What Is The Best Keyboard For A Beginner?
Notes from a Music Teacher - July 2014
So, what is the best keyboard for a beginner? I've been a professional music teacher for the last 16 years and have taught pupils using hundreds of different keyboards. This lens gives you my top recommendation on the best keyboard for a beginner, along with some other essential advice on choosing a keyboard.
When I started playing the keyboard way back in 1985, my parents bought me a tiny Casio instrument and I used to practise every day, playing songs like Merrily We Roll Along and The Birdie Song.
At the risk of stating the obvious, a heck of a lot has changed since 1985. Personally, I've got a lot more wrinkles and my fingers no longer fit on the little keys of my old Casio. But being a keyboard and piano teacher, I've played many, many electronic keyboards and seen lots of others get introduced to the market.
Things to consider when buying a keyboard for a beginner
Number of keys - A full-size keyboard has 88 notes, but most beginners will find that 49 keys are enough on which to learn the basics. However, you will definitely need to upgrade to a slightly larger keyboard as you progress. I would suggest starting with 61 keys to avoid spending out on two different-sized instruments in quick succession.
Built-in speakers - It's very important to have these. Some keyboards need to be plugged into external speakers before you can hear any sound. By having built-in speakers, you don't have to worry about buying external speakers and plugging in every time to want to practise.
Touch sensitivity - Do you want to be able to put some feeling and expression into your playing? Many keyboards have touch sensitive keys, allowing you to play notes loud or soft - just the same as you can on a piano.
Polyphony - As soon as you start playing more than one note at a time, you will need this function. The polyphony of a keyboard tells you how many notes can be played together.. I would suggest looking for at least 8-note polyphony. This allows you to play two chords of four notes together without the keyboard getting confused and refusing to play some of your notes!
My Top Choice!
The Yamaha YPT-230
This keyboard ticks every single box on my Beginners Keyboard Checklist. It covers all of the basic requirements that I look for and more by having 61 keys, 32-note polyphony, built-in speakers and touch sensitivity.
In my opinion, it's also essential to make learning fun! The 385 voices, including a sound effects patch and 13 different drum kits, together with dozens of different accompaniment settings and 102 built-in songs to learn make this a fantastically fun instrument.
It also has MIDI capabilities, meaning that you can link it to any computer and use thousands of MIDI song files to help learn brand new songs!
Two of my pupils have this keyboard and I strongly believe they get more excitement out of their lessons. The Yamaha YPT-230 is made with learning and fun in mind.
UK residents - please read!
Unfortunately, it appears that the Yamaha YPT-230 isn't available in the UK via Amazon.
However, the Yamaha YPT-220 is available. It's very similar and also has a quick delivery time. Here's the link for you....
Yamaha YPT220 Portable Keyboard
A little more expensive, but the lighted keys give an added, fun dimension to learning for kids.
A good basic entry-level keyboard. Fantastic value for money, but only has 8 note polyphony.
Accessories you are likely to need - Handpicked to make things easier!
Buy these headphones if you want some privacy, or if anybody in your house is worried that your practising might disturb them. Virtually all keyboards have the same standard headphone socket.
Putting your keyboard on a stand will avoid putting scratches on the kitchen table! I started without a keyboard stand and put mine on my bed. But I soon got a stand when I got a sore back from crouching over all the time.
Rather than taking a chair from the lounge or dining room each time, you might prefer having a soft, padded keyboad stool to sit on. This one is adjustable so you can get the correct playing height. It folds away if you don't want it up all the time. And it's really comfortable too.
This book, double CD and DVD collection is fantastic for beginners. It's really easy to follow and has a good mix of old and new songs to play. It also comes with a helpful 'Guide To The Keyboard' chart.
The easiest way to learn the notes. Put these reusable stickers on the keys and you'll soon remember their names.