It’s really possible to start playing the piano with just a keyboard, rather than an acoustic or digital piano. Just make sure you get set up correctly and with all of the appropriate keyboard accessories to help you succeed.
Many students are learning to play the piano using a keyboard or digital piano. Keyboards are really a great option and if you get a good one, it will have a very authentic feel and sound. You can read here about my favorite keyboard to recommend to piano students, the Yamaha P215. It’s a great deal because it comes with a stand and a bench, which are a necessity when playing a portable instrument.
Having a few keyboard accessories on hand will greatly enhance your piano-playing experience at a keyboard. Things like a stand, a bench and a pedal are crucial to your success, but you’ll also enjoy having headphones and a few other gadgets.
1. Bench and Stand
If your keyboard did not come with a stand or a bench, these 2 items are going to be the most important things to acquire as soon as possible. It is really important to sit a the right height at a piano. It’s tempting to want to put a keyboard on a table and to use a regular chair, but you will have no way to adjust the height with this set up. I see students get into a lot of bad habits without a bench and stand. Not to mention, it’s really easy to get injuries like tendonitis or carpal tunnel if your hands aren’t at the right level.
For a bench and a stand, you don’t need anything fancy. A bench like this one will do the trick:
For a stand, the most basic option is an “X” stand like this one:
However, you might prefer other styles of stands. There are more heavy-duty options that have a similar look as the X stand but are a little more stable. If you want your keyboard to have a more permanent look in your home, you might consider a wooden stand that will make your keyboard look a bit more like a piece of furniture. These have a really nice, sleek look.
This bench and stand combo is a good deal and worth checking out.
If the pedal that came with your keyboard looks different than the one pictured above, you’ll want to get this one instead. The pedal that comes with most keyboards doesn’t really do the trick. It’s small and a much different shape than a pedal on a piano. They often slide around while you are using them, which can get frustrating. This type of pedal is much more substantial and will make a big difference.
A sustain pedal looks and feels more like what you would find on an acoustic piano. There is a lot of technique involved in pedaling at the piano, so having something fairly authentic is a must. A sustain pedal is usual under $30, so not a huge investment and something that will really improve your piano-playing experience.
One of the big advantages of using a keyboard or digital instrument is that you can use headphones. Usually piano practicing adds a fun musical background to your home. But, sometimes it’s nice when students can plug in headphones while other family members are sleeping, on the phone or have other competing sounds going on. Some students practice really well and kind of get into a “zone” with headphones on.
I have 6 pairs of these Yamaha headphones in my studio. I’ve had them for over 5 years now, they all get daily use and they’re holding up great!
Most headphones need an adaptor like the ones pictured above in order to plug into the keyboard or digital piano. These are super inexpensive, so it might be nice to have a few around. They do seem to wear out over time and cause static or distorted sound in the headphones. And since they’re small, they often disappear to the bottom of the pencil jar or into pockets. I just purchased 2 of these sets of 3. With 6 new adaptors around, we should be set for a while!
This is a handy gadget that allows you to plug your instrument into your iPad. I most often use it to run the Piano Maestro app or to notate music on my iPad using the Notion app.
These cables have MIDI connectors on 1 end and a lightening adaptor on the other end. This means that running the apps mentioned above is tapping into the your keyboard’s MIDI, rather than relying on audio from the iPad’s microphone. This provides a much more accurate and reliable experience using these apps.
6. Audio Cable
I always keep an audio cable plugged into the main digital piano that I teach on. I often plug my phone, computer or Kindle into it to play audio through the speakers of the piano. My students and I are always searching for YouTube clips of piano performances, so it’s nice to get a good sound through the piano when we play a video. When music is playing through the piano’s speakers, it’s really easy for students to play along on the piano. In my preschool music class, I always play our playlist from my computer through the piano speakers. It really has the best quality sound and I have a lot of control over the volume.
Once again, you’ll probably need the same adaptor that you’d need for headphones in order to plug an audio cable into your keyboard.
So there you have it. These 6 basic and fairly inexpensive items will greatly improve your keyboard experience. Is there anything else that you find useful at your keyboard? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!
You might also be interested in:
- The Best Keyboard For Beginners
- 9 Apps For Learning And Practicing Piano
- Learn To Play The Piano With Flowkey (An online app with hundreds of piano tutorials.)
- The Best Places To Buy Piano Sheet Music
- How To Improve Your Piano Sight Reading Skills
- 3 Resources For Adults Who Want To Play Piano