I bought a second-hand MIDI controller keyboard recently hoping to be able to plug it in to my Windows laptop and play away. It has not been as easy as I hoped, and I have not been able to get my laptop to make a single sound so far. (I have tried several solutions which were either too complicated or just did not work.)

What I am looking for is a simple software package that will allow me to play my MIDI controller keyboard, like a simple standalone keyboard/piano. I don't need recording/editing/etc. (at least not at the moment, I am still a beginner).

What I do need, is for the software to be free, and the instructions to be clear and easy to follow for an absolute beginner (for example, I do not understand terms like VST and DAW that I have seen elsewhere).

I found an equivalent answer for Ubuntu, and I would like a similar answer to allow playing it on Windows: https://askubuntu.com/questions/147052/step-by-step-to-run-a-midi-keyboard-input-device-12-04


1 Answer 1


First make sure that Windows is receiving MIDI from your keyboard. If you are connecting through USB you might need to install drivers, or do some setup. Google your keyboard's model and check the manual.

As for free stand-alone apps for Windows, two options are:

I do strongly recommend you to get familiar with a DAW (you can get Reaper, the demo version has no limits, or the free host VSTHost) and VSTs since that will increase your options by a large margin. It's very simple stuff and after one or two tutorials you'll be ready to go.

  • Virtual Piano worked, thanks for that! I will look into DAWs as you suggested. I tried getting reaper to work but as soon as I installed it, there was a big warning saying that it is not free, which scared me and I quit it, but I'll give it another try, as you say that the demo is unlimited. Thanks again!
    – Takku
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 16:21
  • 2
    @Takku It is not free, but the demo version lasts forever and it is not limited. Reaper is very good and cheap though, if you like it you can buy it to support the awesome devs (DAWs that cheap and good are not common). Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 16:59

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