Portable keyboards have been very popular for over 30 years. Not only are they versatile and a lot of fun, as their name implies, they are great for someone where portability is a factor. They can range from less than 61 notes to a full 88 notes. I’ve known several people who travel for work and spend quite a bit of their life in a hotel room. A portable keyboard allows them to keep in practice when a piano is not available. They can be a great solution for outdoor events where weather could be a factor with an acoustic piano, and a good choice for use in a musical group such as a band.
The misconception is that portable keyboards can be effectively used to learn to play the piano. Most quality piano teachers will not allow a student to learn on a portable. As one teacher stated, “It’s like giving your kid a Nerf football and having him try out for the football team.”
Much of the practice of learning piano is devoted to learning proper technique, which can not be accomplished on a keyboard. Here are a few of the techniques lost by using a portable keyboard:
- Learning how to control touch (legato, staccato and portato touch), sensitivity and expression.
- Posture and seating position and hand/arm alignment.
- Finger dexterity and evenness of touch.
- Pedaling for sustain, soft pedal and sostenuto.
- Balance between melody and accompaniment.
- Dynamics of sound.
- Approach and release of chords.
- The concept of weight using hands, arms and shoulders.
Having a quality acoustic or digital piano at home will encourage and motivate the student rather than becoming a frustration. A quality instrument and teacher will make learning the play the piano fun and exciting.