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My 6 year old is interested in learning piano, so I'm looking to buy a keyboard for her. I'm also interested in picking back piano myself and trying my hand at electronic music. I have a computer ready to go for the purpose, and have been researching MIDI controllers. But I worry that having a device that requires being hooked up to a computer to play music may be overly complex for my 6 year old (or my other 3 year old daughter) to play.

Any good recommendations for a MIDI controller, keyboard, or hybrid that could fulfill the needs of both the kids and myself in our household? Completely open on key count, semi-weighted vs. full-weighted vs. not, etc.

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    I wouldn't worry too much about the complexity. Most music apps will remember the way they are set up, so you should be able to make it as simple as (1) plug in the keyboard (or leave it permanently plugged in), (2) click an icon on the desktop to launch the app, (3) start playing. – user19146 Jul 3 '16 at 1:09
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    Please note that "Questions seeking recommendations for specific equipment are off-topic, because they are primarily opinion based. Instead, describe the required function and setting in which the equipment will be used, and ask what you should look for to achieve that." You might want to edit the second paragraph of your question to follow that guideline - we can't recommend specific devices, but a general question about "what features too look for in a keyboard for a (very) young beginner" should be fine. – user19146 Jul 3 '16 at 1:13
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    Many stand-alone electronic keyboards can also be used as MIDI controllers. With one of those, your child can play the piano without using the computer, and then you can use your DAW with the keyboard easily as well. – Kevin - Reinstate Monica Jul 3 '16 at 1:49
  • I built a computer for my kids to use so they would not smash mine to bits. They were 3 and 6 and they had no problem manipulating floppy disks and changing the screen color back and forth from 256 color to 16m depending on the needs of the educational game of the moment. So long as you trust them to not break stuff, if they can learn the piano, they can manage to launch a midi app from a shortcut. – Yorik Jul 7 '16 at 15:17
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If your daughter has to practise on it, the ideal would be to have an accoustic piano. Then, if you want to use it for electronic music maybe you can have a look at pianos with "silent" mechanism. I know Yamaha makes them; I don't know about other brands, but probably they do also. They are normal accoustic pianos that incorporate a mechanism that, when active, makes the piano work as an electronic keyboard with headphones. Just make sure the silent mechanism has a MIDI / USB output thet fits your needs.

If you don't like this, or you cannot afford it, you have the option of a digital piano. But if you buy a digital piano for your daughter, even if she is only 6 and just a beginner, please note: it is of utmost importance that the keyboard is fully weighted and 88 keys (not smaller, and not lighter).

There is the option of hybrid pianos also. But they are expensive (not really much cheaper than accoustic pianos... at least in my country) and, for your daughter, an accoustic will always be better than anything electronic.

In your case, I'd say give always priority to your daughter's needs as piano student, and buy the best piano you can afford in terms of sound, mechanism and overall quality. For your electronic work you don't need a keyboard with tons of functions; you only need MIDI output capabilities, and you can do the rest via software with your computer.

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If you want your kids to practice a lot, it would probably be best to get an acoustic piano, and then transcribe into piano role on your computer (I use FL Studio, so using piano roll w/ mouse and keyboard is very easy, and I recommend it). Now, if you really want to play directly from piano to computer, I know there are electric pianos that can easily be made to play like a normal piano when disconnected from the computer and as midi input when connected. However, this would hinder your daughter later on once she got more mechanically advanced, making it preferable to upgrade. (ofc you could also get two keyboards, and I know there are pretty cheap ones you can use for midi out there, but that's up to you). Since you don't absolutely need the piano to make music (and/or you could get a cheap midi keyboard), and it would probably help your daughter to get an acoustic piano, I would agree with George, in that you should prioritize your daughter.

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