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Piano Tuition DVDs also Suitable for Keyboard
DVD piano lessons for the adult beginner by professional pianist + teacher
including 3 months FREE EMAIL HELP from Clifford Evans

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Buying an electronic keyboard or digital piano
see also the page for buying an acoustic piano
This advice is based on personal opinion only, and although it is designed to help you,
Marycliff Productions are not responsible or liable for any actions you do or do not take as a result of reading this article.

Choosing the size of the instrument. An electronic keyboard or digital piano of at least five octaves with 36 white notes C to C, should be quite OK for students to follow the piano tuition DVD course - "Learn the piano with Clifford Evans". If you have a six and a quarter octave or even a full-size, seven and a quarter octave keyboard, then it will last you beyond the course. In my experience, a six and a quarter octave keyboard does fine for most people, because the number of pieces where you use the notes at the extreme ends of the keyboard are only a small proportion of the piano repertoire.

The width of the notes is also important, and an octave should be 187-188 millimetres measured from the left edge of one C to the right edge of the next C. This is the usual size of acoustic piano keys, but there are many models in the lower price ranges which are not full size - so take a metal tape measure to the shop when you buy and electronic piano or keyboard. The smaller size notes will not bother you if you don't want to change over at any time to acoustic piano or to a better keyboard. If you do change over, it will cause you problems. Your brain will have to relearn everything you play and get used to the full size notes - this can be quite a painful experience and can take many weeks or months.

Your keyboard should be touch sensitive - in other words, if you strike the key harder, then it should play louder and vice versa. The harder the touch, the closer it will be to an acoustic piano, and will therefore be better for your technique. There are actually different degrees of touch sensitive. There are semi-weighted keys and fully-weighted keys: the fully weighted are usually more expensive, but are closer to the feel of the acoustic piano and therefore better for you. This is a tremendous improvement and makes the whole experience more like an acoustic piano. If you don't have a touch sensitive keyboard, you can still learn the music, but there are some musical refinements of interpretation which will be impossible for you to achieve. It also makes it very confusing if you ever want to cross over from electronic to acoustic piano. In addition to having touch sensitive actions which can be adjusted to your personal taste, more modern - and expensive - electronic pianos include an actual hammer action, just like in an acoustic piano. This of course makes them even more touch sensitive. It's very important to take your time and try lots of keyboards and digital pianos so that you combine the knowledge gained from this article with real awareness of what is going on in the design of instruments, so that you buy one which you are really happy with and which will last you a good long time.

Even more modern digital pianos and keyboards have escapement - which is the part of the piano action allowing the hammer to return to a temporary resting place after you have depressed it. This means that you can "play the bed of the key" and use this escapement to play repeated notes more quickly and above all quietly. Very useful, for example in part of Fur Elise by Beethoven. Now that electronic pianos have escapement, they are that much closer to acoustic pianos and this is really a very significant improvement which I'm sure all piano teachers are happy about.

You should have a keyboard with a sustaining pedal. Make sure that it's one which is like a lever (down is ON and up is OFF) and not like an ON/OFF switch. The right pedal - sustaining pedal - of your electronic keyboard or piano is the one which makes the notes carry on playing even if you take your finger off them. The notes will continue to sound until you lift your foot off the sustaining pedal.

The left pedal - una corda or soft pedal - of your digital piano or keyboard should be working properly and makes the notes quieter. The una corda pedal is so called because on acoustic pianos it moves the whole keyboard so that the hammers play only one string instead of two or three. Not all electronic instruments have a una corda, and if they do - the keyboard doesn't move. You can manage very well without a una corda pedal

You might like your keyboard to have audio outputs, so that you can connect to other things like amplifiers (ask your dealer about this). You might want your keyboard to have midi - IN, OUT and THROUGH (usually 5 pin din type sockets) so that you can connect to other equipment like computers other midi keyboards, sound modules and midi sequencers. The midi connection system is invaluable if you want to compose music via the computer, or to link many keyboards together.

It's in very fine musical points that the acoustic piano remains alone. There may still be some progress to make with harmonics, but electronic instruments are getting closer and closer to acoustic pianos all the time. Certainly from the point of view of the standard reached in this video, either instrument is fine.

You will need earphones and the correct socket on your keyboard so that you can practise even when your family is watching television. Earphones are very useful if you don't want anyone to hear you practise that new piece until it is ready, or that trick passage which hasn't quite clicked into place yet. Do use earphones sparingly, however, because prolonged use is not good for the human ear, which has evolved a lot more slowly that modern technology. To be fair, I understand that some manufacturers these day do put helpful warning on their products.

Please note that in the piano keyboard tuition DVD course, the music is recorded on acoustic piano, but the tuition may be used with either electronic keyboards or acoustic pianos.

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learn to read music 


right + left hand notes
2 DVDs + Book £99.50 shipping UK £7.50
TOTAL £107

Add £3 Europe, £5 for USA/Canada, remainder £7
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