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Hudson Martin
Hudson Martin

Learn Keyboard in No Time: A Simple and Fun Guide for Absolute Beginners


How to Play Keyboard: A Complete Guide for Absolute Beginners




Introduction




If you have always wanted to learn how to play keyboard, but you don't know where to start, this guide is for you. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about playing keyboard, from choosing the right instrument, setting it up, learning the basics, practicing effectively, and playing songs.




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A keyboard is a musical instrument that produces sounds by pressing keys on a board. It can also refer to any electronic device that mimics the sound of a piano or other instruments. Keyboards are popular because they are versatile, portable, affordable, and easy to learn.


Playing keyboard has many benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It can improve your hand-eye coordination, memory, concentration, creativity, self-expression, mood, confidence, and more. It can also help you relax, have fun, and enjoy music.


To start playing keyboard, you will need a few things: a keyboard (of course), a power source (batteries or an adapter), a stand or a table, a seat or a stool, headphones or speakers, pedals (optional), and some learning materials (books, videos, apps, etc.). You will also need some time, patience, and motivation.


How to Choose a Keyboard




Types of keyboards




There are many types of keyboards available on the market, each with its own features, advantages, and disadvantages. Here are some of the most common ones:


Acoustic vs. digital keyboards




An acoustic keyboard is a traditional piano that produces sound by striking strings with hammers. A digital keyboard is an electronic device that produces sound by playing recorded samples of acoustic instruments or synthesizing new sounds. Acoustic keyboards are more expensive, heavier, and harder to maintain than digital keyboards, but they have a more natural and authentic sound and feel. Digital keyboards are cheaper, lighter, and easier to use than acoustic keyboards, but they have a more artificial and limited sound and feel.


Synthesizers vs. workstations vs. arrangers




A synthesizer is a keyboard that can create and modify sounds using various parameters, such as pitch, timbre, envelope, filter, modulation, etc. A workstation is a keyboard that can record, edit, and play back multiple tracks of audio and MIDI data. An arranger is a keyboard that can automatically generate accompaniment patterns based on the chords you play. Synthesizers are more suitable for creating original and experimental sounds and music. Workstations are more suitable for producing professional and complex music. Arrangers are more suitable for playing live and improvising music.


Weighted vs. unweighted keys




Weighted keys are keys that have a mechanism that simulates the resistance of a real piano key. Unweighted keys are keys that have no such mechanism and are lighter and easier to press. Weighted keys are more realistic and expressive than unweighted keys, but they are also more expensive and heavier. Unweighted keys are more affordable and portable than weighted keys, but they are also less responsive and nuanced.


Features to look for in a keyboard




When choosing a keyboard, you should consider the following features:


Sound quality and variety




The sound quality of a keyboard depends on the quality of the samples or synthesis methods it uses, the number and type of speakers it has, and the effects and settings it offers. You should look for a keyboard that has clear, rich, and realistic sounds that suit your musical preferences and goals. You should also look for a keyboard that has a wide range of sounds to choose from, such as piano, organ, strings, brass, percussion, etc.


Touch sensitivity and polyphony




Touch sensitivity is the ability of a keyboard to respond to the force or speed with which you press the keys. Polyphony is the number of notes that a keyboard can play at the same time. You should look for a keyboard that has touch sensitivity, as it will allow you to play with more expression and dynamics. You should also look for a keyboard that has enough polyphony to avoid note dropouts or glitches when playing complex chords or layers.


MIDI compatibility and connectivity




MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a standard protocol that allows electronic musical devices to communicate with each other. MIDI compatibility means that your keyboard can send and receive MIDI data to and from other devices, such as computers, smartphones, tablets, drum machines, etc. MIDI connectivity means that your keyboard has ports or wireless options to connect to other devices using MIDI cables or Bluetooth. You should look for a keyboard that has MIDI compatibility and connectivity, as it will allow you to expand your musical possibilities and capabilities.


Accessories and extras




Some accessories and extras that you may want or need for your keyboard are:



  • A stand or a table to support your keyboard.



  • A seat or a stool to sit comfortably while playing.



  • Headphones or speakers to hear your keyboard sound better.



  • Pedals to control various aspects of your keyboard sound, such as sustain, volume, expression, etc.



  • A case or a bag to protect and transport your keyboard.



  • A metronome to keep time while practicing.



  • A tuner to tune your keyboard if it has tuning options.



  • A power source (batteries or an adapter) to power your keyboard.



  • Some learning materials (books, videos, apps, etc.) to help you learn how to play.



How to Set Up Your Keyboard




How to position your keyboard




You should position your keyboard in a way that allows you to play comfortably and ergonomically. Here are some tips:



  • Place your keyboard on a flat and stable surface at a height that allows your elbows to be slightly bent when playing.



  • Adjust the angle of your keyboard so that it is parallel or slightly tilted towards you.



  • Leave some space between your keyboard and the edge of the surface to rest your wrists.



  • Avoid placing your keyboard near sources of heat, cold, humidity, dust, or direct sunlight.



How to adjust your seat and posture




You should adjust your seat and posture in a way that allows you to play comfortably and efficiently. Here are some tips:



  • Choose a seat or a stool that is adjustable, cushioned, and stable.



  • Adjust the height of your seat so that your feet can rest flat on the floor and your knees can be slightly lower than your hips.



  • Sit in the center of your seat and align yourself with the middle of your keyboard.



  • Keep your back straight but relaxed and avoid slouching or leaning forward or backward.



  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid raising or tensing them.



  • Keep your arms and wrists relaxed and avoid bending or twisting them.



  • Keep your fingers curved and slightly apart and avoid flattening or clenching them.



How to use pedals and other controls




You should use pedals and other controls in a way that enhances your keyboard sound and performance. Here are some tips:



  • The most common pedal for keyboards is the sustain pedal, which allows you to hold notes longer than you press them. To use it, press it with your right foot when you want to sustain a note or a chord, and release it when you want to stop the sustain.



  • Some keyboards may have other pedals, such as volume, expression, soft, sostenuto, etc. To use them, follow the instructions of your keyboard manual or experiment with them to see how they affect your sound.



  • Some keyboards may have other controls, such as knobs, sliders, buttons, switches, etc. To use them, follow the instructions of your keyboard manual or experiment with them to see how they change your sound settings, effects, modes, etc.



How to Learn Keyboard Basics




How to read keyboard notation




To read keyboard notation, you need to understand some basic concepts and symbols of music theory. Here are some of them:


Musical staff and clefs




A musical staff is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces that represent different pitches. A clef is a symbol that indicates the pitch range of a staff. The most common clefs for keyboards are the treble clef (for high pitches) and the bass clef (for low pitches). The treble clef is usually placed on the top staff and the bass clef on the bottom staff. The keyboard notation uses two staves connected by a brace to show both hands.


Notes and rests




A note is a symbol that represents a sound with a specific pitch and duration. A rest is a symbol that represents a silence with a specific duration. The shape and position of a note or a rest indicate its duration and pitch. The most common notes and rests for keyboards are whole notes (or semibreves), half notes (or minims), quarter notes (or crotchets), eighth notes (or quavers), sixteenth notes (or semiquavers), etc.


Accidentals and key signatures




An accidental is a symbol that modifies the pitch of a note by raising or lowering it by a half step. The most common accidentals are sharps (#), flats (b), and naturals (n). A key signature is a set of accidentals placed at the beginning of a staff to indicate the key or scale of a piece of music. The key signature affects all the notes on the staff unless they are canceled by another accidental.


Time signatures and rhythms




A time signature is a pair of numbers placed at the beginning of a staff to indicate the meter or beat pattern of a piece of music. The top number indicates how many beats are in each measure (or bar), and the bottom number indicates what kind of note gets one beat. For example, 4/4 means four quarter notes per measure, 3/4 means three quarter notes per measure, etc. A rhythm is a combination of notes and rests with different durations that create a musical pattern within a measure.


How to play scales and chords




A scale is a sequence of notes that follow a certain pattern of intervals (or distances) between them. A chord is a combination of three or more notes that sound together harmoniously. Scales and chords are the building blocks of music and are essential for playing keyboard. Here are some of them:


Major and minor scales




A major scale is a scale that has a bright and happy sound. It consists of eight notes that follow the pattern of whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step (or WWHWWWH). For example, the C major scale is C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. A minor scale is a scale that has a dark and sad sound. It consists of eight notes that follow the pattern of whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step plus half step, half step (or WHWWHWWH). For example, the A minor scale is A, B, C, D, E, F, G#, A.


Triads and seventh chords




Eb, Bb; the C dominant seventh chord is C, E, G, Bb; and the C half-diminished seventh chord is C, Eb, Gb, Bb.


Inversions and voicings




An inversion is a way of rearranging the notes of a chord so that a different note is on the bottom. There are three inversions for triads: root position (the root note is on the bottom), first inversion (the third note is on the bottom), and second inversion (the fifth note is on the bottom). There are four inversions for seventh chords: root position (the root note is on the bottom), first inversion (the third note is on the bottom), second inversion (the fifth note is on the bottom), and third inversion (the seventh note is on the bottom). For example, the C major triad in root position is C, E, G; in first inversion is E, G, C; and in second inversion is G, C, E. The C major seventh chord in root position is C, E, G, B; in first inversion is E, G, B, C; in second inversion is G, B, C, E; and in third inversion is B, C, E, G. A voicing is a way of spreading out or changing the order of the notes of a chord to create a different sound or texture. There are many ways to voice a chord, but some common ones are: close voicing (the notes are as close together as possible), open voicing (the notes are spaced apart by skipping some notes), drop voicing (one or more notes are dropped by an octave), and cluster voicing (the notes are clustered together by adding some notes). For example, the C major triad in close voicing is C, E, G; in open voicing is C, G, E; in drop voicing is E, G, C; and in cluster voicing is C, D, E.


Chord progressions and patterns




A chord progression is a sequence of chords that creates a harmonic structure for a piece of music. A chord pattern is a repeated or varied chord progression that forms a musical phrase or motif. Chord progressions and patterns are often based on the degrees of a scale or key. The degrees are numbered using Roman numerals from I to VII. For example, in the key of C major, the degrees are: I - C major, II - D minor, III - E minor, IV - F major, V - G major, VI - A minor, VII - B diminished. Some common chord progressions and patterns for keyboards are: I-V-vi-IV (C-G-Am-F), vi-IV-I-V (Am-F-C-G), ii-V-I (Dm-G-C), I-vi-ii-V (C-Am-Dm-G), vii-iii-vi-ii-V-I (B-Em-Am-Dm-G-C), etc.


How to play melodies and harmonies




A melody is a sequence of notes that creates a musical tune or theme. A harmony is a combination of notes that supports or contrasts with a melody. Melodies and harmonies are essential for playing keyboard. Here are some of them:


Intervals and ear training




and creativity, as well as your ability to play melodies and harmonies by ear. You can practice ear training by using apps, websites, books, or your own keyboard.


Melodic contour and phrasing




A melodic contour is the shape or direction of a melody. A melodic contour can be ascending (going up), descending (going down), or static (staying the same). A melodic phrase is a musical unit or sentence that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A melodic phrase can be marked by pauses, cadences, or changes in dynamics or articulation. You can improve your melodic contour and phrasing by listening to and analyzing different melodies, as well as by composing and improvising your own melodies.


Harmonic functions and cadences




A harmonic function is the role or purpose of a chord in a chord progression. A harmonic function can be tonic (the home or resting chord), subdominant (the moving or preparing chord), or dominant (the tense or resolving chord). A cadence is a combination of chords that creates a sense of closure or resolution at the end of a phrase or a piece of music. A cadence can be perfect (V-I), imperfect (any chord-I), plagal (IV-I), deceptive (V-vi), or half (any chord-V). You can improve your harmonic functions and cadences by studying and applying music theory, as well as by playing and writing different chord progressions.


Transposition and modulation




Transposition is the process of changing the key or pitch of a piece of music without changing its intervals or structure. Transposition can be done by using a capo, a transpose button, or your own fingers. Modulation is the process of changing the key or pitch of a piece of music within its intervals or structure. Modulation can be done by using pivot chords, chromatic chords, enharmonic chords, or your own fingers. You can improve your transposition and modulation by practicing and memorizing different keys and scales, as well as by playing and arranging different pieces of music.


How to Practice Keyboard Effectively




How to set goals and track your progress




You should set goals and track your progress in order to improve your keyboard skills and motivation. Here are some tips:



  • Set SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, instead of saying "I want to play keyboard better", say "I want to learn how to play Fur Elise by Beethoven in one month".



  • Break down your goals into smaller and manageable steps. For example, instead of saying "I want to learn how to play Fur Elise by Beethoven in one month", say "I want to learn how to play the first section of Fur Elise by Beethoven in one week".



  • Track your progress using a journal, a spreadsheet, an app, or any other tool that works for you. For example, write down what you practiced, how long you practiced, what you learned, what you struggled with, what you enjoyed, etc.



, or perform your piece for an audience.


How to warm up and cool down




You should warm up and cool down before and after practicing keyboard to prevent injuries and improve your performance. Here are some tips:



  • Warm up your body by doing some stretches, exercises, or movements that involve your fingers, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, back, and legs.



  • Warm up your mind by doing some mental activities that involve your concentration, memory, creativity, or emotions.



  • Warm up your keyboard by playing some scales, chords, arpeggios, or exercises that involve your technique, speed, accuracy, or coordination.



  • Cool down your keyboard by playing some songs, pieces, or improvisations that involve your expression, dynamics, or style.



  • Cool down your mind by doing some relaxation techniques that involve your breathing, meditation, or visualization.



  • Cool down your body by doing some stretches, massages, or movements that involve your fingers, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, back, and legs.



How to practice sight-reading and improvisation




Sight-reading is the skill of playing a piece of music that you have never seen before. Improvisation is the skill of creating and playing a piece of music on the spot. Sight-reading and improvisation are important for playing keyboard because they can help you learn new music faster, play with more confidence and flexibility, and have more fun and variety. Here are some tips:



, rhythms, melodies, harmonies, etc. Play the piece at a steady and comfortable tempo and try to keep going without stopping or correcting mistakes. Review the piece after playing it and identify what you did well and what you can improve.


  • Practice improvisation by using scales, chords, patterns, or any other musical elements that inspire you. Start with simple and easy elements that match your level and style. Choose a key, a tempo, a mood, a theme, or any other parameter that guides your improvisation. Play whatever comes to your mind and try to be creative and expressive without judging or censoring yourself. Review your improvisation after playing it and identify what you liked and what you can change.



How to practice with a metronome and a tuner




A metronome is a device that produces a steady and adjustable beat. A tuner is a device that measures and displays the pitch of a sound. A metronome and a tuner are useful for playing keyboard because they can help you improve your timing, intonation, and accuracy. Here are some tips:



  • Practice with a metronome by using one that suits your needs and preferences. You can use a mechanical, electronic, or digital metronome, or an app or a website that provides one. Set the metronome to a tempo that matches your goal and skill level. Play along with the metronome and try to match its beat without rushing or dragging. Gradually increase or decrease the tempo as you progress.



Practice with a tuner by using one that suits your needs and prefer


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