Piano Lessons with No Piano?

Updated on November 15, 2012
D.C. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
14 answers

Hi! I'd really like my son to learn how to play the piano, and he's expressed interest because several of his friends have recently started. But 1)we don't have a piano and 2) we don't have anywhere to put a piano.

We could find space to set up an electronic keyboard. Has anyone had their kids take lessons on a keyboard instead of a real piano? I think it could work for a while since it doesn't seem like young kids would need more than about 2 octaves. But maybe I'm not being realistic. Your thoughts?

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone. It looks like there are a variety of opinions out there. I will call some teachers in my area and see if any of them will do it. I know the touch and sound are different - I played piano myself for many years and love the sound of it. We already have a keyboard that was given to us, so I'm hoping to find out if he has real interest in it starting with it. But after that, my house really does not have any space for a piano so if he does want to keep going, I don't know what we'll do. But I believe in crossing one bridge at a time!

Featured Answers

C.V.

answers from Columbia on

Can't you make room? Move a bed against the wall? Clean out some space?

For the price of a full size 88 key keyboard you can find a nice used spinet piano. They're compact and have a lovely sound. And they really don't take up all that much more space. They're about 5 feet wide.

I wouldn't bother with lessons without a real piano.

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N.W.

answers from Eugene on

I taught piano and had a student who practiced with an electronic keyboard. She was a fast learner and outgrew the keyboard in about 6 months. By then she was ready for the pedals, a full 88 keys and the dynamic range produced by an acoustic piano or one with weighted keys.

An upright piano only takes up about 5 feet by 2 feet of floor space, plus space behind it for a bench. If you absolutely don't have room for this, find a good electronic keyboard with pedals and 88 weighted keys. It will be worth spending a little more up front to have an instrument that can grow with your son's abilities and be played and enjoyed for many years.

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S.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

I would check with piano teachers about what kind of keyboard would be needed, and that they would agree to teach on. Not all teachers will agree to teach on a keyboard.

My daughter started learning on a keyboard, but after about a month or two, we got a used piano, because keyboards are just not the same.

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V.W.

answers from Jacksonville on

Yes. You can do it with an electronic keyboard. Many of them have weighted keys these days, so it is much more like playing an actual piano that in used to be. It isn't EXACTLY the same... but it is close enough for just starting out.

My daughter has taken lessons (started in 2nd grade) and she uses a Casio 60-some odd number of keys keyboard. It cost about $200, and after she was taking lessons for about 1 1/2 years, I added a pedal. (check before you buy, but most keyboards allow you to add sustain pedals to them, not all, but most... online, they are about $20, when your kid is ready for it). She has had the keyboard in the rarely used living room, in her bedroom, and now it is in the family room against a wall. Good sound. Perfect for what she needs for practicing.

She plays the organ at church on Sundays, too. So she gets regular practice with actual ivories... :)

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K.F.

answers from Philadelphia on

go with the keyboard first. I took lessons for years and we got a piano after a few years of lessons when I proved that I was committed. You can definitely start to learn piano on a keyboard. You child can go to piano lessons and work on the piano at the teacher's house. If he really likes it and continues, then maybe start thinking about a real piano. You can get big keyboards that have way more than two octaves. If you put a lot of money into it, and then the instrument is a fad and not touched after the first couple months, you may be bitter. So a keyboard seems like a great way to start.

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K.B.

answers from Philadelphia on

You can even get a table top version. They're learning the basic scales and such and simple tunes to start and you don't want to dump a ton of money into a more expensive set in case they lose interest.

K. B
mom to 5 inclulding triplets

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A.F.

answers from Fargo on

Hi Diane. I'm a piano teacher and I am so sorry to say that I don't offer lessons to kids who don't have a full keyboard to practice on. Even in the first lesson, we use the span of several octaves.

There are many, many reasons to not use a keyboard for instruction. I wish I had better news for you!

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J.J.

answers from Allentown on

I am of the camp that you need a real piano. We live in a tiny and I mean tiny two bedroom place. We have two small bedrooms, a very small kitchen that we squeeze a table into, and a very small living room. And I managed to get a piano in the living room. It does not look nice with a sofa and chair and Tv and piano all jammed into such a tiny space. Living room is only about 12 by 10. But we make it work because I believe it is more important. Now if you are not serious about lessons for a lifetime then it doesn't matter, but when I started my kids in piano it was with the knowledge that they would doing this for many, many years. My kids were 3 and 5 when they started and now they are 5 and 7. My daughter now plays as well as I do. To me it is an investment in their furture, and I am not just talking about the financial cost it is the cost of losing much of your living space. So in my opinion it really depends. If you are doing it for fun and this is not something your child will be doing for many, many years, then a keyboard is just fine. But if you intend to have piano as his foundation in music and your hope is he will play for the rest of his life, then I would make room for the piano, even if it is crazy cramped and looks ridiculous....

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B.F.

answers from Dallas on

My son started taking piano on a keyboard for about 6 months. It worked out ok for that short time. You would get an idea of his interest and level of practice he wants to invest. Go to a music store and sometimes the have used pianos. Ask piano teachers if they know any for sale. Squeezing one in can be done and its so worth the space! One of the problems with keyboards is the touch isn't right. The kids can't get the real feel of how hard to hit the keys.

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E.T.

answers from Albuquerque on

I'm a piano purist... kids can learn on an small play keyboard, but after the first six months of lessons, they really need a full keyboard. You can use an electronic keyboard, but to truly learn correctly, it should be one with a full weighted keyboard. Those cost about $1000 and for that money you could easily buy a used piano off of Craigslist. Try looking at the for sale ads by you - you might just luck into a small piano for cheap.

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P.M.

answers from Harrisburg on

My daughter used a keyboard for probably about the first year. After that, her teacher insisted that she have a piano. They get to a point where they need to use the pedals. But for a beginner...they keyboard should work.

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K.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

My niece takes her piano lessons on a keyboard. It's not a problem at all. You can find keyboards with full sized keys, and obviously, they take up a whole lot less space than a piano. Added fun benefit: all different sounds and instruments you can choose.

We have an upright piano, which my girls take their lessons on. It's fine (and I DO love the sound of a real piano), but it's nowhere near as FUN as my niece's keyboard!

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C.N.

answers from Baton Rouge on

We used an electric keyboard for my daughter to practice and later for me.
It worked just fine.

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K.L.

answers from Washington DC on

My daughter had been taking piano for just over a year - using an electric keyboard - and it's working just fine! I imagine she'll outgrow it someday, but for now the keyboard (61 keys?) is perfect. I'm glad we just bought a keyboard for now. It cost just under $200 from Best Buy. When she outgrows it we will know for sure whether she is still into playing it and if we should buy an actual piano. She wanted to quit a couple of months ago (she ended up not quitting) and I wouldn't have been too bummed since we didn't shell out money for a piano.

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