Euphonic Studio Music Lessons

Adventures in Music Instruction Since 1968

Piano Lessons

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Euphonic Studio Piano Lessons

Phone 319.895.8002

Experience to teach you to play piano, guitar, violin, bass and banjo at Euphonic Studio in Mount Vernon, Iowa… call 319.895.8002 today to arrange for a free, no-obligation introductory piano lesson.


Piano Lessons at Euphonic Studio

The most solid foundation for music and musicianship

This is where piano theory is put into practice. Learning the motor skills to play piano is literally in your hands, with our guidance through expert piano lessons.

This is where piano theory is put into practice. Learning the motor skills to play piano is literally in your hands, with our guidance.

I began my study of piano in 1956;  I began teaching piano lessons in 1968.  For extended periods of time I immersed myself in my own piano lessons, practicing 4 hours a day with an organized regime and then performing with other musicians 4 hours every night. This experience has helped me develop insight to piano study that I bring to every piano lesson for you.

Learning to play the piano is simply the best way to develop musicianship. Even if piano is not your primary instrument, the process of learning piano will build and broaden general musicianship skills that will provide a solid platform for learning any other instrument.

Here are a just few of the many reasons why I believe you (or your beginner student) should consider piano instruction.

First, the art of piano playing has been practiced and taught for hundreds of years by composers and keyboardists of unimaginable skills… so it can be viewed as a science.  There are thousands of piano playing methods books and countless pieces to play in all styles of music.

Second, learning piano is naturally integrated with studying music theory. The course I use for young beginners, the Bastien Course, has a separate theory book starting from the primer. You will learn to read music and build a thorough understanding of the concepts of keys, harmony, and rhythm. These music theory concepts apply to every instrument, not just piano.

Third, the piano keyboard is very graphic in nature, so it’s easy to see what you’re learning. If you were trying to design a computer interface for an 88 note instrument, it’s hard to imagine what could be better… it’s all there in front of you. You can see and touch intervals, chords, scales, and it visually models exactly what you are hearing.

Fourth, piano is a tactile instrument that teaches the student to use different playing techniques to produce different sounds. This concept is also a key to learning other instruments as well as music appreciation.

Fifth, piano playing develops coordination of both hands and therefore left/right brain cooperation. This is beneficial in child development.

The last thing I’ll mention is really a life-goal item. It’s been my experience that of all the instruments kids study, piano is one that they are most likely to continue playing when they are adults (the other is guitar). The most obvious reason for this is that the instrument is self-contained and lends itself to being played solo. If you have a few minutes of recreational time as a busy adult, you’re likely going to enjoy sitting down at the piano and playing a few songs much more than, say, on a trumpet or snare drum. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t encourage your kids to pursue other music lessons as well because any and every musical experience is going to benefit and enrich their lives. But piano lessons are a gift they will keep on using forever.


Euphonic Studio Piano Lessons

Learning music theory is an integral part of our piano lessons. This gives you a broader understanding of musical concepts that apply to other instruments as well as enhancing your enjoyment of music.

Learning music theory is an integral part of our piano lessons. This gives you a broader understanding of musical concepts that apply to other instruments as well as enhancing your enjoyment of music.

At Euphonic Studio you will be taught music theory and piano technique using the experience I have accumulated by studying and playing piano for 52 years. If you are a beginner with no previous musical training, I’ll recommend the Bastien piano course. They have series of books for children and adult students that cover music theory, piano in general, piano technique, and performance. I met Jane and James Bastien at a piano teachers’ seminar in Moorhead, Minnesota back in the 60s and have been happy to recommend their teaching materials since then.

If you are already using another course,  you may continue to use your course material or change to Bastien or someone else’s course if you prefer. My goal is not to sell you books (which I don’t do) but rather to give you piano instruction that will fit what your goals are within the context of scientifically proven methods to make you into a better pianist.




What kind of instrument should you buy?

This is probably the most common question I field from new students. Naturally, having played, sold, and taught piano for most of my life I have developed a few opinions on this topic. Choosing a piano is an important decision as they can be quite expensive and it’s important to find an instrument that will enhance your piano lessons.

Spinet pianos are compact, and therefore have a drop action. This is generally less desirable than a console or grand.

Spinet pianos are compact, and therefore have a drop action. This is generally less desirable than a console or grand.

First off, the simple answer is that if you want to learn piano, you should have a piano to practice on (as opposed to an electronic keyboard), the best instrument you can afford. That would be the best case. Good pianos, by the way, are an excellent financial investment in that a good instrument will hold most of its value or even appreciate, require little maintenance, and provide you with many decades of service. This may or may not be the case for a cheap instrument. There are a lot of variables, and just be aware that a “bargain” instrument may actually not be such a good deal. See the picture of a spinet. A typical spinet piano; these have short 37″ scales and drop actions that make them less desirable as musical instruments.

Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind if you go piano shopping.  Your mileage may vary.

First, stay away from off-brand or second-line pianos. Many manufacturers make a budget version of their instrument that has been cheapened and is designed to sell at a price point under a different brand. Some manufacturers even do this with their own brands, unfortunately. So the bottom line is to do your homework before you buy…. OR, take a smartphone and Google it.

Second, you should buy a console piano and avoid buying a spinet. There are two reasons for this, both related to size. The spinet has shorter strings and a smaller soundboard, so it’s not going to sound as good because it can’t. Also, because of space limitations, the action (the mechanical train between the keys and the hammers) has to be built in a way that has a profound effect on how the instrument plays. So make sure your piano has a “direct” action as opposed to a “drop” action. For the best upright form factor, consider a “studio console” piano, which typically have around a 45″ scale. If you prefer a shorter piano, choose a console over a spinet. Pictured at right: A studio console with an electronic player piano device, which you won’t need if you practice!

A studio piano has a larger soundboard and direct action, which makes it sound better and play more like a grand piano.

A studio piano has a larger soundboard and direct action, which makes it sound better and play more like a grand piano.

Third, plan on spending about $170 a year for a tuning every 6 months. This is basic maintenance and it is required to keep your instrument playable for the long haul. If you don’t schedule regular tuning for your piano, it can cause a number of problems with the structure of the instrument besides being out of tune.

Fourth, if you are on a tight budget you may be able to find another solution other than buying your own instrument. For example, you may be able to rent an instrument. There might be a practice room available at a nearby school, or an unused piano at a church chapel or rec hall you can arrange to play. Don’t be afraid to be creative!

I will be happy to assist you in your research and you are welcome to use my opinion as part of your decision (or not). I do not have any affiliation with local music stores so I don’t have any commercial interest in your buying decision. Please check out my links page for more information about piano purchasing.


What about electric and electronic pianos?

This is one of those “can of worms” topics. The short answer is that there are some electronic keyboards that are suitable for learning piano. BUT… unfortunately, there are a lot of them that just are not going to work, at least for a long term solution. So here are a few things you should be aware of if you are considering an electronic instrument.

The most important single feature on the piano is the piano action. There are lots of ways that electronic instruments’ keyboards are designed, with varying similarity to a real piano and therefore usability to a piano student. The simplest and least desirable is a simple key that turns a switch on or off. These play like cheap electronic organs and I would not recommend them at all. Next is called “velocity sensitive”, which means that the harder you play the key the louder it gets. Some of these are passable; at least you get a simulation of the way a piano works. There are a couple of variations on this, including “semi-weighted” plastic keys that have metal glued to them. Some have actual hammer actions that feel and play very much like the real thing.

Also worth mentioning is that pianos have 88 keys. Many electronic keyboards do not. Other common configurations are 76, 61, 44, and even 37 keys. It will be to your advantage to shop for instruments with 88 keys. Also, many electronic keyboards have keys that are smaller than standard piano keys. This will make it very difficult to practice for your piano lessons, so I don’t recommend them at all.

You can spend a ton of money (thousands of $) on electronic instruments or you can spend $75. To confuse matters even more, even the cheap ones can have a pretty decent piano sound, thanks to advances in electronics. So please keep three things in mind if you are shopping for an electronic piano… action, action, and action. You are not going to find a suitable instrument at a Big Box store; you’ll want to shop your local music stores. Be sure to probe the depths of the salesperson’s knowledge and opinions on the topic of piano action. Play an electronic, then play a real piano to get a comparison. Don’t buy the first thing you look at. This is one purchase where it pays to comparison shop and think about it. There’s no big hurry, you’re buying something that will be in your house for a long time.


A word or two about the investment value of electronic instruments…

The field of electronics is extremely fluid and volatile. This has had the effect of making the majority of “cutting edge” and expensive electronic devices obsolete in relatively short order. This also applies to electronic instruments. You can expect just about any of these to depreciate. There are exceptions to this, of course, but it applies to the vast majority of electronic stuff.

Having said that, just because an instrument is depreciated, it doesn’t mean that it’s unplayable or junk or useless. It’s just not going to to sell very well for you if you decide to get rid of it.


Advantages of electronic instruments…

Yes, they have them! First off, you can listen to them through headphones, which may be your only choice if you live in an apartment or other situations where you need to keep the noise down. Secondly, they usually take up less space and are easy to move around, even up and down stairs. Third, they don’t require any regular maintenance or tuning, which helps to offset the depreciation factor.

If you are considering purchasing an electronic piano, I’ll be happy to lend my opinion to your decision.

Bill Niemi
Euphonic Studio Piano Lessons
Mount Vernon, Iowa
Mount Vernon, Iowa serving Cedar Rapids, Marion, Solon, Mechanicsville, Ely, Springville, Anamosa, Iowa City and surrounding area

For information about music lessons and digital recording at Euphonic Studio, call Bill at 319.895.8002

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December 19th, 2015 at 7:13 pm

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