Buying an acoustic piano is not always an option for some pupils, especially when you are just starting to learn and the piano and are not sure about making a major investment so early on. Keyboards work perfectly well for a limited amount of time, usually a year or two of learning before they need to be replaced. Digital pianos, however, will last a lot longer and are a good option for cost and size.
What you use will also have a lot to do with your age, size, and musical goals and ambitions.
Buying a keyboard will also most likely be determined by your budget and age (i.e. very young children who have just started lessons do not need to launch straight into using an expensive piano).
Regardless of your instructor, age, and/or wallet, you will need something that works…anything with keys and sound. Using an old beat-up 1980’s Casio electronic keyboard with tiny keys may not be your best choice if you really want to learn how to play the piano (using it to record and play retro sounds with your friends and/or computer is a whole different story)…but, like I’ve already mentioned, having an old keyboard…even a small one is still better than nothing. You need something to get your hands on. You need to physically connect with an instrument…see it, touch it….play it!
Use what you have at first. If you have nothing, try borrowing a keyboard from a friend or relative. It’s also really ok to find something at a garage or rummage sale….goodwill even. You can spend under £100 easily on an electronic keyboard with 61 keys (as opposed to the standard 88 keys found on almost all real pianos) to get you started.
Here are a few options that I recommend to my pupils:
1) Yamaha Piaggero digital piano, NP-V60, £299. A good entry level keyboard.
This keyboard is just a little bit smaller than a full-size piano, but it will last about 3 or 4 years’ worth of playing before it would need to be replaced with a more expensive piano (digital or acoustic).
Digital Pianos: These instruments have the same amount of keys as a piano and (usually) fixed pedals, so should last a good few years. You would not need to replace them with an acoustic piano until around grade 5 level, which takes approximately 5+ years to attain.
2) Yamaha: YDP141 Arius Digital Piano, £599 – full size.
This is the entry level Arius model and the cheapest Yamaha available. It’s one of the most well-known makes of pianos (my grand piano is this make). It has a realistic piano feel, no unnecessary bells and whistles and the price is great. It will last you many years of playing.£599
3) Korg SP250 full-size digital piano, £599
Korg are a well-known manufacturer of digital pianos. This model includes a music stand, keyboard stand and pedal.
For those with a higher budget, these pianos are pretty much as good as an acoustic piano and will see you through many years of piano playing:
4) Roland RP-301 digital piano, £999
The new RP-301 is a perfect entry-level piano for students and hobbyists, with realistic sound and touch, and a small footprint. Packed with practice-friendly features, this piano has been designed with skill building in mind. Its onboard metronome, recorder, and Twin Piano feature make learning efficient and fun.
5) Casio Celviano AP-650K Digital Piano, £1099
To be released in 2013, this Casio digital piano has an unprecedented naturalr of the Rich expressive power and the resonance of an acoustic piano.
6) Roland HP-507 piano, £2655
I tried these out at a Piano Summer School in August 2012 at a Roland demonstration and the ‘Super Natural’ system really is fantastic, very authentic to an acoustic piano sound.