Not everybody can afford the old grand piano, and one of the most exciting moments of you journey will be when you purchase your very own electronic keyboard!
There are a few factors to consider before you buy your music-making tool, and this article aims to highlight these and help make your decision that much easier.
The beauty of starting your musical career with piano lessons is that it will naturally pave the way for other instruments.
Once you’ve learned and grasped terms like chords and scales, the foundation of daily piano exercises will simplify the learning of other instruments.
Advantages Of an Electronic Keyboard
A plus of the electronic keyboard is that it maintains a perfect pitch and never needs to be tuned. This will also aid in intonation, which is a musician’s ability to recognize a musical instrument’s correct pitch.
It is also much easier to transport than a conventional piano, and also a lot less expensive.
Headphones can also be plugged into a keyboard during practice, which means no disturbance to others in the room if it's early morning or late at night.
Making this purchase will play a vital role in your piano practice routine. You will have daily access to your instrument, instead of only interacting with the instrument at your weekly piano lessons.
Some music teachers even wait for students to obtain their own instruments before commencing with piano lessons, as they can then become proficient faster by practicing at home on their own.
If your goal is to move on to the piano from your keyboard once finances, space or life allows – do not focus too much on the specialist recording and synthesizing options available. It could become an unnecessary distraction as these features are not available on your acoustic piano.
If you're ready to buy a keyboard in order to start you new piano lessons, here are 5 factors for you to consider before purchasing the right one for:
Number of Keys
There are various keyboard sizes available with regard to the amount of keys, ranging from 25 all the way through to 88 – which is the number on a standard acoustic piano. Only buy a beginner 61 or 76-key keyboard if you are planning to move to a bigger keyboard shortly after.
Learning and practicing on an 88 key keyboard will ease your transition to an acoustic piano and also be less frustrating for students as all keys and notes will be available for the various piano exercises.
Aim to buy a keyboard with keys the same size as an acoustic as this will ensure the learning of accurate finger spacing.
A smaller keyboard (with less than 88 keys) might also impact a student’s spatial recognition as the keys will not be in the same place as on an acoustic piano. This might cause confusion as to where your hands need to be placed after the transition.
To Weight or Not to Weight
Unweighted keys are very easy to push down, and moving from an unweighted keyboard to a piano will more than likely cause some grief. The reason for this is that it will feel completely different to the play and technique you have become accustomed to by playing on a keyboard with unweighted keys.
Weighted keys will help you to transition from a keyboard to the piano with ease. A weighted key means that it offers the same feeling of resistance as an acoustic piano.
Weighted keys also move back up to the original position faster - after being played - than unweighted keys. It, therefore, provides a more accurate reflection of the acoustic piano’s keys while also aiding to build hand strength.
Most experts agree that the most important factors in choosing an electronic keyboard are having 88 weighted keys. However, there are a few additional factors that play a role - but this is where it all starts depending on the type of budget you have.
Not all keyboards have pedals, although some do have built-in ones. If you can afford it, it is a good idea.
This will teach you one more thing which you can apply when playing the piano.
If you purchase your keyboard initially without adding a pedal, ensure that there is a port available for you to add a pedal at a later stage.
If a stand is not included with your keyboard, strongly consider getting an adjustable one. In this way, it can be accustomed to the player’s height and comfort level.
A variety of stands are available, wooden ones included. Should you feel strong about buying a fixed stand, you need to ensure that it is the correct height for the keyboard player.
A fixed stand might be a problem if more than one person makes use of the keyboard as the height requirements will more than likely differ from player to player.
A bench, chair or stool does not necessarily need to be purchased if the height is adequate, but do take care that it supports and enables the correct posture.
The height of an average piano bench is 19 inches, so if you are planning to move over to the piano and want to align all features as close as possible to that, opt for a bench of the same height.
Putting the keyboard on a table or bed will more than likely result in poor posture and an uncomfortable manner of playing which will, in turn, affect playing technique.
Whichever you end up choosing, take care that the hands are on the same level as the keyboard and that you are not slouching.
By now you should have a pretty good idea of the important things to look for when considering a new keyboard or digital piano. Armed with that information, you’re now better equipped to find the right keyboard to not only match your budget, but your specific needs too.
About the Author: Helen Baker
I am a freelance teacher and writer based in Ann Arbor, MI. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, I spent some time teaching English in Paris and, thereafter, returned to Ann Arbor where I was involved both in the media and academics. Currently I am a stay at home mom, working as a freelance writer and teacher. I love all my guitars and I also have an affinity towards old grand pianos. I love singing, traveling, reading, writing, watching films and spending quality time with my husband.