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Good keyboard for a 7 year old?

(21 Posts)
WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Fri 22-Jul-11 13:29:37

DS has been offered keyboard lessons at school next term (7 years old, Year 3), we will need to buy a keyboard, the one they have recommended is discontinued (Yamaha E313), there's the odd one on Ebay but not many out there. Can anyone recommend a good alternative, or give some tips as to what features to look for? Thank you.

Pleb1969 Fri 22-Jul-11 18:09:09

Argos? That's where we got ours from!

musicposy Sat 23-Jul-11 01:09:42

How much are you willing to spend?

Give me a figure and I'll take you from there smile

Personally I wouldn't touch Argos with a barge pole for a keyboard, sorry Pleb. They charge way more than lots of dedicated music shops for very cheap and basic stuff, on the whole. OP, let me know what you want to spend and I will recommend what and a selection of where (and I have no vested interest in anywhere, I'm just a keyboard and piano teacher).

shock that you were recommended a discontinued keyboard, btw. Not that the one you've been recommended is bad, far from it; quite a few of my pupils have had this model in the last few years and it's fitted the bill very nicely. Just that a good teacher should be keeping their eye on the ball of new developments as the technology moves so quickly in this game and models are discontinued on a fairly frequent basis as new technology overtakes. You don't want to be buying into old technology - unless you can pick one up for £50 on ebay and then I'd say it would be worth it.

The main features you need are -
Full sized keys. At least 5 octaves - 61 keys. This will suffice but 6 octaves - 76 keys - is better, though you lose out in terms of portablilty.

Good quality sound. Try a few out on piano sound. You will notice some sound much better and more authentic than others, Generally, the newer the model, the better the sound. Yamaha and Roland both have good sounds generally. Don't touch Casio - cheap rubbish for kids to mess around on. Play one and compare the sound to a Yamaha and you'll see what I mean.

Touch sensitive. You'll need to spend probably over £150 to get this if you're buying new, but you may as well not bother without. A keyboard with no touch sensitivity will barely get you to Grade 1.

At least 32 note polyphony.

And if you can run to it, the ability to record to the keyboard and a registration memory. Once, again. though it's not essential at first you'll find yourself needing to upgrade very quickly without this.

If you give me a price bracket I can talk about more specific models. Hope this helps!

Jesusgirl Sat 23-Jul-11 09:06:28

We got a Yamaha e323. I'm no expert in pianos/keyboards but I think it's an excellent keyboard for my ds. It also teaches him to play, there're stored pieces which he can learn as the keyboard shows him what keys to press etc.

I got it brand new on eBay last year for £120 from someone who got it for Xmas and didn't want it. It came with a stand as well. I thought it was good bargain!

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Sat 23-Jul-11 12:01:56

Thank you all for your replies. I hadn't really thought about the budget, in as far as I didn't have any idea how much these things cost, but bearing in mind that we have a younger DC who may also use it and I'd quite like to brush up my ancient piano playing skills too, I don't mind going up to about £200. Can always sell it again if none of it works out! But this would need to include a carrying case and possibly a stand (our kitchen table is round, so might not be able to use it at the table)

As far as the recommending an out of date model goes, these are lessons at school by a visiting teacher, the school may well have just sent out the same info from last year, so I will give the teacher the benefit of the doubt on that one!

It will need to be portable, I would like to be able to carry it to school, it is only 10 mins walk and actually takes longer to drive by the time you've got everything/everyone in and out of the car and parked. We are quite tight for space at home too, so I think 5 octaves sounds better for us. Musicposy - what is polyphony?

I have done a bit of googling, as I would like to go to a shop and look at / try some out, there is a Yamaha stockist about 15 miles from me, so I think I might go over there and have a look.

Pleb1969 Sat 23-Jul-11 16:25:19

Ooh! ooh! I know this one! When you're talking about an instrument it means you can play more than one note simultaneously. (eldest DS has just done a music project!)

musicposy Sat 23-Jul-11 17:40:44

Yes, polyphony is how many notes it can sound at once. 32 sounds ridiculously large at first, after all, you only have 10 fingers! However, the accompaniment will take up quite a few of those when it is on, or, if you imagine later on playing 3 ten note chords in quick succession, you will quickly use them up. Once it reaches the max it starts cutting some out which can spoil the sound - you're fairly safe on 32 but only 16 and you will notice.

The new Yamaha Piaggero series is fantastic but a little above your budget and also more than 5 octaves, and it does sound like more than that would be a pain for you to transport. However, worth having a go on the Piaggero NVP 80 and then you will hear what a really nice piano sound on a keyboard is like and it will give you a benchmark for comparison. Music shops often push Roland - I suspect they get more commission. I have a few pupils with Rolands and they are very nice indeed but I do think you have to pay a bit more for what you get. My keyboards (I have a few as I upgrade very frequently blush ) are all Yamahas nowadays. My newest is a Yamaha Piaggero NVP80 but I nearly bought the PSR 423 I've linked to lower down.

Yamaha's keyboard series are 3 letter numbers with a 2, 3 or 4 at the start. Don't go for less than a 3 if you can, the 200 series wont be enough. The ones starting with 400 will offer you more. The 323 that Jesusgirl talks about is linked here but it is an entry level keyboard; if you can run to it I would instead go for this one because it has a registration memory and the extra features mean you won't have to upgrade for much longer. The e323 is a very good entry level keyboard, but it is only a beginner keyboard and if he does well you will need to upgrade once through the relative beginner stages. However, he's young so that could be 3 years, by which time you may want to do so anyway - and keyboards have a relatively good resale value on ebay, especially Yamahas. So really, that's your decision as to what route you want to take.

If you have an idea of model, ebay can be a fantastic place to buy one. Then if it doesn't work out, you can resell and have lost nothing as it won't devalue as fast as new.

musicposy Sat 23-Jul-11 17:43:30

Just something else I forgot. If the E313 has been recommended, the E323 is more or less the newer model of that. So that might influence your decision as it will be the nearest to what you've been told.

snorkie Sat 23-Jul-11 18:18:20

hey musicposy, Would you know what sort of price would I be looking at if I wanted to buy a keyboard for a reasonably good pianist to take to university? I was wondering about an 18th birthday pressie, but not sure how many £££ needed. Any model recommendations would be welcome too.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Sat 23-Jul-11 21:02:55

Thanks Musicposy you have been really helpful, I have a much clearer idea of what we're looking at now, I'm going to have a browse on Ebay as well as go to the Yamaha shop, and take it from there. I'm inclined to think the E323 is what we would probably go for, and upgrade if necessary, at the moment we've got no idea how he's going to take to it.

musicposy Sat 23-Jul-11 22:06:19

WhoKnows I think I might choose this course of action in your shoes too. Glad to help!

snorkie pianist rather than keyboard? If so then looking for weighted or semi-weighted keys, maybe 76 minimum will be more important than the other gadgets on it. However, you'll pay more for what is in essence a digital piano or a stage piano than you will a keyboard (though some keyboards try to combine the two to a certain extent and these hybrids might be your best bet if you can get cheap enough). Playing piano on a straight keyboard is not ideal -but better than having nothing! I was very grateful to be bought my first keyboard when I couldn't afford/ had no space to put a piano.

snorkie Sat 23-Jul-11 22:21:51

yes pianist musicposy and thanks for your thoughts. I know the weighted keys are important and a good number of keys too. I did suspect this would mean more ££ but was trying to judge whether it was actually doable or not. I was thinking he might be rather bereft of piano as he plays quite a bit to relax and I don't think having to go & find a practise room somewhere else to play would be quite the same and a keyboard might be a reasonable compromise. It's not needed for another year at least, but I think I too will have to look out for something second hand. Do such things come up second hand much? Piccolo would have been so much easier!

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Sat 23-Jul-11 22:52:57

Thanks everyone for your help.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Mon 25-Jul-11 13:16:31

Yikes! I went to the shop yesterday, they are a lot bulkier than I thought they would be. I am now concerned about where we will be able to put one, I had been thinking we would store it in a cupboard and get it out when needed, but really i suppose it needs to be very readily available for practice. We haven't got space anywhere that we could keep it out on a stand, I am beginning to think this will be a nonstarter after all.

So, another question, about how much time will need to be spent practising, how often and for how long?

snorkie Mon 25-Jul-11 14:59:59

10mins a day, or at least 5x per week would be a good aim for a beginner I would think, but many children do more than this too. Also, many do less, but they don't mostly stay the course. It's fairly obvious, but there's a fairly strong correlation between how much regular practice is done and speed of progress. It's best if you can somehow get into a practice regime where practice is part of the daily routine as much as cleaning teeth for example, but this is very much do as I say, not as I do advice as I've never achieved it with my dc. It is more difficult if the instrument isn't easily accessible too.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Mon 25-Jul-11 16:31:43

Hmm, thanks, Snorkie - I'm still not sure! We could probably squeeze one onto the landing, not sure if DS will be up for that much practice. The real problem I've got is that the school needs you to commit to paying for a year's worth of lessons and as he hasn't tried it yet that's bothering me, what if he hates it? They have to pay the council for the teacher a year upfront.

A friend has just offered to lend us an old keyboard to try out so I might take them up on that, see if he likes it over the summer, school said I need to confirm or not by the first day of next term.

musicposy Mon 25-Jul-11 16:39:56

Doing practice daily, or as near to daily as you can get, is more important than length of time spent. As snorkie says, 10 mins will be fine at the start.

My most successful pupils fall into two camps. One is those who have a regular time they practice tied into the school day eg always after breakfast, always the minute they come in from school. The other camp puts me in mind of a pupil who once told me "I don't practice." "You don't?" I said, because it certainly sounds like she does. "No, she said, I just play one of my pieces every time I go past the keyboard." Children like this, who treat it as a toy they literally can't leave alone, generally do very well indeed.
But sorry to break it to you, keeping it stored away is not really a recipe for success - you'd have to be very disciplined at making yourself get it out for your DS every day at the right time.

Could you put it on the dining room table and then move it to the floor when you need to use the table? I do this with my main keyboard as our house is very small. DD2 also has her keyboard in her bedroom. I have stands but only because I need them for teaching; we don't have room to put the keyboard on a stand permanently.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Mon 25-Jul-11 16:50:41

Table is round and not terribly big, so it might not sit very well on it, but we could try that. I do keep thinking I would like to replace it with a rectangular table, maybe that would force my hand! I have got a bit of space nearby where it could stand on its end when it wasn't being used.

As for routines, DS does like them, we are going to rejig ours a bit next term anyway when he goes into KS2, with more homework etc so that would be good timing.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Thu 08-Sep-11 18:34:38

Just to update, we ended up with the Yamaha PSR-E333, which is more expensive still but it's lovely! Bought a cheap stand for it on Amazon, found a corner for it, managed to lug it to school and back for the first time today without giving myself a hernia.

I am frustrated by my own inability to remember anything from my piano lessons of years ago though, so off to browse Amazon for some sort of refresher book.

maggiethecat Sat 10-Sep-11 00:38:31

Sounds like success Whoknows - good for you!

What is the difference (if any) between piano and keyboard lessons?

Dd has just started piano lessons at school and I now have to go and find her a piano (cart before the horse). Was wondering if a keyboard will do nicely - think I read somewhere that I would have to consider something with weighted keys.

Musicposy, do you know what kind of price range we should be looking at to get some kind of decent piano for a beginner?

Spoke with one man on the phone today and he says that many parents who come into his shop have this magical figure of £500 of which he was very derisory.

Not sure how I will even know what is a good instrument so anyone could tell me anything! Think I will take dd along and let her have some input about what sounds good to her.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Sat 10-Sep-11 08:22:16

I'm not sure what the difference is really, we aren't offered piano at school, would be nice not to have to lug the keyboard to and fro I must say!

A friend was recently in your position and unsure where to look and what she needed to know about pianos, she spoke to a piano tuner who gave her some advice and found someone who was getting rid of a good one so she got that. No idea how much she paid for it though.

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