Some of the most common music lesson FAQs pertain to which musical instrument between a piano and a keyboard is easier to learn and whether it’s possible to play the piano on a keyboard.
The best way to answer these questions is to understand the common differences between the two popular musical instruments. Those differences will help predict how easy or difficult it is to navigate your piano lessons using a keyboard.
Read on as we delve deeper into the topic.
What Is A Piano?
A piano is a stringed instrument. This might come as a surprise, considering that the piano doesn’t bear any resemblance to other popular stringed instruments like the guitar or violin. But as you shall find, this is the most significant difference between a piano and a keyboard.
As a stringed instrument, the piano is played percussively, i.e., by striking. Pressing the keys on a piano causes wooden hammers to strike the strings, creating a note that resonates within the piano’s body.
What Is A Keyboard?
The word keyword is a misnomer, primarily when used about the musical instrument. The basic definition of “keyboard” is a row of keys on a piano. This term can also refer to a set of keys on any other musical instrument.
However, the word “keyboard” is also used contextually to refer to a special musical instrument. The keyboard is an electronic or digital sound instrument that often bears a striking similarity to the piano. But unlike pianos that are played percussively, keyboards are operated electronically.
Differences between a Piano and a Keyboard
As already hinted, success in learning piano on a keyboard depends on the differences between the two sound instruments. Some of those differences are discussed below;
A piano and keyboard differ fundamentally in their functionality. The piano is designed to be played percussively. On the other hand, a keyboard is operated electronically or digitally.
The word “action,” in acoustic terms, refers to how well the keys of a musical instrument respond when pressed down.
Pianos generally have more action than keyboards. They also tend to produce a more weighted feel.
Standard pianos have 88 keys, the same as many keyboards. However, it’s not uncommon to find electric keyboards with less than 88 keys. Expectedly, the number of keys in a keyboard varies by model and size.
Pianos and keyboards have identical key arrangements. The primary difference is that pianos typically feature keys of identical width, while some keyboard keys may vary slightly in width.
Both pianos and keyboards can produce incredible sound quality and capacity. However, the fact that pianos are percussion instruments means they produce sounds that can be amplified physically.
On the other hand, keyboards are electric equipment that often needs a separate amplifier to produce richer sounds.
Size is another core differentiator between a piano and a keyboard. Pianos must be considerably large to produce richer sounds. Some pianos can weigh as much as 1200 pounds. The larger the body, the higher the tonal resonance.
Keyboards, on the other hand, require electricity to operate. These instruments produce sound using synthesizers as opposed to hammers and strings. As such, they need not be large.
The size of an object directly resonates with its portability. Going by this logic, keyboards tend to be more portable than pianos.
Keyboards are an excellent choice for traveling musicians. Pianos would be better suited for use where they need not be moved frequently, such as in the church or music studios.
Keyboards are generally more affordable than pianos. Keyboards fetch anywhere from $60 – $1000, while a good piano will set you back between $2,000 and $10,000.
But as you might have guessed, the cost of a piano or keyboard will depend on several factors. Common ones include the brand, design, material, and shipping costs.
Pianos and keyboards both require routine maintenance, which primarily entails regular cleaning. In addition to regular cleaning, a piano must be kept in tune. Environmental factors like temperature and humidity can cause these instruments to fall out of tune, affecting their sound quality.
Therefore, pianos require higher maintenance since owners often consult a professional whenever they need tuning.
Can You Learn A Piano On A Keyboard?
The short answer is yes; it’s possible to learn a piano on a keyboard. That’s mainly due to certain similarities between the two musical instruments.
For instance, the general layout of the keys is identical in both the piano and keyboard. Any melodies you learn to play on a piano will seamlessly transfer to a keyboard and vice versa. However, remember that certain keyboards may have keys of varying widths. Most keyboard keys also have less action and require minimal pressure to play. This can be a huge bonus for beginners or children who may need more power to press the piano keys down.
But it can also be a drawback for musicians already used to the more weighted piano keys. Therefore, you should make the necessary adjustments considering these parameters.
It’s also worth remembering the key range differences between a piano and a keyboard. Most pianos have 88 keys, while keyboards may have less than this number of keys. Playing a musical instrument with fewer keys may seem like a big deal for a beginner. But there’s usually no cause for alarm. As you shall find, even keyboards with less than 88 keys are just as useful for beginners, provided no bitter notes are missing.
Just ensure the keys aren’t too few to compromise your lessons. The conventional wisdom is to insist on keyboards with at least 72 keys. It becomes straightforward to play the most famous piano compositions with such instruments.
But perhaps the biggest reason why it’s possible to play the piano on a keyboard pertains to a keyboard’s sound system. Most keyboards are engineered to produce sounds from different musical instruments, including strings, horns, organs, percussions, drums, and even pianos. You must ensure your keyboard is fitted with the right speakers and synced with a powerful amplifier. Besides, certain keyboards are designed nearly as similar to acoustic pianos as possible. Such keyboards are aptly named digital pianos and can be an excellent place to kick-start your piano lessons.
Numerous factors make it possible to play the piano on the keyboard. However, it’s worth noting that there are still several challenges to navigate when learning to play either instrument. So, patience is vital.