Keys, Strings, and Pedals: Understanding the Different Types of Pianos
Since their invention in 1709, pianos have become a popular instrument and continue to be so, classifying it as an “eternal” instrument. When Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori, a harpsichord maker from Italy, constructed the first piano, he did not know that his vibrating strings would evolve into a highly demanded keyboard, thus leading into the development of the instrument most are familiar with today.
There are a lot of similarities between Cristofori’s first piano and the pianos you see today, such as strings being struck and stretched over boxes to amplify sound. However, not even Cristofori could have expected the variety in which his instrument would eventually display. With over six types of pianos, like the electric piano, and seventeen different brands, such as Yamaha Pianos, one’s familiarity with the types may one day come in handy.
Arguably the most famous type of piano, grand pianos are the largest in design. Their strings are horizontal, unlike upright pianos, and typically, the bigger the frame, the better the sound. Since size and sound are correlated with grand pianos, these instruments are typically found in concert halls and used to play infamous classical music due to its sensitivity and attention to quality notes. Grand pianos are the most expensive option for purchasing, but very well received by audience members and famous performers such as Bach.
Upright pianos, which can also be called vertical pianos, are often smaller and cheaper than the infamous grand piano, and yet, they still offer a complete range of sounds. Their compact nature, due to the vertical alignment of the instrument’s frame and strings, makes it an ideal purchase for homes and apartments, and many times, upright pianos are used as a base for pianists who have just started but are considering taking lessons a bit seriously.
Despite the initial pushback against electric pianos, these pianos have gained popularity over recent years as they are typically cheaper and require less upkeep. Rather than tuning strings, electric pianos keys are pre-set with sound that is filtered through speakers. Now, this does give off a different type of sound, but the ease in which this piano can be purchased and moved often outweighs the drawbacks of it, especially when one considers that they can easily replicate different sounds with a simple touch of a button. Other benefits of the electric piano include: the ability to record performances and practices via UBs and the option to plug in headphones.
But before there were electrical pianos, there were analogues. These instruments are often referred to as a stage piano, as it is commonly used with stage performances and concert gigs since it is easy to maneuver. Analogue pianos share a lot of similarities with the electric piano, but their sound is different, as analogues typically use their “instrumental roots” (i.e. strings) and knobs to control sound. Some compare their design to electrical guitars.
Virtual pianos are, in fact, not pianos. Rather, these “instruments” are files that can easily be downloaded from the Internet. Often, the software that is downloaded is used to change sound. By offering the opportunity to change the sound, any recordings can be altered, and yet, can still sound like a real piano. These downloads can be readily used and are easily available, both on a MIDI keyboard and a computer—just watch for compatibility!
What to Consider When Buying a Piano
Investing in an instrument can be a big deal. Taking a piano’s expensive nature into consideration, it is easy to see how one can be concerned and overwhelmed with their prospective purchase. Some things to consider that might make this decision-making process easier are:
Deciding on the Type of Piano
Size. Sound. Look. Brand. Model—all of these things should be considered before your purchase. What do you want your piano to sound like? What would you like it to look like? Electric or acoustic? Where will it go in your home? These technicalities can involve some needed research and opinions, but they are key questions to be asking.
How much are you willing to Spend?
There’s no denying that an investment in a piano is expensive. A piano can range from $3,500.00-4,500.00. Typically, the type of piano you are interested in will have influence over the price. For example, upright pianos are generally cheaper than grand pianos. Other things to consider when purchasing a piano include: how much will tuning cost? How will you get it shipped to the house? Is it under warranty? Should you buy insurance? These questions should be considered with care—this is, after all, a lifetime investment of an instrument.
Buy a new Piano or a Used one?
Knowing how much a new piano costs can sometimes lead consumers to purchasing a used piano. However, there are some things you should ask before investing in a previously used instrument. Things such as: where was it stored; how often was it tuned; why are the owners selling it; how old is it and so forth is vital information. Make sure to do your research and cover all grounds!
Established in 1887, Yamaha started out as a company that manufactured reed organs. It wasn’t until 1900 that Yamaha began its production of upright pianos. Since then, Yamaha has grown rapidly and has diversified itself, becoming one of the largest businesses specializing in musical instruments. Although they currently produce a variety of instruments such as drums, guitars, violins and woodwinds, Yamaha is still regarded as one of the best manufactures of pianos.
Yamaha’s ability to offer different types and models of pianos makes it one of the most accessible and diverse manufacturers. They specialize in creating acoustic pianos, which includes concert grand pianos, grand pianos and upright pianos. Aside from this, they also produce hybrid pianos. These are some of the most unique products of the company as they combine traditional piano-like elements with a technological take to them. For example, the silent piano model allows artists to turn off any acoustic noise to play in digital sound through headphones. Similarly, the disklavier pianos lets pianists record and playback practices, performances, and compositions. The company’s willingness to combine classical elements of the stringed instruments with technological advances helps keep the manufacturer relevant and diversifies its consumer market.
But Yamaha doesn’t stop at pianos. They expand their expertise to other platforms, such as apps that can aid in the music experience. Apps such as the Sound Controller let artists play with pitch, while the Visual Performer App takes music and creates a visual animation to go along with it. To compliment both the apps and the pianos themselves, Yamaha also has a line of accessories to better amplify an artist’s experience with their purchased products. From adapters to foot switches and speakers, Yamaha continues to supply a variety of merchandise for artists and those alike.
As a company who is determined to satisfied their consumers, Yamaha also goes above and beyond providing products. In addition to the pianos themselves, Yamaha has started an International Yamaha Music Education System. This program offers both adults and children the opportunity to learn how to play the piano. Yamaha music schools are located in a variety of places across the globe, and these schools offer courses as well as examinations for all enrolled. Better yet, this program also offers employment for those interested in becoming a teacher. Since it’s beginning fifty years ago, it is said that the International Yamaha Music Education System has benefited over six million people.
Yamaha’s philosophy demands excellence, expertise, and joy. They seek to offer ease and accessibility to consumers who want to purchase a piano, a piano’s accessories, or simply learn how to play an instrument. The quality and care in which they continue to thrive on makes them a competitive manufacturer, one that should be regarded with respect and professionalism. As they continue to succeed in their production of selling not only pianos, but lessons and other instruments as well, Yamaha also succeeds in selling the one thing that seemingly truly matters: the joy of music.
What to Expect From Piano Lessons
A common question often asked regarding piano lessons is: when should one start taking lessons? Although there is no set age for taking piano lessons, some research has shown that the earlier you expose yourself or others to music, the better one becomes with their musicality. However, this does not mean that one cannot start lessons later in life: they may just learn at a different speed.
When taking lessons, one should expect to, first and foremost, learn how to read music. Technique and music theory will also be covered, but as teaching styles vary, so will the time and thought put into these subjects.
Often, when one starts with lessons, you have to get adjusted to playing. Warming up your muscles and getting your fingers comfortable on the keys is important to having relaxed lessons. Method books can provide great melodies for you to practice warming up!
As you progress, lessons get harder. Teachers tailor your lessons to the strengths and weaknesses of your performances. For example, if you have an upcoming talent show, you may focus primarily on the piece you will be playing, or if your sight-reading for the treble clef is noticeability weaker than your other sight-reading, you may need to focus on that.
Teachers, on average, can charge between $20 and $40 a lesson. Each lesson is usually a half hour, but as perspective teachers hold higher degrees in music theory and practice, as well as longer sessions, lessons can become quite expensive. It is important to consider this, as well as the outside time and practice lessons require. It is expected that one practices thirty minutes a day, five days a week to keep up with their lessons. Dedication to the practice is a key to bettering yourself and seeing improvement throughout your learning!
Benefits of Playing Piano
Recent research has found that playing an instrument can help one in a variety of ways. At the surface, musical instruments help increase your capacity of memory, teaches reading skills, and exposes you to theory and history. Piano is no exception. Some studies have taken an in depth look at how piano lessons in particular benefit individuals.
While pianos lessons have always been seen as a form of creative expression, scientists have looked at how this creative expression physically benefits our bodies. By reducing anxiety levels, piano can also help minimize heart complications and lower a pianist’s blood pressure, which in return, can help increase their immune system, making them both happier and healthier.
But the benefits to piano playing don’t just stop at the physicality of things. Research has also shown that piano lessons have a correlation with increased IQ levels. Scientists believe that this may be because of the attention and focus lessons require. This focus encourages concentration and refinement of cognitive skills, which helps shape the brain and increase ones ability to multi-task with split-concentration.
In addition to IQ and other mental benefits, piano lessons teach artists tools that can be applied to other aspects of their lives. By increasing work ethic and encouraging confidence and creativity, piano is a great outlet for releasing stress, stimulating the brain, and improving coordination. Lessons provide perseverance and the presence of feedback and constructive criticism helps pianists grow individually. Overall, piano lessons show great benefits to the mind and body!