From Ray Charles to Nina Simone, these famous virtuosos have left their mark on the world of music, with their impressive skills and unfathomable dexterity. But could their performances have been just as impressive on a piano keyboard as an electric one?

A study in 2010 by the chamber of music sellers found that the total cost of digital pianos was actually higher than the cost of acoustic pianos. This demonstrates the extent to which keyboard and digital pianos are an increasingly important part of the music market, given the growing  success of famous Japanese and Korean brands.

Ray Charles, Nina Simone, and Stevie Wonder have all left their mark on the world of music, and their melodies have provided a backdrop to generations of fans. The way they play keys, press the pedals, and that expression on their face as they play all seem to exude a certain enigmatic sensuality. But does a musician’s performance depend on whether they’re playing a piano keyboard or an electric piano?

For example, the Casio models and Yamaha models are some of the most widely recognised and popular brands for digital pianos and keyboards worldwide.In fact, they have become synonymous with children's first piano lessons.

However, digital pianos are not only popular amongst beginners. Amateur piano players and professionals are opting for digital pianos, which are often considered less expensive, more compact and easier to transport.

That's why learning to play the digital piano and understand all its features is important when you are considering taking up the piano.

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Will the digital piano replace the acoustic piano?

Keyboards are often much easier to put away or move than an acoustic piano.

These are all common questions when you start reading through the online forums and chat rooms about keyboards and digital pianos.

There are a number of recurring questions which arise concerning the digital piano and keyboards. For example:

Are digital keyboards good for beginners? What is the difference between digital keyboards and acoustic pianos? Are the sounds different between digital and acoustic pianos? Which piano is most appropriate for me/my level? As a professional, should I invest in an acoustic piano or a digital piano? 

Firstly, no matter what level of piano you are at, being able to practice regularly (especially from home) is important in order to learn the scales, chords, and correct posture. So what is best, a keyboard, a digital piano, or an acoustic one?

If you are living in a limited amount of space - a tiny studio apartment in Toronto, you may not have the space for a bulky acoustic piano, so a keyboard could be a good alternative.

Electronic pianos also have a number of features. For example, most models have built-in digital samplings for different sounds. Higher-priced ones may also have sustain pedals and a more realistic sound with weighted keys. These will often have a similar sound and feel as an acoustic piano.

Advantages of a digital piano

Here are some of the most important features of a digital piano:

  • Compact - often take up less space then a digital piano
  • Transportable - most weigh less than 40 pounds and are much easier to move, which is important for performers.
  • Sturdy - often more robust and less likely to require repairs and tuning,
  • A believable sound - always tuned and won't have any echoes or other sound issues
  • Headphones- most models allow you to plug in headphones so you can practice at all hours of the day without bothering your neighbours.
  • Variety of sound functions
  • Sound recording functions - allowing you to hear your own playing, and create arrangements
  • Built-in metronomes
  • Affordable - in comparison to acoustic pianos, these are generally considered a cheaper option depending on the model that you choose
  • Features to help you transpose music and read sheet music

How to learn the digital piano

Acoustic pianos need tuning several times per year.

When it comes to learning the piano, learning to play a digital piano is practically the same as learning how to play a grand piano.

Learn music theory

Music theory is often dreaded by a majority of students, from beginners to more advanced students. Although it is often considered dull and overly academic, for anyone learning an instrument it is incredibly important to have a good understanding and knowledge of music theory.

One of the most important elements of music theory, is learning the scale system from children's music lessons. Learning the scales and learning how to read music is essential in being able to read, understand, play and compose music. The same is true whether you are playing the piano, the drums or the violin.

Check out our article on selecting the right piano for you...

Learning by ear

There are 3 main types of key beds (and thus keys) for digital pianos.

Although there are a number of ways to learn the piano, including private lessons, online tutorials, and videos, one of the preferred methods to learn the piano is playing by ear.

This can be challenging for many beginners, but with practice you'll be able to strengthen your musical ear and be able to recognise different notes when playing the piano.

Here are some tips on improving your musical ear:

To do this:

  • listen closely to a piece of music
  • play around on the keyboard to find each note and try to replicate the piece of music you've just heard
  • start with smaller pieces and work your way up to playing the whole piece

Learn to read sheet music

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced player, there are number of exercise and theory books that will help you to learn to read sheet music.

You can find these on:

  • At your local music store
  • Many music schools sell sheet music and theory books
  • Your local library may have some music resources
  • Online platforms and websites

The best books will contain a  segment of sheet music, in addition to some musical theory which can guide you when playing and reading a new piece of music.

Some books may also contain piano tabs that break down where you should place your hand and for what amount of time for each note.

Check for piano lessons Toronto here.

Find Private Piano Lessons

If you want to record your playing on an acoustic piano, you’ll need extra equipment to do so.

Whether you are just starting out and haven't even touched a piano yet, or whether you're well on your way to a professional music career, having a piano teacher can help you to achieve your musical goals.

Finding a piano teacher is not always an easy task. You may luck out and find a great teacher through recommendations from friends or acquaintances. You can also find a number of adverts for piano teachers at your local library, music school, coffee shops or grocery stores.

You can of course also look for piano lessons online...

The Superprof platform is one of the easiest ways to find a tutor online. Superprof is huge global database of teachers in a range of subjects (including piano) and it operates in over 35 countries worldwide. There are hundreds of piano teachers available across Canada, both in major cities and the suburbs.

On Superprof, you can select a teacher that offers lessons online, at home or at a location of your choice. You can also select a tutor based upon the level that they are able to teach, their experience and the style of music that they specialize in. Each tutor on our platform has a profile that share information about the location of their lessons, their lesson methodology, teaching experience, level, resume and hourly tutoring rate. You can also read through reviews and recommendations left by previous students on their profile.

On Superprof Canada, private piano lessons can cost anywhere between $10 to $75 per hour, depending on your level, location and the objective of your lessons. For example, if you needto prepare for a professional exams or entry into a prestigious music school, then it is likely that your lessons will be more expensive than if you are just a casual beginner who is learning for fun. On Superprof, a majority of tutors on our platform offer their lessons for free in order to get to know the student and get a better idea of their goals and objectives.

Are you still unsure about how which teacher to choose? Don't forget to check out the reviews and recommendations left my former students to get a better idea of your tutor's ability, teaching methodology and suitability for your needs. This will give you a better idea of the quality of their teaching and other student's progr

Want to learn more? Digital pianos are also a great way for children to learn to play the piano.

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Yvette

Yvette is a freelance Canadian writer living in Paris. She spends her time between Toronto and Paris and likes to travel and learn. She's the proud mom of two strong minded women and enjoys her free time giving back to her communities.