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keyboards vs piano

(8 Posts)
littlelz Tue 11-Mar-14 18:07:17

DD (Y3) has learnt keyboards for about 2 years in group lessons. Now I am thinking changing her to private lesson or private piano lesson. I have no idea what's the real difference between keyboards and piano. can't make my decision, helps and advices please! Thanks!

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 11-Mar-14 23:07:13

Basic difference is that pianos (including digital ones) have touch sensitive keys so that the way you strike the key affects how loud/soft the note is. Some keyboards have a similar function but it doesn't quite feel the same. OTOH, keyboards do all those bells and whistles - fancy sounds, drums, auto-accompaniments etc. which pianos don't do.

There is also a difference in the kind of music you're likely to be learning in piano lessons as opposed to keyboard lessons, depending always on the teacher. As a piano teacher, I try to be flexible about that and offer a range of styles.

With various exam boards, you can take exams up to grade 8 on either - LCM offers classical piano, jazz piano and keyboard exams, for example. Rockschool offers contemporary keys, which I think can be either keyboard or piano. So the keyboard is recognised as a "serious" instrument.

There are other reasons, apart from genre, for using one or the other. I've recently switched a student from a piano syllabus to a keyboard one because she was having severe difficulties reading two lines of music, which was holding her back. Keyboard music is usually presented as melody+chords, so while she's now playing with both hands much more competently, she only has to look at one line which is much less confusing.

littlelz Wed 12-Mar-14 14:28:28

Thank you so much, Julie.

That's really very useful info. I learn a lot. So if DD keeps learning keyboards for another a few years, say she get level5, can she move on to piano at the same level?

littlelz Wed 12-Mar-14 14:31:12

I was given an expression that the people who play piano can definitely play keyboards, but the people who learn keyboards can't play piano. Am I right?

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 12-Mar-14 21:56:54

She would have the basic skills necessary, e.g. coordination between hands, recognising which keys are which and being able to read music. Depending on the materials her teacher had used, she may not be able to read the bass clef (which is used for the notes of the left hand) easily, but she should be able to work out the notes and/or read by interval (does it go up or down? jump or step?). OTOH, she will probably have a good sense of timing and be able to play from chords, which many piano students can't do.

Switching to the piano would require a period of adjustment and having reached grade 5 on keyboard she might need to step back a bit if swapping to piano in order to acquire some of the finer points of technique and possibly deal with the bass clef issue, but by that point she'd be an experienced enough musician to figure it out fairly quickly. Most of my students have lessons on the piano but practise all week on keyboards - we focus on dynamics (loud/soft) and things in the lessons when they have access to the piano, and they work on notes and rhythm at home.

littlelz Thu 13-Mar-14 11:09:29

That's really really helpful, thank you so much, Julie.

I am surprised to know that ' lots of students have lessons on the piano but practise all week on keyboards'. I guess their keyboards must be the expensive ones with sensitive keys.

Do you mind telling where you locate (as you said you are a music teacher)? or do you know any good keyboards teacher around Milton Keynes area? Do you think the teachers in music service are all good? If you think the questions are too sensitive, please forget about it.

Thanks a lot again.

badasahatter Thu 13-Mar-14 11:21:26

DD has piano sensitive keys on her keyboard. We couldn't afford an upright piano, not because of the money, but because we knew it would need moving around quite a bit and we couldn't afford to keep getting it retuned. It's a lazy way of having a 'piano' in the house, I know, but DD is doing well with it and her piano teacher, who's the classical type, says she was really impressed with the level of skill DD showed in her first lessons with her.

JulieMichelleRobinson Thu 13-Mar-14 23:35:13


I'd rather that they had pianos. However, I don't turn pupils away because they don't have pianos, unlike some teachers. And I'd rather that they practised on a keyboard than not practise. Sometimes it's worth being realistic in this day and age! Practise on a keyboard is better than having a piano and not practising.

Besides which, some of them are only 3 (I run specialised courses for pre-schoolers and for KS1). Everyone who's nearly-grade-1 or above has a piano (digital or upright) except for one adult, and about half of the younger students do. And I routinely look for second-hand instruments, go and try them if necessary, and send info to my students.

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