Archive for March, 2008

In this article, I will discuss those optional extras are they optional or do you actually need them. If you want to read previous articles in this series start with How to buy a keyboard (Part1).

Having read this series of articles you have set your budget, you have seen and listened to your keyboard in the flesh, you have the features you want on your keyboard, so that’s it, your ready to start learning. Right? Not quite.

Now you need to deal with the dreaded optional extra. I do not have a problem with optional extras as long as that’s what they are and not necessary. An essential part of a keyboard is the power supply. Most keyboards in your price range use a plug in power supply and because some of these keyboards can be powered by batteries as well, some manufactures will charge you for the power supply and call it an optional extra. In my opinion, this is very sneaky and very naughty. Before you agree to buy a keyboard make sure the power supply is included in the price. My opinion on this is that if it is a deal breaker so be it. Power supplies can cost about £25.00 and this money can be used for other items you will need.

The next item you will need is a keyboard stand unless you want to place your keyboard on the dining table or the floor (not recommended). Normally you would leave the keyboard in the same place, so it is useful to have a stand. These can cost from £25.00 to £50.00 and I would recommend an adjustable height stand rather than a static stand. I would defiantly barter to get a stand thrown in with the price of the keyboard; it’s always worth a try. This of course should not be a deal breaker as the stand is an extra.

The above items especially the first one are important. Other less important items include a keyboard bench to sit on, not essential if you have chairs at home and an adjustable keyboard stand. A volume pedal and sustain pedal, which are connected to the back of the keyboard, normally using a jack plug. These will be rarely used.
Headphones can be useful for your families sanity during the early learning months.

Finally, the last item on my list is of course optional but I recommend you make it essential, and that’s keyboard lessons. Many music shops will offer a free keyboard lesson to get you started. These lessons are normally thirty-minute lessons and after your free lesson will cost between £10.00 and £20.00 per lesson. You will also need to buy music for your lessons, which again can cost £10.00 to £20.00 but this music should last from six to twelve months depending on how fast you can learn.

I hope this series of articles has given you sufficient information to buy a keyboard and start learning. If your unsure about keyboard lessons then try out my Lesson 1 e-book at Mikes Music Room which will get you started and you can download immediately.

Mike Shaw is an organist and music teacher who has produced a selection of downloadable music books for anyone who wishes to learn to play the piano, organ or keyboard. To find out more visit his websites, and

The first thing to consider when choosing the instrument you want to learn is which one do you like the best. If you like them all, then we can move onto which one is the most practical for you.

The easiest and cheapest option is the keyboard. You can buy a keyboard for less then

Semitones and tones are distances from one key to another key on a keyboard. For example if we play middle C on the keyboard and then play the next white note to the right which is D then that distance is one tone. For those of you not familiar with a keyboard then get my Lesson 1 e-Book here, which will show a 61 note, keyboard with the correct notes names printed on each key.

The thing to remember when counting semitones and tones on a keyboard is to count the distances and not the notes. A semitone is the closest distance from one note to another note. So again, if we play middle C on a keyboard and want to move one semi-tone to the right the note you should be playing is C sharp that is the black note between C and D. When you first look, at the C and D keys they might appear to be closest to each other but the black notes are placed between the white notes, which make them closer. Now starting from middle C again if you move one semitone to the left, you will notice there is no black key between the white keys so the closest key is B.

Counting semitones on a keyboard is very useful especially for finding chords. For example if you wanted to find C chord which consist of a root, third and a fifth we use distances to find the notes. The distance from the root to the third is four semitones and the distance from the root to the fifth is seven semitones. Now since the root is always the name of the chord in this case C, count four semitones (distances) to the right from C to get E then count seven semitones to the right from C to get G and you have just found your C chord C, E and G and since all major chords (triads) use a root, third and fifth you can find all twelve major chord by counting semitones.

I personally count distances in semitones, that

Sharps and flats are normally associated with the black notes on a keyboard. A sharp or flat can be applied to any note on the keyboard. Sharps are always one semitone to the right of the note you want to sharpen and always one semitone to the left for flats. Sharps to the right and flats to the left. To sharpen or flatten a note you must move one semitone to the right or left of that note.

Each note can have a sharp or flat applied to it but not all sharps and flats are black notes. For example if you wanted to sharpen E to make E sharp, you would move one semitone to the right of E to play F. Now while you might know this note as F, depending in which key you are playing this note can also be called E sharp. Other examples of white notes as sharps and flats are F flat, B sharp and C flat. In modern written music, these type of sharps and flats are not very common and are sometimes replaced to make easy reading. So instead of B sharp you will see C. However, you will never see this replacement in examination music. So if you intend to take exams in piano playing, learn them.

Sharps and flats in written music are sometimes indicated at the beginning of a piece of music. This also tells the player what key the piece is in. Sharps and flats can also appear in a bar and this occurrence is known as an accidental. When this happens, all instances of that sharp or flat remain until the end of the bar. For example, if a B is flattened in a bar, any other Bs that occurs in that bar will also be flat without the need to write the flat sign again. To cancel flats or sharps after the initial accidental a natural sign would be used. This naturalises the note back to the original. Therefore, B flat would become B again.

Mike Shaw
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