You may be considering starting to learn to play the piano. It could be on your bucket list, and something you have always wanted to do, or maybe your child has recently expressed an interest in learning to play. You want to get them started in learning instruments early.
Learning to play the piano can be the perfect starting point for studying how to read music and developing skills with other instruments.
Here we look at whether you should choose a piano or a keyboard for a beginner student, with the pros and cons of each.
Type of Instrument
At a high-level, the most significant difference between the two instruments is that a keyboard is electronic and a piano, a classic acoustic instrument. Therefore, a keyboard will always need a power source, whether in the form of batteries or a plug.
Pianos, like any other acoustic instrument, need to be tuned. Particularly as a beginner, this will not be something you can do yourself and can be quite expensive to have done professionally. Further, this needs to be done at least once a year, at the very least. However, for new pianos, the first year may require tuning four times.
Keyboards, on the other hand, do not need any tuning and, therefore, are a lot easier to maintain.
One of the key features available on a keyboard is the ability to change the tune or even the instrument sound. A keyboard can also play a background track to allow you to practice against a specific song.
Pianos, on the other hand, do not have these features.
As keyboards are electronic, they allow for the player to plug in a set of headphones, effectively rendering their play silent. This is particularly beneficial when a student wants to practice at any time of the day without disturbing anyone else in the home.
Pianos do not come with this feature, and so practicing will have to take place at times suitable to all in the household.
Pianos can be large and cumbersome, and accordingly are very difficult to transport, and certainly cannot be very easily moved.
Keyboards, on the other hand, are a lot easier to transport and can be taken with the student, whether it is to lessons, on holidays, or when moving home.
Number of Keys
Most full-sized pianos come with 88 keys, while keyboards usually have 61 or 76 keys. While the big difference in the number of keys may seem like a disadvantage to using a keyboard to learn the piano, most beginner students do not use all the keys in any event. There are limitations to having fewer keys, as players will not be able to play music or tunes with very high or low notes, as these keys are not present on a keyboard.
A full-sized piano will have no limitations in this regard.
It is generally accepted that one of the best features of a piano that is most beneficial to beginners is the weighted keys. This helps to develop strength in the fingers, and build stamina.
Keyboards do not have this benefit and may make the transition from playing on a keyboard to a piano difficult.
However, it is possible to get keyboards that actually have weighted keys, thereby, having many of the benefits of keyboards such as transportability, variety, and minimal upkeep, with the benefit of building the necessary finger strength.
Traditionally, pianos are considered relatively expensive instruments, particularly those such as Baby Grands. However, there are various second-hand pianos available for offer in excellent condition.
Keyboards can be substantially cheaper; however, keyboards with weighted keys are more expensive. Therefore, if you are considering a keyboard with weighted keys, there are slightly different considerations in comparing a keyboard with weighted keys to a piano.
Overall, the decision to purchase and begin learning to play on either a piano or keyboard is a personal one, with various factors. Lifestyle and long term goals will be key considerations, and importantly, the initial capital expenditure will also play a role in the decision on which instrument to learn to play on and purchase.