Technology has advanced to a point where I think a keyboard is acceptable for a beginning pianist for the first year or two. It is not ideal because of the “feel” of the keys. Keyboards have plastic keys which are very light and differ greatly from a real piano which can lead to problems when the student does play on a real instrument. However, if the student has access to a real piano on occasion, in addition to the keyboard, this would help. The keyboard should be at least 61 notes and the fewer buttons, the better. Keyboard manufacturers love to include drum pads and all kinds of “bells and whistles” to sell their product, but these gimmicks soon get tiresome. A beginning student just needs a good quality piano sound and very often, the fewer “bells and whistles” equals a better quality piano sound. The other disadvantage of a keyboard is the way that it responds to touch. You should definitely get a keyboard that is touch sensitive and most of them are these days. This means that the harder you hit the key, the louder the sound and vice versa. However, it doesn’t work quite like a real piano and generally, students who practice on keyboards have a very soft and delicate touch on a real piano (not necessarily all that bad). A digital piano is a good step up and a much better choice. These instruments have 88 keys like a real piano, although it’s not that important because the extreme registers of the piano are rarely used. However, a digital piano has weighted keys which resemble more closely the feel of a real piano. The sound quality is usually much better than that of a keyboard too. An upright piano would be better, although it’s essential that it is in good working order and that it is in tune. Better to have a digital piano than an old upright that is in bad shape and out of tune. The ultimate is a grand piano because it has a different feel than an upright and generally a better quality sound.