Families frequently are surprised when they learn that piano and keyboard lessons are considered two different things. Basically, piano lessons teach students to play the traditional acoustic instrument while keyboard lessons teach students to play electronic keyboards.
Of course, the differences between the two instruments mean that instruction is approached differently as well. Which one is right for you child? The answer depends on a number of factors.
First, it’s important to understand the different characteristics of the piano vs the keyboard. This will help you and your child to decide which instrument they want to play. Consider these fundamental questions:
- Is your child interested in playing classical music?
- Is your child primarily interested in playing pop music?
- Where is your child likely to play?
- Will your child need an instrument that is portable?
The answers to these questions will certainly give you a place to start, but if you’re still on the fence, then keep reading to learn more about the differences between piano and keyboard lessons.
Commitment to Learning Technique
In general, there is more technique involved with playing the piano well. This is because the keyboard is designed to handle many aspects for the musician. No matter how the unweighted keys are struck, they will always sound the same unless the musician decides to press a button to change how the instrument sounds.
On the other hand, the piano has weighted keys. If the musician strikes the key hard, it will sound a louder note. When the key is only softly struck, then a more delicate sound is emitted.
It takes time, practice and dedication to learn how to strike each key in a piano piece with just the right level of intensity.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that the piano’s weighted keys will develop more strength in the fingers, which enables greater finesse when playing.
Piano players also must learn to coordinate the use of the pedals with their playing. A pedal, when pressed at the precisely correct instant, can extend the note of whichever piano key is played. By contrast, the keyboard will continue to make the same sound for as long as a key is pressed without there being a need for pressing a pedal.
Which Style of Music Does Your Child Want to Play?
Frequently, pianos are associated with playing classical music, but they also sound fantastic with jazz and blues compositions. Similarly, keyboards are more often associated with pop music or even hard rock and heavy metal.
Of course, just because these are the most common uses for these instruments does not mean that they are exclusive. Consider how artists like Billy Joel and Elton John have created careers by playing piano on pop albums. Additionally, jazz and blues musicians are known to utilize keyboards on their songs, and classical music can be played on keyboards or on digital pianos, which have weighted keys.
Key Touch or Action
Even someone who has never played either instrument immediately will notice that pressing the keys on the piano feels quite different when compared with pressing the keys on a keyboard. Essentially, the unweighted keys of the keyboard are much easier to press.
This may appeal to some children, especially if they are quite young and have small hands. Further, it’s worth considering that keyboards tend to have fewer keys when compared to a piano. Children will find it much easier to reach all of the keys on the keyboard simply because it is more compact.
Some keyboards have just 25 keys, making them accessible and approachable to young students who aren’t certain yet just how serious they are about lessons. More sophisticated keyboards may have 49, 61, 76 or even a full 88 keys. Not surprisingly, these models tend to be more expensive and have more bells and whistles when compared to a 25-key instrument.
If your child is showing a determined interest in playing the keyboard, then it may be wise to invest in a more sophisticated instrument. If your child ultimately has an interest in playing the piano, but you’ve been holding off on buying such a large instrument, then their level of dedication to learning the keyboard will help you to gauge when it’s time to transition to the piano.
It might be wise not to wait too long if your child ultimately is interested in the piano. Time will be needed for the student to acclimate to the piano’s weighted keys and the full number of keys.
Portability of the Instrument
Clearly, a keyboard is far more portable than a piano. Many of these electric instruments are designed to make them more portable because they are lightweight and come with accessories like carrying bags and collapsible stands.
If your child is interested in playing modern music and anticipates doing so in a wide variety of locations, then keyboard lessons may be the most advantageous.
While pianos obviously are not as portable, it’s worth remembering that many venues have pianos on-site, which means you don’t have to worry about bringing an instrument with you.
Whether a student takes piano or keyboard lessons, they will have to schedule near-daily practice sessions. With a piano, it is virtually impossible to disguise the noise that the instrument makes. If the piano is in the living room or is in or close to a common living area, then practice time may make it difficult for the rest of the family to play a board game, watch television or complete homework.
Keyboard practice can be more flexible because the instrument can always be moved if someone is annoyed by the noise. Even better, many of these electric keyboards can be played with headphones, which means that no one but the musician can hear the music. Accordingly, it’s possible for the student to practice whenever and wherever they want without disturbing anyone.
One of the most fundamental differences between piano and keyboard lessons is the techniques that are taught. The techniques must be different because of keyboard characteristics such as:
- Unweighted keys
- Possibly smaller, narrower keys
- Fewer keys than a piano
- Pre-programmed responses when keys are pressed
While piano lessons devote more time to proper playing techniques, time in keyboard lessons may be given to how to operate the many electronic features that are found on most keyboards.
Keyboard pupils generally learn to play the melody with their right hand and the chords with their right. By contrast, piano students are taught to play the notes with each hand.
For this reason, it can be quite hard to transition to the piano from the keyboard. If the student’s ultimate goal is to play the piano but they begin with keyboard lessons, then the transition should be made relatively soon after lessons begin.
Additionally, improvisation frequently is more emphasized in keyboard lessons while piano lessons are geared more toward reading and playing music as it was notated by the composer. One or the other of these approaches may appeal more to the student.
Get Started Right with Prodigies Music
If your child isn’t quite ready to start either piano or keyboard lessons, you can still introduce them to the fundamentals of making music with programs designed and offered by Prodigies Music. Even infants will enjoy and benefit from the opportunity to move with and appreciate music. Check out the First 10 lessons of Piano Prodigies HERE:
Lessons from Prodigies Music can be used by parents or music teachers to expand the horizons of any child. Subject matter covered by these lessons includes rhythm, tempo, tones, basic note reading and much more.
Toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary students alike will be delighted by music lessons that are tailored exactly for them. Many of the lessons can be completed without a musical instrument and are compatible with music instrument apps to get the student started.
Prodigies Music’s programs are completely inclusive for children of all abilities. With incorporated hand signing, anyone has the ability to learn more about music. Plus, all of the lessons include fun songs and colorful animations in addition to engaging instruction.
Continue reading to learn even more about how Prodigies Music can bring your family together through music.