, and even then you would need to hone playing for performance on an acoustic if you are going to perform on an acoustic. It’s not just a question of keyboard action feel, sustain, control and tone generation come into it. But purchasing a hybrid digital with a real acoustic action will take you part way, if playing or performing on an acoustic is your goal. Or balance your practice on both types of instrument.

Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2765934
09/16/18 06:37 PM
09/16/18 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by hexentanz
. . .

When I play on an acoustic, the action seems far superior and my hands seem very weak. It almost seems as if my practice is for naught, because my hands aren’t building up strength and correct touch and my performance pieces are at best mediocre.

. . .


Three suggestions (two repeats of previous ideas):

a) Keep the DP volume control turned up to "live-piano" volume. Use headphones if that's a problem because of your living situation.

b) (new) If your DP has a "Touch" control, set it to maximum. That will encourage (force?) you to play more forcefully, to generate the tone you want to get out of an acoustic piano.

c) Practice on an acoustic _at every opportunity_. Local church? Local school? You must get used to playing on _both_ instruments, acoustic and digital.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2765984
09/17/18 02:57 AM
09/17/18 02:57 AM
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I also have a digital, a good one with nice features as "grand action" and half-pedalling. I enjoy it very much and without it I would not be able to practice piano at all. Of course I dream of a nice, acoustic grand instead but that has to wait ...

Every year I go to a piano summer school (Chetham's in Manchester, UK) where I play on acoustics only and take every opportunity to try the precious concert grands they have featured there. It is always a bit odd when I do my first practice there, but after a while I have adapted fully and I have no difficulties whatsoever. Still don't like uprights too much, though.

It is quite common that even professional concert pianists practice on digitals from time to time, and/or use the digitals when they learn new pieces or do finger exercises. But when it is time to refine a piece before a recital/concert, they must of course practice on pianos that are similar to those they are to perform on.

So I agree with Charles here above, that you should take all opportunities to play on acoustics, all kinds. You will become less sensitive to differencies when you have got more experience - goes without saying, as you probably know this is also true for car drivers ...

A tip from me when you go from a digital to an acoustic: play with maximum power for a while, never mind if it sounds terrible. When you have played the acoustic with maximum force, you will find it easy to play lightly as well. Besides it is fun to test the maximum power of a big concert grand and literally feel the vibration and resonance in the whole instrument.

Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2766025
09/17/18 10:46 AM
09/17/18 10:46 AM
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My sense is that if you studied on an acoustic to a high level, having a digital can be a great asset for various situations. Playing on one should not degrade your acoustic playing and can really help in various ways.

However, I do not know of anybody who learned exclusively on a digital who was able to manage a good acoustic sound without a lot of effort retraining.

Digitals seem to produce a consistent, sure tone no matter how inconsistent the touch is. I practiced on one exclusively for a summer while I was still a low-to-mid intermediate player and came home to find that while I didn’t think I’d picked up any bad habits, I most certainly had. And I was using what was generally accepted to be one of the digitals commonly recommended to classical acoustic players who need a digital option.

To the extent my experience is of any general relevance, I would not recommend learning on one for long periods of time during development past the beginner levels but I feel like “finished” acoustic players can likely use one for years without affecting their acoustic skills.

Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2766031
09/17/18 11:10 AM
09/17/18 11:10 AM
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There are digitals and then there are digitals. They range from real grand actions to a collection of doorbell buttons.

Anyone who learns exclusively on one instrument, even a fine concert grand, will have to do some work to adapt to any other instrument. So, the best advice is to get a little time in on as many different instruments as you can. But not so much on the low end doorbell button digitals.

I have a concert grand and a slab digital, no problem going back and forth between them.


-- J.S.

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Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2766104
09/17/18 06:29 PM
09/17/18 06:29 PM
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“a collection of doorbell buttons”. That made me laugh.


It’s never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot
Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: John305] #2766111
09/17/18 07:08 PM
09/17/18 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by John305
“a collection of doorbell buttons”. That made me laugh.


Thanks. Maybe I'll get around to screwing the Kawai FS-690 to the wall in place of the ordinary doorbell button... ;-)


-- J.S.

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Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2766271
09/18/18 12:06 PM
09/18/18 12:06 PM
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In the past I started with a 61-keyboard with soft touch keys. It's a challenge to go from that to an acoustic because the hammer action is heavier. And after getting a Yamaha portable 88-keyboard keyboard, still find the touch a bit different because the keys are semi-weighed and not fully weighed. Have fewer problems between the current keyboard and a piano but still takes some practice to get a good feel.

If you really need a piano with real hammer action and volume control of a keyboard, there are some hybrid pianos & keyboards out there. I've seen pianos with a lever to lock the hammers from hitting the strings and the microprocessor makes the sound to be used with a headphone. The other way is a keyboard with 88 hammers to simulate the hammer action of a piano but still technically a keyboard. And there are pianos with a foot pedal lock to give a softer sound for practice.

Fortunately found a few places I can easily rent a piano by the hour and community centers that allow limited piano access to registered members.

Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2766408
09/19/18 07:01 AM
09/19/18 07:01 AM
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Hey, I didn't read all the comments here.
I'll tell you what I think:
My answer is yes, you can be a good pianist with practicing mainly on digital piano, but it has to be a really high end digital piano that simulate very accurately the touch, feel, sound, and behaviour of acoustic piano.

I was noturious in Pianoworld for bashing digital pianos, but I changed my mind very quickly, I denied my past claims publicly here in Pianoworld several times because I truely believe I was wrong, and I also apologized few times.

My bad opinion on digital pianos was a consequence of misconceptions that my piano teachers inherent me, and me blaming the instrument on my own Inability.
As I evolved as a piano student and outcame my previous inability, I spoted that is wasn't my digital piano that was limitting me all along.

There is a wide opinion that a beginner can start with a low end digital piano, and I strongly oppose to this opinion.

A beginner should start with an acoustic piano, and if one doesn't has an access to acoustic piano, he has to play from the beginning on something that feels as close as possible to an acoustic piano, and only a high end digital piano would provide this kind of experience.
In short, I wouldn't compromise on anything less than Kawai GF\GF2 digital pianos, not matter whether you are a beginner or advanced.

One thing I should add is, that if you don't have an acoustic in your home, and don't have a daily access to an acoustic, and you play and practice the vast majority of your time on your digital, I suggest you to make an effort and try to find a way to play on some decent acoustic piano(doesn't has to be grand even), from time to time, preferably at least few hours a week, it will be a great experience for you and it is also important to ensure you can transition your abilities from your digital to the acoustic smoothly.

Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2766984
09/21/18 11:29 PM
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If just playing for fun, digital piano can, but if you'd like to go further, you must use a real piano


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Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: PianoShop.sg] #2767008
09/22/18 03:25 AM
09/22/18 03:25 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoShop.sg
If just playing for fun, digital piano can, but if you'd like to go further, you must use a real piano


So concert pianists who practice on digitals are doing it for fun?


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2767015
09/22/18 04:44 AM
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I have had to make a move from acoustic to digital, and so far the most significant issue I have encountered is the use of the damper pedal. My instrument (Kawai CA 78) is supposed to be capable of partial pedalling, but I haven't developed a knack for it. Partial pedalling was a skill I learned fairly naturally on an acoustic, from an understanding of the damper mechanism combined with the "feel" for how much foot pressure to apply for a given level of damping. Now it all feels black-boxy (not to mention that the pedal itself feels too light and squishy); and I feel a bit stymied about it.


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Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: Alohaneko] #2767019
09/22/18 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Alohaneko
I have had to make a move from acoustic to digital, and so far the most significant issue I have encountered is the use of the damper pedal. My instrument (Kawai CA 78) is supposed to be capable of partial pedalling, but I haven't developed a knack for it. Partial pedalling was a skill I learned fairly naturally on an acoustic, from an understanding of the damper mechanism combined with the "feel" for how much foot pressure to apply for a given level of damping. Now it all feels black-boxy (not to mention that the pedal itself feels too light and squishy); and I feel a bit stymied about it.

I think you need to check to see if the pedal is setup properly.


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: Colin Miles] #2767282
09/24/18 01:30 AM
09/24/18 01:30 AM
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Quote

I think you need to check to see if the pedal is setup properly.

Thanks! You are right. There is one parameter that affects the damper pedal, Half Pedal Adjust, and I misunderstood the meaning of this parameter. I thought it meant the foot pressure level at which the decay time is halved; actually it means the foot pressure level at which partial pedalling starts. I have changed it to minimum and now the pedal is much more controllable.

It's still not quite the same as partial pedalling on an acoustic, which is as much an effect on the tone colour as the length of the sustain.


Kawai CA 78 / Sennheiser HD 559

Current projects
Bach, Prelude and Fugue in F sharp minor BWV 883 (WTC2)
Mozart, Sonata in E flat major K282
Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: Alohaneko] #2767287
09/24/18 02:48 AM
09/24/18 02:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Alohaneko
Quote

I think you need to check to see if the pedal is setup properly.

Thanks! You are right. There is one parameter that affects the damper pedal, Half Pedal Adjust, and I misunderstood the meaning of this parameter. I thought it meant the foot pressure level at which the decay time is halved; actually it means the foot pressure level at which partial pedalling starts. I have changed it to minimum and now the pedal is much more controllable.

It's still not quite the same as partial pedalling on an acoustic, which is as much an effect on the tone colour as the length of the sustain.


I was thinking more about the actual pedal support bolt and the kind of flooring you have. In any case pedals on acoustics differ in the same way as their keyboard actions, sometimes more so, and it is a matter of adjusting to each one.


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2767326
09/24/18 08:52 AM
09/24/18 08:52 AM
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Yeah the pedal seems to be the bit they haven't got quite up to scratch yet.

My experience is with a VPC1 - I also have an acoustic upright. When playing the acoustic upright after the VPC1, sure it feels different, as in the fact that any piano feels different from any other piano, but the VPC1 feels like a piano, not a simulation of a piano. Perfectly good for practising on.

However, there is quite a difference in pedal feel. While I have no compaints about the pedal supplied with the VPC1, it is rather light to the touch compared to an acoustic pedal. However, I was expecting it to be worse, to be honest, and was pleasantly surprised with the VPC1 pedal. It's probably quite tricky thing to simulate, I should wager.

Re: Is it possible to be good if practicing on a digital piano? [Re: hexentanz] #2767329
09/24/18 09:02 AM
09/24/18 09:02 AM
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I have a VPC1 as well, and ended up getting a separate pedal that had a heavier feel. It will take any standard digital piano pedal so you can plug whatever you want back there.

My problem with all digital piano pedals attached to a keyboard on a stand (rather than a fixed case) is that the darn pedal won't stay put and I end up chasing it around as I play. I try to put something heavy behind it and make sure the rubber feet are clean and grippy but short of nailing it to the floor I always seem to slide it.

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