Tuesday, November 9, 2021

How to Buy a Used Piano and What is a Good Age to Start Piano Lessons?

"Practice makes perfect." 

Nowhere is this adage drummed into little heads with such metronomic regularity as with piano playing. And it's true: If you have dreams of little Kim soloing with the Boston Symphony when she grows up, or even playing a few simple tunes for Grandpa the next time he visits, she's going to need more than a weekly piano less. She's going to need a piano at home so she can practice every day.

So begins the article I co-authored with piano tuner and friend Ed Beaver that appeared in the January issue of Parenting Magazine in 1992. The title of the piece was Pianos: A Sound Investment. Our aim was to share insights regarding how to buy a used piano so you don't get stuck with a 900-pound lemon. Here'a a little backstory on how that article came to be.

Esther Piszczek's Zentangled Piano
And here are some tips I learned from my friend Ed and shared with readers. 

1. Stand back and look at the keyboard. Are the keys level and all the same height? Do they wobble from side to side? Are the ivories cracked and broken?

2. Try out the piano. Do the keys feel loose a floppy? Do you hear any clicks, rattles or buzzes? Do you like the tune? Is the touch too heavy for a child? Play each keey four times rapidly to make sure none of the keys stick.

3. Do the pedals work? Press down the "sustain" (right) pedal and run your fingers up and down the keyboard. Now let the pedal up. The sound should stop promptly.

4. Check the hammers for wear. Deep string cuts in the felt cause poor tone; loose hammers tend to rattle annoyingly.

Pianos are too big to be used as a door stop if you make a problem purchase. So choose wisely.

* * * 

A love of music is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children. And there's no better way to make the introduction than the having music in the home. 

* * * 

A few months back I became aware of a podcast by Mindy Peterson, a Nationally Syndicated Music Teacher. I listened to a couple of her podcasts this week and thought this one should be paired with the article I wrote above. It's titled, "What is a Good Age to Start Piano Lessons?Check it out.

Related Links

Oli Braithwaite of Stars and Catz on the Power of Music

Henry Wiens Talks About the Power of Music to Comfort and Heal

Quiet Heart Music: CDs and Grief Videos

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