I have been presented with a new problem in my studio over the last few years. That is, people signing up for lessons who don’t have pianos. Of course, I tell them right up front that they need a piano at home to be able to practice. In my home studio, I have stopped taking students who don’t have pianos altogether. I have them wait until they have an instrument to begin lessons.
However, about half of my teaching load is at a local music store and there I am sometimes compelled to take students who do not have anything they can use to practice at home. Some of these students need free pianos. If you are in a similar situation or the process of trying to build your studio, you may also feel like you have to take students who are “in the process” of securing an instrument.
It never ceases to amaze me that people don’t realize a piano is necessary equipment for those who want to study THE PIANO. But then again, I (like you) am a piano teacher and my entire life revolves around the 88 keys. But if I think about it, it’s not so far-fetched to imagine why parents may not know what’s involved in taking lessons. I raised five sons, a few of them were involved in Mixed Martial Arts. MMR is far out of my world of knowledge, I had to rely on the Sensei (or whatever they call the teacher) to tell me what equipment the boys needed. Piano is not so different. I believe that my student’s parents have the best of intentions but often they really don’t know what is needed. When I approach the problem, I keep in mind that it is my job to guide and educate them.
Of course, I want all students to have pianos upon which to practice. So I have been compiling a list of resources that teachers can use deal with this issue.
First, I impress upon parents the incredible importance of having a good acoustic piano, or at the very least, a digital instrument with it’s own built in stand and weighted keys. I always help my students choose a piano. In fact, I tell them not to buy anything without my help. Yes, this does take time, but in my opinion, it behooves me to make sure my students are getting the best piano they can afford for two reasons. Number one: students who have good instruments practice more and play better, and number two: students who practice more and play better don’t quit piano lessons.
Once in a while, I will have a parent say they that cannot afford piano or that they do not have room for one in the house. In these rare cases, I tell them they should choose another instrument, period.
And on more thing… I impress upon anyone in the market for a used piano that all pianos are NOT the same. A piano has almost 10,000 moving parts. These parts wear out. Think of old pianos not like old violins but more like old cars. You can find good deals, I have but you have to know what you are doing. If you are not sure, consult with a piano technician. The goal is to have students secure decent playable pianos.
I am more and more finding my students in the market for pianos under $500. They are out there and here’s where I find them.
Where to get free pianos:
- pianoadoption.com – This site has a list of free pianos by state that just need to be picked up by the new owner. You can’t always get what you want
immediately but with some persistence, decent pianos can be found.
- freecycle.org – freecycle is in local communities all over the country, you sign up as a member and you can post up things you want to get rid of or you can request things you are looking for. I have had several students get
pianos by using this service.
- Facebook – When my students are piano-less, one of the first things I tell their parents to do is put a post on their FB page saying that their child is starting lessons and ask if anyone has one to give away or lend. This really works.
- Schools, Churches, and Universities – Sometimes these organizations
have pianos they want to get rid of. Send an email explaining your situation and be ready to pick up quickly.
Where to find low-priced pianos:
Craigslist.com – Craigslist is my number one choice for finding deals.
Ebay.com – Ebay is also a possibility but you have to look for pianos in your locality or the shipping cost negates any savings you will get on the
Unfortunately, most music stores or piano dealers won’t have anything low-priced for sale. They use their cheapest pianos for rentals.
Which is why I really don’t recommend rentals.
What about digital pianos?
My personal opinion is I really don’t like them. For under $500, you
won’t find anything worthwhile in the new market. You may find
something used and the best digital brands in my opinion are made by
Kawai, Yamaha, and Roland but none of these are cheap. Check my blog
post about different types of pianos.
What about keyboards?
We piano teachers all know the answer to this one. NO. Keyboards are
not pianos but yet I constantly have parents asking if it’s OK to use
them to start out.
So that’s my post about where to find inexpensive pianos. From one
piano teacher to another, I can tell you that this is a subject I
find a little frustrating. I am not trying to come off like a piano
fanatic or anything but it’s hard to when you see some of the things
certain families will spend money on in lieu of getting a piano. I
have had a few really promising students stop lessons due to the fact
that they didn’t have a decent instrument.
Since starting the Paloma Piano blog I have come to feel like I am
often “Preaching to the Choir”. That is, many of the blog posts
are information that we as teachers know but parents need. That’s why I have a blog just for parents: pianoparents.net. It is full of resources and information about how parents can help their kids succeed at learning to play the piano. My goal is not only to educate parents but to support teachers as well.
If you would like to find out about becoming a member of Paloma Piano we have a number of very attractive membership options including a free membership that offers a large number of piano scores, teaching resources, and games. The free membership is forever free and no credit card is needed. Check it out!
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