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Anna B. Offline OP
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Hello -- I took piano classes from a local junior college along with a bunch of adult students (50+). I was one of the few adults that stuck with it for 3 years and really enjoy playing the piano! However, in my last year I started playing more complicated pieces (beginner/intermediate) and while learning my easy version of Chopin's Opus 10 #3, I developed pain in both my pinky figures (tendonitis?). Also, since I knew nothing about playing the piano, I suspect that my teacher really did not pay much attention to my technique since I could feel that I played with a good deal of tension -- something she said I would "grow out of" as my confidence increased. Since graduating out of the junior college classes, I took a one-day workshop given by a well known piano institute specializing in the Thauman method and the teacher told me to stop playing on my $300 CASIO CPD-130 digital keyboard and get a "real" piano. He said that in his experience, playing on non-weighted plastic keys breeds poor technique because my hand has to overcome "bad keyboard action." Due to the pandemic, I have spent this last year working on reducing tension on my own based on the Thauman method (focusing on hand weight and arm/hand rotation instead of finger brute force). I have been successful in that the pain has decrease -- but it is still there, especially if I play too long. Anyway, before considering the expense of a "real" piano, I want to know if the workshop teacher is correct about my entry-level digital keyboard (which sounds great, BTW) OR should I consider a better digital piano with weighted keys? Thank you!

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Yes, you should consider a better digital piano with weighted keys.

Good Luck


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broad generalization but: acoustic piano action > digital piano action > weighted keyboards > non-weighted keyboards

the top end digital pianos have actions that essentially mimic acoustic actions so it can feel more similar. Of course the lower end ones are less effective at mimicking the proper feel of a piano action. Even among acoustic pianos, you can then talk about different/better action designs and stuff like grands vs uprights.

For building hand technique, certainly playing on a proper feeling keyboard is important. Specifically for avoiding injury though, I'm not really sure. Tension is something you should actively work on to avoid.
Still, most if not all approaches to learning proper hand technique are likely designed around acoustic actions so it definitely a better keyboard is something worth looking into.

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You can't really work on Taubman ideas without a well-qualified teacher who truly understands the technique and can diagnose your issues in person. I tried to correct my students their rotation issues over Zoom, and it's been less than ideal.

You should get the best piano that you can get. It ideally should be an acoustic grand piano, but of course that's not possible for everybody. Students who practice on an instrument with a light touch do not develop the sensitivity required for tone production. You have to basically link the sound to the ear to the fingertips in this continuous feedback loop.

Another thing is the depth of the keys. Part of the Taubman idea with rotations is to get the timing right. If the depth of the keys is shallow, you get used to playing at that depth. Taubman teachers like to use the point of escapement on a grand piano because you can literally see and feel it. You time your rotation to hit that spot, and you go past it in a follow-through that leads to your next movement.


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I've had issues with my hands and an acoustic is much easier on them than a digital.

On a digital, I felt I needed to press the key into the action, as if were a spring. On an acoustic, it is more like a fulcrum - once the initial force is applied, inertia carries the key down. So once you get the fingers adapted to an acoustic, it fells like less finger motion is needed.

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You're still playing at the three year mark--I'd say, yes, absolutely. Reward yourself and get a weighted, 88-key digital--the best you can afford. My own experience is that an acoustic is better still, but not everyone is set up to get an upright or a grand. There are some very nice digitals out there for decent prices.

You will have a short adjustment period to weighted keys, but after that there's no looking back.


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I started with a 61 keyboard with light touch keys. A lot of times my fingers have trouble lifting after a note is played because the weight is too light. Eventually got myself a Yamaha 88 with weighted keys. It much easier to transition between a keyboard with weighted keys and an acoustic.

When it comes to buying a digital, you have to be patient. Some have a good piano sound but the action isn't to my liking or the other way around. Today I went to a piano store and tried 5 different brands: Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Casio & Decibell. They all have weighted keys and each model feels different. Some have heavier keys than others. If you buy an acoustic piano, you can ask the technician to adjust the action until the keys feel right to you. Some people like myself prefer a light touch. When you buy a DP, the action is fixed so need to try a few songs before buying.

You can consider a hybrid piano like the Yamaha AvantGrand & NU1 or the Casio Celviano GP-310. You get the hammer action of an acoustic in a digital piano so the instrument doesn't need tuning.

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I have the same question although the context is a little bit different. The daughter of a friend of mine is 8 and she recently started music lessons. She is interested in piano lessons too and my friend wants to buy a piano for her if/when she starts with those.

Being an absolute beginner myself I feel that I can't confidently tell her that she must look into a DP with weighted keys, which are more expensive. As far as I know it's important to have it from the very start so that her daughter can build finger strength and more easily switch to an accoustic, but is it really that important compared to a semi-weighted keyboard? Generally speaking, would it be a big disadvantage and would the transition (say, after a few years) be that hard?

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I don’t know about the financial situation of your friend, but a cheap decent digital piano like the p45 costs around 400$.

Having a somewhat decent instrument isn’t just about weighted keys, the whole thing is going to hinder the progress and put a damper on the motivation of the child.

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Originally Posted by FloRi89
I don’t know about the financial situation of your friend, but a cheap decent digital piano like the p45 costs around 400$.

Exactly. You can't lose with something like the P-45. Low cost in the beginning but will be adequate for the first year or two until you see if the kid has any aptitude or motivation.

If not, it can be sold and get back most of the purchase price. If the child shows promise, then it can also be sold and the money used to get a better DP or hopefully a proper acoustic if budget permits.

It's pretty important. Children are more flexible and do adjust, it's true, but why make it harder for them than it needs to be.


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Originally Posted by dmd
Yes, you should consider a better digital piano with weighted keys.

Good Luck

+1.

Dynamic control is easier.


. Charles
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Weighted keys are not for building finger strength. They aren't heavy enough and finger strength isn't needed. They are weighted so that we can feel them enough to control them.

Consider spending as much on a digital piano as you'd spend renting an acoustic for a year. That way at the end of the year you still have a usable or saleable item instead of just the memory.

Unless the digital piano has around 40 watts per channel it won't match the volume of a small acoustic piano and will be best used exclusively on headphones.

Unless you're going to specialise on an organ you need to learn piano technique before playing an unweighted keyboard. Those moving from piano to organ do well. Those moving from organ to piano typically struggle.


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Time ago i tested casio cdp line and it has weighted keys. Certainly not top of the line. But very similar to Yamaha p45

No doubt best thing you can do is getting an accoustic piano.

But saying casio cdp has no weihted keyd is inaccurate.

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Well indeed having weighted keys is absolutely necessary and the transition would be very painful after some time and potentially never complete. zrtf90 pointed out the reasons.

I would probably get a decent digital piano -say a Kawai KDP110 or a higher model, and would stay away from p45 and other bottom end models (for example, I found the even higher-end P-125 model absolutely terrible when compared to the KDP110).

Regarding acoustics - sure that has the highest potential if you are willing top pay top dollar, but in the $1000-$2000 range I would rather get a good digital - in that price range they are usually worse in terms of action and sound than a mid-range digital.

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Originally Posted by zrtf90
Unless the digital piano has around 40 watts per channel it won't match the volume of a small acoustic piano and will be best used exclusively on headphones.

Nothing could be farther from the truth...
The only time I use headphones on my Casio PX-S3000 (8W + 8W, total 16W) is when my wife complains from another room that I am playing too loud.
And I'm in the far side of a 2400 sq ft house, not some tiny apartment.

Last edited by trooplewis; 10/25/20 10:11 PM.

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Have you tried doing relaxing stretching before and after playing?
I learned to do that for a guitar technique book once, and do this for playing keys as well.

In short dragging each finger out so you just about feel muscles on top of hand are used.
Same bending each finger backwards.
Do for 10-15s is enough, and not silly hard, just so you feel it.
Same with wrist backwards.

Also look for some really good excersizes of Josh Wright on YT regarding having tensions as you play.
"3 Tips To Play Faster, Lighter, and Looser - Josh Wright Piano TV" is one.
"A Simple Trick to Develop Fluid Piano Technique - Josh Wright Piano TV" is another.


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It's not easy to predict whether a child who started lessons would continue playing in a year. In my family, my sister asked for the lessons. I did have some lessons in school but was on the border when mom got us enrolled with a private teacher (not keen but not against). She stopped playing ages ago but I picked it up again as an adult. Don't assume that a child who stopped playing today won't pick up music as an adult. A few people who are having lessons with my teacher are retirees in their 60s & 70s.

If you're enrolled in the Suzuki music program, your music teacher would tell you an acoustic is a must since a digital does not allow for expressive playing or produce a beautiful tone. From my personal experience, if you have a DP with weighted keys, it's easier to transition to an acoustic. I have an older version of a Yamaha P-120 with weighted keys. Once I practiced the first movement of the Bach Italian Concerto in F for just over 2 weeks. I went to a party before Christmas. In the room was an old upright. I had no issue playing the 4m piece.

In the beginning I tried to cut corners and got a 61 with light keys and then upgraded to a 76. Now I have an 88. I looked at cheap keyboards for learning such as the Yamaha Piaggero. The 76 keys are narrower with a light touch. The first year you can probably get away with it. When you get into serious playing, you need a full-sized keyboard with weighted keys. I live in a building with neighbors around so a keyboard with headphones is a must.


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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
. . .

If you're enrolled in the Suzuki music program, your music teacher would tell you an acoustic is a must since a digital does not allow for expressive playing or produce a beautiful tone. From my personal experience, if you have a DP with weighted keys, it's easier to transition to an acoustic. I have an older version of a Yamaha P-120 with weighted keys. Once I practiced the first movement of the Bach Italian Concerto in F for just over 2 weeks. I went to a party before Christmas. In the room was an old upright. I had no issue playing the 4m piece.

Off-topic, perhaps:

A while ago, I read that comment about the Suzuki teachers, and checked the Suzuki website --

. . . it's true that dismissing DP's is part of the Suzuki philosophy.

IMHO, it's a _wildly_ obsolete opinion. It may have been true for keyboards which weren't touch-sensitive, or had really poor sound generators.

Any modern "beginner-level" DP -- with 88 touch-sensitive, weighted keys -- is quite capable of "expressive playing". Some of them have better tone than others.

None of them is as loud, or as rich in resonance, as a good acoustic piano. But if you want to learn music, they're more than adequate.

(I don't teach, and this comment is worth what you paid.)


. Charles
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