15. If only Mozart could have seen an electronic keyboard…
Many classically trained pianists have a scornful view towards electronic instruments. “One must learn on a respectable acoustic piano, or not at all!” is their opinion. And what do we get in the end? It seems that the public is clearly inclined to take the second option. There are so many pianos out there, but few people can actually put them to good use. Even owners of expensive grand pianos more often than not use them for nothing more than dust collectors.
The matter of acoustics is a delicate one. To most people, it doesn’t even occur that their piano needs to be tuned every six months, as is recommended. Open up one of these prized instruments and take a look inside – it’s a disaster in there! Half year of such out of tune ‘lessons,’ and your music ear will be ruined anyway! Furthermore, the quality of the sound of contemporary EKs isn’t much worse than their acoustic counterparts. They don’t need to be tuned, and the sound is always ideal. Their price varies, and there is always something available for one’s budget. A 5-octave instrument that costs $100 is more than adequate for a beginner. What is most important is that a spirit of music appears in your school or at your home – an instrument that can be a good teacher for your students, your children, and yourself.
It is often said that the EK ruins the student’s “technique.” This is not true. If you have a developed coordination of all of your fingers and can freely control both hands, you will easily get used to the piano keys’ increased tension. For that matter, little Mozart learned to play on a harpsichord, which has a ‘soft touch’ just like an EK. Even if there were a Steinway in his house, his father Leopold would never have sat his frail, three-year-old boy behind it, expecting him to play freely with his thin little fingers. Piano technique starts from the development of the hand’s reach, the familiarization of the ‘territory of the instrument,’ and with the strengthening of one’s coordination in general. Only after that, when the instrument becomes a part of yourself, when your coordination becomes your fulcrum, can you sit at any instrument and fine tune the strength with which you press on the keys and can polish the quality of the sound produced.
Contemporary EKs are a treasure for music education. In each of these instruments exists an entire orchestra. They contain hundreds of tones, beats, and songs that are like bright ‘picture books,’ irreplaceable to a beginner at the start of a long and exciting journey. And when playing from sheet music becomes an ordinary business to him, he will understand that he has outgrown ‘picture books.’ Then he will be ready for a piano, a violin, or even a different instrument! And only then will the grand piano be put to good use, rather than collecting dust in the living room.