Why should I buy a piano, instead of a keyboard?

The quick answer is:  if you want your child to play the piano, then buy a piano.  Playing a keyboard does not make a pianist.  

And now the more thoughtful answer, because it really depends on your long-range goals and dreams.

If you are buying an instrument for a child who is just starting to take lessons, you might not want to make an investment in a piano, which is understandable.  A keyboard may be be a temporary solution.  But notice that I said "temporary".

Possible reasons to buy (or not) a keyboard:
  •     possibly cheaper than a piano (less resale value)
  •     more portable (easier to knock over and damage)
  •     can make more kinds of noises (no argument there)
  •     doesn't need tuning (always sounds like a keyboard)
Unfortunately, that's about all keyboards have going for them.  And that's not enough, if you want to play piano.

And if your child does takes to playing, you will need to get a piano.  It really is that simple.

The reason to buy a real piano, instead of a keyboard, is that they are very different kinds of instruments that just happen to look similar. Roller skates and pickup trucks have many similarities, but they handle very differently and you probably wouldn't want to haul furniture on roller skates....

One of the most difficult things about playing the piano is learning how to control the instrument.  Without good control, nothing will feel right or sound right.

And good control of the piano depends on hand strength (which a keyboard does not develop) and "finesse", being able to move the keys in different ways to make different sorts of sounds.  Keyboard don't help with that, either.

A keyboard simply is not a substitute for a piano.  I sometimes use keyboards for dances and other gigs, so I know they can be useful.  But I would never pass up the chance to play a piano, instead.

If a keyboard really is your only option, see whether you can rent one for a few months -- or, if you have to buy it, make sure you can get a full trade when you move up to a piano.  Reputable music stores may offer one or both of those options.

Even better:  rent a piano from the beginning!
  The upfront cost is lower, and you'll have more options in both the short- and long-run.

*   *   *   *   * 

One last point, while I'm on the subject....   How good should your first piano be?  A new player won't know the difference, right, so you might as well get the cheapest one you can find, right?  

NO!!!  

A new student needs the best piano you can afford, because that player doesn't know how to control the instrument yet, and an out-of-whack piano can be very frustrating and actually form bad habits.

One of my tuning customers said to me "You always put a new rider on a horse that behaves well, because they don't know how to control the horse."  Same thing with a piano.

To learn more about how to choose a good piano, click here.