Starting to play can be tricky, but thankfully, there are lots of great piano and keyboard features to make things easier…
Like all of the best things in life, learning how to play the piano or keyboard doesn’t come without effort, determination and a bit of discipline. These three things don’t often spell ‘fun’. However, there are several things that can make the process of learning hugely enjoyable, and keep you motivated.
The first, and most important, is a good teacher. Next is a good tuition book. The final thing is a good instrument to practice on, ideally with some features aimed at the learner.
Nowadays most digital pianos and keyboards have features that make practice a lot easier, and a lot more enjoyable. Here are some are some of the great piano and keyboard features for learners…
Yamaha Education Suite
All of Yamaha’s entry-level portable keyboards (which includes the YPT-255, PSR-E353, and PSR-E253) feature the Yamaha Education Suite. This is a built-in tuition feature with different ‘lessons’ to use for practice.
For example, the ‘waiting’ lesson essentially allows the player to play built-in songs at their own tempo. By this, I mean that the accompaniment to the song plays at the tempo of the player, slowing down as they do (it waits until the player plays the correct note). In addition, the notes and chords being played appear in the keyboard display.
Kawai Piano Lessons
It could be said that Kawai is guilty of, well, underplaying the feature-packed nature of its pianos, somewhat. The onboard piano lessons equipped to its CN and CA series pianos are just such a feature.
Remarkably, these lessons are based on the incredibly well respected Alfred’s piano tuition books. To have these built into a piano for practice purposes is incredible.
Roland Twin Piano Feature
Roland’s twin piano feature is a particularly neat feature for the learner. Switching it on effectively divides the keyboard into two identically pitched keyboards, meaning that it becomes like two distinct pianos (albeit half sized) side by side.
Using this, a teacher can teach beside a student on the same instrument, duets can be played and more. On Roland’s pianos that have this feature and dual headphone outputs, each half has its own headphone connection. Very clever indeed… You can find a CN and CA series pianosfull range of Roland Pianos here.
Roland Piano Partner
Though this is not actually a feature of a piano as such, Piano Partner justifies its position here, as it is an iOS app that adds a huge amount to the functionality of some of Roland’s piano models.
If you have an iPad and a Roland HP503, HP505, HP507, DP90, DP90S, F20 or LX15, the Piano Partner can be used to add a range of practice, tuition, and theory exercises and games. These are excellent, providing a fun way to embrace the aspects of learning to play that can be a little, well, ‘dry’.
If you have an LX15 or HP507 it also adds DigiScore functionality (much like a an interactive musical score). Plus, Roland’s wireless key means you can connect to this iPad app wirelessly too. Best of all, the app is free.
On-board accompaniment styles
Though it might be overlooked, on-board accompaniment styles can be a great tool for those learning to play. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, when learning to play, playing to a metronome is a great way of improving natural timing, as well as great tool for slowing things down to practice, before steadily speeding them back up.
Playing to a metronome can be a bit dull, however. An accompaniment can provide a similar function, but is a bit more ‘musical’, and fun, generating a ‘virtual band’ to play along with.
Motivating young players to practice can also be a bit of a challenge at times. The range of accompaniment styles available on most portable keyboards is huge, ranging from traditional to contemporary pop styles. If a young learner is finding the typical practice exercises a bit dull, playing around with accompaniments can keep them interested.
Keyboards and pianos have never been better equipped for learners. Take a look at our full range of digital pianos in our online store here, and keyboards here.