Buying your child’s first keyboard can be a very daunting task, and deciding how much to spend and what type of keyboard to buy could leave you feeling a little deflated.
Not only are there hundreds of makes and models to choose from, but all at very different prices from each other. Do you spend less than £/$100, or should you spend more in case it doesn’t last long enough? How many features does it need to have and how many keys?
All of these questions and concerns are completely normal and understandable, and we are here to help you decide what’s right for you and your child with our definitive guide on buying a portable keyboard.
How much should I spend?
The price for a decent keyboard for your child to begin learning starts at around £/$50. For this you could consider the RockJam 54 note keyboard which is a great place to start.
54 keys is more than enough for your child to begin learning, as they won’t need to go any higher or lower for a good couple of years. The RockJam 54 also has plenty of features to last a very long time.
There are 100 keyboard sound effects and 100 rhythms. As you can see, that is a lot! It also has an interactive LCD screen which is nice and bright and easy to read and use. The keyboard itself is very easy for a child to navigate around, as all the sounds and rhythms are clearly displayed across the top.
This is a nice compact portable keyboard, and as such is very light. This allows your child to put it wherever they want, and can easily be moved around the house – and we all know that children like to move around a lot!
For just a little bit more money you could consider the next level up in the RockJam series, and that’s the RockJam RJ661. This has 61 keys and more demo songs. However, it is very similar and the biggest difference is the extra keys.
The extra keys would certainly get used after a certain amount of time, and for around £/$80 you are also going to get a stool, stand and headphones, which is certainly worth considering.
How many keys should it have?
The standard amount of keys on a keyboard is 61 – which is absolutely fine. Any more than this is a bonus, but not really needed for your child to learn. The minimum amount of keys however should be no less than 54.
Due to the nature of how a keyboard is played, it’s important to remember that it is very different to piano which utilises a lot more keys when reaching certain levels. However, keyboards are typically played by using rhythms and chords in the left hand to imitate a real life band. Whilst the left hand plays chords for the backing track, the right plays the melody over the top.
A good example of this would be playing the theme song from Titanic to a nice ballad rhythm along with a flute sound for the melody. Keyboards allow you to have so much fun and create such an amazing full sound, and all using a fairly central part of the keys.
How many features should it have?
Keyboards can come with anything from a hundred sounds and rhythms to literally thousands. So how many does your child need?
Well, very young children don’t really need many at all in order to keep them busy for a long time. The RockJam 54 and 61 key portable keyboards offer more than enough with 100 sounds and rhythms.
Typically the standard core sounds you would like to see on a keyboard are piano, strings, electric piano, organ, guitar and flute. The RockJam has all of these and much more. The same goes for the rhythms with 100 being more than enough to ensure your child can play any song with the appropriate backing.
Ranging from swing to ballad, from pop to rock – they are all there!
The RockJam keyboards also come with record and playback function, which is a great way to have fun listening back to your child performance. It can also be used as a learning tool to improve on any mistakes.
Do I need any accessories when buying a keyboard?
It’s usually a good idea to buy headphones so your child can play to their hearts content and not disturb anyone in the house or your neighbours. Although there volume control on a keyboard, it makes sense to have some headphones in case your child likes to play a little loud – and let’s face it, what child doesn’t! When you’re buying headphones for a child, remember to keep them super-light as they can cause neck strain. It’s also worth looking for headphones that don’t allow your child to damage their hearing. Models to consider include Griffin Kazoo MyPhones and Puro Sound BT2200.
You will also need to consider getting a stand for the keyboard to rest on, as well as a stool to sit at. The RockJam RJ661 comes with all three of these things, so might save you a lot of time by getting the full package.