Teacher Hub

Silent Pianos – a useful tool for schools?

Written by Dom Barnett20/03/24

This article was adapted from the Chamberlain Pianos Knowledgebase by Dom Barnett, Director of Pianos.

What is a Silent piano?

Yamaha launched the first Silent Piano in 1993. This enabled the pianist to silence the acoustic piano and listen to a digitally generated piano voice through headphones without compromising on feel. Advances in technology have led to improvements in sound quality, and the sampled sound of one of today’s Silent Pianos is almost indistinguishable from the real thing. The system itself is very simple. Sensors positioned within the keyboard and action of the piano trigger samples of the acoustic piano, while a specially positioned bar known as the ‘hammer stop rail’ prevents the hammers from hitting the strings, thus making the piano ‘Silent’.

A Yamaha Silent piano functions as a regular acoustic piano when not in silent mode, maintaining its authentic touch and feel. The Silent system is seamlessly integrated during manufacturing, requiring minimal alterations to the piano. Grand piano models feature a 'Quick Escape' system, ensuring proper action movement in both Silent and acoustic modes, preserving the optimal distance between hammers and strings and reducing wear on the mechanism.

How can they be used in schools?

The Silent feature is a real boon in busy school environments where noise control is essential. For example, many schools might want to invest in a grand piano to sit in an assembly hall or theatre. However, if these rooms have any proximity to other teaching spaces then the grand piano is typically rendered useless for much of the day. But not with a silent piano! If students want to get valuable practice in on the piano they’ll be using for recitals and concerts, they can simply turn on Silent mode to avoid disturbing concurrent lessons or extra-curricular activities.

Upright Silent pianos can also be great for practice rooms, especially if you have several rooms in a relatively small space. With Silent uprights, students can put their headphones on and block out distractions (a blaring trumpet in the next room, for example), whilst still experiencing that satisfying mechanical feel which is so vital to top level playing.

One might reasonably ask ‘why not just buy some digital pianos?!’, but Silent options do offer one distinct advantage. They simply provide a vastly superior tactile experience to a digital piano, better preparing students for important examinations and performances which are likely to be on acoustic instruments.

Additionally, silent pianos often come equipped with recording capabilities and connectivity options equal to their digital counterparts, empowering students to record and review their performances or even collaborate remotely with peers. Such versatility not only enhances the learning experience but also fosters creativity and exploration in music education. Furthermore, teachers can utilize silent pianos during group lessons or individual instruction sessions, tailoring the learning experience to each student's needs while maintaining a conducive learning environment for all.

Our Yamaha Silent range

Yamaha offers a Silent option for all their acoustic piano models, featuring two systems. These systems include grand piano voices like the Yamaha CFX and Bösendorfer Imperial, meticulously sampled across all 88 keys for authentic sound. Virtual Resonance Modeling (VRM) accurately reproduces the reverberation and resonance of a grand piano, calculating string states and pedal effects in real-time. Advanced binaural sampling technology captures nuanced details, creating a natural, immersive sound experience when using headphones. With Yamaha's Silent pianos, players enjoy vivid expression and lifelike performance, forgetting they're even wearing headphones.

Yamaha SC3 Silent system

Silent models available featuring the SC3 system are as follows:



 B1SC3 – 109 cm

 GB1KSC3 – 5’3 (161cm)

 B2SC3 – 113 cm

 B3SC3 – 121 cm

While effectively the entry level specification, SC3 system is ideally equipped for use in schools, and is offered on the b Series uprights and GB1K grand piano. In addition to the two stunning concert grand piano voices, there are an additional 10 instrument sounds, including electric pianos, strings, harpsichord, celesta, organs and vibraphone. SC3 also includes Bluetooth audio and MIDI connectivity, along with an onboard record facility and a metronome to assist with practising. SC3 is also compatible with Yamaha’s intuitive ‘Smart Pianist’ app for iOS and Android and makes your acoustic piano a great practising partner for any student!

Yamaha SH3 Silent system

Silent models available using the SH3 system are as follows:



 P121SH3 – 121cm

 GC1SH3 – 5’3 (161cm)

 U1SH3 – 121cm

 GC2SH3 – 5’8 (173cm)

 U3SH3 – 131cm

 C1XSH3 – 5’3 (161cm)

 YUS1SH3 – 121cm

 C2XSH3 – 5’8 (173cm)

 YUS3SH3 – 131cm

 C3XSH3 – 6’1 (186cm)

 YUS5SH3 – 131cm

 C5XSH3 – 6’7 (200cm)

 SE122SH3 – 122cm

 C6XSH3 – 6’11 (212cm)

 SE132SH3 – 132cm

 C7XSH3 – 7’6 (227cm)

 SU7SH3 – 131cm

Fitted to every model over and above the GB1K and b Series Silent is the range topping SH3 system, offering the same functionality but with many enhanced features. SH3 has a wider range of instrument voices, a total of 25 including layered sounds such as piano and strings, along with 480 XG voices for MIDI file playback. Improved connectivity includes MIDI IN and OUT, enabling the piano to be used as a controller keyboard for use with synthesizers and sequencing/notation software, a brilliant tool for larger scale school projects! In addition to the revolutionary new electromagnetic key sensor system fitted to all new Yamaha Silent pianos, SH3 grand pianos are also fitted with hammer sensors, capturing the precise movements of each hammer in order to produce the most accurate possible performance.

Overall, Silent pianos can serve as invaluable tools in schools, offering flexibility, convenience, and enhanced learning opportunities in music education. If you’re interested in investing on one of these brilliant, innovative instruments, don’t hesitate to get in touch at pianos@chamberlainmusic.com!