A common question families have when beginning music lessons is what is the right instrument to buy for their student. When considering your instrument of choice there can be a variety of factors. Today we focus on keyboard players.
Some families are blessed to be gifted a piano from a family member or friend. Often, this gift inspires them or their children to take on lessons. Most people, however, are bringing the instrument into their home for the first time and aren't sure if a keyboard is adequate or if they should be spending thousands to have a decent piano. The answer is that both are true and false!
Keyboards are a great way to begin studying piano. However, not all keyboards created equal. Some keyboards are clearly toys while others are professional level. For most of our students, they should be looking somewhere in the middle.
Keyboard's range from 64-keys to 88-keys (88 keys being the full size, same as an acoustic piano). 64-keys are perfectly fine to begin with, as students will not likely use the lowest and highest ranges for years (however, it is nice to have that option for them to experiment with). A teacher will require a keyboard to have touch sensitive programming. This means that the student can practice proper technique in developing a variety of sounds, being soft to loud or round to hard. They will always require weighted keys. If you were to touch a keyboard with weighted keys versus those without you would find a tremendous difference in the touch. Weighted keys feel more like a real piano and help to develop the necessary muscles for good, proper technique. If you decide to purchase a keyboard you need three (reasonably priced) accessories: an adjustable keyboard stand, a bench, and a pedal attachment.
What is the difference between a keyboard and an electric piano? A keyboard firstly is designed to be portable. While both keyboards and electric pianos will have different timbre options where it changes sounds (violin, trumpet, and organ for example), a keyboard will have more bells and whistles. What makes an electric piano stand out, and generally more expensive, is they are designed to simulate more of a piano sound and feel. They are a full keyboard size and will come with two, and some times three, of the pedals that are on an acoustic piano. They will always have touch sensitive and weighted keys and frequently the keys will be textured to physically feel more like piano keys. Generally, they will also have a richer sound which makes playing them more pleasant and (hopefully) addictive for a student.
Ask a pianist and they will say nothing beats the real thing though. An acoustic piano is unlike another else. Each piano has its own special voice, look and quirks. If purchasing new, one should always have a consultant and not strictly buy based on price ( you get what you pay for applies heavily here). If purchasing used there are several factors to consider from age and care to timbre. The acoustic piano is a pure organic instrument. No two piano's will ever feel or sound alike and one should an idea of what is best for them. We will dive deeper into acoustic piano purchasing in a later blog. Until then, we hope this was helpful!