I am often asked which keyboard I recommend students to buy.
Ultimately it depends on how much money you are looking to spend, but I recommend a lower cost keyboard to begin with. It is worth waiting to see if piano lessons will be a long term commitment for yourself, or your son or daughter. For older school students and adults, if you would like to upgrade down the track, students will be able to make an educated decision when it comes to purchasing a more expensive keyboard after some experience playing the instrument.
I recommend the Yamaha NP 31 Keyboard
This keyboard covers all the required features (see below) as well as being low cost, light weight and it has a lovely piano sound.
Cost $300 to $350
This keyboard can be purchased from music stores, online or otherwise. You will also need a stand for the keyboard which can also be purchased, the X shape stand is the most commonly used design. Or you may have a table or desk at home that may be the right height. Please discuss with your teacher the sitting posture provided by your desk or table, if it's the wrong height it can encourage bad technique and can leave a student feeling uncomfortable and sore from practice.
You can watch a demo of this instrument by musician Jamie Cullum. He ofcourse would make anything sound good, but the it has a good sound for a low cost instrument.
If you already have a keyboard, would like to purchase a second hand keyboard, or would like to spend more money on a keyboard, these are the features I advice you look for:
Weighted keys refer to the resistance a piano key has when you press down on it to create a sound. If you press softly you will create a soft sound, and pressing the key harder will create a louder sound. This feature replicates an acoustic piano and is important in developing musicality and also strength in the fingers.
Size of the Keys
Make sure the keyboard has piano sized keys, that is large/ accurate sized keys. Some keyboards, often lower priced keyboards, have smaller sized keys which will not be useful to students as they become familiar with the piano.
Length of the Keyboard
A full length piano has 88 keys. A keyboard with 70 something keys, or even 60 something will be adequate and will take up less space in your home.
Buttons on the Keyboard
We only need the one sound when learning the piano. Keyboards with lots of buttons, which allow users to utilise different sounds or voices, are unnecessary. Although in saying that, early primary school students can enjoy playing a song once they have learnt it with various sounds, or can enjoy experimenting with different sounds. But don't seek out keyboards with an array of buttons across the interface.
Pedals are an important part of the piano as they continue the sound of a note once the player's hand has left the key. This allows the player to smooth the notes together adding musicality to pieces, a must have for advanced students. Often primary school students cannot reach the pedals so there is no urgency to acquire a pedal. Once students have learnt for a few years, or are in High School, it is important to use a pedal. You will need to purchase one that looks like this rather than a flat square 'pad like' pedal which often comes complimentary with keyboards.
Terminology: Keyboard vs Digital Piano
The terms keyboard and digital keyboard are used interchangeably although they technically do mean different things. A digital piano refers to an electronic replica of an acoustic piano. This is what we are looking for in an instrument with the features noted above. The term keyboard can refer to a smaller instrument with smaller keys, or an instrument that has a lot of buttons on the interface allowing users to activate different sounds or voices. If you are aware of the features noted above you will find these described as either as a keyboard or as a digital piano, but it is good to be aware of the different terms.
All the best with your purchase!