Monday, May 12, 2008

Going to "work" with Daddy

Jillian (kindergarten) and Jason (pre-kindergarten) go to school at our church's school. This is not our long-term plan. Part of why we choose to live where we do is because the public schools are very good, and it would be a shame not to make use of the tax dollars we spend to support them. But for now, while our children fall in the "early childhood" category, we believe our church's school provides a superior education to that offered in our otherwise excellent public schools. One consequence of this decision is that it seems like they have LOTS and LOTS of school holidays. Last Friday Jillian was off from school (but curiously, Jason was not).

So Jillian came to work with me in the morning. I was already going to take the afternoon off, so our plan was that after lunch, we would go home to pick up the rest of the family, and drive out to St. GenElburn to see our house-in-progress. (We're building the house in an unincorporated area of Elburn, zoned to St. Charles schools, but the closest town is Geneva... hence the name. I like it. It's believable to me that there could have been a St. GenElburn, the patron saint of... cracked soundboards? I'll take your nominations on this.)

Jillian and I had lots of fun. We went to one of our company’s office buildings and checked into a small glass-enclosed cube (officially known as a “Team Room”, but more commonly called a “Fishbowl”). I made a couple hours’ worth of calls while she drew clowns on the white boards, then used that stinky spray to clean it up. Given the small size of our fishbowl, we were pretty loopy after awhile from the fumes. Hopefully, this went unnoticed by the customers I was calling on later in the morning. If I start seeing orders for large quantities of free software and/or services, I will know otherwise.

After lunch, we had some time to kill before picking the rest of the family up, so we visited our local music store, which carries a limited line of Yamaha keyboards. I was interested in seeing what they sounded and felt like. I also wanted to know what she thought.

We probably tinkered on these for 30 minutes or so, playing what parts of our lessons we could remember. Jillian preferred the smaller, un-weighted keyboards. "These are easier to play." I passed up the opportunity to lecture her on the merits of weighted keyboards. It's a difficult position to be in... I want my children to be, or at least grow up to be, independent, thoughtful decision-makers. Partly, that means when they exercise this independence in a way I hadn't anticipated, I can't go back and say "No! Not like that! Not THAT kind of independence…" She did like the couple of models that had an LCD display of the notes being played. I had to admit, that is pretty cool.

They had a soon-to-be-obsolete YDP-625 on "clearance" for $699. A fair price, but not one so compelling that it required immediate action. I was prepared to not like this DP, but I have to admit... I liked the sound, and I liked the touch. Mind you, this is only the second weighted-action keyboard I've tried, the first being a Casio PX-110 at Best Buy awhile back. Given the 15 minutes combined I’ve spent playing these two, I'd say the Yamaha is superior to the PX-110. Of course, for $300 more, it should be. But the Casio has already been replaced by the PX-120, so it's not exactly a fair comparison. What WOULD be interesting would be to compare the PX-120 to the new Yamaha, the YDP-635.

But I digress. I could live with a YDP-625. This realization alone has sort of cemented in my mind that my next piano purchase is going to be a digital. This entry-level digital piano was far superior in touch and yes, even tone, to the piano we’re playing right now. I can’t begin to image what newer units are like, with improved keyboard actions and sound samples.

Back to Jillian. She had quite a day. Went to work with daddy, out to lunch, played in the new house for awhile, kicked the soccer ball around when we got back… at the end of the day, Sue asked her what her favorite part of the day was. “Trying out pianos.” Apparently, I have successfully recruited a partner in crime.


Bill said...

As I mentioned in an earler comment on you blog, I have a Yamaha Clavinova and love it for several reasons (in no particular order:
1. It looks good
2. It has great touch (at least to me)
3. Most of my heavy-duty learning is done at night while my wife watches TV in the family room (I use headphones)
4. It never goes out of tune and sounds great
5. It has 450+ voices that are fun to play with to jazz up practice sessions
6. I like to sing and you can change keys electronically to find the most comfortable range - cheating I know but I don't plan to "go pro".

I bought my son a Yamaha YDP-223 a couple of years ago and even though he is primarily a guitarist he loves his DP as much as I do.

Always Wanted to Play Piano said...

Hello again, bill. Thanks for your suggestions.

I just watched a used (two year old, I think) YDP-223 sell on eBay for about $1350. I would love a Clavinova, but I think it's probably a little far upmarket for us at this point.

I think the most likely scenario is that something falls through the cracks on eBay (doubtful, based on my cursory observations these last couple of weeks) or I buy a new entry-level keyboard from the Casio Privia / Yamaha P series.