24. Can I join if I only have a digital piano (or a keyboard)?

Yes! :)

Obviously, there’s nothing better than a real acoustic piano.

If you can’t afford one (or you don’t have space for one, or maybe you don’t want to make noise while practicing and you need headphones etc.) – then a good digital piano is the next best thing, and it’s totally ok to practice on one!

However, please be aware of one important thing when choosing your instrument: for developing all your expressive/technical skills, a digital piano has to have good weighted action and touch-sensitive keys! :)

Weighted action means that the keys offer a certain amount of ‘resistance’ when being depressed – replicating the weight and action of a real piano (where by pressing a key we launch a hammer to strike the string). Because depressing the keys of a real upright/grand piano requires some effort, we use ergonomic techniques such as whole-arm action and weighted playing. Shortly, this means channeling the entire natural weight of the arms (and even upper body) into the keyboard (through a combination of arm/wrist relaxation and hand/finger strength), this way achieving technical stability, control and brilliance without overtiring our muscles (which happens when the keys are depressed by the effort of your fingers alone).

Touch-sensitive keys allow you to create different dynamic gradations by modifying your touch (a powerful touch equals a louder sound, a soft touch produces a softer sound – with many gradations in between).

Conversely, if the keys of the instrument are very light and easy to depress (as in case of many keyboards), you risk creating the habit of playing only from your fingers, in a ‘suspended’ manner, without arm weight or wrist flexibility – and if you ever decide to switch to a better instrument in the future, this old habit will be difficult (but not impossible!) to overcome.

Therefore, for developing professional playing skills and learning the basics of ergonomic, relaxed, tension-free playing (that leads to technical and expressive brilliance, also protecting you from tension-related pain and injuries), I recommend an instrument with a weighted mechanism.

People also often ask me: Can I join your program if I only have a 5-octave keyboard?

Yes, especially if you’re a beginner – but before you do , you must know the following:

It’s not so much about the number of octaves – it’s first and foremost about having an instrument with weighted action (or at least touch-sensitive keys that allow you to create dynamics!).

A more detailed explanation:

Almost every modern piano (grand or upright) has 7 octaves plus a minor third (52 white keys and 36 black keys for a total of 88 keys). Many older pianos only have 85 keys (7 octaves).

However, there are lots of keyboards that only have 5 octaves – first of all, for convenience of transportation, and also because these instruments are mostly used for playing modern pop/rock music, where the extreme registers are not used very often.

The good news is that if you’re a beginner, you can definitely learn how to play on a 5-octave instrument – the extreme registers are very rarely used in pieces for beginners. If you’re an intermediate or advanced player, however, you must have a 7-octave instrument (acoustic or digital).

The bad news is that most 5-octave keyboards do not have weighted action (some have only touch-sensitive keys) – and for this reason, you risk creating bad playing habits (like I explained above). But you can still learn a lot with such an instrument – theory and musical notation, sight-reading, basic fingering patterns etc.

I hope that this answer will help you to choose the best instrument for your current goals! ;)