Piano keyboard features that make playing enjoyable

So many different brands

After checking the different brands, you finally purchase your piano keyboard. Are you using the great features to enhance your practice and performance experiences? I could never hope to discuss every single attribute because there are so many variations in brands, and models within each brand, but there are some general features that apply to most, that really make life easier. Let us take a cursory look at models of some well known brands : Roland, Korg, Yamaha for beginners , Yamaha Portable Grand  and discuss some of these features.

Size

Keyboards are usually sold in sizes related to the number of keys: 61 keys, 76 keys, and 88 keys (full size). I do not recommend keyboards with less than 61 keys because the buyer outgrows this size very quickly, and will soon be heading back to the music store. In addition, the very small keyboards do not have good resale value.The choice is sometimes determined by cost, but consideration should also be given to intended use, and long term possibilities. 

Are you planning to:

  • perform on a big stage
  • use it for rehearsing a small group
  • accompany a congregation
  • play for your family and friends
  • travel overseas on tour
  • play to amuse yourself
  • play in a piano bar
  • use it for recording ?

This is just a general view as there are people who want a stage piano in their home, even though they live in a small space.

Which piano

Because of the music I play, I like to have a full 88-key instrument that I can play across several octaves. You have to play what feels and sounds good, and what makes you feel good. If you know that a 76- key is what you want, don’t settle for a 61- key.

Save your money until you can afford to buy the one you like. When you play a large keyboard you will feel like an expert.

The sustain pedal

When you are just learning to find notes, you might not pay much attention to this, but as you advance you are going to pedalneed it. Most piano keyboards come with sustain pedal which consist of a connecting cable to insert in the back, and a pedal which you can press, with your foot, at intervals to keep the sound connected. In an acoustic piano, your pedal action moves the damper from the strings which will then vibrate for a short while or until you release your foot. In an electronic keyboard, your pressing sends a signal “on” or “off” to the keyboard and this you will hear as you sustain or release. Some keyboards have a ‘sustain’ button on the panel instead of a pedal. I suggest you use a pedal for better control of the sustain function.

The tempo button

When you are learning, you will likely pause here and there to find your notes. It is best to consider playing in a regular tempo for practice. You can adjust the tempo button to very slow and as you improve your patterns and melodies to increase, using the arrows, until you reach a satisfactory tempo. The use of the tempo helps you to think quickly, and to strike your notes on time which results in you learning the piece quicker. Think of yourself as a member of an orchestra. Based on the tempo indicated by the conductor you will have to count and keep up with other members or they might ask you to leave. When practicing on your own , let your tempo button be your conductor.  It is a metronome in action and is usually heard as a click of some sort. Many keyboards give some option as to what type of click you want (drums or other percussion).

Voices

No this is not human voices. This is the name given to different instrument sounds which are sampled and stored in the keyboard. Make sure that you have a good piano sound that you like. Most times it is the default (the one that sounds when you power up). There can also be other fancy voices :

  •  electronic piano
  •  flute
  •  organ
  •  clarinet
  •  saxophone
  •  harpsichord  and others

Some keyboards have hundreds of voices and many ways to adjust the sound of each. For instance, you can bend the sound, add reverb, or change the timbre to your liking. Have fun playing around with the voices. Practice “Happy birthday” in different instruments and enjoy finding your favourite sound. Select different combinations of voices and tempo and watch your family dance around the house.Dancing time

Another feature might be the split voices, where you can split the keyboard to play piano (for example) in the right hand and bass guitar in the left. If you see a button called ‘dual voice‘, it usually means you can build using more than one sounds. Rather than play piano alone, you can add strings and play Moonlight Sonata.The piano and strings will sound simultaneously, maybe with a slight decay on the strings.

Style

The style refers to ‘musical style’ which can be one identifiable genre or a fusion of more than one genre. If you examine the style options you might see’: mambo,samba, reggae, soca, waltz, hip-hop and several others. You should get familiar with these and use them to practice your music. Watch this musician change styles, tempo, voices and light up the place with bossa nova sound of Besame Mucho . He is having a great time !!!!

Presets

Some keyboards, also have preset accompaniment. I do not recommend preset accompaniment because to me it feels likeyou are not really playing the music. You are not working left hand and right hand to produce the sounds you hear. What will happen to you when you are required to play other keyboards ?

Options

These descriptions are just some basic functions that can be found on your keyboard. As new models are manufactured there are more options within each of these functions. Gone are the days when you cannot make the time to practice because, deep down, you find practicing and learning new music absolutely boring. Many people have super keyboards with great sound and great rhythms, but they never try them out. Is that you ? If so, start loving your music again. Switch on that keyboard, find some new voice, new tempo, great style and enjoy the experience of quick learning of keyboard piano.

Thank you for stopping by. Please let me have your comments.

For further information visit https://mypianohobby.com

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25 Comments

  1. haiku67girl

    I enjoyed visiting this site. It not only breaks down the basics about learning how to play the piano as a hobby, but it also provides specific information about what kind of pianos to buy, such as considering the differences between a piano and a keyboard. I was taught piano at age 7 because my mother was a piano teacher; but as an adult, my husband gave me an KORG digital piano as a gift because he enjoyed hearing me play and it was affordable but with a lot more features to enhance the playing.  I also like the different categories offered to someone who is thinking about learning how to play and the type of commitment involved (like practicing to playing better) complete with a video tutorial – this is very helpful to beginners who may not be able to afford piano lessons upfront. The category ‘Piano Talk’ breaks down specific options that a person learning how to play can venture into: songwriting, why it’s a great hobby, the benefits of learning the instrument even considering a future career. Well thought out, great categories of subject matter and user-friendly to learn the basics plus a whole lot more, overall.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi, Thank you for your kind comments. I left my nine to five job to take up a career in music because whereas is the past there was only a piano, these days there are lots of options and lots of jobs on stage and online. I am a Korg girl too. Experiment with your keyboard. Change things around. Record yourself on audio or video. Attach beats or a drum machine. I am sure your husband will be delighted.

      Reply
  2. michael

    Wow, thank you for your post I liked it a lot.  I play multiple instruments and have been looking at keyboards thinking about buying one for a while now.  After reading your article I feel much more confident about picking one up and not making a bad purchase.  I was looking at the smaller more novelty type keyboards now I will go full sized for sure. Thanks again great information.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Yes Michael. As a musician you know how good it feels when your music sounds strong, and good and clear. The bigger keyboards make you feel like playing and never to stop. I know you will enjoy it. Thanks for you comments.

      Reply
  3. Paul

    Hi JJ,

    I haven’t played the piano for many years! When I was ten years old, I passed my grade one in music playing the piano. The two pieces I played were Onward Christian Soldiers and The British Grenadiers. Oh, how I practised! Every night after school. 

    We have a traditional upright piano in the music room, and both my teenage boys play. I was interested in the two pedals that we have on our piano are for and how to use them. Can you explain how these work? I want to pass this knowledge on to my boys.

    Many thanks,
    Paul

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      hi Paul, I have had my days of Onward Christian Soldiers and The British Grenadiers too. That was so long ago. i am glad that your boys are playing. There are so many careers and hobbies in music these days. Usually if a piano has 2 pedals, the one to the left ,while you face the keys, is the soft pedal. This you can use to play when you don’t want to disturb the whole house. The one on the right is the sustain pedal (damper). When you press this one, the notes continue to sound until you lift your foot. It is the action of the damper on the strings allowing them to vibrate longer. Thanks for your comments

      Reply
  4. Henry

    Hi Joy! Thank you very much for outlining these useful points.

    Picking an 88 keys will be a good investment. My music requires full size. Right now I have the money to buy a very small keyboard. And I was about to buy it, but I first went online to see what others recommend and I found your post. I better save my money until I can afford to buy the right one! Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Henry, that’s right. If you like the bigger keyboards and buy a small one you will regret it. Just hold on till you get the money. When you unwrap it and set your fingers down, you will be a happy man. Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  5. Dhayours

    I’m glad I came across your site , your site will really help me become a professional pianist although I’m a pianist. I must commend you for taking your time to share this article as you have done a great job identifying the components of a keyboard, what to expect and what to see when purchasing a keyboard. Thanks for sharing this information.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Dhayours, you are welcome. I hope you use the directions to make your piano playing a beautiful experience. Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  6. Simon

    Wow this Article reminded me of the days when I was a kid and I used to play the piano in my grandparents basement! I loved it even though I figure out I wasn’t really good at it ^^. Anyway, this is a very helpful and straight forward article about the piano keyboard and it certainly brought back some nice memories!

    Reply
  7. Simon Adams

    Wow this Article reminded me of the days when I was a kid and I used to play the piano in my grandparents basement! I loved it even though I figure out I wasn’t really good at it ^^. Anyway, this is a very helpful and straight forward article about the piano keyboard and it certainly brought back some nice memories!

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Simon, thanks. Things and times have changed and playing piano is now much easier and more fun. Maybe one day you should check it out. You might just surprise yourself. best wishes !!!

      Reply
  8. MahbubA2

    Hi Joy,

    Thank You very much for sharing such an informative article with all the necessary information about “Piano keyboard features that make playing enjoyable”

    Really this is an interesting article.This is the perfect article that I was looking for. I was thinking of buying a piano keyboard for my friend as his birthday gift. But I don’t know much about different types of piano.  i was looking for a guideline. Fortunately I came upon your article, and found the best guideline for me. I read through all the details about piano keyboard and it seems like 76-key will be perfect for my friend. I am thinking of buying a piano keyboard which is from Roland brand with 76-keys. Do you know what is the price of this keyboard and where can I find this?

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Mahbub, There are several kinds of Roland 76- key keyboards that are listed on the Amazon website. All the specifications are there and you can also see what they look like, what accessories are required, and the price of each. You can then go over to Youtube and watch someone play it and demonstrate the main features. It is quite nice of you to want to buy such a valuable gift for your friend. Thank you for your comments. Best wishes 

      Reply
  9. Robert Trevor

    I am a piano player of many years,I love the piano, and have a small list of pieces,which I built up from the first years of study.

    I also have a keyboard which I bought while still enthusiastic, but as you say, I got tired of it soon, as it was a 76 key model,however it has many voices,and is much more fun than the full keyboard upright piano.

    I love all types of music and play classic, some Glen Miiler,old time spirituals, and a little jazz.

    How is it that after being so enthusiastic at the beginning, that one can lose that joy as the years pass?

    As a student, I was engrossed with classical music, and played at increasing levels, until I played at an examination level, where there was a mixup, and I lost enthusiasm for playing.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Yes Robert, I know how it goes. When I was at high school, I was in a group of about 6 friends who played piano right up to the advanced level. I am now the only one still doing music. The reason is that I have always been playing for a group, church, piano bar, with a band, and rehearsing for some up coming event. If you do not connect with a regular ongoing program, even if it is for fun, you will have no incentive to practice, nor to learn more. The good thing is that if you really get into a program, the enthusiasm comes right back. Take time to read a previous blog which addresses this issue. https://mypianohobby.com/the-best-plan-to-keep-you-playing-piano-again/

      Thanks for your comments. I hope you find your joy again !

      Reply
  10. Nick

    Hi Joy,

    Piano Keyboard is an instrument I have been fond of since I was a kid. But unfortunately, never got the chance to learn playing a piano keyboard.

    Hence I was really excited in your article “Piano keyboard features that make playing enjoyable”.  

    My son is really fond of piano keyboards and I have recently bought him one. The main concern was how does he get around playing it. But thanks your article came to our rescue in perfect time. I will surely show him this post of yours and I am sure he will be quite excited. 

    Thanks for the great information.

    Nick 

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Nick, these days all you need is the desire. There are so many programs online, and there are piano tutors. When kids show an interest in piano, they will end up playing whether they get the training or not. Isn’t it worth the time and money to get him into a program. He will always be grateful to you ! Thanks for you comments

      Reply
  11. Joseph Stasaitis

    Very interesting article on pionos.  Brings up memories as a child when I would spend time at my aunt and uncle’s place and they had a piano in their living room, and I would bang out a few notes.

    Althourgh I never became proficient with this musical instrument, I did enjoy the time spent learning a bit, and listening to others who were more skilled.  

    Very interesting how you broke down all the elements of a piano and their specific function.  The voices stored in the keyboard provide a variety of sounds from different instruments.  The piano at my aunt’s had those old rolls of music that would play different songs. It defintiely did not have split voices and dual voices.

    You did a great job explaining the basic functions of the keyboard.  I found it interesting and educational.  Thanks so much.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Joseph, I am glad you found this article interesting. Yes, pianos have evolved over many years, and learning to play can be an exciting adventure with all the new features that are included. That is why many adults are learning to play, fulfilling that dream. Piano is not only for kids and I hope you will , one day, get involved and bring out your inner musician. Best wishes !!!

      Reply
  12. Virendra

    Oh dear, if I had known all this information when I was just learning how to play the piano, I probably would’ve been still playing it! I did the mistake that I bought the wrong piano and I really didn’t enjoy playing… It just wasn’t the same playing on a keyboard comparing to a grand piano. This was of course more than 10 years ago and they’ve probably changed a lot since then? 

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Virendra, it is never too late to start again. The process of learning piano is getting easier and easier with all the new gadgets and accompaniments to make learning fun. Playing your favourite songs is such a fulfilling experience and whatever you learn, you can play right through your senior years when they arrive. Try again. It will be worth the effort !!i

      Reply
  13. Emmanuel Buysse

    I’ve always wanted to play a piano, however I’m kind of afraid to buy one, because I have no idea what to use and which is suitable for me. However, your tips are helping me a lot, and now I’m more confident in which one to buy. I would like to play classical  piano. Thanks for sharing it. 

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Emmanuel. There is no need to be afraid. The pianos/keyboards used these days are user friendly. So go ahead and get busy with your classical music. Thanks for your comments.

      Reply

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