Let’s answer the question, Do I need weighted keys? It is mandatory to have weighted keys to qualifying the instrument like a piano as it will be referred to as a mere electronic keyboard if it doesn’t have weighted keys. It is better to have a digital piano with weighted keys rather than to play on a keyboard with unweighted keys. Beginner pianists who wish to develop timing and coordination while learning the piano will opt for a keyboard, whereas to develop subtle music composition technique and touch sensitivity, it is important to play a piano. Pianos with weighted keys are also extremely beneficial in developing finger strength and finger technique and the weighted keys are also great for encouraging precise playing in different styles of music.
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Importance of having weighted keys in the piano
The ultimate aim of investing in a weighted key is to advance one’s skills as a musician. Quality pianos with weighted keys can simulate the playing action of the real piano and they could also be affordable and practical options for home practice. When we play the piano, we have to push the keys downward with enough force, to reach the hammer through two or three strings. Only when the hammer strikes these strings, will the sounds be produced. There is also a lever system that connects each of these keys with the hammer and it also offers a sense of weight to the keys.
Thus, playing the piano without weighted keys will not give the weighted feel of a genuine piano and could be confusing for the pianist at the start. there are many other advantages of using weighted keys on the piano and they are as follows.
a. Gives the feel of an acoustic piano
The weighted keys of the piano give it the feel of a grand acoustic piano and help the players to feel the sensitivity of the keys by requiring them to push the keys down at different levels of control and force. The keys of the piano that are not unweighted will not offer the same resistance that is required to develop piano playing skills.
b. Helps in building finger strength
The weighted keys on the piano are different than the touch-sensitive keys that respond to the amount of force exerted on them. Weighted keys on pianos are driven by gravity and the weight pressing them, in contrast with spring-loaded pianos. The weighted keys are of paramount importance to learning pianos as they help in enhancing the finger strength of the pianist. The first and the most important lesson in learning the piano is learning to use the muscles properly. This includes teaching the brain to use the forearm and shoulders appropriately to transfer the force to the keys, without putting tension on the wrist. Weighted keys help in this learning and prevent you from ending up in any sort of injury.
c. Helps in enhancing music performance
It is not possible to achieve the performance aspects in the keyboard if the instrument doesn’t possess weighted hammer action keys. If the pianist trains on keys that have equal weight across the keys, then he is preparing himself to play acoustic instruments in the future. Any time a student goes for a piano lesson or wishes to take up a stage performance they will not feel the instrument to be foreign for their performance. As they have trained their muscles for playing the instrument, they would be able to do it with great speed and precision.
Types of weighted keys
The weighted keys in the pianos are generally of three types, namely semi-weighted keys, hammer action keyboards, and graded weighting keys. Semi-weighted keys are not recommended for piano practice. Hammer action keyboards are built on a mechanism that replicates the feel of the hammer action of the pianos. As you press the keys, you will feel the resistance, similar to the real piano.
Graded hammer action keys are similar to the hammer action keys and are made to feel similar to that of the piano. With graded actin, the keys at the lower register will hold a heavier feel and the keys at the higher end of the register will have a lighter feel. This is very much close to the actual resistance that you will find in the piano with hammer action keys.
Do I need a piano with weighted keys?
In terms of the overall development of the pianist, pianos with hammer action will help the muscles to grow and help them learn the key action. Hammer action weighted keys also help the budding pianist to play the acoustic instrument if they had to. Also training themselves on the weighted keys helps them to develop a unique sound, play accurate and dynamic notes and also execute articulations in the piano notes.
But there are also certain pitfalls of training on weighted keys. If the student is training with the synthetic keyboards, then they will find it hard to play on the weighted keys. The grand acoustic pianos with weighted keys are costly if you are thinking of purchasing one for home, to help with consistent practice and performance. They are huge and heavy and could take up a lot of space at home. You might also require help, moving them around the home.
To answer the question, Do I need weighted keys? Choosing a piano with weighted keys is truly a choice of personal preference. But buying them is worth the investment for budding piano students. They will be remarkable milestones in your music journey and will contribute positively to developing you as a musician. Though they are costlier than keyboards with non-weighted keys, the price is worth the investment. They are great in developing the essential dexterity and finger strength of the pianist and help them to learn how to control the piano dynamics. Also, a quality piano with weighted keys will last for a long time and it is okay to spend the additional dollars on such a durable instrument. Plus, the piano will stay as your music companion for life.