Back-to-School Shopping: What to Look For in Your Child’s First Piano

 “What do I buy?”

“Do I need to get something really big or can we just get a keyboard?”

“Is it really worth the investment?”

“What’s the difference between teaching them on a digital piano versus an acoustic one?”

Ultimately, the decision is going to be up to you. But for starters, we’re here to help navigate through just a few of your options and understand what you’re looking for. If you’re going to drop some dollars on an instrument, you at least want it to be a good investment that’s going to enhance your child’s musical experience – not hinder it. Here are a few of the details to look for:

  • Full Size: Whether it’s a baby grand or a digital piano, it will be best to make sure it comes with a full 88 keys (rather than a discounted 61). As your child hopefully continues playing and growing in their skill, you don’t want to have to upgrade your instrument simply because they can’t access all of the notes.
  • Weighted Keys: If you get a chance to stop by a piano showroom (which we highly recommend before purchasing anything), plunk your finger down on a keyboard…and then on an acoustic. You will feel a noticeable difference – the acoustic requires more pressure as you hit the key to transfer that pressure to the hammer and then the string. On a keyboard…it’s all just electricity. No real power is required aside from the power button! And why does this matter? Again, it’s a longevity of playing issue. One: it builds finger strength necessary to create a noticeable sound and Two: if your child only ever learns on a small keyboard, they’ll struggle once they transition to a larger instrument requiring more force.
  • Acoustic vs. Digital: This is really all up to you. Some players go their whole lives only ever playing a digital piano. And that’s fine! Most digital pianos have increased their technology to a point where their quality is much in line with that of an acoustic instrument. However, the best and fullest sound is always going to come from an acoustic – a spinet, an upright, a baby grand – you choose the size! Plus, that wooden piano will look a whole lot prettier and more elegant in your home – not to mention it will provide a better playing position. If you go the electronic route, make sure you add a bench and a keyboard stand to your purchase. Setting the keyboard on a table or a lap will disrupt the posture of the player and make it both uncomfortable and more difficult to play.
  • Find the Right Fit: Again, whenever you’re in the market for something as grand (no pun intended) as a piano, make sure you come into a showroom and give several different styles a test run. You don’t want to buy an instrument that’s so large your child can’t reach the pedals! Ultimately, there’s a decent chance that whatever piano you choose could alter your child’s learning experience and their musical future. And if the piano doesn’t sound good or is difficult to physically play, then the experience will be diminished and your child may walk away with only negative connotations. Learning to play the piano isn’t going to be easy – but it also shouldn’t be miserable. We want both you and your child to enjoy it!!

General opinions seem to be in agreement that the better a piano sounds, the more likely a student will continue to play, thus making the investment “worth it”. However, keep in mind that digital and electronic options won’t require any tuning, or as much special and financial investment. At the same time, investing in an acoustic style could be the first step towards a lifetime of beautiful playing. You’ll pay for it, but you’ll have it forever if you choose. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you want and need.

Okay, okay…so that’s all good and great. But maybe you just want some suggestions. Maybe you just want us to tell you exactly what to buy. Well, we can’t exactly do that, but we can offer some popular options. Here goes: 

Yamaha U1 – Probably one of the most popular upright pianos, the U1 is the smallest in Yamaha’s U Series. It comes in a sleek black finish and provides a reliable, full sound. Learning will definitely be more fun for everyone if the piano itself sounds good! We’ve got a couple of these in our showroom right now – so come on by anytime to give it a whirl.


Yamaha P115 Digital Piano – This is a great option for someone who wants to go the digital route! It’s relatively small and compact, but provides all 88 weighted keys for a full learning experience. It plays much like an acoustic piano, but also provides headphone jacks so the whole house doesn’t have to listen if they don’t want to (even though we know you do desperately want to hear “Mary Had a Little Lamb” 45 times in a row).

Kawai Baby Grand – Kawai pianos are highly regarded for their simplistic beauty and their dependable sound, but if you want to find a deal, find one that’s been used. It won’t be hard to secure a beautiful, well taken care of grand piano for less than $5,000. And in the long term, it will be more than well worth the cost.

Casio CTK Series Keyboards – If you’re really not sure that your child will be playing for the long term and you want to get them started with a minimal investment, this Casio series comes well-recommended. Each version in the series possesses at least 61 keys (not full size, but the next best thing), and they range from $80 to $250 tops. However, Casio still creates a very decent product that will produce a better sound than your generic toy store options. Plus, it won’t hurt as bad if you do decide to upgrade in the near future.


Now just because you don’t see the piano of your dreams (or your budget) on this list doesn’t mean it won’t do the job just as well – or even better. The main thing is to get out there, let your child try out some different styles and brands, and figure out what feels right for you and your family. In the end, that’s really all that matters.

So from your Friends at Seale Keyworks,

Happy Shopping! Happy Playing! And Happy Back-To-School!!

by Heather

Heather is the Scheduling Coordinator and Social Media Extroardinaire for Seale Keyworks. She really enjoys writing about stuff like this, so please read it, share it and comment your thoughts! And be sure to get in touch with her for all your tuning, moving and storage needs :)