So you finally decided to take piano lessons, or want your child to take lessons but you don’t have anything to play on. Now what? This is a very common scenario for people who are interested in lessons. I’ve come across many beginning students who have had this dilemma, but before you go out and spend thousands of dollars on a brand new piano, read this first!
1. Get away with spending about $100. You can purchase a basic keyboard for about this much! This is great if you want to find out first whether or not you even like playing the piano before buying one. These keyboards are pretty cool and usually come with 61 full sized keys, a bit shorter than an actual piano, but for a beginner, you won’t need the extra keys. The keys won’t be touch sensitive which just means the volume is not affected by how hard you press down on the keys like a real piano. The keys will not be weighted either. You won’t really need that feature until you get better anyways. This is a great place to start!
2. Get a better keyboard. The next grade up will cost you roughly $50 more. Keyboards in this price range will usually have the exact same features as the previous ones but with touch sensitive keys. This is good purchase if you’re pretty sure you’re going to like playing the piano.
3. But a full sized keyboard. These are great and have all 88 keys like a real piano and most of them will have weighted keys as well as touch sensitivity. If it’s room you’re worried about, these keyboards take up about a third of the space a real piano would. This is a great investment to make if you’re committed to learning the piano. These range from about $300-$500.
4. Buy an electric piano. Electric pianos are much like the latter full sized keyboard except they have a built in stand and also built in pedals. They are quite heavy and take up more space and are also quite costly, ranging from about $1500-$5000. Like all keyboards, the electric piano will have some fancy features like rhythm accompaniment and different tones like guitar, organ etc. These also have other fancy recording features however if you’re not inclined to use any of these features, I would recommend buying a real piano instead as they sound better and cost about the same.
5. Get the real deal. A brand new grand piano can cost you over $20k but you can get a decent piano for much less if you know where to look. If you have space for a piano and can spare a few hundred dollars, you can probably find yourself a decent upright or spinet piano. Sure, some of these might have a few broken keys or some fixing, but most likely you’ll just need to get it tuned. Plenty of people give away pianos too, just check Craigslist or Recycler.com. There is nothing like the sound of a real piano.
Do some comparisons and get what you think will suit you best but most of all, have fun!
Jason Johann is a professional musician. He has an ebook on piano improvisation. He also runs a music school which offers Orange County piano lessons. Click here to get your own unique version of this article.
Piano Improvisation – 4 Tips For A Solid Jam Session
by Jason Johann Chang
Jam sessions are always a good time. They also provide a good opportunity for you to improve your piano improvisation. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy your jam session even more.
1. Play in tune with the others. There’s a really easy way to do this: pick a key and stick to it! Remember you are playing with others so it helps if you guys are all in tune. There’s almost nothing worse than jamming out and hearing the guitar player play in E, the keyboard player in D and the bassist in F#, although there could be worse combinations. If you decide on what key to play in first, you will eliminate this problem. Unless you are seasoned, make sure to do this!
2. Build on some basic rhythms and melodies. Starting off simple is always a good idea. Play a few chords in rhythm or play play a simple melody. Leave space and room to grow. If you jump in with a whole slew of ideas, some of them may not make sense. You want to be able to build your improvised song from ground up by creating a solid foundation first.
3. Add your part to the song. Although free playing is great and all about creativity, nobody wants to hear an extended solo so come up with some parts. As you’re jamming out, you will probably like certain grooves or melodies that you come up with enough to want to repeat them and insert them as part of the song. This way your song will become something more than just a jam and others will find a place to insert their parts as well. Band songwriting 101.
4. Trade solos. Once you’ve locked in a groove, you can throw in a few bars of solos every now and then. Leave some room for others to solo too. You can break down into a simplified version of your pattern to allow someone to solo if they want. It’s okay if no one takes it but at least you offered. They will offer you space to solo in return if they are courteous players.
Keep these tips in mind during your next jam session and have fun!
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