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What Is The Best Keyboard For A Beginner?

Updated on July 29, 2014

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.

This keyboard has just 7 keys - you wouldn't get very far playing a song on this!
This keyboard has just 7 keys - you wouldn't get very far playing a song on this!

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

Amazon.co.uk

Yamaha EZ-220 61-Lighted Key Portable Keyboard Package with Headphones, Stand and Power Supply
Yamaha EZ-220 61-Lighted Key Portable Keyboard Package with Headphones, Stand and Power Supply

A little more expensive, but the lighted keys give an added, fun dimension to learning for kids.

 
Huntington KB61 61-Key Portable Electronic Keyboard, Black
Huntington KB61 61-Key Portable Electronic Keyboard, Black

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!

Yamaha RH1C Portable Headphones, Black
Yamaha RH1C Portable Headphones, Black

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.

 
Yamaha PKBS1 Adjustable X-Style Keyboard Stand
Yamaha PKBS1 Adjustable X-Style Keyboard Stand

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.

 
World Tour Deluxe Padded Keyboard Bench
World Tour Deluxe Padded Keyboard Bench

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.

 
Absolute Beginners Keyboard Course (BK/CD/DVD) (Complete Absolute Beginners Courses)
Absolute Beginners Keyboard Course (BK/CD/DVD) (Complete Absolute Beginners Courses)

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.

 
ABC Keyboard Stickers
ABC Keyboard Stickers

The easiest way to learn the notes. Put these reusable stickers on the keys and you'll soon remember their names.

 

Your comments

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    • JenaleeMortensen profile image

      JenaleeMortensen 3 years ago

      Thanks for some pointers on what to look for in a keyboard. You've pointed out some things I never thought about.

    • shadowfast7 profile image

      Sure Temp 3 years ago

      liked + shared! great info! ^_^

    • Michelllle profile image

      Michelllle 3 years ago

      Nice. Been thinking about getting a keyboard for a long time. great lens.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      I need to get a good keyboard. I play guitar, but sometimes play piano.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 3 years ago

      Thanks for the info, it is a very useful lens:)

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 3 years ago from US/TN

      I loved playing the keyboard when I was young. I've since given it up, but I think it's a wonderful starter instrument for anyone who wants to learn music.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 3 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Some good choices here.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Lots of great information, thank you for sharing.

    • Baddew Fibes profile image
      Author

      Baddew Fibes 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you Sonia, hope your son gets lots of pleasure from playing. Take care, Matt

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      You're a legend! I bought the Yamaha keyboard from your site for my son, and he loves it so much he's just started working towards his Grade 1 exam. Thanks for the advice buddy!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Really like your selections here.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 4 years ago

      Yamaha is an excellent and affordable choice for a keyboard. We have two digital pianos, but they're a bit bulky for beginners.

    • pretyfunky profile image

      pretyfunky 4 years ago

      helpful lens

    • Jo-Jackson profile image

      Jo-Jackson 4 years ago

      I wouldn't mind getting a keyboard to play with myself.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very helpful lens, I really enjoyed it!:-)

    • Baddew Fibes profile image
      Author

      Baddew Fibes 4 years ago

      @greenspirit: Thanks very much for dropping by. Just wanted to check - is it definitely a keyboard you're looking for, or is it a digital piano? From your post it sounds like it might be a digital piano. Also, do you have a budget? There are lots out there around the $500 mark, but there are a few that keep surfacing on eBay every now and then at cheaper prices.

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 4 years ago from London

      Enjoyed your lens. You're obviously experienced in this field so I have a question...I'm interested in finding a practice keyboard so that I won't drive the neighbours nuts in the small hours! I'm a good pianist, so it needs to be mega touch responsive, and have a full keyboard. Is there such a thing that doesn't cost the same as a small car? If you have time, drop me a note please. (or is this your next lens maybe?)

    • Baddew Fibes profile image
      Author

      Baddew Fibes 4 years ago

      @OhMe: I'd say a keyboard is the easiest instrument to begin learning music on. It's a very visual instrument compared to some. Thanks for stopping by!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I may need to think about a keyboard for my grandson. He definitely has musical talent but isn't interested in lessons.

    • KatPalmer LM profile image

      KatPalmer LM 4 years ago

      I too was a piano teacher and I totally agree with your recommendations. Once a student is beyond beginner I would also suggest getting one with weighted keys.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very nice selection and very nice reviews!

    • profile image

      D_L_Harbin 4 years ago

      This is awesome information! My son's first instrument to learn to play was a small keyboard and now he can play anything!

    • Baddew Fibes profile image
      Author

      Baddew Fibes 4 years ago

      @Swisstoons: Not a bad way to learn to play by ear....probably not so good for developing sight reading though! As long as you get enjoyment out of doing what you do on the keyboard, that's the main thing. I'm a great believer in that.

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 4 years ago from Michigan

      I bought a Yamaha PSR 270 about ten years ago, but I've never taken lessons and only fool around with it occasionally. It's got dozens of different voices (incl reeds, strings, brass...even percussion) just as the one you describe. My method of "learning" has been to try to familiarize myself with the keyboard by playing with my eyes closed...like trying to learn a language. Or so I imagined. Probably not the most effective way to learn an instrument.

    • Baddew Fibes profile image
      Author

      Baddew Fibes 4 years ago

      @darciefrench lm: Thanks for the comment, Darcie. Is your 9 year old internet savvy? One thing I can suggest is asking your child what their favourite pop song is, then finding a tutorial for that song on Youtube. Someone's usually recorded an easy-to-follow lesson. It makes their homework a lot more fun too!

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 4 years ago

      Wish you were local - we're in the market for a music teacher for our 9 y/o who is quite talented - no one else in the family has expertise in the field