Learn to play the the Keyboard. Keyboard is a fun instrument for beginners, with one keyboard sounding like an entire band.
What is the Keyboard?
An electronic keyboard is by definition any keyboard instrument which uses electronics to produce its sound.
Professional electronic keyboards include digital or electric pianos, synthesizers, samplers and electronic organs.
The term electronic keyboard however, generally refers to the smaller ‘home’ keyboard. Such instruments typically include a selection of instrumental sounds, including piano, organ, brass, woodwind and strings.
Electronic keyboards also incorporate an electronic ‘backing’ or ‘accompaniment’, providing the player with a range of pop, rock, swing and country rhythms.
The keyboard thus becomes a mini band and is a great way for beginner and experienced players alike to learn and sound professional.
Where do you learn the Keyboard?
The most common methods are private tuition and classes via a music school or academy.
Private tuition generally takes place at the teacher’s residence, often in a music studio.
Music schools offer class and individual tuition. Most provide class tuition for younger players – different classes are available – from ages 4 to 9. Many offer only individual tuition from age ten upwards.
What age can your child start learning the Keyboard?
Classes designed for four to six year olds introduce the child to the fundamentals of music, where the keyboard is a tool for music appreciation. Whereas classes for older pupils tend to focus on specific electronic keyboard tuition.
Rule of thumb; 4 to 6 years, musical appreciation; 6 to 9 years, class keyboard tuition; 10 years up, individual tuition and some form of examination.
How do you progress over time?
There are several options available to monitor and encourage the student’s progress. Depending on the music school or academy, they may follow the Suzuki, Yamaha or Technics system of tuition.
For more formal examinations, there are several options available, including Trinity College of Music and the Royal School of Music.
Some examination courses only progress to grade five, pupils are encouraged to move on to piano training from that point.
The main difference between the two musical schools of thought are; one is a modern approach, with the emphasis on the student developing a strong knowledge of musical chords; the latter is a more formal classical approach to progress.
Talk to the various teaching providers in your area. In the early stages, the important thing is providing your child with an introduction into the exciting world of music and keyboard. The musical direction they eventually take musically doesn’t have to be chosen immediately.
What equipment do you need to learn the Keyboard?
The typical home electronic keyboard comes in two different sizes – 49 keys (four octaves) and 61 keys (five octaves). Many five octave models are “touch sensitive” which means they vary in volume depending on how hard the musician plays the keys.
(Ensure you purchase a keyboard with full-size keys. Some cheaper instruments come with a ¾ size piano key – not suitable for learning and definitely not recommended).
It is recommended you purchase a keyboard stand. Stands are lightweight and portable and really a necessity for any keyboard player. Stands are height adjustable depending on the age and size of the keyboard player.
Keyboard stools are another important piece of equipment. Also height adjustable, stools ensure the player is seated at the correct height for the best playing position.
Sustain pedals – these “hold” the notes or sounds as the player performs – the same function as a sustain pedal on the piano. Not essential for beginners, but recommended. Many experienced keyboardists consider a sustain pedal essential to their playing.
Gig or carry bags are another essential item for keyboardists transporting their instrument, such as when performing or playing in a band. Not essential for the home player, where the instrument is not moved regularly.
Headphones are a great tool. They allow a keyboardist to play or practice in a living room and not disturb other family members.
How much does it cost to learn the Keyboard?
Home electronic keyboards vary considerably in price, ranging from $299 to $8495. Depending on the budget a keyboard suitable for a beginner can be purchased for $500 to $1000.
Generally as the price increases, the sound quality of the instrument improves, often considerably. The range of sounds, accompaniments and functions also increases.
Most keyboard sales people will recommend purchasing a mid-range priced instrument, even for the absolute beginner. You will be looking around the $1500 – $2500 price bracket. It’s not uncommon for a young player to progress quite quickly, and you may well find your child or teenager may soon be looking for an instrument with more functions and improved sound quality.
Another consideration is other family members. While a keyboard is a great way for a young player to learn music, it’s not uncommon for teenagers and parents to develop a musical interest also. A mid-priced instrument should cover the needs of most players of varying abilities.
Keyboard stands $60 – $150.
Keyboard stools $65 – $95.
Sustain pedals $40 – $80.
Gig bags $50 – $150.
Headphones – your standard headphone from any electronic or music store is suitable – from $15.
When considering and choosing your keyboard, plus the various accessories available, it pays to discuss your requirements with the keyboard specialist from your local music store. Most stores have sales staff who specialise in one type of instrument. They can best advise you on what you need to get your child (and yourself!) started in the wonderful world of keyboard.
Hiring a keyboard is another option which offers your child the opportunity to test the musical waters without the initial outlay for a new instrument.
Contact your local music store for the various options available, but generally you could expect to pay about $25 – $30 for a 49 note and $40 – $50 for a 61 note keyboard, per month. Most hire options are for a minimum of three months.
Should you choose to purchase the instrument, a portion of your hire fee is deducted from the retail price. Many parents begin with the smaller 49 note model and, if their child shows a keen interest, move on to purchasing a larger 61 note keyboard.
Keyboard lessons for beginners range from $18 – $25 for 30 minutes, depending on whether its a class or private tuition.
How much time does it take to learn the Keyboard?
Beginner’s lessons are generally 30 minutes in duration (up to an hour for more advanced players). There are usually 10 lessons per term, four terms each year, coinciding with the school terms.
Then there is additional practice required by the pupil, most teachers advocating a minimum of 30 minutes additional practice daily.
Depending on the individual, younger pupils can often be playing simple pieces, including using the basic accompaniments, within a term or two. Musical appreciation, reading music and musical theory will develop within the first 12 months.
Great Keyboard Websites
The Musicians Network website includes links to many musical instrument websites, including keyboard and the International Association of Electronic Keyboard Manufacturers.