Starting Piano Lessons: Piano Or Keyboard?

Which Is Better?

A common question we hear from prospective students and parents is “Do we need a piano to begin lessons?” Another related question that we also encounter is “We have a keyboard. Is that good enough to begin lessons with?”

Well, we think you’ll agree that having an instrument of some kind will certainly be conducive to getting the most benefit from your lessons. After all, you’ll want to reinforce what you learn. That said, we have had a number of people who put off their investment in an instrument until a first lesson to discuss the matter. As a result, they became better informed about making the right decision.

In short, if it’s piano you want to ultimately play, having either an acoustic instrument or a digital piano with a weighted action is the way to go. When you depress a piano key, you set a whole physical process in motion, including causing a hammer to strike a string (or strings) which leads to the resulting sound you hear. When you do this, there is a certain amount of weight to these “action” parts which means that your finger endures a certain amount of resistance when depressing that key.

Considering that you have eight fingers and two thumbs that each have their own unique capacity of strength, control, and mobility that needs to be developed while maturing as a student, a keyboard that does not offer this resistance is not the best vehicle for developing and refining the level of technical skills you are looking to hone. In addition, a player’s potential for musical expression is most certainly limited with such an instrument.

Can you begin piano lessons with such a keyboard? Actually, you can. That said, the truth needs to be understood when it comes to the limitations mentioned. If one is to start with a keyboard without a weighted action, he or she would be better served by adopting a mindset that it’s temporary. In other words, view it as simply a starter instrument with an open mind that a more appropriate piano or keyboard will be seriously considered.

Digital Or Acoustic?

To the purist, nothing can compare to the real thing, an acoustic piano. Without getting into a lesson in physics here, let’s simply put it this way. Everything is vibration. When you depress a key on an acoustic piano, you initiate an entire, complex series of vibrations in motion. These musical vibrations project throughout the body of the instrument and beyond, peripherally affecting everything and everyone in the vicinity. There is something to be said about the emotional benefits of playing an acoustic piano. It doesn’t get more real than this.

That said, in this technological era, we have choices. A popular alternative to an acoustic piano for some is what is commonly referred to as a digital piano. Since we’ve already acknowledged the beauty of the real thing to a degree, we will state here that a digital piano has benefits that can be enjoyed. One primary advantage is that the instrument never needs tuning. To the purist, however, the cost of tuning an acoustic piano during the course of a year can seem rather trivial when considering the rewards of the real thing. Another benefit of owning a digital piano – and a rather important one for people living in certain scenarios – is that one can practice and play with earphones. If you live in an apartment with thin walls or in a home where there are competing sounds/noises, this benefit is huge. By the way, you’ll want to confirm that the action is weighted for reasons already stated. Although the internal mechanism isn’t likely to resemble the action of an acoustic piano, the effect of such an action is simulated via the usage of advanced technology. In addition, these digital pianos are made available with full piano keyboards (88 keys) as well as keyboards that are shorter. Given the choice, it hardly makes sense to opt for less than a full keyboard if digital is the way you decide to go.

If you would like to discuss your options or if you have questions as to how this information may apply to your situation, feel free to use the form on this page to communicate with us. We would love to hear from you.