Thinking about switching to piano, couple of questions

January 8, 2018, 10:54 AM · So, I finally got power back into my house and things have stabilized where I live so, I'm thinking about practicing music again and I'm grown interested in the piano and I have a couple of questions.

1) Which instrument do you think it better for "romantic/love" pieces? I know it's subjective but, I'm still interested in opinions on this.

2) Is the piano more solo friendly? I'm mostly a lone wolf and I've noticed the violin tends to be better with some form of accompaniment (usually the piano) and I'm wondering if the piano is better for playing by yourself.

3)Is there an equivalent to violinist.com for piano? I don't post a lot here but, I've kinda gotten used to this place.

Thanks!

Replies (58)

January 8, 2018, 1:06 PM · 1) I like both but with the violin you have that lovely vibrato a piano can't produce! Then again if you play romantic/love pieces with violin it probably sounds best with piano accompaniment, I think.

2) Piano is much more solo friendlier than violin. Of course there are wonderful unaccompanied violin pieces but in general, piano is better for complete solo IMO.

3) Sorry, don't know.


I love both my instruments :)

January 8, 2018, 1:07 PM · Piano is definitely a more solo-friendly instrument. There are piano forums. Just google them. In terms of romantic/love pieces, I'd say it's a tie.
January 8, 2018, 4:33 PM · Sorry to say this here, but unless you actually get good on the violin, piano wins this one by a large margin. It's much easier to reach a "love song" level of mediocrity on the piano than it is on the violin simply because you don't need to worry about either tone or intonation on the piano. I'm telling you this as someone who plays the piano and the violin about equally well. I recommend you get a digital piano to practice on. To get one with good sampled sound and a keyboard with a realistic feel you will need to spend around US$1200. For example go to kraftmusic.com and look a the Yamaha P-255. That's the keyboard I have (actually I have the P-155 which has bee updated), and I've played over 100 gigs on it.
January 8, 2018, 4:51 PM · Get an acoustic piano if you can. If not, follow Paul's advice on a digital piano. Yamaha makes excellent digital pianos like Clavinovas.
January 8, 2018, 6:53 PM · I do both piano and violin. In my opinion, it is easier to play the piano decently and there are plenty of solos for piano. With violin, it is a little harder to master and requires some extra effort in the intonation and overall articulation areas. I would tell you to go with piano but I strongly advise sticking with both. If you do choose piano though, try to get your hands on a good acoustic piano but if you can’t do that then go with a digital piano with weighted keys so you will be used to the feeling of the piano when the time comes to play an acoustic. Either way, you will end up spending a decent amount of money on a keyboard or acoustic. I wish I could give you a better answer but I can’t bare picking between my instruments. Overall piano is better for solos.
Edited: January 8, 2018, 8:05 PM · "I do both piano and violin. In my opinion, it is easier to play the piano decently"

Hahahahaha, in your opinion?
The piano is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, instrument to play decently. To play the violin decently (I don't know, Vivaldi A minor and that kind of stuff, played decently) it takes way more time, I'd say 2 years if you're really good and practice daily a lot. If you're average but practice consistently, like 4-5 years or so. In a few months of "intense" practice you can totally dominate the piano and play beautiful tunes.

Then of course, to master the piano, that's another thing.

January 8, 2018, 8:09 PM · Even Yamaha P115 (about $600) would be a sufficient 'intermediate-level' piano IMO. (anything intermediate for a violin outfit goes beyond $3000, by v.com standard).

I own a P115 myself. It's a great investment for what you get.

It is debatable whether piano or violin is harder at very advanced levels. It perhaps depends on each individual as well.

But from beginning to intermediate, piano is obviously easier. In my opinion piano is also more tolerant of late starters if you want to get really good.

I was able to play Roman D'Amour quite well on the piano after about 25 days of learning and practicing.

Edited: January 8, 2018, 8:16 PM · The comparison between a digital piano and a real piano is like a decent carbon fiber bow vs. pernambuco. The digital is affordable and durable and will perform extremely well for you for a long time. No, sitting down at a digital is not the same as sitting down at a full-sized Steinway, Yamaha, Kawai, or Estonia grand. Just as the CF bow does not warp, the digital piano does not go out of tune. That's very important if you live in a very humid environment or if temperature and humidity are not well controlled in your home.

Be very careful about terminology. "Weighted keys" does not necessarily mean that it feels and performs like an actual piano. If you need advice on what feels real, I strongly urge you to call Kraft Music and ask for Adam. He plays very well and he knows all the keyboards, how they feel. Your starting-point, whether you are going up or down, should be the Yamaha P-255. ("Does it feel as good as the P-255?") The P-255 is a stage piano which means it's portable (about 40 pounds), and you need to buy an X-stand (Kraft's "Key Essentials Bundle" includes that), but it also has monitor speakers built into it (15 watts, plenty for your living room), so you don't need an amp right away if at all.

If you have to have a real piano, I recommend looking for a used Yamaha U3. There are tons of them on the market for reasons that I can explain to you individually. That's what I have in my living room, and for an upright it's a whale of a piano. I bought it in Philadelphia (it was 30 years old) and had it shipped to Blacksburg. I have to say that if I had it to do all over, though, I would not have bought the upright. I had to replace the bass strings ($800), put in a humidistat ($250), plus tuning is $100, annually. For the same money I could have got a really good digital. There's just so much more you can do with them. And they don't go obsolete that fast. I got my digital almost 10 years ago and it's definitely not obsolete.

I'm easy to find online. Send me email if you have more piano questions.

January 8, 2018, 8:49 PM · Compared to P-115, the P-255 is no doubt a clear winner on all fronts.

It ultimately goes down to how much you are willing to spend, and as people in V.com have unanimously suggested, go for the best one you can afford, taking into consideration your personal goal with the instrument.

January 9, 2018, 1:40 AM · I bought a Yamaha CP4 Stage piano last year, and I like it very much. I bought it with the idea of learning to accompany my kids on their stringed instruments, as well as to have a silent practice option since I do most of my practicing in the middle of the night.

As a kid, my violin teacher encouraged me to study piano as a second instrument. I think the main reason was to help me learn music theory. Piano is a great instrument for that. As others have noted, the piano is great as a solo instrument. Most violin music is meant to be accompanied, with some notable exceptions which are mostly at an advanced level.

There is no question that it is easier to get to a late-intermediate or early-advanced level on the piano than on the violin. As Bach said, "It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself." He was obviously talking about the harpsichord and organ, not a violin, viola, or cello.

Edited: January 9, 2018, 5:22 AM · As for the equipment, yeah, I think I can shell out for the Yamaha P-255 if need be. I was also looking at the Yamaha YDP143B Arius Series. This one any good?

"In my opinion piano is also more tolerant of late starters if you want to get really good."

That's interesting.

I'm 30 atm, and would like to get as good as I can with whatever instrument I end up focusing on. Care to elaborate on this? Anyone else agree/disagree?

Edited: January 9, 2018, 5:32 AM · I could elaborate further on this, but my very initial thought is, if it was THAT important to start very early on the piano (say, age 3 or 4) then we would have smaller size instruments for smaller kids of those ages. To the best of my knowledge, we don’t. Not to say young kids don’t play well on a full size piano; but there should be a big enough differential between the size of the young kid vs the size of the grand piano, and her strength vs the force which needs to be exerted on those keys, to make such playing non-optimal.

I could be wrong of course, and I’m interested to hear others’ opinion as well.

Edited: January 9, 2018, 7:08 AM · Christian the Arius is designed for one thing only -- to sit in your living room and look decent while sounding and feeling like a piano. If that's ONLY what you want, it will be a great choice. The P-255 has a stronger internal amplifier (2 x 15 watts instead of 2 x 6 watts for the Arius) and the P-255 has line outputs which means that you could conceivably use it with an amplifier for a gig. However, maybe that's a too-far-away consideration. One advantage of having a keyboard that CANNOT be used for gigging is that you can refuse people who want to borrow it. The Arius also has all three pedals, which work a little better than the P-255's plug-in pedal. Both keyboard will do transpose, split, layer, etc., although the P-255 has a few more sounds (if that matters). The P-255 has MIDI connectivity which means you can slave a synthesizer to it, but I've never needed that an probably you won't either. So they are comparable -- but the YDP143B Arius is arguably better for the home, whereas the P-255 is going to be much much better for gigs. Go to kraftmusic.com and search for these keyboards and compare their specifications and features yourself.
January 9, 2018, 8:36 AM · Tim Ripond, well that’s obvious of course and I agree it is quite easy but if I were to ask my brother he would likely say playing cello is easier for him than piano but that is purely his opinion. Also to add onto the current subject, I would say Piano is easier for late starters to learn because it is simple so no intonation to worry about and overall, you will be able to play more complicated pieces faster than you would be able to on a Violin, Cello, etc. As a child I learned piano and violin simultaneously and it took me longer to learn the bigger concertos for violin than it did to learn piano pieces. Basically, if you are consistent with piano, you can learn some of Chopin’s Nocturnes or the entire Moonlight sonata within a year. With other stringed instruments, it will take longer because you have to worry about intonation, articulation etc.
January 9, 2018, 1:10 PM · The cello belongs to the string instrument family with violin and viola. But the cello presents fewer challenges in every aspect of playing (think about posture, bowing, and even that spaced-out fingering) in my opinion.

To me personally, piano, cello, and guitar are easier to learn instruments for the beginner than violin.

January 9, 2018, 1:48 PM · A badly-played piano still sounds like a piano. A badly-played violin sounds like it is screaming with the agony of a thousand cats being vivisected for cat-gut strings.

No question that if you want more impressive and musical results in less time, with less torture, you should play the piano.

Edited: January 9, 2018, 2:15 PM · Well, the question in the second post was more along the lines of, is my possible maximum potential higher in the violin equal same to piano. I know the piano is easier than the violin at first.

I don't mind a slow-start/torture if the pay-off is equal-ish later on.

January 9, 2018, 3:07 PM · I'm not sure I agree with Will's reasoning, but I agree with his statement that piano is a much easier for an adult starter.

We've been around and around on this site on the subject of adult beginners on the violin, and while there are some who insist "anything is possible," the likelihood of ever getting beyond an intermediate level (say, Handel Sonata level) on the violin if you start as a middle-aged adult is very small. Are there some who have gone well beyond that? Yes. Will you be among that vanishingly small percentage? Probably not. (The word "probably" has been chosen carefully.)

Raelynn said you should be able to play the whole of the Moonlight Sonata on the piano within a year. I think that's an unrealistic ambition. I remember when Rudolf Serkin performed this piece, in his later years, at the White House (in 1981), and the third movement didn't go so well. It was broadcast on TV.

However within a year on the piano, you can get to the point where you can play something and your friends won't cringe, and they might actually sing or play an instrument with you. That's much less likely on the violin.

If you have gone through Suzuki Book 1 even partway on the violin, then I strongly recommend you get the piano accompaniment book for Book 1 and start with that. The piano part treble clef matches the violin part for all of Book 1, so you already know the tunes. See for yourself how much faster you learn it to the point where it sounds good. Prepare to be amazed.

Edited: January 9, 2018, 4:05 PM · Let me attempt an answer from the perspective of an audience member/observer.

Let's say you want to get to a level comparable to the easier romantic concertos on the violin (Mendelssohn, Bruch). To me it's very advanced level.

Your challenge on the piano is just to hit the right key at the right 'time proportion'. By this I mean, no matter how fast or slow you play, if you get the tempo correct or at least reasonable, you are gonna get a friendly, passable sound out of the piano. The instrument plays itself, per Bach quote. For those advanced piano pieces, if you can't play fast, then you can play meditatively slow.

For those violin pieces, you can't play slow without horribly (and humorously) affecting the melodies, easily turning the concertos into a parody of themselves.

I did have some time researching which instrument is hardest at highest levels of playing, and I noticed that people tend to be biased in their opinion. Like, 'whatever I play must be the hardest one - makes me feel good about myself'. A pianist is likely to claim piano is harder, and a violinist is likely to claim a violin is harder.

Being a person attempting both instruments at beginner level, my expectation and opinion on this, is that the violin is harder and less forgiving of late starters than the piano, at EVERY level of playing.

Let's break down the playing.

Is left hand fingering on the violin easier than either hand fingering on the piano? I highly doubt it. The left hand on the violin has to do much more: difficult posture, fretless fingerboard, correct pressure, vibrato, apparently not at a slower speed. With piano, you press down a key and that's it.

Is right hand bowing easier than hand action on piano? We don't know for sure; they are just too different. But what we do know is that humans are worse at multi-function: it is easier for both hands to do similar motions, than for each of them doing drastically different motions. It's necessary to point out that according to many experts, bowing is more difficult than fingering, and decides the beauty of tone at advanced levels. Bowing looks easy in layman's eyes, but it really isn't.

So if you believe left hand fingering on violin to be at least as challenging as piano fingering, and bowing is at least as difficult as fingering, then you must reach the conclusion that violin is much harder to play, at any levels.

The only thing more difficult for piano is reading two lines of music. But I presume most performing pianists get the majority of their performance right from memory and repetition, not so much from reading sheet music on the spot.

Of course difficulty is subjective, but for now, I believe for an average person, reaching high performance levels on piano is easier, other things equal.

About why the violin is less forgiving of late starters, for those aiming at *professional* levels, you can read this thread:

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=920

Edited: January 9, 2018, 4:14 PM · Hahaha, how to turn a piano related thread to the legendary "violin vs piano" debate!

First, yeah, I agree, hands down, hands touching hell if you ask me: bowing is infinitely more difficult than fingering

I'm not sure if we can say "just like that" that violin is harder than piano at master levels. Both master violinists and pianist get my jaw dropped, and make me think that what they do is not even possible.

Definitely the piano is WAAAAY easier to play than the violin, there's no need to prove anything. Now, what I'm not quite sure is if the violin is harder at the master level. Some piano pieces are as jaw dropping as Paganini, Tchai... I guess they are at the same level of difficulty, God level if you ask me, hahahaha.

But there are still some voices, still hear them inside my head:
"hey! but they don't even know how to tune their instruments", "double stops with double artificial harmonics, they can't beat that evil thing", "intonaaation", "the bow, the bow, they don't have to deal with staccato"...

Edited: January 9, 2018, 4:27 PM · Violin is sufficiently more difficult than piano that if you are a young person thinking about entering a competition in which there are both violinists and pianists competing, and if one or more of the judges is a pianist, don't bother. The pianist-judge will have absolutely no idea how hard it is to play anything in tune on the violin. No idea whatsoever, no matter how many times they've been told.

At the master level, that's a different matter altogether. Both instruments are in situations where only the best survive and people have been competing throughout history to write music that they think will be playable by vanishingly small numbers of players. The Rachmaninoff 3rd Piano Concerto is like a violin concerto that is 95% cadenza.

The problem for pianists is that if you don't become a soloist, there aren't any orchestral jobs. There are more gigs for pianists though. And pro accompanying can be quite a decent living. The big plus for pianists is that because intermediate piano is reached much more easily than intermediate violin, it's also easier to teach piano at the beginning to intermediate level. There, I said it.

January 9, 2018, 4:26 PM · @Tim, it's in the direction the OP (and I'm sure some of us) wants to hear more :-)
Edited: January 9, 2018, 4:55 PM · *Both instruments are in situations where only the best survive*

It's true in all fields, Paul. Especially in classical music where job openings are not getting better in modern ages.

What I was trying to say, is that is is easier to play on piano and sound good than on violin, even at master levels.

*people have been competing throughout history to write music that they think will be playable by vanishingly small numbers of players.*

Everyone can compose something few to no one can play. The matter is whether it is welcomed by the performers and audience. I'm inclined to think that there is a more of a limit on the difficulty a composer can do on the piano (either your performers can do it, or they can't), than the violin. And on piano, if the difficulty is about speed (which I believe to be the main difficulty at master level - please tell me if I'm wrong Paul) you always have an option to play slow and sound good!

Edited: January 9, 2018, 5:37 PM · Well, speed may be the main difficulty but it's pretty formidable when you are playing more than one note at a time. Or more than six. Dynamics, chord voicings, clean legato, etc., all of that matters too. The phrase "either you can do it or you can't" doesn't reflect reality at the master level on any instrument, I don't believe.
Edited: January 9, 2018, 7:07 PM · *either you can do it or you can't* meaning you have ten fingers, so you can play max 10 notes at a time. Or stretching more than an octave, say 12-13th. Either you can stretch or you can't.
IMO the keys and the play on the piano ... they just seem more 'discrete' and the absolute difficulty limit is more well-defined.

Speed isn't the only factor in high-level violin playing as there is a continuous element in its sound, with more factors involved, offering the potentiality to create an overwhelming variety of styles.

January 9, 2018, 6:39 PM · It is worth noting that Liszt was only challenged to stretch his capability by hearing Paganini. However, Alkan, whose piano music is as difficult as Liszt's (and whom Liszt acknowledged as an equal, if not superior), was not powered by such a challenge.
As a pianist Enescu was up there with the greatest on the level, but, apparently, not on the musical level. So, at the very top, the piano must present challenges peculiar to itself.
Edited: January 9, 2018, 6:40 PM · It is worth noting that Liszt was only challenged to stretch his capability by hearing Paganini. However, Alkan, whose piano music is as difficult as Liszt's (and whom Liszt acknowledged as an equal, if not superior), was not powered by such a challenge.
As a pianist Enescu was up there with the greatest on the level of technique, but, apparently, not on the musical level. So, at the very top, the piano must present challenges peculiar to itself.
January 9, 2018, 7:42 PM · For an adult beginner, getting to a passably intermediate level on the piano -- where there's a decent amount of literature where you will sound reasonably good even if you're not all that skilled -- is likely much more rewarding that the effort needed to get to an intermediate level on violin. Intermediate-level violinists often still don't have a mature tone, still struggle with intonation, etc., and therefore tend to be less pleasant to listen to.
Edited: January 10, 2018, 1:06 PM · I'm of the opinion that at very advanced levels, violin is harder than piano, for reasons I mentioned above.
However at the absolute HIGHEST level of playing, let me correct myself that violin and piano is equally hard. The reason for this is that humans have the motivation and curiosity to push their instruments and skills to the limit, and the finest possible anyway.
January 9, 2018, 9:26 PM · Christian, you're posting on a violinist site, and the majority of posters, with many of them having played piano, are telling you that piano is more likely to be successful for you. What does that tell you? It's really no contest in this case.

As an adult, I started piano first, together with my child. I did fine, actually ahead of the not untalented child. Then I decided that a group/school instrument would be good for my child, so had both of us start violin, a year later. Both progressed just fine, again, with me keeping up with my child if not exceeding (acknowledging that I might have been ignorant and biased about some aspects). Then I discovered how really hard violin was to get better at, and started putting more time into it to the point of dropping piano. I'm glad that I didn't let my child quit though -- when I hear Debussy or Chopin being played at home on the piano, I feel privileged.

But we're here, and affected by violinitis or something like that, so giving it up entirely is probably impossible -- until you get it out of your system. Getting good at piano might be a way to do that.

Edited: January 10, 2018, 8:29 AM · My only exposure to the piano comes from taking my daughter to her piano lessons. At this point, I can play all the songs she has learned and play them better.

Over the holidays, I performed a movement of solo Bach (on the violin)and a few holiday songs on the piano in a family recital. The post performance feedbacks, polite as they were, gave me a sinking feeling that they liked my piano playing better!

January 9, 2018, 11:53 PM · Took me 25 days to play Romance D'Amour on the piano, and my mom and sister loved it. How much did I practice each of those days? Barely 2 hours. Had I devoted 4 hours/day, 25 could become 15 days.

Took me a year to play the same song fluently on the violin, and as you'd expect, no one in my family enjoyed it.

Edited: January 10, 2018, 5:42 AM · "Actually, that's not true. Pianos have their own natural vibrato. Due to the necessities of tuning them, both major 3rds and major 6ths are wide, and, at least in the mid-range, produces a nice vibrato"

Actually I'm pretty sure that's not vibrato, but simply unavoidable wobbling caused by how the piano was tuned. By wobbling I mean that the interval is not perfect, hence we hear the little out of sync vibrations. Not saying it's poorly tuned, it could totally be correctly tuned, and as you may know there are thousands of ways to tune a piano. But vibrato, no, you can't do vibrato on a piano.

Edited: January 10, 2018, 10:33 AM · You probably don't need my opinions after all the other replies, but here they are:
You can play romantic pieces for it, and they sound wonderful. No, you cannot play vibrato, which is one drawback, especially for romantic pieces.
I can't really say which instrument I prefer for romantic pieces. Both are lovely. I suppose it depends on the piece.
You can certainly play the piano unaccompanied. I very rarely play the piano with others. It doesn't always need accompaniment, and it sounds lovely without it. You can accompany others, but you don't have to. It's considered by a lot of non-pianists to be strictly an aaccompaniment instrument, but it can be played either way without damaging the sound and flow of the pieces played.
Yes, there are other forums. Not sure if any are the "equivalent" to this one, but I know there's Viva Piano, and Piano Street, not to mention many others. I don't go on any of them, but they are there.
I'm curious, are you planning to deviate entirely from the violin, or do you intend to play both?
I learned the piano about seven years ago, the violin five. And I still play and love both. So don't think you can't do both, as some may tell you.
There are a few obvious differences:
-No vibrato.
-Acoustics are a lot bulkier and a lot more difficult to travel with (you can't pack it up and bring your own piano to a performance; and remember, each one is different. I don't perform piano unless there are rehearsals including that specific piano they'll use).
-Techniques are different. Yo play with both hands, in a different position, and you have many more notes to work with.
-You can see which note you're playing. Your intonation will be much better; you don't necessarily need to memorize the sound of a note.
-No awkward positions. You're not scrambling up and down a fingerboard.
-You're probably going to have to have someone come in and tune your piano for you. I want to learn how to tune pianos, but the equipment is expensive. My own piano holds its tune for years (ten, to be exact, though we have it tuned once a year), but my friend's piano won't hold its tune for over a week. She gave up trying to play because of that.
-There are pedals, and not a bow. Mine has two pedals: a sustainer and a muffler. Some have three. I can't recall what the third one does.
-Pianos are louder. It's a bit more tricky to play quietly. And of course, if you live with other people (family, spouse, roommate, etc), you'll probably want to put it in a room that's out of the way. Not a living room or bedroom. Believe me. Mine is in the living room. I hate that.
-Keyboards are usually terrible. Even the best Yamaha keyboards aren't great. Go for an acoustic if you can. And obviously, play it before you buy it. Or have the person selling it play it. Or both. I sometimes like electric violins, but not keyboards. Acoustic pianos are much better. They're smoother, easier to play, etc.
Sometimes the piano is easier than the violin, and in other ways it isn't. What works for one pianist won't work for another.
As Will Willy mentioned, it sometimes certain pieces take longer to learn on the violin. I personally find the piano a bit more difficult as far as learning pieces. I learn more quickly on the violin than I do the piano, for whatever reason. It took me two years to play the full Für Elise smoothly on the piano, a month to play Vivaldi's Winter on the violin well.
For some reason, I also don't enjoy composing on the piano. It's a lot more difficult than the violin for me, in that way. Even though time after time, I've heard of "how difficult and near impossible it is to compose on the violin, withiut a digital aid." Apparently those people don't take into consideration that Bach and Mozart didn't have that luxury a hundred years ago.
You'll probably find it odd, adapting to the piano. It is a different instrument, for good or for bad.
With carpal tunnel syndrome, I find the piano more annoying on my hands than the violin (except for when I'm shifting into higher positions on the violin). So keep that in mind.
Hope this helps.

Edited: January 10, 2018, 10:49 AM · It is honestly 100% doable to do both. In fact I find, it motivates you musically more than the violin as a beginner, as it takes way less time to sound decent on the violin. Funny fact, I started on the piano first instead of the violin. Violin has always been my favorite instrument but I honestly thought it was too difficult to do on my own. And even though I love piano, for me the sound of it seriously lacks emotion for my brain. Somewhere over the rainbow on the violin? I'm moved to tears and goosebumps. On the piano? I just think. Mhm nice :) That is why I decided. No. Just stop being stubborn and get a violin teacher.
I think the violin is a great solo instrument, however that does depend on the type of music you play. In some songs I actually find the piano background unnecessary. I mostly play film music, and violin solo tracks are not a rarity in that department
There are many piano forums. Just Google 'pianist forum' or 'piano' forum.
January 10, 2018, 10:46 AM · It depends on your interest, for example, I am not very interested in piano since I was young, as a result I would not like to devote much time to deal with it, it is regarded as a complementary course in my studying during conservatorio, as a result I am not so good at playing piano, also I found myself to be not coordinated at polyphonic music, for me, to achieve average level of diploma at conservatorio it will cost more effort to do so.
Edited: January 10, 2018, 3:14 PM · Playing off Paul's fourth post, even though technically "anything is possible", I'm more interested in investing in something that's more likely to occur and has a bigger ROI, due to the high opportunity cost involved(in my case 16 hours per week + weekly lesson).

My interest with whatever instrument I end up playing is being able to play more technically demanding repertoire as an adult beginner at a higher level of accuracy. This is mostly so I have access to a bigger and more varied amount of repertoire; not super interested in competing so, being able to out-play young learners for positions in an orchestra is a non-factor.

From the thread Will linked I get the impression some pieces are just not accessible unless you started young on the violin and while that is probably true for the piano as well, it looks like switching would minimize that.

Regardless, I might change to the piano if nothing else because it's a more solo friendly.

Edited: January 10, 2018, 3:41 PM · Well you've got my blessing even if you don't need it. :)

What you will also discover it that the piano community, in general, wastes far less time on willful neurotic obsessiveness and infighting about things that will never matter to the intermediate player.

January 10, 2018, 4:01 PM · One useful advantage of digital pianos (some of them at least) is that they have a harpsichord function, ideal for accompanying Baroque violin or ensemble music if a real, and doubtless expensive, harpsichord is not available. In my opinion, solo harpsichord music is often better when played on a harpsichord or a digital substitute than on a modern piano.
January 10, 2018, 4:34 PM · *What you will also discover it that the piano community, in general, wastes far less time on willful neurotic obsessiveness and infighting about things that will never matter to the intermediate player.*

(potential side thread alert, Paul :-)

I wonder is it because in the violin community, from instrument to playing, there are so many parameters involved?

With piano, you sit down and you play. There is hardly any argument or disagreement about the way you should sit, and the way you should move you fingers, except perhaps at very high levels. It's hard to make fatal mistake or accumulate extremely bad habits.

As regards the instrument itself, a thousand acceptable pianos are gonna produce more or less the same sound when in tune. Easier with digital ones.

With violin, OMG, 100 left hand issues, 100 right hand issues, angles, thumb, chin, high position, what bow, what rosin, what string, what soundpost, chinrest, shoulder rest, what humidity, what this, what that, what blah blah blah. Too many parameters catalyse disagreement.

The violin is as beautiful as it is fragile and treacherous.

Or maybe due to the dogged determination one is likely to have in order to pursue it, that they are bound to be a lot more stubborn and argumentative?

January 10, 2018, 5:12 PM · Will, you nailed it.
Edited: January 10, 2018, 5:19 PM · What Trevor said about the harpsichord function is important because (1) the harpsichord sound on digital pianos is surprisingly realistic, and (2) real harpsichords hold their tune very poorly, and they're hard to tune even though there are no unisons to worry about. Many piano tuners want nothing to do with them. Note also that on keyboards I have played, you cannot choose different temperaments for the harpsichord sound. Also the harpsichord sound is "realistic" in the sense that it is NOT touch-sensitive for volume, but I have cheated that one by using an Ernie Ball volume pedal.

About tuning on the digital piano -- this subject came up earlier when someone mentioned "vibrato." In fact, my piano teacher proved to me that my digital piano might actually be more realistic than I would like. It's actually NOT perfectly in tune. He played a third and said, "This third should have X beats per second, and it has Y." He showed me that for several intervals. Makes me wonder if they sampled a piano that was slightly out of tune or whether the very slight detuning was intentional.

January 10, 2018, 6:06 PM · OP, given the criteria that you've outlined, I think piano is your best bet. Violin is only for those that love the instrument itself, not for those looking to maximize the percievable results of their limited time. Piano is much better for the latter.
January 10, 2018, 6:35 PM · The OP mentioned ROI (return on investment)! I have to say that is the first time I hear it mentioned within the context of learning an instrument. It is brutally strategic.
Edited: January 10, 2018, 11:34 PM · I think ROI shouldn't be the main concern in learning any instrument, or becoming a musician, or an artist of any sort, as it's generally a bad investment :-)) Unless the nominator 'R' is measured with non-monetary value.

It's not just the instrument and lesson costs. Your time represents opportunity cost as well.

Edited: January 10, 2018, 7:35 PM · @David

Yeah, from my motivation and what I've made out of this thread, I see the decision like:


16 Practice Hours + 1 Hour Lesson =
Skill level that grants %70 access to violin repertoire at
%80 accuracy.

VS

16 Practice Hours + 1 Hour Lesson =
Skill level that grants %80access to piano repertoire
at %90 accuracy.


Things like "sense of accomplishment", "excitement" and "cool factor" are relevant too but, I'm not including them since they are kinda hard to measure/compare.

I'm just trying to find the best way to spend the time I've set aside for a hobby. I explored some other options before like photography and drawing and decided on violin since, it looked exciting and "sexy" from a video I saw.

Having said that, I'm not married to the violin and the piano looks exciting and "beautiful" plus, it looks like it's more likely that I'll be able to take it farther.

Edited: January 11, 2018, 7:39 AM · Christian, I get it and I agree. I think your assessment of the violin is on the optimistic side if you are talking about solo literature. Most of us stay with the violin because we love the instrument and the sound we make ( or could potentially make ) from it. The piano is a great instrument. If you are indifferent between the two, the piano is an optimum choice.
January 11, 2018, 12:08 PM · I have been playing violin, cello, and viola regularly with pianists for the past 50 years (and on and off before that). The pianist I have regularly played with most recently also has an electronic piano and she has used it a few times with our piano trio (even in performance) and it seems to work very well acoustically and musically.

I even had a cello student for 5 years who was a full-time piano teacher (studio of 60 weekly students) and that inspired me to try to learn piano on Yamaha Clavinova (electronic piano) that we had at home. I learned to read the music for both clefs and learned a couple of simple sonatinas, but it was going to tough and time consuming for me so I quit after about 6 months and sent the Clavinova off the New Mexico with my son.

Nice thing about piano (and all keyboard instruments) is every octave is the same!

I can see switching from violin to piano - but I can also see just adding piano and being able to play both. I have certainly known people who were performance-capable on both instruments.

January 11, 2018, 12:10 PM · Definitely David. Violin gives much more headaches than piano. But also the problem is, at least if you want an acoustic piano, the price. You can get a decent minimum set of a violin with everything with $500, but a real piano plus a piano chair... it can take several hundreds or even thousands.
January 11, 2018, 2:06 PM · "This third should have X beats per second, and it has Y.

Paul, there's no such thing as "perfectly in tune" when it comes to a piano. Yes, there are theoretical beat rates, but each piano is different due to inharmonicity. The beat rates aren't going to adhere to one ideal number. Digital keyboards don't have inharmonicity. Even without inharmonicity, neither an acoustic nor a digital piano is capable of a "perfect" tuning. There is also a certain amount of subjectivity in how wide we want the octaves, especially in the high end. Many people may think that technically perfect octaves sound narrow.

January 11, 2018, 3:42 PM · Well, as I've said, there are A LOT of different and correct ways to tune a piano, not only in they way you tune the piano and how you do it, but as well the exact notes you tune each key (string). All pianos are out of tune, you can't avoid it, but in the "out of tune" world you can tune each key according to certain parameters.

These parameters are called just intonation, pythagorean tuning, meantone temperament, well temperament and equal temperament. There's no right or wrong, they simply follow different parameters, although may be the most used are the last two ones.

By the way, I forgot what "vibrato" in piano really was called. Now I remember, it's called constructive and destructive interferences, that's what produces the "beats" (I don't like that word to define that but anyways), when you play 2 keys and the division of the frequencies is not exact, which always happen in a piano, though not in all keys. That I believe actually creates tremolo, not vibrato.

Edited: January 11, 2018, 4:39 PM · In my very own definition, 'perfectly in tune' means the note sounds no different from the perfect note, to the skilled human ear, even though it isn't exact.

IMO there's no point in going beyond that perfection.

January 11, 2018, 5:26 PM · Scott I'm aware of inharmonicity but the piano technician -- and this is a guy with 40 years of experience -- said the difference surprised him when he first encountered it. But I don't really notice it being "out of tune." It sounds pretty darned good to me. Interesting ... he told me violin double stops are hard to listen to for him. But then he plays electric guitar (and pretty well, too) without issue, so go figure.
January 12, 2018, 6:31 AM · Paul, we had a conductor once who didn't want the digital piano we usually used when a harpsichord was needed but insisted on having his own, real, harpsichord for the concert. Not only that, but he announced he was going to direct from the keyboard - which he had never done with us before.

In the afternoon of the concert our conductor transported his harpsichord from home to the church for the evening concert and spent about 2 - 3 hours tuning and adjusting it - they don't travel well, apparently. Come the concert, wonder of wonders no-one could hear the harpsichord, but there was a lot of sitting down, standing up and arm-waving from himself, doubtless to the mystification of the audience. This was an occasion when the real engine driving the orchestra was the CM doing his job well!

January 12, 2018, 6:52 AM · Talking about multi-functionality, go from the piano to the church organ, as I did in my youth, and you'll find out what it really means: at least two manual keyboards, the pedals, a multiplicity of stops, and three staves to read.
January 12, 2018, 7:28 AM · Just a comment on the Moonlight sonata.
Yes, the first movement probably could be played almost passably by someone after one year of diligent training.
The last movement: let's say that I've been working on it on and off for 52 years and I still am terrible at it.
Edited: January 12, 2018, 9:54 AM · Trevor, have you seen the kinds of harpsichords they use in recordings with even small chamber orchestras? Huge beastly things. Not the kind you carry to your gigs in your car. On the other hand, had I attended your concert, I would have been delighted, because there is hardly anything I hate worse than the twangy sound of a harpsichord along with a perfectly fine orchestra. (Okay, I hate opera even more ... but I digress.)
January 12, 2018, 2:15 PM · Paul, when recording period music they must want an authentic sound from an authentic harpsichord in the ideal conditions of the recording studio. A professional ensemble such as the outstanding Il Giardino Armonico, for example, uses a harpsichord when performing live on stage. In their case I suspect that a lot of what they perform live is also recorded before or after in a studio (and is also likely to appear on YouTube), so it makes sense to use the real thing in both types of performance.

Another point to be considered is that a real harpsichord is essentially a large box with tuned strings running through it, so will not only have its own set of resonances but will also interact with the resonances of the dozen or so acoustically lively stringed instruments surrounding it, which a digital instrument couldn't.

Having said that, the orchestra I referred to in my earlier post, although not a professional ensemble but nevertheless able to cope very adequately with the repertoire, would have been better off if someone had insisted on using the Yamaha or Roland rather than the feeble nonsense we had to put up with on the night. Btw, the orchestra and that conductor parted company the next year by "mutual agreement" - as they say ;)


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