This may help you decide on investing on a good piano before purchasing a really old bad one for cheap.
From Email forums….
Thirty years ago I was working at a piano store in Dallas. A man drove up and parked his Lincoln Mark IV – or whatever number it was then – and came in the store. He said he needed to find a “practice piano” for his son to use as he started piano lessons. The store didn’t carry any old beaters then so the salesman (who had nothing to lose) said “you mean you’ll drive up in a top-of-the-line car and ask about a $125 piano for your son?” The man was taken aback a bit and the salesman sold him a pretty decent piano!
David M. Porritt, RPTAndrew,
I think this is an important point to make.
We’re faced with declining sales of new pianos. Children start on old beaters, give up in frustration, move to another instrument, and the parents say “Well, I’m glad we didn’t waste money on a new piano.”
Explain to the parents that any instrument will either lead a student on, or hold them back. Learning to play piano means acquiring fine motor skills over the hands and fingers. Bring a stack of nickels and demonstrate the difference in downweight on each key. Just like going down basement steps where the last step is 1″ shorter (or taller), small differences in resistance make smooth play impossible. Show the difference in letoff, note to note, and the raggedy dampers. If the teacher would have trouble performing on this piano, how much harder will it be for the student?
student plays on the teacher’s piano, comes home and it sounds lousy.
blame themselves, of course, and get frustrated.
Would you let a student driver have grandma’s old car, with play in the steering, brakes you have to pump, a slipping clutch, and an emergency brake that needs adjustment? Of course not.
Think the other way. Think about who invested money in that piano when it was new. Think about how many years of pleasure have been given to perhaps more than one family during its, say, 25 years of functional life.
I encourage people to at least rent a decent piano, instead of dusting off a free garage sale upright. I happily give an honest evaluation of work needed and cost, separated into “must have” and “nice to have”, along with an honest assessment of unknowns. The possibility of replacing most bass strings at $20+ each is pretty scary to most customers. Car analogies
pianos have parts designed to wear out, like tires, belts, and hoses.
1964 Rambler American was an entry-level car when new, would you spend $5,000 to fix it up today?
Does every five-year-old need a concert grand to learn on? Of course not.
But what if they had one at home? Would it make a difference? Why not rent a decent piano until both parent and child have a sense of what a good piano is like?