It is always a big dilemma for parents to choose a "right" piano for their kid who is going to learn piano for the first time. And the main concern runs roughly along this line - I'm not sure if he has interest, and I do not want to invest too much money to buy an expensive piano. Even if he has interest now, I wouldn't know it would last. Totally valid. So how do we weigh the factors, and balance them; so that the kid gets a decent piano?
A kid's interest in the piano is an unknown, unless tested. We have no control over this - right from the start. This kid might never develop his interest at all, if he is not given a chance. Or he might discover that piano is not his cup of tea, after giving a few years at it. Even interest might come fast, and go fast as well.
So let's face it. The truth is - we can't read the future.
As a parent, we would want to give our kids a chance to explore - of course, within our means. It is painful to reflect, when we are old, that we have failed to give them that hope. I have heard of this somewhere: The Old is not afraid to die, but of his regrets - things he could have done, but didn't.
Well, a beginner should have a good piano to build his foundations right from the start. The rule of the thumb is - buy the best piano within your budget.
So, if you have financial difficulty in acquiring an acoustic piano that can retail at SGD$2,000 onwards, you can still apply the rule - even if it means getting a digital keyboard at SGD$300.
Of course, if you start him with a digital keyboard, he would assume its lighter touch as the "authentic" and "original" one. Afterall, if that is the first keyboard he is going to start his formal lessons with, he would be conditioned to touch the keys and hear the sounds that way. The sounds are, by the way, artificial; and almost always don't sound like a true acoustic piano. We couldn't know how much of these would go into his sub-conscious, and affect his ability to criticise a piano piece effectively in the future. So, if you can afford something better, go for it. Otherwise, if that's the best you can afford, so be it - at least you have bought a chance for your kid. As the saying goes: better than nothing.
Your budget should include maintenance cost. An acoustic piano is more expensive to maintain compared to a digital keyboard. There are regular piano tunings, running electricity to keep the piano heater on 24/7, and the occasional repairs.
To make the investment more "exit-safe", you can consider more popular Heartland brands like Yamaha, over less well-known ones. Popular does not mean better. Less well-known might not neccessarily be inferior as well. Popular just makes the next buyer feels more confident in taking over, which can improve your piano's resale value significantly.
How about second-hand pianos? Some might even be selling them for under SGD$1,000. And if they are still in good condition, I believe they are still a better option over digital keyboards. When in doubt, you can always find a technician to assess the piano before you commit the purchase. If you are lucky, you might even get a good-condition high-end second-hand piano, that makes your investment even better than a brand new lower-end.
Finally, bring your kid down to the showroom. Let him touch the piano or keyboard, and see which one he feels comfortable with. He's the one who is learning the instrument after all. Bring along a friend who plays piano too!
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