School of Rock | Can You Learn Piano on a Keyboard? (2023)

School of Rock | Can You Learn Piano on a Keyboard? (1)


A common question many students and parents ask School of Rock is “what is the difference between piano and keyboard?” and “can you learn to play piano on a keyboard?” While there are differences in the sounds these instruments produce and how they make them, the answer is “yes!” –– it is possible to learn to play piano on a keyboard.

At School of Rock, our keyboard instructors teach students how to play the piano with confidence, and inspire them to get up onstage and play in a band with their peers in front of a live audience.

School of Rock | Can You Learn Piano on a Keyboard? (2)


Since the two instruments share many similarities, the concepts you learn and practice on a piano will transfer directly to playing on a keyboard, and vice versa. However, there are subtle differences between the two instruments that are worth noting.

  1. Action. The “action” of a keyboard or piano describes how well the keys respond when pushed down. As an acoustic instrument, pianos tend to have more action, and have a weighted feel when playing. A keyboard with weighted keys is a good option for students who want a similar feel to the piano.
  2. Key arrangement. The arrangement of the keys on a keyboard is identical to the arrangement of the keys on a piano, and your hand and finger movements will be identical from one instrument to the other. Pianos all use the same width keys, and many keyboard keys are identical or slightly narrower in width. This slight change in width won’t take too much getting used to if you’re going to switch back and forth from one size of keys to another.
  3. Range. The standard piano has 88 keys, as do many electric keyboards. However, some keyboards have less than 88 keys. The number of keys differs depending on the model you choose for your kid, but if you’re learning piano on a keyboard, you’ll want at least 72 keys in order to play the majority of popular piano compositions.
  4. Cost. In general, keyboards tend to be more affordable than pianos. The cost of a piano may be high depending on the manufacturer, the material, and the design, but you can find them being sold second-hand for relatively less. For keyboards, you can usually purchase a model for less than a hundred dollars, but some models may cost more depending on the features. For this reason, some parents may want to consider renting a piano or keyboard until their child is certain they want to play.
  5. Sound. Sound options vary depending on if you choose a piano versus a keyboard. The piano is an acoustic instrument, meaning its sound is produced and amplified physically. In comparison, keyboards are electronic instruments with a variety of volume options, and often can produce sounds like piano, horns, strings, organs, synthesizers, and more. Since they’re electronic, often require amplification to produce sound, although some models come with speakers built in. Unlike pianos, keyboards can be made loud or quiet by using their volume knob.
  6. Size and portability. Pianos tend to be large and are designed to stay in place most of the time. Due to their size, they often need to be moved by teams of professionals. In contrast, many keyboards are very light and portable. Due to their smaller size, keyboards tend to be easier to move and put away as needed, and are great for traveling musicians who need to bring their instruments with them wherever they perform.
  7. Maintenance. In general, it’s important to keep both your piano or keyboard in good condition by cleaning your instrument on a regular basis. In addition to regular maintenance, pianos also need to be kept in tune. As an acoustic instrument made of wood and metal, pianos can fall out of tune due to environmental factors like temperature, humidity, or seasonal changes. In general, it is recommended that piano owners regularly tune their pianos with the help of a professional, which can add up in cost.
  8. Where to buy.Both pianos and keyboards can usually be purchased online or at your local music store. Because of their large size and weight, pianos often need to be moved by professionals for a fee. Since they’re smaller and lighter, keyboards tend to be less expensive to ship, or can be carried out of the store without the need of a professional team. Depending on where they shop, parents also have the option of renting their instrument before the commit.
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Here are some questions many students and parents ask School of Rock when discussing the differences between playing a piano versus a keyboard, and figuring out which instrument will best meet a student's goals.

(Video) Can You Learn Piano On A Keyboard?


Yes, learning piano on a keyboard is possible. The layout of keys is identical on both instruments. The songs you learn to play on a piano will transfer directly to a keyboard, and vice versa, with little adjustment needed for small differences in the width of the keys or the amount of pressure needed to play them.


When comparing the differences between pianos and keyboards, sounds can vary depending on the make and model of each instrument. Many keyboards are designed to make sounds that replicate a piano, but most can also produce a variety of other sounds. These could be sounds like horns, strings, organ, specific types of pianos or electric pianos, drums and percussion, or synthesizers –– which all can contribute to a live performance.

It’s worth noting that while pianos and keyboards can sound the same, there is definitely a difference when playing. After all, pianos are large acoustic instruments that produce sounds that can be felt by the player, and often this feeling cannot be replicated by the speakers on a keyboard.


Some parents are concerned that learning to play piano on a keyboard may be discouraging for students, especially if they select a keyboard with less than 88 keys. While keyboards with 88 are available in many stores, many students don’t need a full size keyboard to learn to play.

If you’re a parent who is looking to purchase a keyboard, look for a model that matches the unique goals of your child and inspires them to learn.

School of Rock | Can You Learn Piano on a Keyboard? (4)


If you’re still wondering if you can learn piano on a keyboard, there are keyboards that are designed to be as similar to an acoustic piano as possible. These keyboards are called digital pianos, and the feel and sound of playing these instruments is very similar to that of an acoustic piano.


Digital pianos are designed, like a traditional piano, to stay in one place in the home and rarely move. Many are also designed with fixed stands or enclosures that mimic the appearance of a piano.

Meanwhile, most portable keyboards are designed with the performing musician in mind, and are relatively easy to unplug and move from place to place. If you’re thinking of playing keyboard with a group, and bringing your own instrument to rehearsals and performances, this might be the best option for you.


Deciding between a piano, digital piano, or electric keyboard depends on how you plan to use the instrument, and there are quality options for each kind of instrument at a range of price points.

When choosing an instrument, consider these three questions:

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  1. How often you plan to move it?
  2. What kind or kinds of music you want to play?
  3. Do you need a great variety of sound?

By asking these questions, you’ll be able to make a well-informed decision about which instrument is the best fit for you.


Buying your first keyboard and not sure where to start? Visit our Keyboard Buying Guide for tips on how to choose the perfect keyboard. School of Rock offers beginning musicians the advice they need for choosing the best sound, action, size, brand, and technological features to get playing and on stage.

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Can you take piano lessons if you only have a keyboard? ›

Yes, learning piano on a keyboard is possible. The layout of keys is identical on both instruments.

Is it better to learn piano on keyboard? ›

If they are interested in playing modern music at a variety of locations, then a keyboard might be the better choice. Alternatively, if they are likely to play more traditional piano music at venues that usually have a piano (such as at church) then piano lessons are probably the best option.

Are the keys on a keyboard the same as a piano? ›

You will find an identical key arrangement on both a keyboard and a piano. The finger movements and hand movements you make will also be identical between these two instruments. You might find that some keyboards have slightly narrower keys than pianos.

Is it OK to learn piano on a 61 key keyboard? ›

Yes, you can learn how to play the piano on 61 keys, but there will be limitations on what music you can play. A 61 key piano only has 5 octaves which are not always enough for some repertoire. This may require musicians to transpose and adjust the sheet music to fit the instrument.

Do you need full piano to learn? ›

Yes, you can take piano lessons without a piano!

Unlike keyboards, they have fully weighted keys that provide a full range of expression, from soft to loud. They provide a smooth transition to acoustic pianos when the student is ready.

Can piano be self taught? ›

Yes! While we believe the best way to learn piano is from an expert instructor, we're also in full support of students who prefer self-learning. Piano's one of the most versatile instruments, so learning how to teach yourself is a skill that will serve you in other areas of life.

Which is harder keyboard or piano? ›

Keyboard keys are also significantly lighter than piano keys, which may make them easier for a beginner, especially a young child who hasn't yet built up the finger strength to be effective on a larger instrument.

Do pianists look at the keys? ›

Do pianists look at the keys while they play? The short answer to that last question is: YES! It's perfectly acceptable and normal for a pianist to look at their hands while they play. An important part of the design of any musical instrument is the necessary range of movement for the player in order to produce sound.

Which is better for beginners digital piano or keyboard? ›

For beginners or players on a budget looking for an authentic playing experience, you cannot beat the sound and feel of a digital piano. For children or casual players that value portability or don't have the space for a full-size piano, keyboards are an excellent place to start.

Which is better digital piano or keyboard? ›

If you're just starting to play or prefer a traditional sound, a digital piano might do the trick. If you're intersted in something that offers a variety of sounds and can be used more easily in production or recording, a keyboard is probably a better choice.

Should a beginner get a 61 or 88-key keyboard? ›

For a beginner, 66 keys are sufficient for learning to play, and you can play most music on a 72-key instrument. For anyone interested in playing classical piano, however, a full 88 keys are recommended, especially if you plan on one day playing a traditional piano. Many keyboards have fewer than 66 keys.

Can Fur Elise be play on a 61 key keyboard? ›

It's possible to play the first two movements of Fur Elise by Beethoven on a 61 key-keyboard, but the third and final movement will need at least 72 keys which only come with an 88-key model. However, you could find arranged versions or use a keyboard with an octave shifter to play the higher notes.

How long does it take to learn to play piano? ›

If you want to be a professional classical performer, you're looking at a minimum of 10 to 15 years of concentrated study with a master teacher, and hours of practice every day. Most people who want to learn piano to play for their own enjoyment can get great results within three to five years of study and practice.

What is the quickest way to learn piano? ›

So as contradictory as it sounds, the fastest way to learn piano, and arguably the best way, is to practice slowly. Remember the mantra “slow is the way to go” for better practice and ultimately, faster learning.

How many hours a day should you practice piano? ›

Pianists should practice between 30 minutes to 4 hours per day. Beginners will benefit most from shorter practice sessions while advanced pianists will be more accustomed to longer days. Each practice session can be split into segments to help avoid physical and mental fatigue.

Why is piano so difficult? ›

Most instruments/singers must read notes in a certain range, because that instrument or vocalist can only handle a certain number of notes in their specific range. The piano has an 88-key range, which is a massive range of notes to have memorized.

Is it hard to learn piano at an older age? ›

“Learning piano has no age limit. In fact, activities like learning piano can stimulate the brain, increasing the ability to recall information. There are physical benefits to learning piano as well.

Is piano or guitar harder? ›

Overall, the guitar is easier to learn than the piano. If you consider the layout, learning songs, the ability to self-teach and a few other things, it is an easier instrument. However, it's the easiest on average for everyone. This means for people of all ages.

Is piano too late to practice? ›

You are never too old to learn to play the piano, but you'll never learn unless you decide to start.

Why is piano the easiest? ›

Piano is the easiest instrument to see and understand theory on because of the linear way that it is laid out. The shapes on the staff look the same on the piano which help to visualize the intervals and chords.

What should a pianist not do? ›

20 common piano mistakes and how to avoid them
  • Playing with tense fingers. Beginners often play with their fingers flat and outstretched. ...
  • Playing too quickly. ...
  • Sitting too close or far away. ...
  • Ignoring details. ...
  • Slouching. ...
  • Being impatient. ...
  • Using too much finger pressure. ...
  • Not practising consistently.
15 May 2020

Why do pianists sit on the edge? ›

Pianists usually sit at the edge of the piano bench to allow their legs to comfortably use the pedals. Sitting at the edge of the piano bench depending on the height of person you are cuts off the blood circulation to one or both of your legs.

Do pianists get trigger finger? ›

It is particularly common in those that play the violin, guitar, piano and clarinet and can be triggered by an increase in practicing or a change in techniques.

Is piano very difficult to learn? ›

The piano is one of the most difficult and rewarding instruments to learn; not only do you have to learn to read notes and translate them to the keys, but you have to do it with both hands at the same time. You'll also have to learn to play with correct technique or you could face injuries in the future.

Are digital pianos as good as real pianos? ›

' – the answer is yes! Instead of using hammers and strings to produce notes, pressing a key on an electric piano will play a recorded sample of a real piano. You'll find that most older digital pianos can't offer as much of a genuine tone, as there wasn't the technology or processing power available at the time.

What does a good piano keyboard cost? ›

Because there are many different types to suit different players. As a guide, we can say $60 – $1000 will buy a keyboard for players of all skill levels. Similarly, around $400 – $1200 will buy a digital piano fit for a beginner or a pro.

How much should a beginner spend on a digital piano? ›

The keys should be touch-sensitive as well. On the lower end, a digital piano that meets these basic criteria can start at around $500-700. This would be considered the bare minimum for a quality musical instrument in the piano family. Some examples of this instrument level include the Roland FP-30 or the Casio PX-160.

How much should I spend on my first digital piano? ›

As a general rule, you should spend between $400 and $1000 on a digital piano for an instrument suitable for beginners to intermediate players to learn and practice on. For more advanced players and stage use, you can generally expect to pay between $1000 and $3000 for a high-quality instrument.

How long will a digital piano last? ›

Digital pianos last between 20 – 50 years. High-end digital pianos are built better structurally. They use better electrical parts, solid plastic, tougher metal, and piano keys that can withstand heavy wear and tear. Low-end digital pianos do not have the same lifespan, but with average care can last for many years.

Can you play alot of songs with a 61 key keyboard? ›

So, yes, it's easily possible to do. Eventually you may feel the need to octave notes in the bass and top parts, but until you actually start doing that, 61 keys will suffice. It's five octaves in total, so even given the restriction of root notes/ highest tonic notes in some keys, it's plenty to go on.

What key gets hit the most on a keyboard? ›

The third most popular is... the "backspace" key. The second most popular is... the letter "e". The number one most popular is... the space bar.

What key is easiest to play on piano? ›

The easiest piano keys to play in are C major or A minor. Neither of these scales has a black note (a sharp or a flat), so one can expect (perhaps!!) that the piece will have few flats or sharps. (But not always!).

Is a 61 key MIDI keyboard enough? ›

61-key MIDI keyboard controllers are the sweet spot between 49 keys and 88 keys. They are big enough to play complex and interesting parts with both hands, but small enough to be portable.

Can you play normal piano on a MIDI keyboard? ›

Can you use a midi keyboard as a piano? Not without speakers. MIDI keyboards tend to not have speakers inbuilt. Rather than being a complete console that can mimic a piano, it needs to be used in conjunction with something to generate the sound, such as a virtual instrument or a DAW.

Can I learn piano on a MIDI keyboard? ›

A MIDI keyboard is a great way to start learning piano—there is so much variety, as you have options in terms of how many keys you want. Most of your lessons will focus on the middle of the keyboard, so you won't need to branch out just yet.

How many times a week should I learn piano? ›

One piano lesson a week is enough for most people. In some cases, more than one lesson per week can be recommended. For example, a second lesson could be used to cover certain complimentary topics such as music theory, music history, or even piano technique.

How many hours a week should you play piano? ›

For older beginners (teenagers and adults), practice should be done about 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week. As their skills improve, it will be incredibly beneficial to increase the practice time to around 45 minutes to an hour.

Are all keyboard keys the same? ›

The most common keyboard sizes are Full-Sized (104 key), TKL (87 key), and 60% (68 key). Each size is unique with different features. There are other layouts too, some of the less common keyboard sizes are the 75%, 65%, and 40%.

What keys are on a piano keyboard? ›

The 12 notes are C, C-Sharp (D-Flat), D, D-sharp (E-Flat), E, F, F-Sharp (G-Flat), G, G-Sharp (A-Flat), A, A-Sharp (B-Flat), and B. Many beginners think that a sharp or flat means a black key.

Are the keys on a keyboard the same as a typewriter? ›

Yes, the letters, numbers and symbols are all in the same places today on computer keyboards and touch screen keyboards as they are on typewriters, regardless of how old the typewriter is.

Why is a keyboard not a piano? ›

The main differences between a piano and a keyboard are:

A 'piano' is an acoustic instrument with weighted keys whereas a 'keyboard' is an electric instrument (requiring a power source) with unweighted (lighter) keys than a piano. Each instrument has its own unique benefits and features.

What is the most used key on a keyboard? ›

The most frequently used control keys are Ctrl, Alt, the Windows logo key , and Esc. Function keys.

What note does a piano start on? ›

C is our starting note, because it happens to be the first note of every 12-note pattern. But keep in mind, there's really no such thing as the “starting note” on the piano, or in music in general.

What are black piano keys called? ›

The white keys are known as natural notes, and the black keys are known as the sharps and flats.

Why is QWERTY not ABCD? ›

The reason dates back to the time of manual typewriters. When first invented , they had keys arranged in an alphabetical order, but people typed so fast that the mechanical character arms got tangled up. So the keys were randomly positioned to actually slow down typing and prevent key jams.

Why do keyboards only have 61 keys? ›

The reasons are: they are much easier to play (very little resistance) the action is much faster (allows you to play repeated notes very quickly) 61 key keyboards are around 40 inches wide (depending on a particular model), they are a better option for those who travel with their instrument.

What are the 7 special keys in keyboard? ›

These shortcuts are particularly useful in text processing and file management activities.
  • Ctrl-S - save.
  • Ctrl-O - open.
  • Ctrl-N - new.
  • Ctrl-C - copy.
  • Ctrl-V - paste.
  • Ctrl-X - cut.
  • Ctrl-Z - undo.
  • Ctrl-A - select all.


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