Keyboard at Home?
Do you need a keyboard or piano to take Let's Play Music classes? YES!... but not until 2nd year. During the first year of Let's Play Music we use a simplified version of a keyboard, the tone bells. But you will definitely need one when we start Green Turtle Shells the second year. So you have a whole year to shop around!
Your keyboard at home needs to meet these 3 requirements:
full size keys
minimum 5 octaves
You will need a piano or keyboard is that has full size keys! We work on building muscle memory of intervals in chords, and those distances are exact. We want them to be able to switch between chords with their eyes closed! That will only be possible if they are practicing consistently on the correct size keys. If shopping online beware of keyboards that have the word "compact" in them even if they say full size! (Yes, I made that mistake!) There can be 88 keys, so technically it's "full size", but if the keys themselves are not full size, it will NOT work for Let's Play Music!
You don't need a keyboard with 88 keys, but you need to have at least 61, which is 5 octaves. All the music we play will fit just fine in the 5 octave range. The keys may be weighted if you want it to feel more like a real piano, but it's not necessary for this class.
Not usually a problem with digital keyboards, but it is definitely possible to have out of tune notes. We are trying to get the children to have "perfect pitch" with middle C, but if your keyboard at home isn't in tune, they will not be able to have that necessary exposure. If your child will be using a real piano, it must be in tune!
Something good, but not necessary is the ability to play dynamics (loud and quiet). Most cheap keyboards play all notes the same volume, regardless of how slow or fast the key is pressed. If you want your child to be able to play both quiet and loud without messing with the main volume control, you'll want a keyboard that can play dynamics.
Weighted keys feel more like a real piano and are harder to press down than those on a low-end keyboard. If your child wants to continue with piano after Let's Play Music, you'll want to select a keyboard with this option.
Feel free to buy something cheap (but still fulfills the requirements) to get you through Let's Play Music classes as you save up to upgrade when your child graduates! If your child truly wants to play the piano, it is worth investing in a good quality one that makes your child excited to play it. (The digital piano in my living room was actually my son's 13th birthday present!)
The most important thing is that students have regular and easy access to a keyboard with full-sized keys at home.
Where to get a keyboard
Feel free to check out local music stores such as The Book Table and KSM Music that have good quality pianos and digital pianos. Check local ads. There's always someone that has a keyboard or piano they don't need anymore. (Just be sure you tune it!) You can find keyboards online from Amazon or from professional music stores, such as Sweetwater.com or GuitarCenter.com. If you'd like to use the same keyboard that I use in class, I have a couple extra that I can rent out. Just let me know!
For more ideas and information, check out this article on LPM's blog: http://makingmusicianslpm.blogspot.com/2013/08/how-to-buy-a-piano.html