When to start:
Some children begin piano lessons at a very young age but generally Year 2 or 3 is soon enough.
Tuning is the only regular outlay. Depending on the piano and where it is kept, this should be carried out at least once a year. The cost will usually be £30-40.
The price range of pianos is virtually infinite: they are still sometimes offered for free collection, but you can easily pay several thousand pounds. Beware of advertisements that say “suitable for beginner”. That means they are probably not: a child starting out on piano needs an instrument with a responsive action and deserves one that has a good sound. If in doubt ask a piano-tuner to have a look at it. Some piano dealers will offer Hire and Buy schemes whereby the majority of the money paid out after a year’s hire will be offset against the cost if the customer decides to buy the piano.
The piano is a fine solo instrument and the player is therefore less dependent on others to give a credible performance. The piano is also ideal for accompaniment and for use in ensembles. It provides a good grounding in melody, harmony and rhythm and many players of other instruments will have had piano lessons at some stage.
In the early years the pupil will not enjoy the benefits of ensemble playing. Unlike most instruments the piano is not, of course, portable and the player is at the mercy of whatever is available when playing outside the home.
Find out more about the piano from the BBC’s guide to the orchestra.