Digital=future? By Ting Ting Wong
In my piano studio at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts, I use the Yamaha Clavinova. I have a Casio digital keyboard at home. Opera companies and orchestras are using digital keyboards nowadays, as they can be harpsichord, piano, celesta at once, yet are priced as one keyboard instrument only. I am an old-fashioned person and I always say there’s no way that a piano can be replaced, which I still think it is a valid point. However, how do we deal with digital ‘everything’ in this century?
We need to adapt, and I find both pros and cons having a digital piano. It is easy to move, easy to maintain and most importantly, wallet friendly. We all know that the digital piano cannot replace the real actions at a 9-foot grand piano. When we practice, we do need to put that aspect into consideration. I always keep in mind how a piano works mechanically and make sure I double check once I get to a piano. Parents sometimes question whether or not students can learn the correct technique on the keyboard. I would say, yes. Modern technologies allow electric keyboards not only to feel and sound like a piano, but the touch itself can be adjusted by the player, choosing from a variety of preset options. I am thinking, back in the day, a lot of composers/pianists like Mozart, Beethoven etc, needed to adjust from harpsichord to fortepiano, or clavichord to modern pianos. I have always told my students to understand the mechanics and sound of historical instruments so that we can reproduce or imitate the sound when playing that music on the modern piano. Just as a simple example, pretend there’s a pedal even though you don’t have a pedal hooked up to the keyboard!
Time changes everything, and who knows what pianos will be like 50 years from now. All we need to do as musicians and artists is utilize to its fullest whatever instrument we have at hand, and make music!