How to Select the Best Keyboard to Start Your Lessons On

by Cassie Winterhalter on March 14, 2013

Photo credit: Joshua Schnable

As I discussed in the blog post from two weeks ago, starting lessons on a keyboard is perfectly acceptable if it’s on the right type of keyboard. It’s possible to buy a keyboard that will work great for a beginner student for around $250-$300. This makes the initial investment of starting piano lessons a lot lower. 🙂

I strongly encourage that you talk to us or your teacher about the proper keyboard (or piano) to buy before buying it. I’ve seen a lot of students play on instruments that I would not have recommended if I had the chance to discuss it with their parents beforehand.

When shopping for a keyboard, keep these tips in mind:

1. Size

Keyboards come in a few different sizes: full-size (88 keys); 76 keys; 61 keys; or 49 keys. Having all 88 keys is best. However, if you’d like to save money, a 76 key keyboard works completely fine for a beginner for a couple of years or so, depending on his age and rate of progress. Anything smaller than that is just too small and not practical, even for a complete beginner.

2. Weighted Keys

Piano keys have weight to them. While keyboard keys almost always feel lighter, purchasing a keyboard with weighted keys is better. When students perform in our recitals, it’s on a 9 foot Steinway piano. The keys will feel more normal to them if they are used to having weight in their own keyboard at home. This will also make the transition to a piano easier.

3. Keyboard Setup

Adjustable Stand

It’s very important that the keyboard comes with an adjustable stand. If the stand is not adjustable, the keyboard may be too high or too low for the student. A bad setup can promote poor technique, which can even lead to injuries down the road.

Music Rack

Make sure the piano comes with a rack to hold the music. I prefer the ones with a solid or mostly solid back, as otherwise the music tends to slip through the rack and fall on the ground.

Chair or Bench

When your child sits on the chair or bench, his wrists and forearms should be parallel to the ground. If the wrists or forearms slope in any way, this will put pressure where it shouldn’t be which can cause bad habits to develop early on, with the possible result of injuries.

Pedals

Having a pedal attachment is great. Young students who are growing usually won’t be tall enough to reach the pedals for awhile, so not having pedals at first is ok. Most keyboards come with the option to buy a pedal or pedal attachment, so this can always be done later on.

Beyond these specifications, it’s up to you how fancy you want to get. I would think about whether you want to spend more money now on a nicer keyboard or digital piano to keep for awhile, or whether you’d rather spend less money initially with the intention to invest in a piano sooner. Each time I upgraded to a new instrument when I was a child, my parents sold my previous instrument for the same if not more money than they had initially paid for it.

Here are some keyboards that I recommend:

1. Casio Privia
This is more expensive- especially if you add the stand and pedals. In my opinion, it’s well worth the money.

2. Yamaha DGX230AD 76 Key Portable Grand with power

3. Casio WK-245 76-Key Touch Sensitive Keyboard with Power Supply

Finally, some places I’d recommend buying a keyboard from include:

I hope you enjoyed today’s article and learned something new! Leave a comment below if you have any additional keyboard selection tips or questions. Subscribe to the email newsletter, share this with a friend, and please contact us if you need any additional assistance selecting the best keyboard for your needs. Thanks for reading! Enjoy your Thursday.

Sincerely,

Cassie

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alec Rogers October 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Hi – found your post and website trying to learn more about getting the right keyboard to begin lessons. (We’re also in your neighborhood) – this is really helpful, so thank you!

What is a good age for children to begin lessons (i.e. at what age can most kids meaningfully follow real instruction)? Our daughter just turned 4 and we’re thinking next year would be right?

Reply

Cassie Winterhalter October 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Hi Alec,
I’m glad this post was helpful for you! 🙂

As far as your question about a good age to begin lessons, check out this blog post: http://winterhaltermusic.com/general/music-lessons-how-young-is-too-young/

It really is dependent on the child. If you reach out to us and tell us more about your daughter, we’re happy to give you our opinion on whether or not she’s ready for lessons.

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