Should I learn Keyboard or PIano?
I live in a dorm room and I don't have any room for one of those huge digital keyboards with a stand (let alone an acoustic), but I get the impression that the keyboard is the piano's retarded little brother, and so that's putting me off from going in that direction.
Still early on. May just go and learn guitar instead, but out of piano and keyboard, which is better to start learning? I've never learned an instrument before.
Classically trained pianist here, I went to university for classical performance and have played at least an hour every day for the last 20 years. so maybe my experience will help you
First off, keyboards are not the pianos retarded brother. todays keyboards can do SO much more, and exclude very few features of a real piano (room resonance, attractive wood cabinetry, and triple pedal support). Keep in mind real pianos need tuned and will warp in and out of tune with the seasons. tuning costs about $80 usd where I live. required at LEAST once every two years or it costs more. for a trained pianist i'd say its required every 6 months to a year.
I only use about 72 of the 88 keys on the piano. I probably wouldn't even notice if the top-most octave just stopped sounding one day, as well as the bottom 3 keys (below lowest C)
So in that regard I dont think you'd be losing much by getting a compact keyboard over a full size 88 key. also smaller scale digital keyboards almost always have an octave shift function to make up for limited range.
to be continued
Also, how well does knowing keyboard transfer to knowing piano? I know piano keys are weighted, but it's not like I would be starting from 0 if I were to try and learn piano down the line, right?
To get a true to life piano experience out of a digital keyboard you have to drop significant dollars, but you dont necessarily need that experience just to learn piano.
I have 4 keyboard setups in my home, a baby grand, an upright, a midi controller+high end piano VST, and a dual manual keyboard rig with amps.
The grand is my go to for playing piano but only because its always ready to go. doesn't need to boot up or set up, always sounds perfectly like a grand piano, because it is one. The feel of the key action is really nice but not out of the realm of simulation on todays digital alternatives
But the best piano sounds hands down come from my high end piano VST, I use Ravenscroft 275 but there are many others out there that sound just as good. keep in mind i'm talking about computer software here, so a decent computer is a prerequisite for this option. Midi software can be controlled buy just about any digital keyboard in the world, but for a piano experience you would want a keybed with weighted keys at the very least. I use a Kawaii VPC-1 because its the best midi controller out there for piano feel, but its honestly very slightly better in feel and response than a much cheaper graded hammer action keyboard from, say, yamaha roland or korg.
Through headphones, it sounds better than my baby grand for sure. It sounds like a concert grand that has been masterfully mixed and mastered and I'm hearing it as it would have been produced on a finished solo piano album. keep in mind the sound is the same using ANY midi controller. the weighted keys just help a lot in controlling volume through key stroke velocity. its very hard to play consistently soft volume on a cheap keybed. hell its hard enough to do it on a real piano
the upright piano, and dare I say all upright pianos, have their place. they sound unique but not better or even as good imho as a grand. the keybed feel is also not as good as a grand due to gravity and vertical hammers vs horizontal hammers.
getting an upright piano because you dont have enough space or money is a thing of the past. digital keyboards have totally taken over in that department.
I use my upright to practice technician work on. its basically a lab rat piano I use to practice tuning and voicing.
The keyboard and amp setup is loads of fun but the skills required are a bit different. being a keyboard player usually means knowledge of synthesis and sampling. It can also mean knowledge of organ playing. Where as being a piano player means only masterful knowledge of making a piano sound great and keyboard technique that applies to a hammer and string piano.
If you want the "keyboard" experience it will probably cost just as much in the long run as an acoustic piano. because they are hardware instruments and use hardware effects and hardware pedals and hardware amps.
I have a bias but I would recommend learning "piano" as it pertains to piano sounds and piano music. I would get a hardware keyboard that is good enough to play consistently quietly on when you choose to. that will probably mean weighted keys. nothing is worse than having some notes jump out at you when you are trying to play a soft piano line. I would pair that keyboard with software piano sounds from a decent VST. and simply have your computer nearby the piano all the time. usb midi is handy for this situation since you wont have any other instruments to interface with your pc. headphones will also sound better 99% of the time than any speaker setup. also I find playing at night with no lights on and monitoring through headphones somewhat of a psychedelic experience. its like being on drugs without the drugs. it makes real life seem to melt away and puts you and the instruments as one being. this experience will probably take years of keyboard mastery and comfort at the keys to achieve.
that is my 2 cents. I will now attempt to answer any questions you brought up
piano skills will obviously carry over to any keyboard instrument. half the battle is wrapping your brain around music theory, and then projecting that knowledge to the keys. this aspect applies to all keyboard instruments and any music production using midi keyboards as an note input device.
learning "keyboard" so to speak puts a lot less intensity on keyboard technique in terms of music theory. but that aspect is not any less important. I find that a lot of players who learn "keyboard" first never actually grasp keyboard technique and instead rely heavily on sampling and sound synthesis to make their playing interesting.
a good piano player can take any sample or synth voice in the world and make interesting chords and melodies out of it without ever modulating any of the sound parameters.
I think this is just because a piano restricts your sound to only one voice. Its a great sounding voice with lots of velocity layering so to speak, but its still just one voice with zero choices in regards to tone. It requires that the pianist learn how to manipulate the keyboard to achieve the sound they want rather than manipulating the sounds themselves. this is why i think there is more to learn as a pianist and those skills are practical on any and all keyboard instruments
I'll add to my previous statements.
If you were to get a weighted 71-78 key keyboard and practice piano music using only the piano voices, you could learn piano 98% as well as a student on a real piano. There are only a few very minor aspects you might not get on the digital version
off the top of my head these aspects are:
1.)stretched tuning. acoustic pianos "stretch" the tuning in the lowest and highest notes to compensate for inharmonicity. essentially the overtones of these extremely high and low strings ring out of tune if the string is in tune, therefore tuners compromise a bit so that harmonic ringing doesn't sound so bad in the extreme ranges. many digital pianos "fix" this problem and the highest and lowest notes simply ring in tune, they are literally more in tune than an acoustic piano with metal strings could ever be. an acoustic pianist would probably shy away from using these notes wheres a digital pianist would probably see no reason to not use them. playing on a real piano might be a rude shock when you realize the lowest notes actually sound like shit by design
2.) triple pedals. real pianos have three pedals and they all do stuff. also the sustain pedal (which digital pianos have) are WAY more sensitive on an acoustic. you can half pedal, quarter pedal, and nearly full pedal on an acoustic. The good digital pianos allow half pedaling but it feels a bit mechanical because it abruptly kicks in instead of a smooth curve from "on" to "off" . extremely few digital pianos have a sostenuto pedal or a una corda pedal. The una corda is the left most pedal, and it shifts the actualy piano keys and hammer assembly (the action) to one side so it hits the strings not directly in the "sweet spot", essentially using a softer part of the hammers and hitting fewer strings. it has a muting type effect but the sonic characteristics are also a bit different. only a few digitals include an una corda and it simply lowers the volume a bit.
2.) continued. The sostenuto is the rarest of the three pedals, many upright pianos don't even have them. Its a more complicated breed of the sustain pedal than sustains only the notes you want it to, and mutes all others as if no pedals are being held. only the most expensive digitals mimic this behavior. I learned classical piano probably ten years before I ever started employing the two pedals on the left, so missing out on these features is really not a big deal. however a real piano does have them.
3.) graded hammer action. a real pianist needs to learn to properly negotiate the escapement on a piano action if he wants all his notes in a chord to sound at the same time. very few digital pianos properly mimic this behavior. The escapement is sort of like the breaking point during a key press where the hammer is in free travel towards the string, it takes a rather sensitive touch to feel when it happens, and its crucial to master it if you want to play soft chords in perfect tempo unison. digital pianos tend to have very weak escapement simulation if any, and always feel a bit mushy in this regard
all of these points are extremely nitpicky. for all intents and purposes learning piano on an acoustic vs learning piano on a digital piano are the same.
playing keyboard in a band is somewhat of a different beast but the mastery of piano key layout remains the same. its really all about how you can apply music theory to the keys
I would learn piano over keyboard. As another anon stated in his extremely lengthy writeup, piano forces you into manipulating the keys to get your desired sound, rather than manipulating the actual sounds. sort of pideon holes you into learning keyboard technique rather than giving you freedom to explore sounds.
If you give a man too many options he'll never fully explore any of them. its like a jack of all trades, master of none. type of deal