A family member recently asked what would be a good beginner keyboard to get for a child – one that has educational value and isn’t a toy. In this article, we’ll discuss an appropriate instrument choice that will enhance and grow with a child’s musical exploration.
Being a big kid myself, I decided to look up the word “toy” to get some clarification. Although there are many definitions of the word, the one I found applicable in this particular case was this: something that serves for or as if for diversion, rather than for serious practical use.
So if serious, practical use is what we’re going for, the first keyboard that springs to mind is the PSR-E453.
The PSR-E453 is an all-round keyboard which is ideal as a starter instrument, yet is also a robust alternative for experienced players looking for advanced features for live performance and/or composing.
Now I could fill this article talking about ALL the great features the 453 has, but I’ll just focus on the essentials, starting with one of the most important of all: the instrument “Voices.” In Yamaha keyboard lingo, a Voice is essentially an instrument – so whether you are into pianos, strings, horns or percussion, this keyboard has you covered with over 750 Voices! This is especially important for kids, because the more Voices, the more possibilities for inspiration.
Next up would be the touch sensitive 61-key keyboard. This is definitely one of the biggies, considering it’s what your fingers are going to be playing on, day in and day out. As a piano teacher, I consider touch sensitive keys to be of paramount importance, and here’s why: Nearly every piece of music ever written has a dynamic range, meaning that notes get softer and louder. A touch sensitive keyboard is important because the keys register velocity. Basically, the harder you hit them, the louder the sound, making for a more compelling and dynamic performance. (The PSR-E453 even gives you the ability to adjust the touch sensitivity to suit each individual player.)
The last educational feature I’ll mention is the Yamaha Education Suite – which is essentially a built-in teacher’s assistant. One of my favorite functions is the ability to practice one hand of a song alone while the instrument plays along with the other.
WAITING mode is also incredibly useful as it pauses the accompaniment (backing tracks) until you correctly play the notes indicated on the display. (By the way, this is an exclusive Yamaha feature). There’s even a mode called MINUS ONE that lets you play a piano part start-to-finish, and then grades you at the end.
It’s also worth noting that the PSR-E453 incorporates a Chord Dictionary for learning nearly any chord, as well as a display that actually shows the notes on the staff.
Click here to view the full line of Yamaha portable keyboards.