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View Full Version : What keyboard to buy my kid?



Irving
10-10-2013, 19:47
So I've been thinking about getting a keyboard for our daughter for Christmas. She is six years-old.
Neither my wife or I are musically talented at all. I'm smart enough to learn how to read music enough to get her started probably on easy stuff though.
Also, I can learn songs enough through repetition. Anyway, even if it is just something to play around on, I'd like to buy her one.
Can some of you musicians recommend a good starter electric keyboard? I'd like one of the ones with lights in the keys that help teach the notes.
However, I fully realize that kids are fickle and without a strong musical background, she is likely to stop being interested after the newness wears off.
With all that said, is there a good model I should look for that has the teaching lights in the keys?

Thanks in advance.

hobowh
10-10-2013, 19:55
casio used to make 1 under 100 bucks that actually kinda walked yu through getting started the keys you were supposed to hit lit up as it played the tune... but it has been a long time since I looked.

hobowh
10-10-2013, 19:56
http://www.bizrate.com/casio-lk-230-lighted-keyboard-4566030108/shop still have one

Irving
10-10-2013, 20:03
Looks pretty much what I was thinking about. Thanks for the super quick search!

cysoto
10-10-2013, 20:57
Spend your hard earned money in good musical instruction. At age 6, I would suggest you get your daughter started in something like the Kindermusic method. If after six months she is still interested, spend your money in a real piano. You can buy a used upright for well under $1, 000 (which is what a good electric piano is going to cost you).

Irving
10-10-2013, 21:00
Already talked with wife. While I was thinking about a keyboard, at the same time she was deciding to stop focusing on toys and instead shift more toward experiences (lessons of some sort.) We put her through a couple of the locally available dance lessons. While no dancing prodigy, she really enjoyed the experience and it was something neither of us could teach her. Good idea.

If anything comes out of music lessons and a keyboard, I've got a gun friendly contact in the piano world.

james_bond_007
10-11-2013, 09:42
It depends on whether you want her to learn how to read music, learn to play the piano, or just have a toy that she can make noise/music with.

The difference is in the "touch/feel" of the keyboard and developing the proper finger strength, and whether you are going to find an instructor for real "lessons" or just let her fiddle around.

BACKGROUND

Keyboards
The cheaper keyboard keys are just ON/OFF switches. When the key is pressed, the note plays only one sound. Often the keys are not the proper width, either. Sometimes there is a max number of keys (aka sometimes called mutil-timbres/voices) that can be pressed at once, limiting the chords, melody, and harmony.

The next level up is what's called "Velocity Sensitive" keys. These detect the attack/release of the keys, and play slightly different sounds for the start-middle-end of a note. They are pretty much just spring loaded. They "sound" better, but don't help in some areas, like finger strength. They can allow some form of what is called "expression"...sort of "how" the keys are pressed.

These both will enable you to learn to read music, find the notes on the keyboard, and get started.

But they are not very helpful at allowing a person to easily transition to a real piano.

Why? The piano keyboards (and keyboards with "weighted keys") are heavier and require much more force than a spring loaded keyboard.
They require finger strength. Developing finger strength is kind of like weight lifting. It takes a while to train your fingers so that they can effortlessly and quickly press the keys.
So a weighted keyboard or real piano is a MUST in this area, for a serious student.

MIDI
Almost everything (except a real piano...and there are exception here too) offer a MIDI interface. This is a way to sort of connect a computer and a keyboard. It can be used in a variety of ways:
a) Capture what's being played on the keyboard onto the computer, in the form of Notes on a staff
b) Present notes on a staff on the screen, have the student play it, have the computer "listen" to what is being played, and point out the mistakes
c) Play Along - Play all but the piano part, and have the student fill in the piano (EX: Band in a Box, Garage Band etc.,)
d) Lots of other things.

There are a LOT of instructional programs out now that run on a computer and interact with MIDI keyboards. This is also a consideration.

Headphones
Both good and bad.
It can make things quieter around the house and allow more flexible practice times (early Sat morning etc.,), but can also allow a student to "sluff off" if they know their parents aren't listening.

Lessons
As far as lessons, most good teachers want the students to have a real piano or weighted keyboard, for building finger strength. Of those that don't require it at first, they usually want it within 6-12 months. It is very frustrating to both the teacher and the student, when the student practices at home on a "toy" keyboard, and goes to the studio for the lesson and tries to repeat what he/she learned on a real piano. Before buying a keyboard, I would find an instructor and get THEIR recommendation. This may prevent you from buying 2 keyboards.
Cost is around $25-$35/HALF-hour YMMV.

Where to Buy
There are a couple of places that can help with the cost, and still get you a good instrument:
1) Craigs list - but you have to know what you are looking for...again, an instructor can help you sort things out
2) MusicGoRound - deals in used instruments (one at Wads/Bowles Lakewood; the other at Hampden/Tower Aurora) they get nice "used" gear in their and sell it at reasonable prices
3) Guitar Center - has everything, but almost all is new

Will she Stick With it ?
It is always frustrating to a parent to buy something and then see it tossed in a corner 3-6 months from now. Ask many parents who let their kids try out for grade school band. They are generally required to buy instruments (sometimes renting with a 1-year contract is an option...it depends). EX: A trumpet is about $800-ish with the extras (insurance , stands, mutes, etc.) After the 1st semester when the kid is no longer interested, it sits in the closet...but the 1 year contract of rental payments keep going (or worse if you bought it).
If you "bought" it and try to sell it, you'll only get 1/3->to 1/2 of what you paid (even less at MusicGoRound) (A BAD thing)

Or ...she can't put it down and in a few years will outgrow it and need a better model. (really a GOOD thing)

Here is where I suggest "used" equipment. It is better quality for the same $$$ as a lesser featured newer instrument, without breaking the bank.
If the kid gets bored, you can usually sell it for about what you paid.
If the kid outgrows it, you can STILL sell it for about what you paid and upgrade to a better model.


Conclusion:

It's kind of up to what YOU want the goal to be.
a) learn how to read music - any sort of MIDI keyboard (and associated computer programs) would be good for this
b) learn to play the piano - weighted keyboard & instructor
c) just have a toy that she can make noise/music with on her own - anything will work


If you are SURE you are going to get an instructor, find the instructor first, and talk to them about
a) Your goals (reading, playing piano, etc.)
b) Your budget
c) What HE/SHE recommends as a "starter" instrument
d) Do YOU go to the studio, or does the instructor come to your HOUSE ?
e) Policy on missed/cancelled lessons
f) Teaching Methods - Are they teaching piano fundamentals? or just music reading/playing ?
g) Who else do you know that is using this instructor ? Do they like them and why/why not ?

Note: I've been in (and AM in) bands, taught music lessons, play piano, play mallets (xylophone/vibes), and play drums for years.
All my kids play instruments and started with good "used" equipment.
I promised to upgrade them if they stuck with it....and I kept my promise.

Feel free to PM me if you have questions or would like to talk in more detail.
I'd like to help you as much as I can.

Irving
10-11-2013, 10:52
I think we'll go as light as possible to gauge her interest, then doing a more serious evaluation from there. Great tips.