If you’ve always been interested in taking piano lessons, there’s no better time to start than now. You might be wondering what you need and where you can find lessons that suit your budget and schedule. Here’s everything you need to know before you get started with your piano lessons in Toronto or Mississauga or online piano lessons!
What You Need to Start Piano Lessons In Toronto
One of the most common questions that is asked before getting started with lessons is “What do I need?” While there aren’t many specific objects that you need, here is what is considered the essentials:
A Reliable Instrument
To learn piano, of course you need a reliable piano! The question is, whether you will acquire an acoustic or digital piano. This will depend on budget and available space within your home.
Acoustic Piano vs Digital Piano
The two main types of pianos available on the market are acoustic pianos and digital pianos. According to Yamaha, the main difference between a standard acoustic piano and a digital piano is the mechanism that produces sound. An acoustic piano produces sound through fingers pressing keys. When a key is pressed, it triggers a hammer inside of the piano that strikes a string. Since the digital piano has no strings, there are sensors on the inside that trigger a digitally recorded sound that replicates the sound of an acoustic piano.
To help you in your decision process, let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
If you’re someone who is interested in simple and traditional, you will love having an acoustic piano. These pianos are available in different sizes based on space: upright and grand. While there are many slight differences between the two, the main differences are the size and where the sound is emitted from. Grand pianos emit sound from above, and upright pianos typically emit sound from the back.
It is said that acoustic pianos produce a better tonal quality than digital pianos and the sound of an acoustic piano is often described as “rich”. Acoustic pianos give players more control over the articulation and expression of the notes and come with three built in pedals that can be used to further enhance playing. The pedals, named from left to right, are the una corda pedal, the sostenuto pedal and the damper pedal. The damper pedal, also known as the sustain pedal, creates a long and sustained sound by lifting all of the dampers off of the strings. The sostenuto pedal is like a selective sustain pedal and affects only the keys that are activated while this pedal is being pressed. The una corda pedal shifts the entire action of the piano over allowing the hammers to strike the strings with a softer portion of the hammer, creating a thinner tone. Another added bonus is that no power source is required to play.
Since acoustic pianos are larger in size and typically extremely heavy, they usually require 2-3 people to move them. If they are well cared for, they’re durable and long-lasting and are often handed down as family heirlooms. If you live in a small space, you should take measurements before purchasing one to make sure it will fit.
The cons to purchasing an acoustic piano are the price range and maintenance. Usually acoustic pianos cost more than digital pianos. On average, a low-tier upright piano will cost well over $1,000, and prices increase astronomically based on quality, brand, and type. Another downside is that acoustic pianos require more maintenance than digital pianos. They require regular tuning (1-2 times per year on average), and they are vulnerable to humidity and temperature fluctuations. The ideal conditions for an acoustic piano are an environment with a humidity of 45%-70% and a constant temperature of 20 degrees Celsius or higher.
Now that you know a bit about acoustic pianos, here are some pros and cons to consider when it comes to digital options. Since digital pianos don’t have hammers that strike the strings inside, they produce sound through sensors within the keyboard. This sound is replicated, so it is similar but not exactly the same as acoustic pianos. These pianos may or may not come with pedals. If they do, it’s typically just the damper pedal. Digital pianos also typically come with additional instrument sounds (drums, woodwinds, brass etc.), voice recording, volume control and other options to further enhance your playing experience.
Other pros for owning a digital piano are lack of maintenance, price, and space. Since digital pianos are not made of materials that are sensitive to their environment, they do not require any maintenance or upkeep. In comparison to acoustic pianos, they are also considered to be significantly more budget friendly. On average, you can find a decent quality digital piano for around $500+. Digital pianos are compact, portable and lightweight and normally requiring only one person to move them. If you know you will want to transport your piano, keep in mind that they usually require a power source and outlet.
Some possible cons to consider with digital pianos are the lifespan and touch sensitivity. The lifespan of digital pianos varies greatly between the manufacturer, how it is cared for, and depends on the electronic components used to build it. As with all technology, these components will fail eventually. They typically have shorter lifespan than acoustic pianos. With regards to touch sensitivity, digital pianos can feel very different compared to acoustic pianos. One main factor is the weight of the keys. Digital pianos can produce sound just from a gentle touch, so it’s typically harder to control the tone and sound compared to acoustic pianos. Some manufacturers have attempted to remedy this with weighted keys with varying levels of success.
An Adjustable Bench
Now that you have an idea of which piano would be best for your particular situation, another useful piece of equipment you can consider is an adjustable bench. It is possible to play with a simple chair or standard piano bench, but there are some reasons why you may be interested in an adjustable bench. An adjustable bench is great for those who fall outside the height range of 4’6” and 6’2”. This will allow you to accommodate for your height to play comfortably. For children, adjustable benches will allow them to sit taller at the piano to play with proper form. If an adult and a child play at the same piano, the bench can be adjusted accordingly between practice sessions. It is important to adjust the bench based on your height to achieve the proper playing position. To comfortably play, your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle while sitting with nice posture. If your elbows are bent more or less than 90 degrees, it can be difficult to reach the entire span of the keys and may result in some discomfort.
The last thing you need before you start to learn piano is some inspiration. Having fun is the most important thing when it comes to piano lessons in Toronto. Make sure to let your instructor know which kind of music you like so that you feel motivated to practice during your free time in between piano classes. Piano students are encouraged to go and see live music as much as possible. When seeing a concert is not possible, spending some time browsing on YouTube and check out some piano performances by the greats. Some pianists to watch are: Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Hiromi and Oscar Peterson. The related videos will reveal a wealth of other piano greats! You can also listen to their music on Spotify, Apple Music or other streaming platforms. YouTube will also feature interviews with these influential musicians who may have some valuable knowledge to share with new students about to embark on their musical journeys. Another great way to gain some motivation is to write down your goals. What do you want to achieve by starting piano lessons? Are there any songs you’d like to learn how to play? Setting realistic goals and discussing them with other piano players is a great way for beginners to start preparing before meeting their piano teacher in Toronto.
It’s never too early or too late to start learning. If you’re interested in piano lessons in Toronto or online piano lessons, click here to learn more!