Piano lessons are something that a lot of kids want to try and there are certainly a lot of benefits to learning to play the piano. Learning to read sheet music and developing a sense of timing will help you if you ever want to learn another instrument, for example. But, are there any disadvantages to playing piano?
Possible Disadvantages to Learning the Piano
There are advantages and disadvantages to picking up any instrument or even a sport for that matter. Here are some possible downsides to piano playing.
Piano Lessons are a Big Commitment
Learning the piano is well worth it, but it does have its downsides. I must admit that I do find running back and forth to lessons and encouraging her to practice frustrating at times. There are times she wants to quit but I haven’t given in yet.
Here are some other challenges of piano playing.
Pianos Are Big, Bulky, and Can Be Expensive
My daughter’s best friend plays the guitar. Her mom picked up a cheap acoustic for her and her dad already had a nice Fender. They can play along together then put the guitars in the cupboard when they’re done. Guitars don’t need much space and don’t cost much money.
Pianos are a lot bulkier by comparison. You will have to find a specific, dedicated space in your home for a piano. You won’t be able to just stick it in the corner somewhere. Even with the smaller and more portable digital pianos, you don’t want to move them too often. Our piano sits where I want to put the Christmas Tree every year, for example.
Lessons are More Niche
When she started piano lessons, the waiting list for new students was quite long. But, she wanted to learn and we have to drive quite a way to the teacher’s studio. It’s worth it, he is great with kids and he explains things in a way that means even my poor timing and slow thinking brain can “get it”.
But, if she had chosen to learn a woodwind instrument, guitar, or even drums, she could have learned in the band at school. The lessons would be free and the band at her school even provided the instruments. Also, the lessons would be during school time or just after school so the time commitment would be less.
A Keyboard isn’t Quite The Same
When it became clear that my daughter was going to stick with it for more than a few months, I bought her a keyboard so she could practice at home. A keyboard isn’t quite the same as a proper piano though.
For starters, the one we bought has only 76 keys, not 88. Keyboard players use slightly different hand placement and the keys aren’t weighted. My daughter did use a keyboard to practice reading music on then I ended up getting a hand-me-down spinet piano eventually.
Our first piano was rough, out-of-tune, and had one key that never quite worked right. I’ve since upgraded us to a much nicer digital piano but, even used, it was $600.00!
So, if the lessons develop into real talent and playing ability, you will have to eventually lay out some real money for a real piano!
Tuning the Piano is Expensive
So, now we have one piano and two players in the house! Fortunately, even though she has a slightly rebellious streak, my daughter understands that the piano is not a toy and it needs looked after. She treats it well and it sits in a place of pride in our living room with a nice duet stool.
Fortunately, our new (to us) digital piano doesn’t need tuning. But our previous hand-me-down one did. And, it cost $150.00 every time the tuner came by which was about every 4 to 6 months. We has trouble finding a reliable piano tuner too the first time we had it tuned.
It’s All Worth It In The End
The above points aside, I don’t regret starting piano lessons. Yes, it would be cheaper to have a guitar but the piano is a wonderful instrument. Also, there is a tradition and pride behind it that many people don’t attach to other instruments.
We are both progressing well but it’s been a long road with endless hours of practice and regular lessons. Yes, there have been some tears along the way. I’m not above admitting that I’ve been frustrated myself. I started my adventure with the piano thinking that it can’t be too hard to just plunk some keys, The first few lessons were like that.
Learning piano gets difficult, fast, though. Moving both hands a the same time, up and down the piano, and sometimes holding different rhythms with them both is trickier than it sounds. I still struggle to sight-play complex pieces but I’ve memorized a few of the classics now. We didn’t set out to be a musical family but now my daughter does regular recitals and we occasionally play duets together.
Family Fun That Pays Off
Would I recommend piano lessons for other families? Yes, I would. My daughter is of the age where she doesn’t want to be seen outside with her parents much but we do sit down and play together sometimes. Sometimes I pull out her old keyboard to play around with and compose my own pieces. It’s the one thing that she doesn’t roll her eyes over and that family time is fun.
The big thing, though, is that she was the one who wanted to start. If I had told her she had to learn an instrument, she might not have enjoyed it as much or stuck with it when it got difficult. She wanted to play, and now, several years later it has become something that we both take pride in.
How to Get Started
If you are thinking of starting classes yourself, or signing your little one up for lessons, then I recommend you start with just one class a week and don’t rush out and buy a piano. You can do OK for a while with a quality Yamaha keyboard with 61 keys and a good stand. You’ve probably got a chair around the house you can use instead of buying a more expensive piano bench.
You can upgrade later if they stick with it and you should be prepared for that eventuality. Learning to play the piano can be expensive. However, playing a sport can get expensive too. If your child turns out to love music it will be worth supporting them.
I’m glad my daughter started playing. I’m even happier that I decided to join her in piano lessons too.
Are any of these disadvantages of piano playing a deal killer for you? Are there any cons I may have missed? Share your thoughts in the comments below.