What kind of piano do you recommend?
There are any number of reputable brands, depending on how much you wish to spend. Steinway, Bosendorfer, Walther, Mason and Hamlin and Schimmel are some of the finest. Yamaha, Kawai, Petrof, Knabe,Baldwin and Boston are excellent mid range pianos. Every brand has it’s low end and high end models and every piano has an individual sound. Usually, the taller or longer the sound board the better. The smallest grands are about 5 feet. The ideal minimum size for a grand is 6 feet for optimum sound, but not everyone has that kind of space, and the sound of smaller grands is still very good. Digital pianos should have 88 weighted, touch sensitive keys and a minimum of two pedals. Always shop around, and never assume the price is set. Never buy the bottom of the line. All acoustic pianos should have 88 keys and 3 pedals! If you are buying used get a tuner opinion. Be wary of pianos that are antique or restored. Some antique pianos do not have 88 keys, and may not be capable of being brought into tune. Be sure to examine every inch of the piano, inside and out, case and strings. Play every key, and depress each pedal. Used pianos should not appear rusty or moth eaten inside. Avoid a wood finish that is crackled unless you want to have it refinished. The bench is a very important item! It must be the proper height for the student, and it should be comfortable. The correct seat height places the bottom part of the forearm and elbow on the same level as the surface of the white keys. Students should sit on the front half of the bench, and should be able to extend their fists to the fall board straight armed. Feet should be flat on the floor. If feet do not reach the floor use a footstool, books, carpet samples, or other flat surface. Larry Fine’s book The Piano Book reviewing pianos is very thorough.
How do I care for my piano?
Tune it at least once a year. If it is new it will need at least 3 tunings the first year. Use Cory’s piano finish cleaner and conditioner(never furniture polish). Avoid putting the piano in direct sunlight. The finish will fade and crackle after some years of exposure. Avoid high moisture conditions. Avoid placing heavy objects like vases or potted plants on the piano.(even with a cloth under it). They will mar the finish over time. If you have tile or hardwood floors a rug under the piano is recommended to improve the sound quality. If you move you will have to retune the piano but wait a few weeks to let the piano settle in first.
Where is there a good music store?
Coast Band Music on Via Fabricante in Mission Viejo