9

For my kid, we want to buy a first piano keyboard.
There are nice options under 200 EUR.

But now we have a dilemma:

  • do we need helping lights in keys
  • do we need to connect to Tablet (we don't have iPad, but Android)?

In range around Yamaha PSR-E363, Casio CTK-3500,
or with lights: Yamaha EZ-220 (or some better), Casio L or LK series.

  • 2
    Without. More importantly, choose one where the keys are of the norm width, not narrower, unless your kid is really little like 7 or so, it builds sorely needed muscle memory, and if the kid should play piano, consider investing in a pressure-sensitive one (digital piano) instead of not (home organ, keyboard). But the key width is most important, and at least three, better four octaves (49 keys, is lowest for long-term usable). – mirabilos Sep 4 at 23:33
22

Without. Point blank.

Lights look fun to start with, but a beginner will end up watching them rather than learning to read.

Note, you can usually switch them off, so you don't have to choose a keyboard that doesn't have them.

I have no recommendations on mobile teaching apps, I've never used them.

  • The lights have a very little learning overhead since you don't have to learn how the sheet music maps to the keys but its super cumbersome to actually use since you have to watch it loop multiple times to memorize the keys. With sheet music you can stop and look at one section taking as much time as you need before moving on. – Qwertie Sep 5 at 7:17
13

Don't bother with lights. The player will be forever chasing them. In fact, for a few weeks I recommend not trying to read dots either. Just get used to the instrument, what it can do, and have fun.

I would hope that pound for pound, a keyboard without lights would have other, better features.Most will have speakers or a headphone port. Buying pre-loved will generally get you a far better instrument (my opinion!). And DON'T write letter names on the keys - or even use stickers!

  • I wrote note letters on my old casio keyboard with a whiteboard marker and then after a few weeks rubbed them off. I feel it was quite helpful. – Qwertie Sep 3 at 23:57
  • @Qwertie - given that there are only 7 letters, in alphabetic order, and they're always in the same place - i.e. D is between the two black keys, there's little point. Do the black keys need marking too? – Tim Sep 4 at 6:01
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    Yes, of course I could memorize one key and then count the spaces away from it but its a whole lot faster to just write it down and remove it when you have memorized it. – Qwertie Sep 4 at 6:56
6

Its only my opinion, but my observations in the music store are such that they lead me to think the lights on these keyboards serve one purpose, to sell keyboards. I've never known any teachers that use them to teach with, and I've never met anyone that actually learned to play music that way, so in my opinion the lights are a sales gimmick but an effective one. Whether you wish to learn to play by ear, or you are interested in learning to sight read and play that way, I can't think of a way that the lights will help a person become a musician either as a solo player or a band member. But maybe some one knows an application I haven't thought of myself.

  • I agree that lights probably aren't useful for learning piano. I guess a possible application for a lighted keyboard would be to stand out in a band if you were performing with one. – Bladewood Sep 4 at 0:30
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    @Bladewood - yes, you'd stand out as the one who didn't really know what he was doing! – Tim Sep 4 at 6:17
4

Your question contains a crucial misunderstanding in the two words

piano keyboard

The defining feature of a piano keyboard is weighted keys, emulating the hammer mechanism of a real piano. Most teachers recommend learning with weighted keys, because otherwise kids get used to keys which take little-to-no force to press, and this makes it significantly harder for them to move to playing an actual piano.

As far as I can see, none of those keyboards have weighted keys. Keyboards with weighted keys are a bit more expensive.

So you need to think more carefully about how far you think your kids will go with playing the keyboard. If it's just going to be a toy they mess around with, then of course go as cheap as possible. But if they're going to be playing it more seriously and getting lessons, then get something which is a proper musical instrument to support their learning.

All the various gimmicks to plug in or light stuff up are just that - gimmicks. Don't bother.

  • Kawai ES110 is one option with weighted keys. The other options are way more accessible Yamaha PSR-E363 and Casio 3500 (cheapest solid with Android application). I know the range is not fully comparable but I have no idea will my son really be into it. – Vladimir Vukanac Sep 4 at 9:10
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    @VladimirVukanac I agree, something with weighted keys is the way to go. If you're looking for pure piano experience (just a few features like changing instruments, metronome, MIDI input and sustain and some other stuff), I would go with the one I have, Yamaha P-45. For what I want to do with it, it is really cheap, and it feels great to play on. – Shikkou Sep 4 at 9:18
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    @VladimirVukanac I've got a Yamaha too. If you can afford it, they're a nice bit of kit. The other option of course is to buy cheap now, and see how keen your son is. If he's still enthusiastic about playing in 6 months and going for lessons, then be prepared to upgrade to a proper one (like the P45), and he should get out of any bad habits fairly easily. But if he just plays with it for a couple of weeks and then loses interest, you've not spent too much on it. – Graham Sep 4 at 9:57
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    Good point in this answer. However, as a starter it makes sense not to spend a fortune. After kid establishes he wants to continue seriously, that's a good time to change, and I really don't think his touch will be too bad to change by then. I use Roland FP2 for stage work (and in the studio), and like the action on that. Maybe an 88 piano isn't necessary for a beginner kid? – Tim Sep 4 at 10:04
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    I'll add +1 to Yamaha option, Casio and Roland make similar priced/featured weighted keyboards. I'll also say BUY A GOOD STARTER INSTRUMENT. If you go cheap, and the player loses interest - its because you got a cheap instrument. I did not cheap out on my oldest's guitar or my 2nd child's keyboard. They both love to play - read music, improvise, etc. They never had formal lessons. If you go cheap, and the child struggles with the instrument, you did a disservice to yourself. The only (right) way to go cheap is go used - with an educated friend to identify broken features or damage. – Paul Sep 4 at 13:26
4

Lighed keys are unnecessary and counterproductive. For some serious piano learning an 88 key with hammer action is essential. Entry level digital pianos made by Yamaha, Kawai, Casio, Roland, Korg are available, but you have to double the budget. A Casio CDP-S100 is the cheapest option at the 360 Euro price and could run on alkaline batteries. Roland FP10, Yamaha P45 and Korg B1 are all around of the 400 euro level.

But for a first run a smaller 61 key keyboard with VELOCITY SENSITIVE KEYS is the minimum baseline. Even with a spring action the speed of the key press will affect the sound volume. Going for a Casio CTK 3500, or a CT-X700 a Yamaha CPT360 or PSR-E360 could be an idea. They have rhythms and nice sounds that could make more interesting the thing.

Another aspect of the lighted keyboard is that doesn't help to get the ear, because instead of associate a sound to a key it associates a light to a key, and anyway music teachers tells that looking at the keyboard it's not a good idea, one has to train the finger to find the correct distance. Actually one of my piano teacher made me practice with a cardboard kiding the keys sometimes. So is important to have standard sized keys.

Sight-reading is paramount to learn to play music especially classical, as with solfege, but lighted keys here are steering in another direction.

0

In my opinion, you should not consider buying a keyboard with key lights.

The lights do not help in any way to learn how to play keyboard. I would even say they distract from learning because your child will only watch the light patterns and try to "catch" the right keys in the right moment. It will not understand the connection between keys and corresponding tones, nor which fingers should be used to play melodies without cramping the hand.

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