This is one of the first questions we ask ourselves when we discover that our child has a musical predisposition and that he becomes more and more interested in music.
The market offers us dozens of various models for which we will have to pay from several hundred zlotys to several thousand. They will differ primarily in terms of technological advancement, functionality, and the possibilities that a given instrument gives us. The spread between one and the other instrument can be colossal and confuse us. We have dozens of models that differ in terms of keyboards, sounds and the same quality of workmanship. Regardless of our financial capabilities, however, we should look at it more through the prism of the child himself than focus on our personal expectations of the instrument. We must remember that what may be a priority for a child may seem like an unimportant addition. Let’s not make a mistake at the very beginning and buy an instrument with too complicated functions, where we ourselves will have a problem with deciphering them.
What is the most important? It must be an instrument on which our little artist will want to develop his skills and he will certainly not be interested in too advanced possibilities of this instrument at the beginning. We should pay special attention to the ease of navigating the instrument menu, where we will be able to choose a timbre or rhythm. On most keyboards, these instruments are split into two banks: a tone bank and a rhythm bank. The ease of changing a given timbre while playing, i.e. switching from one instrument to another, will make the performance of a piece much more attractive. In turn, in the rhythm bank, we should have the function of the so-called variation that will give us the opportunity to expand a given rhythm. These two basic functions of the keyboard should be as easy to use, even intuitive as possible.
In most keyboards for children there is a so-called educational function, which is designed to help our child learn the game. It is based on pre-loaded exercises and popular melodies with varying degrees of difficulty from the simplest to the more and more difficult. On the display of our instrument, we have a layout of hands along with a staff where the notes are displayed and the order in which we are to play the sound and with which finger. In addition, our keyboard can be equipped with backlit keys that indicate which key is to be pressed at a given moment. A very important element of our instrument should be the so-called dynamic keyboard
Unfortunately, in the cheapest and simplest keyboards, it is usually not dynamic. Such a keyboard “not dynamic” does not react to the force with which we press a given key. And regardless of whether we play hard or weakly press the keys, the sound from the instrument will be the same. However, having a dynamic keyboard, we can interpret a given song. If we play a given note strongly and strongly it will be loud, if we play a given note softly and weakly it will be quieter. Each instrument has a so-called vocal polyphony, which means that a given instrument can perform a certain number of sounds at the same time.
How much will it cost us? The minimum amount that should be spent on the purchase of an instrument should be around PLN 800 – 1000. At this price, our keyboard should already have a five-octave dynamic keyboard with at least 32-voice polyphony. Under these assumptions, our basic expectations are met by the Yamaha PSR-E353 model and the Casio CTK-4400 model. These are instruments with very similar capabilities and functions, having a large bank of colors and rhythms, and an educational function. Casio has a bit more polyphony.
In the amount of up to PLN 1200, the market already offers much more extensive models with more possibilities and definitely better sounding, among others Yamaha PSR-E443 or Casio CTK-6200, where there are even more sounds and rhythms. Both of these models have two-way speakers, which certainly has a large impact on the quality of the sound of the songs performed. It seems reasonable to end our search for an instrument for the amount of PLN 2000, where for the first keyboard for our 3-year-old this amount should be sufficient. And here we can choose one more Roland brand, model BK-1800 for about 1900 PLN. Casio offers us the WK-7600 model with 76 keys for about PLN 61, where 1600 of them are standard in all previously discussed models, while Yamaha gives us the PSR-E453 for around PLN XNUMX.
Summarizing our search, if we do not want to strain our budget too much, but at the same time we want our child to start his adventure with an instrument that has good sound and gives creative possibilities, the most reasonable thing seems to be to buy an instrument from this middle range for the amount of about PLN 1200, where we have a choice two very successful models: Yamaha PSR-E433, which has 731 high-quality sounds, 186 styles, a 6-track sequencer, a step-by-step learning kit, USB connection for pendrive and computer, and the Casio CTK-6200 has 700 colors, 210 rhythms, 16-track sequencer, standard USB connector and additionally has an SD card slot. We can also connect an external sound source, e.g. a telephone or an mp3 player.
I definitely do not recommend keyboards for learning music. Hopeless keyboards and tons of unnecessary functions that only distract children.