Acoustic piano, digital piano or keyboard?
Digital pianos have the following advantages:
•Never need tuning
•Can be played on headphones enabling practice to be done silently, keeping the neighbours happy.
•It may be possible to record oneself and play it back making it easier for the player to hear any mistakes and also to play duets with oneself.
•Possibility of different sounds eg. organ, harpsichord, jazz piano which children may enjoy.
However, the touch of a digital piano, however good, is not the same as a real ‘acoustic’ piano (ie. one with hammers / strings etc). If a player is used to playing / practising on a digital piano, s/he may well run into problems playing on an acoustic piano, especially a grand piano, eg. in an exam / concert etc. as an acoustic piano may well not behave as the player is used to, possibly causing loss of marks and the player playing less well than hoped. It is advisable for somebody who regularly practises on a digital piano to also do some regular practise on an acoustic piano, eg. at school, friend’s house etc. Keyboards may well not be touch sensitive (the notes sounding louder the faster the key is depressed) and may well also have fewer notes than a digital or acoustic piano making many pieces unplayable on a keyboard. Keyboards may have, however, a vast selection of sounds / rhythms / backing tracks which pupils may enjoy. A keyboard also does not have proper pedals (eg. to sustain notes after the fingers have been taken off the keys) which are necessary for playing the piano when the pupil begins to get more advanced.Anybody wanting to learn the piano seriously is advised to buy a piano not a keyboard; a keyboard is better than nothing but won’t get a budding pianist very far.
There now exist pianos with smaller keys, and also piano keyboards with smaller keys which fit into existing grand pianos. Click here for more information: www.paskpiano.org
Flute or fife?
If you’re not sure whether you’ll take to the flute or want to see whether you would be able to blow it, you could try playing a fife first – this is a small keyless instrument which looks a bit like a recorder blown sideways and can be bought for £20 or less. If you can blow that, you can blow a flute and also gives the player some experience in fingering / playing tunes. The Yamaha fife uses the same fingerings (combinations of fingers which close the holes, which make the different notes) in C major (the white notes on a piano) as the flute so someone who already plays the fife may find playing the flute easier.Players with shorter arms, especially young children, may well need a flute with a curved headjoint (the bit of the flute without keys where the player blows). A curved headjoint doubles back on itself so that the tube length is the same as a straight headjoint but the distance between mouth and left hand is several inches shorter. Some flutes come with both curved and straight headjoints so that the learner can switch to the straight one when s/he grows. Trying to play a straight-headed flute when a player’s arms cannot reach comfortably is not a good idea as it can lead to arms pulling one way, the head and neck pulling the other in an effort to play, which could cause aches / pains etc. Plastic flutes are also available (with both straight and curved headjoints) and are much lighter weight.
It is worth noting that Gloucestershire Music offers instrument hire even to hirers who live outside of Gloucestershire: https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/gloucestershire-music/instrument-hire/what-and-how-to-hire/