Recommended Keyboard Instruments
Part 1: Size
Every semester, I receive questions from beginner students’ parents regarding digital pianos. Some people ask to get it for the first time for their kid, who just has just started to take lessons. Others want to upgrade the existing one, because it has become too small or the touch is not great or other reasons. ( Please also read: Should I Get Piano OR Keyboard? from the earlier post) There are literally hundreds of digital piano products on the market nowadays. I can imagine many people, especially who are new to piano lessons, are totally overwhelmed. What piano brand or feature is good? What size? What kind of special features does the keyboard need to have? Here, I would like to share some of the tips as a classical trained performer and a long experienced teacher.
Very small model
There are from the “toy piano” size to the real piano size. I would not prefer having the student, even if for 5 years old, to practice on the toy piano. Yes, it is a great tool to get to know what the “piano” is, and I remember back in my childhood, I was having great fun with it. Once the kid starts learning the basics of piano playing, then it is another story. We teachers encourage all the students to use both hands on the keyboard, so the toy piano is unfortunately not enough due to the range issue.
61 keys model
So, there are three keyboard sizes in general. The smallest starts with 61 keys ( there are smaller range than this, but I would not prefer to use, unless you have a strong reason to do so). That is exactly 5 octaves. It is good enough to explore a good range by a young kid’s both hands. This may be a very basic to start A of the piano lessons, probably cost effective as well. There is a downside to it, though. The regular piano’s left side ( which we call “the lowest note”) begins with “A” or “La” pitch, that is not the same with the 61 key piano. The latter’s is “C”/”Do”, so the kid may get confused when she or he comes to the lesson and tries to play around in that lower range. Due to the size limit, the student may not experience the maximum pitch range ( such as the powerful lowest note or the cute highest note; those are usually very appreciated by smaller kids)
76 keys model
Then the next is a 76 keys model. This has appx. 6 octaves. Wider range, more keys. The cost is a little bit higher, but not as much as a 88 keys model. The lowest note is “E”/”Mi” and the highest is “G”/”Sol”. I have seen many students in the past with this model. They were in usually the upper-begginner to the entry-intermediate level. It was fine until suddenly they started complaining that they did not practice enough on certain pieces because those had the wider range than their digital keyboard at home did. In fact, there are so many piano course books that explores the lowest ( the left-end) and the highest notes to inspire a student’s musicality. And it is very fun. So I often times wish that they could also do it at home.
88 keys model
Finally, the 88 keys model gives a player the full opportunity for all the piano repertoires. This is the same size with the acoustic piano. If you have the right touch-sensitive one with this model, you can use this for a long time. I have seen many adult students start right from this model, simply because the former models are too small for them and they have a vision to learn advanced music such as Mozart and Beethoven. ( Or even pop music requires the wide pitch range) Personally, I strongly recommend for younger beginners to have this, simply because this is the maximum performance to the piano learning and if you buy the right one, you do not have to keep replacing with the larger size. >>Continue reading to Digital Piano Recommendation for Lessons 2 >>