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Thread: Adapting to Digital Piano

  1. #1
    mf Mezzo-Forte eblues's Avatar
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    Adapting to Digital Piano

    OK, OK, I know this is an ORGAN forum, but I know a lot of you guys must play piano as well...

    Finally found a decent deal on a DP that wasn't 15-20 years old. These items sure are a LOT easier to transport and find room for!!

    Of course, having never played piano before, I hate everything about it. haha. The keys are hard to press, and it's impossible to produce notes of a constant volume. Even the extra keys at both ends present problems, as my visual "end of the key bed" reference to the low and high notes I'm used to are now gone.

    But then, all these reasons are why I wanted a piano in the first place... so I could get used to playing on one. The likelihood of encountering a piano during my public meanderings is much more probable than encountering an organ. So, I thought I'd take a shot at adapting to them.

    I've learned a whopping two pieces of music that are meant for piano, but 3-4 of the organ songs I've learned can be successfully played on a piano as well, with only minor adjustments.

    I reckon for the most part I just have to spend time with it to learn to love it.

    One thing I'm highly tempted to do is turn off the touch sensitivity, because that one setting change makes things much easier, but I'm guessing the pianists among you would advise me to just go cold turkey, and just learn from day one to start dealing with everything that makes a piano what it is...
    The Survivors:
    Technics GA3 (free), Technics F-100 ($250), Hammond XH-273 (free)

    Awaiting My Attention to get Paired Up:
    60' Hammond A-100 (free!) Church duty, certainly not "minty"
    Leslie 710 ($80)

    Moved On:
    '58(?) Hammond M3 (free), Technics G7 ($35), '65 Hammond E-112 ($250),
    '58 Hammond S6 ($60), 80' Yamaha 415I (free)

    Failed Rescue Attempts, Brief Encounters:
    '81 Hammond Elegante, Hammond XTP, Gulbransen President

  2. #2
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eblues View Post
    I've learned a whopping two pieces of music that are meant for piano, but 3-4 of the organ songs I've learned can be successfully played on a piano as well, with only minor adjustments.
    Eblues,

    Just wait until you have to add those pedal notes to the piano. I'm not sure how flexible you are, but my legs just won't get that high any more! That's how I convinced the Symphony to let me use a real (fake) digital organ.
    Quote Originally Posted by eblues View Post
    One thing I'm highly tempted to do is turn off the touch sensitivity, because that one setting change makes things much easier, but I'm guessing the pianists among you would advise me to just go cold turkey, and just learn from day one to start dealing with everything that makes a piano what it is...
    I would not recommend turning it off, but not for the reasons you're sharing.

    If you encounter acoustic piano in your travels, there is no option to turn the touch sensitivity off. It also encourages you to have a greater sense of finger control, and thereby, better technique. For those two reasons alone, I'd recommend sticking it out and developing the dexterity necessary to play a piano with touch sensitivity. In fact, I've found much of my organ technique creeping into my piano technique, and it has helped me improve my piano playing immensely.

    Having stated the above, please be aware not all digital pianos are created equal. Generally, you get what you pay for. In my case, I went to help out a church, and all they had was a Roland piano. While it had good sound, the action was quite cheesy. The lower-end Casio pianos also feel the same way. However, higher end Kawai, Yamaha, & Technics pianos tend to have very convincing touch with properly weighted keys--even toward the lower end models.

    That said, not all acoustic pianos are created equal either. The Steinway grand pianos have impossibly heavy touch, so it's nearly impossible to play anything rapidly unless you've strengthened your hands over time. However, Baldwin grands have a much more friendly touch (as do some Yamaha & Kawai grands). Bözendorfer grands may be expensive and nice-sounding, but the one I have experienced didn't have a very wide dynamic range--you couldn't play very soft or very loud.

    Hope this helps. Best of luck with your endeavors.

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 4 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony)
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

  3. #3
    mf Mezzo-Forte eblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by myorgan View Post
    Eblues,

    Just wait until you have to add those pedal notes to the piano. I'm not sure how flexible you are, but my legs just won't get that high any more! That's how I convinced the Symphony to let me use a real (fake) digital organ.
    I would not recommend turning it off, but not for the reasons you're sharing.

    Michael
    haha... putting my feet up by my ears is a feat I have not been able to accomplish since I was about two. Anyway, I'm only half an organist... I rarely do pedals.

    Quote Originally Posted by myorgan View Post

    If you encounter acoustic piano in your travels, there is no option to turn the touch sensitivity off. It also encourages you to have a greater sense of finger control, and thereby, better technique. For those two reasons alone, I'd recommend sticking it out and developing the dexterity necessary to play a piano with touch sensitivity. In fact, I've found much of my organ technique creeping into my piano technique, and it has helped me improve my piano playing immensely.

    Having stated the above, please be aware not all digital pianos are created equal. Generally, you get what you pay for. In my case, I went to help out a church, and all they had was a Roland piano. While it had good sound, the action was quite cheesy. The lower-end Casio pianos also feel the same way. However, higher end Kawai, Yamaha, & Technics pianos tend to have very convincing touch with properly weighted keys--even toward the lower end models.

    That said, not all acoustic pianos are created equal either. The Steinway grand pianos have impossibly heavy touch, so it's nearly impossible to play anything rapidly unless you've strengthened your hands over time. However, Baldwin grands have a much more friendly touch (as do some Yamaha & Kawai grands). Bözendorfer grands may be expensive and nice-sounding, but the one I have experienced didn't have a very wide dynamic range--you couldn't play very soft or very loud.

    Hope this helps. Best of luck with your endeavors.

    Michael
    Pretty much what I expected to hear.

    Cheap Casio is exactly what I wound up with (PX-160). I set a budget limit of $200 for this musical experiment, and had to shop long and hard to find *any* DP at that price, let alone one that was less than 5 yrs old. I knew going into this that the "piano feel" probably wouldn't be great on an entry model, but figured it will still go a long way towards making the transition.

    Don't know that'll I'll ever sit at a Steinway, but the local bowling alley has an old upright of unknown manufacture. Once I've become comfortable with my DP, I'll be anxious to try that out and compare differences. Especially the sensitivity factor, because the DP seems insanely sensitive to me, and I have to play it pretty hard to get decent volume from the keys. I think there are interim sensitivity settings between off and full, perhaps one of those would serve me better.

    Looking forward to this new experience...

    Thanks!
    The Survivors:
    Technics GA3 (free), Technics F-100 ($250), Hammond XH-273 (free)

    Awaiting My Attention to get Paired Up:
    60' Hammond A-100 (free!) Church duty, certainly not "minty"
    Leslie 710 ($80)

    Moved On:
    '58(?) Hammond M3 (free), Technics G7 ($35), '65 Hammond E-112 ($250),
    '58 Hammond S6 ($60), 80' Yamaha 415I (free)

    Failed Rescue Attempts, Brief Encounters:
    '81 Hammond Elegante, Hammond XTP, Gulbransen President

  4. #4
    mp Mezzo-Piano Leisesturm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eblues View Post
    Don't know that'll I'll ever sit at a Steinway, but the local bowling alley has an old upright of unknown manufacture. Once I've become comfortable with my DP, I'll be anxious to try that out and compare differences. Especially the sensitivity factor, because the DP seems insanely sensitive to me, and I have to play it pretty hard to get decent volume from the keys.
    Why wait? Go for it. Or go to the music store in the mall and noodle around on one of the demo's. The results might be instructive. A real piano has an essentially infinite (analog) sensitivity curve. Your keyboard has fixed steps between the various levels of sound. The most expensive DP's can have up to 127 steps of dynamic level (touch) which is a pretty close approximation of 'infinite'. No matter how hard you pound a tiny Spinet piano it won't give you as much volume as a 9' Concert Grand piano even though both have an essentially 'infinite' gradation of 'touch' between the softest they can play and the loudest. On your DP I'm doubting you have more than half to one dozen steps of 'touch'. That is why it seems so sensitive, just a skoosh more finger pressure puts you to the next level of dynamic in one jump, on a much better DP there could be 10 or more levels of volume in between any two levels on yours. BTW, If you need more sound at the top end, turn up the volume knob, nothing much is gained by pounding. I haven't met the Casio DP that didn't have one or two EP sounds along with a 'Strings' patch besides the main 'Piano'. You can have some fun playing with those other sounds, and if you ever get a better DP some day (recommended) there is the making of a multi-keyboard rig and the possibilities that that offers. FWIW.

  5. #5
    mf Mezzo-Forte eblues's Avatar
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    I'm a bit shy about sucking in public, so I like to build a little confidence first.

    I'm already beginning to develop some touch control, and I'm pretty happy with my early progress. I actually started out with the volume too loud, which compounds the sensitivity issue. By turning the volume down, I'm sitting more in the middle of the sensitivity zone, rather than trying to tippy-toe at the very soft end of the spectrum.

    Although I still have a long way to go, it no longer feels like an impossible challenge.

    I have been enjoying the combination of Piano and Strings on my organ. This Casio can layer two sounds as well. It has a total of 18 tones, including a decent (but non adjustable) Jazz Organ tone.

    Among the many things I'm learning, one of the most notable is while I have been anticipating it would be the weighted keys that would make the DP feel most foreign to me, it's actually the touch sensitivity that's most difficult to adapt to and control. Turn that off, or select a fixed output tone like organ, and the weighted keys are not that much of a factor.
    The Survivors:
    Technics GA3 (free), Technics F-100 ($250), Hammond XH-273 (free)

    Awaiting My Attention to get Paired Up:
    60' Hammond A-100 (free!) Church duty, certainly not "minty"
    Leslie 710 ($80)

    Moved On:
    '58(?) Hammond M3 (free), Technics G7 ($35), '65 Hammond E-112 ($250),
    '58 Hammond S6 ($60), 80' Yamaha 415I (free)

    Failed Rescue Attempts, Brief Encounters:
    '81 Hammond Elegante, Hammond XTP, Gulbransen President

  6. #6
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eblues View Post
    I'm a bit shy about sucking in public, so I like to build a little confidence first.
    Oh, take a chance! I do it all the time!

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 4 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony)
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

  7. #7
    ppp Pianississmo OneWatt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eblues View Post
    I'm a bit shy about sucking in public, so I like to build a little confidence first.

    ...
    Then consider bringing along a pair of earbuds (and a 1/8" to 1/4" stereo phono adapter) in your pocket. This way you can plug into the headphone jack available on every digital piano in the store ... and suck in private.

    Enjoy - OneWatt

  8. #8
    mf Mezzo-Forte eblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by myorgan View Post
    Oh, take a chance! I do it all the time!

    Michael
    Ah.. If only I could get past my unrealistic yet firmly entrenched, self-imposed expectations that the only good performance is one with absolute zero miscues, and the related performance anxiety that mentality generates.

    Quote Originally Posted by OneWatt View Post
    Then consider bringing along a pair of earbuds (and a 1/8" to 1/4" stereo phono adapter) in your pocket. This way you can plug into the headphone jack available on every digital piano in the store ... and suck in private.

    Enjoy - OneWatt
    The earbuds approach is good for the local music store, but not an effective strategy for that upright at the local bowling alley I'm trying to muster up the courage to sit at.
    The Survivors:
    Technics GA3 (free), Technics F-100 ($250), Hammond XH-273 (free)

    Awaiting My Attention to get Paired Up:
    60' Hammond A-100 (free!) Church duty, certainly not "minty"
    Leslie 710 ($80)

    Moved On:
    '58(?) Hammond M3 (free), Technics G7 ($35), '65 Hammond E-112 ($250),
    '58 Hammond S6 ($60), 80' Yamaha 415I (free)

    Failed Rescue Attempts, Brief Encounters:
    '81 Hammond Elegante, Hammond XTP, Gulbransen President

  9. #9
    ppp Pianississmo OneWatt's Avatar
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    Apr 2015
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    Quote Originally Posted by eblues View Post
    The earbuds approach is good for the local music store, but not an effective strategy for that upright at the local bowling alley I'm trying to muster up the courage to sit at.
    Those bowlers are unlikely to be sober enough to serve as convincing music critics. Go for it.

  10. #10
    f Forte Silken Path's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eblues View Post
    Ah.. If only I could get past my unrealistic yet firmly entrenched, self-imposed expectations that the only good performance is one with absolute zero miscues, and the related performance anxiety that mentality generates.
    Guess I'm lucky I don't have THAT affliction. One of our wizened (grizzled?) forum members opined some time ago that it's inexcusable to make a mistake playing a HYMN. (Yeah... maybe for HIM.) My theory is that you can just start by working up something relatively recognizable and refine it from there.
    -- Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Roland RD-300NX piano

    -- They have imported the propaganda technique invented by the dictators abroad… you should never use a small falsehood; always a big one, for its very fantastic nature would make it more credible – if only you keep repeating it over and over and over again. - -
    President Roosevelt, 1944

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