When we moved into our current house I needed a buffet and hutch or china cabinet or some such piece of furniture to hold my cookbooks and extra dishes. At that point I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted or what would go well with the rest of the kitchen. I saw this at a garage sale ($15) and brought it home to use till I bought the real thing.
That was 10 years ago. It’s a piece of junk and it collects junk (all by itself). I resisted the urge to tidy it for this photo – this is what I’m staring at today.
The problem is that it’s functional and it’s in the house. Any given day there are about 20 things I would rather do than go shopping, so it remains.
When I get calls from people inquiring about lessons one of the first things I ask is if they own a real piano or a keyboard. These days many people have only a keyboard, thinking they’ll wait and see if the child is interested before investing in a real piano. There are 2 big problems with this.
One, the keyboard is already in the house and it’s functional (sometimes barely). The chances of a real piano being purchased are reduced as soon as the keyboard enters the house.
Two, a keyboard, no matter how good it is, is frustrating and ultimately self-defeating. The technique won’t be developed, finger strength will vary considerably, and any nuanced control of touch and sound won’t happen. The worst part is that lessons become so difficult because students are unable to play on my piano. I’m not bashing keyboards at all; they have their place – and I have a good one in addition to my real piano.
I’d love to be hard-nosed about this and only accept students with real pianos, but I’m not. I have The Big Talk with parents about how a keyboard (88 weighted keys, pedal) will be OK for the first little while but that they really need to consider buying a real piano in the near future. I try to make it sound like it’s a condition of me accepting them.
Some of these parents do get a real piano, and all is well. Others never do. Occasionally I find out that they never will (kids talk) and I feel manipulated, but at that point I’m usually fond of the kid and don’t want to let them go for that reason. Other times I know it’s a financial constraint and I do understand. I have a couple of students who have been through a very rough family situation. For a few years I was the only constant (besides mom) in their lives. A real piano was never, and still is not, an option, so we do what we can. Music has pulled them through. I think of them whenever I’m tempted to get snobby about the whole debate.