Boasts 61 full-size keys and 400 instrument voices. Programmed with more than 100 preset songs. Touch-sensitive keys adjust volume with pressure. Headphone jack and auxiliary jack included.
Runs on batteries; power adapter must be purchased separately.
Outfitted with 32 mini keys, 100 instrument voices, and 50 pre-programmed tracks. Can play up to eight notes at once for chords. Very portable. Keys are a good size for small children.
Does not come with power cord. Keys may stop working over time.
This basic 49-key keyboard is just the right size for kids to handle. Keyboard is animated, making it kid-friendly. Comes with a USB cable, so you can attach it to your computer to use the included interactive instructional CD-ROM. Also features a bonus DVD.
The keyboard is of poorer quality than others at a similar price.
Features keyboard with 61 full-size keys, 100 sounds, 100 rhythms, and 30 pre-programmed songs. Supports record and playback. Readable LCD screen. Comes with stand, sustain pedal, and stool. Headphone jack.
Keys may stop working over time. The stand does not feel stable.
Stands out for its mini keys, which are perfect for small hands. Features 100 keyboard sounds and 50 rhythm patterns. You can make use of the five percussion pads. The 10 rehearsal tunes let you practice songs of different styles.
Some buyers report issues with sound quality if you adjust the volume too frequently.
If you want your child to learn the basics of music, the piano is one of the best instrument choices. The piano lays everything right out in front of the student and provides a solid and comprehensive foundation that can be carried over to other instruments. But a piano can be a sizable investment, and for some people, it’s practical to begin lessons on a keyboard designed specifically for kids.
Not all keyboards are suitable for music lessons. Many are engaging toys designed to spark interest but not to be used in serious study. If solid musicianship is your ultimate goal, you'll want a keyboard that has a balance of engaging and educational features. Look for a keyboard that is large enough so the child can play both the right and left hand parts.
If this is your first foray into purchasing a keyboard for a child, this article will cover everything you need to know so you can buy with confidence.
The first step in purchasing the right keyboard for a child is to decide how the child will be using it and for how long.
Do you want a toy or an instrument?
A keyboard for a kid doesn't have to be a proper learning tool; it can just be a fun interactive toy that makes lots of different sounds. Anything that gets a child curious and engaged with music is a good thing. You just have to decide which purpose you want the keyboard to serve.
Is this a temporary arrangement?
Many parents purchase a keyboard as a test to see if the child will stick with it. If they do, a piano or full-size digital keyboard is in the future, so the kids’ keyboard can be very basic and have fewer keys.
A keyboard designed for a kid will have built-in speakers so you can just turn it on and play. Be careful you don't accidentally purchase a professional keyboard that requires an amplifier in order to hear it. The keyboard you buy for a child may have a jack for headphones (for silent practice) and an output for a larger sound, but it needs to come with stereo speakers built into the instrument or you likely won't be happy.
Key size and type
The best keys to have are full-size because piano players do not look at their hands when playing. Learning on smaller keys could cause problems later on. Additionally, keys that are weighted or at least have some resistance to them and can play louder or softer depending on how fast the fingers strike them. This is highly recommended if the child is to play on a real piano someday.
Number of keys
A piano has 88 keys, so a keyboard with 88 keys is ideal, but it can be unnecessarily cumbersome if you need to transport the instrument often. A keyboard with around 61 keys will be good for most music that your child plays. Of course, if your goal is to provide the child with a toy and nothing more, you can find a lot of keyboards available with far less than 61 keys. Some keyboards for kids have just an octave’s worth of keys. This isn’t suitable for a child taking lessons, but for a little one who is exploring, it could be ideal.
Some toy keyboards can only play one note at a time. If you'd like to be able to play two or more notes at the same time, make sure the keyboard is polyphonic.
Durable sheet music stand
The most overlooked feature in a keyboard is a durable music stand. It needs to be strong enough to support heavy books and secure enough so it doesn't constantly slip out.
The feature kids miss most when switching between a piano and a keyboard is a sustain pedal. If serious piano playing may be in your child’s future, look for a keyboard that supports or comes with a sustain pedal.
You may want a keyboard that is easily portable — one that can be carried to any room of the house. However, be forewarned that if it is too portable and parents stash it in the closet after a piano lesson, the instrument won't get used, and the student will not progress.
Most keyboards for kids use batteries. If the keyboard doesn't come with a power adapter, that should be the first accessory you purchase. Once the batteries die, the keyboard is useless until new ones are purchased. If you have an adapter, however, your keyboard will always be ready to play.
Stand and bench
Keyboards typically do not come with a stand or bench. Placing the keyboard on a spare table or leaving it on the floor is not generally considered to be good piano form. It will discourage practicing and could actually lead to a number of injuries involving the spine, neck, arms, and hands. If you do not have a stand and bench (or something of suitable height), you will need to purchase these items separately.
Beside the essentials, a keyboard for a child needs a variety of features to help keep them engaged in experimenting, playing, and learning. Here are a few you may want to consider.
Variety of sounds
Most keyboards come preloaded with hundreds of sounds. These can be anything from the instruments in the orchestra to a car screech. Even though the majority of the time, the keyboard will be set to "piano," the wider variety of sounds your keyboard has, the more hours a kid can spend exploring.
Rhythms and accompaniment
Another feature almost every keyboard has is an expansive selection of drum beats and accompaniments. Playing "Mary Had A Little Lamb" a capella just isn't the same as playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" with a rock beat.
This is a mode with fully orchestrated songs that show how impressive the keyboard can be. It's not essential, but kids do like to tap this key and use the best tracks as their own personal anthems.
Built-in lessons and learning tools
The best keyboards for kids come with a multitude of learning tools. Whether it's light-up keys or games that subtly teach real music skills, it's all good. The more fun it is for your child to learn, the faster he or she will learn.
Once a child learns how to record, get ready for this feature to be used nonstop. Who doesn't want to enjoy listening to the music they created?
This is a different type of recording, and not too many keyboards have this feature anymore. If yours does, it can be fun. With a sampler, a child can record his or her own voice (or any other sound), and the keyboard will trigger it at different pitches as the appropriate keys are played. For instance, after recording "Hello," a child can press the lowest key on the keyboard to hear what an ogre might sound like saying the word. If the child presses the highest key, it will be more like a mouse. Several keys at once will produce a choir.
Does your child like to sing? Some keyboards have an input that lets you plug in a microphone so the child’s voice comes out of the speakers along with the music. It can be a great deal of fun for your burgeoning singer/songwriter.
A fun, colorful design will be inviting to a younger child. However, if this is an instrument that will stay with the child as he or she gets older, you might want to stick with a more traditional look.
With technology advancing so rapidly, the cost of a keyboard for a kid may be much less than you’d expect. For as low as $20, you can purchase a small toy keyboard that can be your child's gateway to the world of music. These keyboards, as well as ones that cost up to about $50, may be brightly colored and include a microphone.
From $50 to $100, the keyboards you’ll find for kids transition from looking like a toy to resembling something a little more traditional in design. These keyboards usually have an abundance of sounds, a music stand, and enough keys to seriously study music.
From $100 to $170, you can find higher-quality instruments with better key action that come bundled with a stand, bench, and power adapter. Beyond the $200 mark, you start seeing keyboards that are more closely related to pianos with 88 weighted keys and more sophisticated sounds.
As noted earlier, some low-cost kids’ keyboards are simply fun toys that introduce children to music. If music is to be taken more seriously than this, however, the topic of practice will eventually surface. Practice is by far the hardest part of learning any instrument. It can be tedious and boring, especially in this fast-paced world we live in. Here are a few tips to make practicing more fun and effective.
Be there. Sending a kid off to practice alone is like punishment. Setting the keyboard up in a location where you can listen and encourage the student is highly recommended.
Shorter is better. Shorter practice sessions that occur more frequently are far better (and more beneficial to the student) than marathon sessions every few days.
Keep it ready. If the keyboard needs to be taken off a shelf and set up for every practice session, there will be fewer and fewer practice sessions. A keyboard in a highly trafficked area of the house that remains plugged in and ready to go will get far more use.
Practice is essential. If a child has an entire year's worth of 30-minute lessons but never practices, that only adds up to one day of piano. It's easy to see why there's little progress with one day of piano per year. Practice is essential for growth.
Use the keyboard's features. If your keyboard has drums, games, and lessons, use them. A hip-hop beat has the same function as a metronome, only it's a heck of a lot more fun.
Change it up. If you have 500 sounds on your keyboard, why not find out what Beethoven sounds like when played on a nose flute? After trying the song on ten different instruments, your child will have played the song nine times more than usual.
Q. I don't have a keyboard stand. Are there other options?
A. Yes. Anything that allows your child to play in a proper position with good lighting will work. Some parents use a table with an adjustable stool. Some use an adjustable ironing board. The important thing is you don't want your child damaging muscles and tendons or getting pain from improper positions.
Q. What is the proper playing position?
A. The easiest way to remember it is the shoulders are the highest point, the elbows are next, and the wrists (after a gentle slope from the elbows) are the lowest point. Sit up straight and tall, place the palms of your hands on your knees, and let your fingers dangle. That will give you a good idea of what the proper position looks and feels like.
Q. How many hours of practice are recommended each week?
A. More is always better; that’s the simple answer. But life moves fast, and few kids can put in seven hours a week. Most teachers would be overjoyed with just three solid hours per week. But it's not really the time that matters, it’s the engagement. Set a goal and accomplish it. When the child has completed the task, he or she can either play for fun or be done for that session.
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