Finding the right keyboard for children can be a tricky task. There are a lot of questions on finding which keyboard is the right one for your children to learn. What features do you need? What size of keyboard should you go for? What makes a keyboard suitable for kids?
In this guide, we’re looking at keyboard models for children, we’ve got a list of keyboards for kids as well as a short buying guide to help you to decide what features to prioritize. It can be hard to get kids to stick to their keyboard lessons, but a good keyboard can make all the difference and ensure that they enjoy their hobby.
In a hurry? Here are our top picks..
Size of Keyboard for Children
This is maybe the most common question people have about buying a keyboard/piano for children. How big does it need to be? What is the right number of keys for children?
The standard size of a digital piano or an acoustic piano is 88-keys. This is what most pianists agree to be the “full range” of a piano. Plenty of keyboards are shorter, and whether they are being played by children or not, the smaller range is often enough.
88-key pianos are good for those who want to play complex songs or perform classical pieces of music. A fully-trained pianist would be limited by a 61-key keyboard, but if you are happy playing rock and pop songs, and just learning the basics of playing piano or keyboard then 61 keys can be enough.
In some situations, kids start to learn on 49-key models and if you are strapped for space this is another decent option. Naturally, they tend to be more portable than bigger models of keyboard. Many children cannot reach to play all 88 keys, or even all 61, so smaller options can teach them the basics in a manageable way.
This is another key consideration for a lot of people who are looking to find the top keyboard for kids. The majority of the time, when children are looking to get a keyboard they are brand new to the hobby and looking to learn. Depending on how they are planning to learn how to play, the actual keyboard purchased can be vital.
The advances made with modern technology means that a lot of the best keyboards have learning modes built-in. This can come in the form of lighted keys or other lessons either inbuilt or with companion apps. A lot of keyboards can now connect to piano learning apps and programs to help you to master the piano.
This isn’t exclusive to kids, as adults can use the same methods, but children are more likely to be learning how to play the keyboard for the first time.
Popular learning modes include the Yamaha Education Suite, which has actually been around for over 20 years, but it has changed a lot in that time.
Should I Get a Toy Piano for Kids?
Some of the cheaper kids’ keyboards are not made to be incredible quality. They don’t have the best sound quality or clarity and the keys can feel a little flimsy. There are even some kids’ keyboards described specifically as toys.
Whether you buy one of these or not is largely dependent on preference. A toy piano or toy keyboard may not be the ultimate best learning tool, nor will it be suitable for live performances, but it can be a good way to spark a child’s interest.
Toy models will lack the weighted keys and touch sensitivity needed to be accurate and provide nuance and detailed playing. A professional would struggle to build the technique needed on one of these types of keyboards, but that’s not to say they don’t have their place. For younger children, especially, a smaller keyboard with a “toy” feel to it might be the spark they need.
Features to Look For in a Keyboard For Kids
We’ve already discussed some of the features you should keep an eye out for. For example, number of keys and the learning features that may be built into your keyboard.
There are some other features to look into as well.
- Size of the keys. It helps to have full-sized keys to get used to the feel of larger keys like those on a piano keyboard.
- Number of voices and tones. How many sounds can the keyboard play? Both the sound quality and the number of tones should be considered. New and interesting sounds can keep things interesting for children.
- Accessories. Does the keyboard come with a stand or other forms of accessories?
- Headphone output. A lot of parents are very grateful for keyboards that have a headphone output, so the kids can practice in private and not wake you up in the morning.
- USB connectivity. MIDI and USB can be used to connect the keyboard to other software such as GargeBand or other DAWs.
- Rhythms and demo songs. Learning to play along with other songs or with certain rhythms as a backing track can allow kids to get used to staying in time and enjoying new ways of playing.
- Portability. Some people will be looking for a keyboard that is lightweight and portable. The power supply is also an important consideration in terms of having a portable model.
Are there certain brands to look out for when it comes to buying a child a keyboard? There are loads of options on the market, and big players in the world of music such as Yamaha and Casio have provided keyboard options that can be good for kids to play with a variety of numbers of keys.
You might pay a premium for brands like Yamaha and Roland, but they offer reliably good sound quality. There are some other brands with cheaper products out there, and these sometimes represent fantastic value-for-money, but they can be hit and miss, so reading reviews and making an educated decision is vital.
1. Casio Casiotone, 61-Key Portable Keyboard with USB (CT-S300) – Best Overall
This keyboard ticks all the boxes for beginners. It is lightweight, portable, has loads of sounds and can even be bought with the accessories you need to get started. If you are looking for a 61-key keyboard, perfect for older kids and teenagers then this could be your answer.
You can buy this as an educational bundle, which has access to Chordana Play, an app that can be used with iOS and Android to learn your favorite songs. It has 61 keys which are touch-sensitive so you can play quieter sections and learn to play with dynamics.
There are an incredible 400 tones built in, with varying quality, but they are all good fun to play with. It also comes with Dance Music Mode designed for the budding producer to mess around and make/remix songs.
For older children and those who are serious about learning how to play the keyboard then this could be one of the best keyboards, and the connection to the Chordana learning app is a real bonus for those new to playing piano or keyboards.
2. Casio SA-46 -Portable Keyboard – Best for Young Children
If you are looking at keyboards for kids to keep them entertained and not confuse them too much with controls then this can be a great option. Plus, the fact that it has 32 mini keys means it is very good for smaller hands, and an ideal choice for youngsters playing the keyboards for the first time.
Small speakers and a miniature design mean that it doesn’t have a feeling that is true to a piano, but it is a good alternative for youngsters.
It has 5 drum pads, 50 play along demo songs and plenty of fun sounds to keep your kids entertained. There is even an output for headphones – consider this a gift for the parents.
If you are looking for the top of the range model for your child then this might not actually be the best keyboard. However, if you just want to feed their interest and passion for music then the SA-46 is an affordable starting point.
3. Yamaha EZ220MM EZ Series 61-Key Portable Keyboard – Best Learning Modes
A lot of people are looking for a keyboard that can actually help them learn to play. Luckily, this is entirely possible. If you need to find the best keyboard for kids then the chances are any lessons will be a big bonus. This has lighted keys and top of the range learning modes so your youngster can start to learn how piano and keyboards work even before taking lessons.
It’s not just great for beginners, and there are loads of other features and functions. 392 voices inbuilt means that you can switch between sounds. A “portable grand” button seems to swap keyboard for piano in an instant, and you can play with a high sound quality. There’s also USB connectivity and the possibility to buy this keyboard bundled with other accessories.
As well as the inbuilt Yamaha Education Suite, this is compatible with the EZ-220 Page Turner app for iPad.
Another 61-key model that can be a great keyboard, especially for older children and teens. This is also from a brand you know you can trust in Yamaha, the top manufacturer of piano and keyboards out there.
4. RockJam 61 Portable Electronic Keyboard – Budget Pick
If you are looking for an affordable bundle to get started with playing the keyboard then RockJam might have you covered. They may not be as well known as brands like Casio and Yamaha but they manage to pack a lot of features into an affordable bundle with this keyboard.
As well as having 200 tones and rhythms, there are 40 different demo tracks. You can also use an MP3 playback function to connect a device via USB or aux-in, so you can play along to the songs on your phone and not just those included by the manufacturer.
There’s a headphone output, and even two learning modes using the Simply Piano app. This works on both iOS and Android. It isn’t as effective as some of the other learning apps, and there may be additional purchases needed, but it is still a great starting point.
One of the issues when buying keyboards for kids is that you don’t know if they will stick with the hobby. You probably don’t want to spend top dollar. This model may be one of the best keyboards for those who want to save some cash but still get a decent starting point.
If you want something even more portable, you should look to the RockJam 49 keys model, which is almost identical, but just smaller and more portable.
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We wanted to include a toy keyboard for kids too. You might just want to buy something to make some fun sounds and see if it gets your children interested in playing. Maybe it is a gift for a birthday or Christmas.
The BIGFUN kids piano keyboard is definitely more of a toy, but for younger children, it might just get them interested in playing the keyboard.
It has some cool features, too. You can connect an external microphone (and headphones for private practice). It also has over 20 demo tracks, 8 tones, 4 different types of percussive sound to trigger and 8 rhythms. Kids won’t get bored in a hurry.
It’s a toy, so let’s not expect too much, but if you just want an affordable and engaging fun item for your children to get started with then it is worth considering the BIGFUN. If you’ve got a budding singer in the family, you can even hook a microphone up and let them sing along with their playing!
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There is a lot of variety on our list of the best models of keyboard. As you can see, keyboards for kids vary from tiny little models that are a bit of fun, to bigger keyboards with 61 keys and learning modes included.
The age of the child in question and what their musical ambitions are will be likely to play a big part in the final decision you make. Be sure to spend a bit of time researching the options and what will be best for your children (or the child you are buying this for) before you take the plunge.