A New Addition to Our Family (It Isn’t What You Think)
I am starting at a new school (to me) this fall. In fact, I am leaving the newest school in the district to go to the oldest school in the district. I have been spending quite a bit of time this summer preparing my new room for the fall–as this school will be all iPad (one of the main reasons I used our bidding process to move to this school). I have been working extensively in the music library (scanning and ripping of CDs is done; doing a complete inventory of the music library–copy by copy–is about 40% finished). I have also been taking note of things that I will need that the room does not have; and have been getting rid of things that I will not use.
In particular, there is an upright piano in the room. This instrument is of no use to me, as I need a digital piano that I can use with the iPad (for USB MIDI in, as well as audio in to the piano's speakers). My local music tech company, AABACA.COM, recommended the Casio Privia PX-350. I did some research on the digital piano, and it turns out that it is a great instrument–an incredible instrument–for the price. And AABACA's prices are the best you'll find (I did not receive any bonuses or kickbacks to say this).
Several years ago, when we built my former school, we ordered Roland FP-7s for the practice room (also from AABACA.com), as well as Yamaha Digital Grand CP-309 for the choir room's daily piano. We also bought one “serious” piano, the Yamaha CFIIIS, with an original sticker price of $160,000 (we purchased a refurbished model from the met for under $60,000). We bought digi-dollies for the FP-7s (not a bad idea), which made them more mobile. And the FP7 has a 1/8″ (3.5mm) stereo aux in port…perfect for iPad to piano. The problem is that the FP-7 still starts around $1700. The Casio PX-350 is much more affordable that that…and has a few other features. In particular, it has better weighted keys than most digital pianos I have used (including the FP-7 and CP-309 at my old school), and it has a USB port for live recording (I'm not likely to do this, but you may). The sounds of the piano are excellent, particularly if you are using headphones or recording. You can find quite a few reviews of the Casio Privia PX-350 online (including YouTube), and it is hard to find anyone that has anything negative to say about the piano (a few people had customer service issues with Casio directly; and some people reported a buzz in the keyboard–I haven't experienced the buzz at this point).
You might be a keyboard purist, demanding an acoustic piano. That's fine…you can pay the maintenance cost of that piano (particularly tuning, which is now $100 at least two times per year), not to mention dealing with the space issues involved (grands take up a lot of room, uprights get in between you and your students). And you won't be able to use the acoustic piano with notation programs or an iPad. The Casio Privia PX-350 comes with a three year warrant, and by the fourth year of the piano, we will have covered the cost of the piano without having to pay at least $200 each year for tuning. After the fourth year, the tuning funds could be put into a separate account towards the purchase of the next digital piano.
I had worked with principal to obtain a PX-350 for the fall, and was even able to sell an old existing digital piano (a 1995 Roland with a 3.5″ floppy drive) to help finance the cost. I'm still waiting for the purchase order to go through for the school's new PX-350 (all of the building accountants are on summer break right now), but I know it will be coming.
As I talked about this piano with my wife, she suggested we purchase one for our home, too…so we did. We drove out to AABACA.com's “Music Barn” today, checked out the PX-350, and bought one–bringing it home today. Now I can work on music notation programs at home (Mac or iPad) with a full keyboard, I can work on choral scores with piano, and even practice my less-than-stellar piano skills (I scanned my old music into PDFs two summers ago). My wife can start using her piano skills again, and we can get my five-year-old started with basic piano.
We had talked about buying a high-level digital piano, such as the AvantGrande by Yamaha…but our needs don't justify the overall cost of such an instrument (roughly $10,000). The PX-350 has a great deal to offer at only a fraction of the cost. We did know that we didn't want a full-sized piano…they take up too much space and require tuning and maintenance. Our PX-350 came with a kit that included the “home stand” and three-pedal bar, although AABACA.com also sells them in a Z-Stand/Bench package.
So, if you are thinking about purchasing a good digital piano, check out the Casio Privia PX-350. And if you have digital piano needs or software needs, I can't recommend AABACA.com enough. I've been using their services for fifteen years–good people and good deals.