If your child has decided to start tickling the ivories, you may be wondering where to begin. Piano and keyboard lessons are options in many places and while they have some similarities, there are also some important differences.
Many parents mistakenly assume that piano and keyboard lessons are basically the same and that once you know how to play one of these instruments you can play the other. The truth is that if neither you nor your child have any experience with these types of instruments you’ll want to look at the differences between them and the pros and cons of both piano and keyboard lessons. Here are some differing aspects to consider.
The sound of a piano vs a keyboard is usually quite different. If your child is into a more traditional sound, then piano lesson might be the better choice. Classical, jazz and blues usually sound best when played on an acoustic piano (some digital pianos also do a good job of replicating a classic piano sound). People who are more interested in playing modern music may lean towards learning the keyboard as its sounds lend themselves quite nicely to current music. This is not to say that a person can’t play modern music on a piano or classical on a keyboard; it’s just not what’s most commonly done.
Dedication to the Process
Another consideration when deciding between keyboard and piano lessons is the level of dedication you think your child has to learning smaller details. Keyboards are created to emit the perfect note every time a key is pressed. Rather than having to gain a feel for the technique of playing an acoustic instrument, your child would just be focusing on finger placement, rhythm, and speed.
Learning to play the piano involves some finer points such as getting the feel for pressing the pedals and properly pressing the keys. Parents need to carefully consider how much interest their child has for learning to play an instrument and their level of perseverance in learning a variety of skills at once.
Thinking about where and when your child is likely to want to play the instrument is another important consideration. Think about the venues where your child will probably play. If he/she is interested in playing modern music at a variety of locations, then a keyboard might be the better choice. Alternately if he/she is likely to play more traditional piano music at venues that usually have a piano (such as at church) then piano lessons are probably the best option.
Sometimes starting on a keyboard is easier for a child than going straight to a piano. The number of keys on a keyboard may be far fewer than the number on a piano. Some keyboards can have as few as 25 keys. Most, however, come in 49, 61, and 76 key versions and some have 88 keys just like on a piano. While your child may enjoy starting off with fewer keys, you need to assess how serious he/she seems about sticking with the instrument or, perhaps, switching to piano lessons down the road. If your child has aspirations of moving from the keyboard to the piano in the future you need to assess their ability to transition to a larger number of keys and a different feel to the keys. To ease the transition, consider having your child learn on an 88 key keyboard with weighted keys.
Another thing to think about is where and when your child will practice the instrument. If you live in close proximity to others (such as in an apartment building) or if your child will need to practice late at night, then keyboard lessons could be a good choice. Many keyboards have an audio jack, so your child could plug in a set of headphones and practice without disturbing anyone else.
There are many similarities between learning to play the piano and the keyboard, but there are also many differences. Making the transition from one to the other is easier for some than for others. Take the time to assess your child’s interests in the instruments and explore the opportunities in your area and you’ll be sure to make the best choice for you.