Piano or Keyboard: What should I choose?


Congratulations on choosing to learn the art of the piano! Before you get started, there may be a lingering question quite common to the new musician. What is the better purchase, a keyboard, or a piano? Though it is usually preferred a student develop skill on an acoustic piano, it is not always practical. Also, due to technological advances, there are many keyboards available that can provide a learning experience similar to that of an acoustic piano. Let’s learn about both and ultimately find the right choice for you.

Acoustic Piano
So what makes an acoustic piano sound like an acoustic piano? Real wood and strings create the natural tone, dynamics, and responsiveness one experiences when playing and listening to an acoustic piano.  It can provide many benefits to the student player who gains their muscle memory and ear development from an acoustic piano. The touch of the keys also helps students develop proper technical skills earlier in their studies.  There are standing pianos, baby grands, and grand pianos. The downside to the acoustic piano is that they are heavy to move and require professional piano movers to transport, will need to be tuned by a professional 1-2 times a year, and can be quite expensive. However, there are used pianos available.  You can always find cheap or sometimes even free pianos on Craigslist and other online marketplaces.  You would need to hire a professional piano mover to move the instrument, and it would require a tuning but this is often a very keep alternative to purchasing a new piano, and recommended frequently by most piano instructors.  It is also possible to rent acoustic pianos.

Digital Piano
A digital piano is going to get you the closest to simulating the sound and feel of an acoustic piano. It is smaller, less expensive, and a great option for a new student. The keys on a digital piano are weighted and made to be sensitive to the touch of the player. Thanks to weighted keys, you will be able to incorporate the different pressures needed to add dynamics to the music you are playing. Also, keep in mind that it would be a much better idea to have a student learn on a digital piano over an acoustic that is out of tune or has broken or sticky keys. So if you don’t plan on maintaining an acoustic piano, it may be better to go digital.

A keyboard is the most affordable option when getting started. They are easy to transport and can offer a variety of effects if you are planning on making music utilizing different sounds. A keyboard is also a great choice if you are unsure that you are ready to commit to the instrument long term. There are a variety of prices and sizes available to best suit your needs. What is most important is that you pay attention to the number of keys and whether or not they are weighted. It is recommended that a new student learns on a keyboard with 88 keys. Most keyboards will not have weighted keys but can be found. Smaller keyboards are available and less expensive. It can be useful and sometimes preferred to have the option of plugging in headphones which is an added benefit when purchasing a keyboard. Remember to purchase a stand and bench so you are able to learn the proper position.

Whatever you choose to start on, remember that it is your dedication to the instrument that is going to make you a great musician.

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