If you’re interested in playing the piano, or you’ve always wanted your child to learn it, knowing the fundamentals of beginner keyboards will get you off to a great start.
The first factor to consider is the number of keys on the keyboard. For someone with no musical knowledge, you may think that all keyboards have the same number of keys. Not true! We’ll walk you through the different keyboard sizes as well as which one is best for you.
How Are the Keys on a Keyboard Structured? In Other Words, How Do They Work?
Beginners start out by playing on a C scale without any sharps and flats. This basically means that they start playing on only the white keys. As you progress, you start playing on the black keys. As you play more complex music, you will need to play more notes. Other than that, there is nothing particularly special or different about the black keys.
What Are the Names/Notes of the Keys on a Keyboard?
The white keys on a keyboard are labelled according to the alphabet in a repetitive loop. The black keys have 2 names each, for instance D-Flat (C-sharp), and so on. Sharps and flats are better understood by first clearing up what semitones are.
A semitone (also known as a half tone) is the interval between two full tones that are next to each other. For instance, the distance between D and D-sharp is a semitone.
A whole tone is the distance between two semitones. For instance, C or D are each whole tones.
Pianos generally come with a 12-note pattern that is repeated. For acoustic pianos, it is repeated 7 times. This number may be smaller for pianos with fewer keys.
How Many Keys Do the Most Popular Keyboards Have?
Standard keyboards have 88 keys. However, there are small pianos with fewer keys, suitable for those who just want to learn the basics of piano-playing. They are also ideal for those who have difficulty in learning on a full keyboard. Other common sizes include the following:
- 44-key keyboard (for children)
- 61-key keyboard
- 76-key keyboard
- 88-key keyboard
Why Do Some Keyboards Have 44, 61, 76, or 88 Keys? In Other Words: Why Don’t all Keyboards Have the Same Number of Keys?
Keyboards may have a different number of keys due to a number of reasons:
Some keyboards may have what seem to be keys that are never used. These keys help carry the overtones of the keys you are actually playing on.
If you just want to play melodies or a solo gig, a small keyboard will suffice. If you work at a radio station or a group band, you’ll need a keyboard with which you can play a high range of octaves.
Keyboards with fewer keys are cheaper and more affordable. For those on a budget, such as college students, etc., they are a more feasible option. They’re also a good option if you’re not sure how long you’ll keep playing or if you’re teaching a child who constantly changes their mind.
What is the Minimum Number of Keys that a Beginner Keyboard Should Have?
The minimum number of keys varies for children and adult players.
For toddlers, such as those around the age of 5, a keyboard with 44 keys may be sufficient. For instance, Casio has a popular 44-key keyboard model that is quite popular among children.
For children about the age of 9 years, a 61-key piano or even the full 88-key piano is also suitable. This is because by then, their hands are big enough to play on a regular keyboard and their general motor skills have developed sufficiently to play properly. Some children may reach this point before the age of 9.
For children who start playing on a 61 key keyboard or an 88-key keyboard, the transition to play complex notes is easier and quicker.
For Adult Beginners
Ideally, adult players should start playing on an 88-key keyboard. However, if for some reason, whether it is affordability, or availability (if you’re buying a second-hand piano) you can’t find one, a 61 or 76-key keyboard will work. Most tunes, such as pop or rock music, can be learnt and played on these keyboards. However, for serious players who want to reach the pro level and play complex music, such as classical, they will require a full 88-key keyboard.
Another plus of playing on an 88-key keyboard is that you won’t have to worry about upgrading your instrument as you progress.
How Many Keys Are There On A Piano Keyboard?
Before you decide which keyboard you get, you need to consider your budget and long-term plan. If you wish to play professionally or play specific types of music, such as classical, then get an 88-key keyboard from the start. If it doesn’t fit your budget, start with a 61-key keyboard until you can get a bigger one. Either way, make your decision carefully because choosing the right keyboard will affect the way you play.