Learn the piano or the keyboard: which is best?  Top tips to help you decide

piano vs keyboardWhen I start a new pupil, whether they have requested piano or keyboard lessons, I always talk to them about this choice.  Often it’s something they haven’t even thought about.  Sometimes it’s a parent who decides and they have a fixed idea about what they want, which is fine.  But it’s always good to ask the question…

So which is better, piano or keyboard?  People sometimes have strong opinions on this!  I enjoy teaching both, and for me they are of equal value.  I know there are those who will disagree. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of each:


  • If you want to be a professional pianist or accompanist, this is the obvious route.
  • Your finger strength develops more than a keyboardist (due to the weighted keys)
  • You don’t need a socket to plug in your instrument (unless you have a digital piano)
  • You develop similar dexterity in your left hand as that in your right.
  • Once you master a piece, you can usually play it on any piano or keyboard anywhere.
  • You usually have a wider range of notes
  • Playing the piano is considered a useful traditional skill


  • Pianos cost a considerable amount of money
  • Pianos are heavy and difficult to transport
  • Pianos require regular tuning and maintenance (unless you have a digital piano)
  • Pianos have only one voice
  • It is harder to learn to play in different styles
  • The sound and vibration from an acoustic piano can cause a nuisance
  • It will take you longer to ‘sound good’ to your friends


  • Keyboards are generally less expensive (but make sure you get a touch-sensitive one)
  • Keyboards require no tuning and very little maintenance
  • Keyboards are highly portable
  • Keyboards have multiple voices and effects
  • It is easier to learn to play in many different styles
  • You can turn down the volume to avoid nuisance or use headphones
  • You can often connect your instrument to a computer for extra functionality
  • You can use the auto-accompaniments to ‘sound good’ to your friends quite quickly


  • The keyboard is seen as a ‘less serious’ instrument (shouldn’t be the case, but it is!)
  • When you master a piece you will find it hard to transfer it to a piano
  • You usually have a narrower range of notes
  • Your finger strength builds less quickly
  • You need electricity (mains or batteries) when you play

Sometimes I am asked if a pupil can learn piano and do their practice on a keyboard.  This is far from ideal, but if it’s the difference between someone learning and not learning, I take the view they should start however they can.  I encourage them to consider learning keyboard but if they are absolutely set on playing piano we go ahead.  Often within a few months they upgrade to a digital piano anyway, because they feel the difference when they come to lessons and play mine.  And playing any instrument is better than playing no instrument!

Are you thinking of taking piano or keyboard lessons?  What would make you choose one over the other?  Or are you thinking about changing from piano to keyboard or vice-versa?  Let me know in the comments below.  Happy playing!


  1. Samuel T. Cummins

    Thanks for sharing great information Davis, this is really helpful. My 7 year old son has been asked to bring a keyboard to school for his instrumental music class. What would be a good buy for him? As of now my son does not play any music and is just starting I really need to support which can give him a decent start.

    • David Hendra

      Hi Samuel. I would suggest the Yamaha PSR-E353 as a good entry-level keyboard. Amazon usually have a great price on them, too.

  2. John Carter

    Been doing a lot of reading on this issue trying to decide which one is best for my kids. Thanks for the good list of pros and cons to ponder.

  3. Lisa

    Hi, I am just going through this dilemma now. My daughter wants a piano for her birthday but we are about to start major renovations. I keep being told that learning on an acoustic is the best way to go but am worried it will get in the way of the renovations. My daughter suggested putting it in the garage. Our garage is actually quite nice but I am worried about dust. I was thinking perhaps an electric piano might be the go then but I read that even though it has weighted keys it still is not the same as an acoustic. We could sell the electric one after the renovations and get an acoustic. Is there a difference in a pianist’s skills who learnt on an electric piano versus one that learnt on acoustic?

    • David Hendra

      Even between different acoustic pianos, and between different digital pianos, there can be significant differences. In my opinion, you really shouldn’t worry about them. The world of piano teaching and playing is unfortunately populated in part by rather pretentious, judgemental individuals who love to pontificate about what you “should” and “shouldn’t” do.
      In my experience as a piano teacher, even people who have learnt on unweighted keyboard keys can transfer successfully to the piano (acoustic or digital) with very little difficulty in a short time. So I wouldn’t worry at all about transferring from digital to acoustic. If indeed you even need to; unless you’re playing at above about Grade VI ABRSM, there is very little advantage to having an acoustic rather than a digital piano, I think. And the advantages of a digital piano are significant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2023

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑