Buying a mini grand piano for a toddler
My three year old daughter had become slightly obsessed with the idea of a real looking baby piano after she saw one at a friend's house (it was beautiful and we are very lucky she didn't set her sights on a drum kit!). But we did wonder if it was silly to spend so much money on a toy. My husband is musical (I'm not!) and he was also worried she might pick up some bad habits or get bored with it quickly.
I use the word 'toy' because these mini grand pianos don't have strings like the real thing. Instead, they work a bit like a xylophone. They have all of the same keys as an actual piano but they don't sound the same (I've made a You Tube video below of my daughter playing).
In the end, we decided that a mini grand piano would encourage her love of music and build her confidence. There's plenty of time for her to have formal music lessons on a real piano when she gets older - if she wants to.
WHICH BABY GRAND PIANO?
We bought the Ts-ideen Kids Mini Piano which comes with a stool and a 'Play by Colours' music book. It's a German brand, made of solid wood and a high gloss finish. It sounds nice and my daughter really loves it. As an added bonus - it looks good in our lounge.
To be honest, the decision came down to price in the end. Our budget was under £100. There are quite a few similar quality pianos around this price range and I was tempted by a few. My favourites are the French desgined Vilac (£110) and the Melissa & Doug Learn-To-Play Classic Grand Piano (£86.60).
Schoenhut is the top brand in the baby piano market, they've been making them for decades and from what I've read, you can't go wrong with one of these. Apparantly the sound is slightly more realistic. But prices start from £175...so not in our price bracket.
The Ts-ideen was cheaper than the rest at £75.00 and it seemed to have all of the same features and reviews as the Vilac and Melissa & Doug.
From the minute we opened the box, I knew I was going to be happy. It just looks solid and well made. It's wood with a lovely high gloss finish. I thought the screws looked a bit chunkier than I was expecting but it's still elegant with the curvy legs and lifting up back. It took ten minutes to put together. Well, my father-in-law did it! But I could have. It came almost fully assembled and the legs just needed to be screwed in.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?
If you're thinking of buying a mini grand piano, you'll read a lot of reviews on Amazon complaining about the noise being annoying and not very realistic. But in all honesty, if you want a mini piano to be able to produce the kind of sound you'd expect from a big concert piano, you're looking in the wrong place! I actually like the sound. It's a kind of tinkering noise, like bells or chimes. I'd describe it as eclectic rather than annoying...but everyone is different!
It's not too loud unless the child really bangs the keys...it depends on their personality of course. My son (age 5) tends to be the banger when he gets on there. It's only as loud as the child presses.
This is a video of my daughter playing to give you an idea...
CAN THEY LEARN TO PLAY SONGS ON IT?
With this model, you get a colour coded strip which you put over the top of the keys. The colours correspond with music in a book called 'Play with Colour' (included). After the first week my daughter could play some bars of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (with a lot of help and convincing!). We've now ended up just letting her go for it until she asks to use the book properly. But yes, I think they can learn to play on it.
The back of the piano lifts up to reveal a nice storage compartment - where the strings would go in a real piano. My daughter puts her little handbag in there and her music book. I'm not worried about the lid slamming down on her fingers because the stand is really sturdy and it takes a lot of effort to push it down. She actually asks me to do it for her. And there are no problems with the stool being wobbly or tipping over...so far. Note, not all of the Ts-ideen models have a lifting back so check the description carefully if you want one.
WILL IT LAST?
This brand says "from age 3" but we could have given it to her sooner I think. Age 2 - 4 is the perfect age for a toy like this. My son is 5 and he is nearly too big for it now. I hope my daughter (being a bit smaller) will be able to fit on it until she's 6.
We keep the piano in our lounge but there's just one thing more to say about that - it gathers dust and shows up fingerprints easily (lacquered finish!).
Be warned if you are a clean freak (I'm not so that's lucky).
I give this mini grand piano our Five Little Stars.
Ps: if you think your child might like something a little more exciting, check out Kate's review of a drum kit she bought for her toddler. Crazy? Possibly...
The Amazon link above is a FLS affiliate one, for your shopping convenience.