How to Learn the Piano when on Budget

Is budget getting on the way on your dream to be able to learn how to play the piano? Or are you thinking of enrolling your child in a piano lesson, and you are looking for a cheaper alternative?

I’m going to share with you everything that I’ve learned through research and experience as I took my family into our journey to learn to play the piano. Like you, I was on a tight budget too and was looking for other alternatives I could get that doesn’t hurt our budget.

Our Story:

Our journey began when my daughter Bree had shown an interest in learning the piano. I would find her a lot on her iPad playing piano games online. One Christmas we decided to buy her a keyboard as Christmas gift. Now everyone in the family is learning to play, and we are having fun learning together. This experience has brought our family together in harmony. Here’s a short video of us playing together below.

 

Some of my Tips to Learn the Piano when on a Tight Budget:

Start with a Keyboard

Know that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on your first try of learning to play the piano. You can start with a keyboard. When we began with our journey, our main focus was to dive into the basics of piano first and not to be the next Mozart, although there’s nothing wrong at all to dream. The most important thing for me was that my kids are having fun doing it. So make sure that you are too because learning the piano is a fun experience. You also want to see if this is something you want to do long term. So getting a keyboard is a safe investment for these very reasons. When I was doing my research on a keyboard, I found that some people would refer to them as “electronic” or “electric” keyboard-don’t get confused by these terms as these are all the same. Another advantage of getting a keyboard is that they are low maintenance. An acoustic piano will costs thousand’s of dollars plus maintenance. My motto was, I can always upgrade later to the digital piano as we advance in the coming years. A keyboard was perfect for us for the first few years. Both my kids and I can now read notes, play our songs, and accompany ourselves on performances. And we learned all that with our keyboard.

Here are some tips when buying your first keyboard:

1. Make sure you get the one with at least 61 keys. A keyboard with 88 keys is best. But in the beginning, you will only be using the middle part of the keys. Typically the middle 28 keys. When you get to advance level is when you start expanding to the rest of the keys.

2. Find one with a weighted key. The reason for this is you want your keyboard to feel like a traditional piano. You want to start to develop finger strength now than later.

3.Some keyboards have smaller keys, so try to avoid those. Get a keyboard with a full size weighted keys. A full-size piano key has an average of 23.5 mm white keys (about 23-24 mm) and 10.5 mm black keys size (about 10-11).

4. Choose one with MIDI Compatible. MIDI stands for “musical instrument digital interface”. Online piano lessons and apps are getting more and more popular these days. These platforms typically require you to connect your keyboard using a MIDI cable to your phone or tablet. That way, when you are playing, your device can hear you play.

Buy a used Piano:

Buying a used piano is also another option. Check out your local schools, churches, antique shops, Facebook marketplace, offer up, or Craiglist. These places often sell good quality used acoustic piano. A used digital piano is also another option. Music companies make excellent digital piano nowadays.

Here’s a quick comparison between what acoustic piano is and digital piano:

An acoustic piano is a real deal. It produces sounds from real strings and real wood. However, the acoustic piano requires regular tuning.
A digital piano, on the other hand, is a type of electronic keyboard. A digital piano is an alternative to the traditional acoustic piano. When playing on a digital piano, you will have the same feel as you were playing on an acoustic piano. But some people will argue that a digital piano is still not the real deal. We all have our own opinion, and that is fine. We have different life situations too. For my family, an acoustic piano would not work for us. We don’t have the room, and the idea about having to tune it regularly, makes me cringed.

Our family is saving right now to upgrade to a digital piano with weighted keys. We’ve had our keyboard for about four years now. We loved it, and we learned a whole lot with it. As a beginner, your first goal right now is to learn to read music and learn the basics of chords. You can do all these with a keyboard too.

Cheap Piano Lessons Options

Now that we’ve covered your instrument’s need, it’s now time to dive into your options on piano lessons. There are a variety of options to choose from when it comes to piano lessons. Some lessons can cost you hundreds of dollars, but I will show you how to get your piano lessons extremely cheap.

Option 1: Barter Services

Do you have any skill or other talents that you can exchange for a piano lesson? Barter and swap services are getting more and more popular these days.  Some examples are house cleaning, plumbing, computer services, etc.  I have included a screenshot here from swapright.com. There were at least three that I found that were offering free piano lessons in exchange for services. Professional piano teachers are willing to exchange or barter their talents with anything they need.  It’s a great option.  We all have something to trade.

Option 2: Local College Music Students

Sometimes music school students will give away free piano lessons to locals.  They do this mostly for school projects or any charity work.  Most of these schools have bulletin boards.  You can send them an email of what you need, and they will post your request on their bulletin boards. For example, if you are looking for a piano teacher, send them an email.  They will post your request on their public bulletin. When a music student sees it, they will give you a call. These kids are always looking to earn extra income. If you google local music schools in your area, you will be surprised to know that you are surrounded by many of them.  Give them a call, tell them your story. They are willing to help.

Option 3: Your Local Library

Visit your local library and look for books on learning to play the piano. The library has plenty of resources to learn pretty much anything. If your local library has a dedicated Art and music department, I bet that they have a piano that is available for public use too. Look for books for beginners first to learn the basic chords. You can always go back later for the next level. I suggest borrowing one at a time so you can focus on one lesson at a time. You’ll have to return the book when it’s due too, and this is good on your accountability to use it to learn the piano.

Option 4: Online Piano Lessons

There are plenty of piano teachers nowadays who offer lessons over Skype or Zoom video. These teachers typically have package deals like shorter lessons, etc. for a cheaper rate. You save on gas too as you don’t have to drive to do your piano lessons. There are piano lessons program available as well online, and they are getting more and more popular. Some of the popular ones are Playgroundsessions.com, PianoMarvel.com, and Flowkey.com.

Option 5: Watch videos on YouTube

Believe it or not, you can learn how to play the piano just by watching YouTube videos. There are so many professional piano teachers who are trying to build their following by posting YouTube piano lessons tutorials. And these are legit professional teachers. I think with your piano lesson books from your local library and watching YouTube videos, you can learn! The only downside with YouTube is being distracted with all of the commercials and pop-ups. But if you don’t mind any of these, you will be fine.

Option 6: Piano Lesson App

Piano lesson app for me is one of the best and most effective ways to learn to play the piano without a piano teacher. We use an online app called Simply Piano. We have tried another app before called Yousician. We found Simply Piano to be better suited to our needs

 

Conclusion

Now that you know you can learn how to play the piano without breaking the wallet, I hope that you can now follow your dream. Learning to play the piano is a lot of fun. Try each of the choices I gave you above and see what works for you. Everyone has a different learning style. I hope you can find one that works for you. And always remember, never give up!

 

As always, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below. We will answer them as soon as possible.

JenBree


6 thoughts on “How to Learn the Piano when on Budget”

  1. What an inspiring article. I like how you make learning together as a family so fun. Great video! It gives kids and parents something productive to do together also.

    Reply
    • Hi Brian,

      Thank you. It has been a great experience for us so far.

      Regards,
      JenBree

      Reply
  2. OMG! so good! I never knew that we could do online piano lessons. Thank you for sharing!

    -Bren

    Reply
    • Hello Bren,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Yes, we can do online piano lessons. I am very glad that you found this article helpful.

      Thanks,
      Jenbree

      Reply
  3. The more I read your posts on how to learn the piano when on a budget the more I am tempted to learn how to play the piano myself, I love learning to play musical instruments. I play the guitar and I am trying to learn the harmonica online right now, so maybe after the harmonica my next step will be to follow you and your family with the piano.

    Jeff

    Reply
    • Hello Jeff,
      I am so glad that you are playing musical instruments. Yes, musical instruments are amazing, and we enjoy playing them too.
      JenBree

      Reply

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