3 year old & keyboard, not a piano (not a good combination)

Erika Yb said: Oct 8, 2012
6 posts

My daughter is starting Suzuki piano lessons early next year after she turns 3. She has been listening to classical music and Suzuki repertoire for some time now, and has shown interest in playing WITH the “piano”.
My concern right now is that at home we have a keyboard (the ones with all kinds of bells and whistles), not a piano. For a three year old, pushing buttons and getting rhythms out of the keyboard is exciting and fun, -so forget about the piano.
I am not doing anything right now, other than let her enjoy her play. But when the time comes for her to play/study/practice the piano, what should I do? I don’t want to disappoint her.

Maybe the easiest solution is to find a way to disable the “bells and whistles”, but perhaps there is a way to educate her.

Do you have any recommendations on how to deal with this situation?
Have you had a similar experience?

Thank you so much for your help!

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Oct 8, 2012
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
100 posts

I faced this situation 20 years ago when my 3 boys were young, and I was searching for a good electric piano with the idea that they could practice, playing out loud when it didn’t disturb anyone, and at other times, use earphones. We were living in a small living space at the time. I specifically did NOT want a keyboard with bells and whistles for the same reason as you. I wanted them to learn to approach the piano seriously, not use it as a toy. After looking at many electric pianos I found a used Roland EP9 that had 2 piano settings (grand, and reverb), plus harpsichord and organ, and that’s it. (Well, there was also the demo button, and they soon learned they were not to push it or they would end up pushing my button too!)

Anyway, I still use this keyboard as an aid in teaching and sometimes for gigs. It has good enough sound quality, and a nicely weighted feel to the keyboard. I have never needed to call a piano tuner. And I can easily adjust the tuning to Baroque or modern string pitch, or any pitch for that matter.

Perhaps you might consider either getting a “classic” electric piano and putting your bells&whistles one in the closet, or selling it… Or even better, as piano teachers have said in a different conversation thread, get a real piano, for its tone, responsiveness and touch, and keep this one locked up for another time or sell it.

Wendy Caron Zohar

If we work hard, music may save the world.—S. Suzuki

Kelly House said: Oct 9, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
Cranston, RI
3 posts

Prepare her for her lessons by talking about how she will learn to play on a real piano. Tell her how exciting it will be to practice at home using the real piano setting on the keyboard so it will sound like the piano in her lesson. Get her used to the idea that her Suzuki practice with you will be a special time to use those settings and be with you as her practice partner. If she wants to use the bells and whistles during your practice time, gently reminder her that this is practice time and you get to choose the settings. You can add the happy news that when she plays on her own time, she can use all the special buttons. You can use her response to this idea as a gauge of her readiness for lessons. If she is not ready to sit at the keyboard and follow your instructions about what sounds to use, she is probably not ready for lessons.

Lori Bolt said: Oct 9, 2012
Lori BoltPiano
San Clemente, CA
262 posts

Erika ~ I’m so glad you’re thinking the keyboard vs piano issue through at the pre-lesson stage….I wish more parents would get some informed input (other than from a salesperson).
Please take Wendy’s advice and read the other discussion already posted. It is a very thorough discussion of the topic.

My own opinion is that keyboards are not a good option for Suzuki piano students, weighted keys or not. Nor is having a student practice w/headphones on an acoustic piano w/ this feature—as I recently discovered in trying to uncover why a student can’t play a big, beautiful forte tone!

Lori Bolt

Mary Anne Polk O'Meara said: Oct 9, 2012
Mary Anne Polk O’Meara
Suzuki Association Member
16 posts

We require piano students to have an acoustic piano. Digital keyboards are fun for a second instrument, taking on vacation, etc., but not an alternative. See attached.

Attachment: acoustic_vs._digital_piano.doc

Tim Eckert said: Oct 9, 2012
Tim Eckert
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools
Edmonton, AB
33 posts

Thanks for posting that article.
We require an acoustic piano too.

Ellen Berry said: Oct 9, 2012
Ellen Berry
Suzuki Association Member
Cambridge, ON
199 posts

This is a wonderful article—thanks for posting it. I also require an acoustic piano in good working order. Sometimes just a demonstration on a real piano of a full-sounding Romantic piece with lots of pedal is enough to convince a family of the value of an acoustic piano.

Erika Yb said: Oct 11, 2012
6 posts

Thank you so much for all your feedback.

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