Many people who want to study piano give up before they even start. This is because a piano is expensive and not many of us can afford it. Some people look into cheaper options like electronic keyboards. But can a person learn piano from scratch using a MIDI keyboard instead of a regular acoustic piano? Antonio Padula, an accomplished musician in his own right as well as a dedicated teacher, stresses that there are some things that you should keep an eye out for when considering to use a MIDI controller for learning to play the piano.
Antonio Padula’s MIDI keyboard insights and overview:
In the world of digital pianos, small sized keyboards are really common. Truthfully, you can easily play early classical piano on a keyboard that has only 61 keys. But this means that you won’t have the entire range of notes, from AO to C8. However, the MIDI keyboard will have a button which would allow you to switch between octaves. But if you want to get the feel of a real piano and plan on playing some serious songs in the future, then you will need one with 88 keys.
If you want to be in control of the sound, you will need weighted keys that are sensitive to the touch. This means that if you play a key with a strong stroke, a powerful and loud sound will come out. On the other hand, if you touch it gently, the sound will be soft and low. A MIDI keyboard that doesn’t have weighted keys will make you feel like you are playing with a toy. If you want something that imitates a grand piano, go for a hammer-action keyboard. This type of keyboard is not only sensitive to the touch, but it also makes a clicking sound. It will sound similar to the click made by key-hammers from acoustic pianos which are responsible for generating sound.
Apart from hammered action keys, your MIDI keyboard should support all 128 velocity values. When you play, such a keyboard will allow you to generate values ranging from 0 to 127. Your MIDI keyboard will have a bunch of velocity curves which will appear on the display. You should start with a linear setting instead of others. As you improve your skills, you could try out other velocity curves. For example, when using a convex curve, you will feel more in control of loud notes.
Using Computer Software
The computer interface is a must as it will allow you to connect your MIDI keyboard to your computer and generate different sounds. You will “play” guitar, drums, bass, the harp or various other instruments directly from your keyboard. You will also be able to record yourself playing and save the file on your computer.
As compared to acoustic pianos, a digital keyboard won’t need much maintenance. Just make sure to use the right products when cleaning the keys. Also, try to place a cover on the keyboard when you’re not playing. This way you will avoid dust gathering up between the keys.
At the end of the day, if you want to play keyboard, you can buy basically anything. But if you’re going to play piano seriously, then you will need to consider getting a MIDI keyboard that has 88 keys, hammer-action keys and supports 128 velocity values. Don’t forget about the computer interface so you can plug it to your PC or Mac. Taking into consideration the characteristics described above, go out and get yourself a good keyboard. Start learning to play the piano and have fun with it. Remember, practice makes perfect so keep going at it until you get it right!
About: Antonio Padula (Kirkland) is a classically trained pianist and vocal instructor. After 15 years touring with several prestigious symphonies, he settled down in 2008 to establish a musical community in Quebec. Tony Padula is widely recognized as a compassionate teacher who has launched students in opera, orchestral, and choral careers all around North America. In his free time, Antonio Padula enjoys woodworking.