My recollection is that when I was about ten years old living in Washington, DC (and while attending Horace Mann School coincidentally in the same classroom as Julie Nixon whose family lived in the area) I was given a cardboard piano keyboard. It appeared to have all 88 keys (painted black an white naturally); it folded in the centre to reduce the portable size.
A typical full-sized piano has 88 keys. However other pianos are shorter and have 44 to 72 keys. Some are even longer than the standard size and have 97 keys such as the Imperial Bösendorfer Piano that is 290cm long. The largest piano has 108 keys (the 9 octave piano) but these are rare.
Why anyone would have given me such a preposterous thing as a cardboard piano keyboard I will never know! I can only presume that I was caught messing with a piano located somewhere in the school. Or perhaps I had inadvertently reported having tried playing the piano of our neighbour Lottie Gordon when my mother visited her for a chat. All I know is I eventually played something on Mrs. Gordon’s piano. And I did it by ear (probably “Mary had a little lamb“). While I subsequently studied piano (up to Grade VIII of the Toronto Conservatory) to this day I cannot read music except painfully.
More recently when we sold our house in 2013 one of the first things to go was the Steinway salon grand piano. The size of the piano was too much for most modern apartments. By utter serendipity the person who bought the Steinway is the architect of the newly constructed apartment building in which we now reside.
Not long afterwards on one of our winter jaunts to Hilton Head Island, SC I visited a local piano store and bought an electronic piano (or what I believe is more properly called a digital piano though for reasons I cannot fully comprehend).
Choose a digital if:
- You’re interested in recording your music.
- You would like to create music by combining your piano skills with technology, such as instrumental voicings, accompaniment loops, and other features.
- You’re looking for a low-maintenance instrument.
- You need the convenience of playing with headphones or lowering the volume.
The digital piano I bought did two things: it introduced me to the electronic vernacular; and, it taught me that even in the electronic arena there are some that are better than others. Years later I ended handing the device to the son of a friend. The son is a musician and he thought he might be able to use it.
I have been without either an acoustic or a digital piano for about a year. And I am missing it. This is so notwithstanding any reality regarding my repetitive compositions. I am fortunate to have a number of fans who actually encourage me to play and send them copies. As I mentioned while chatting today, the piano has been a part of my daily existence for decades. Even for example when I was at law school (and living in Domus Legis which my mother dismissed as a “rat trap”) I would routinely search out the closest auditoria which inevitably housed a concert grand piano. I believe I also made it into the practice rooms of the local music studio. The point is this: I played the piano as frequently and as regularly as I could. I recall too, when visiting family of colleagues, if there were a piano in the house I made sure I got permission to play it.