Keyboards for kids can be a little tricky to shop for because they can either be expensive keyboards full of fancy unnecessary features, or they can be overpriced toys that sound just like that, toys.
When our oldest girl was about to turn nine, she requested an electric keyboard birthday. Her birthday landed just one day after we closed on the purchase of our new house. We closed on a Friday, and I brought several items to the house just after the closing, including a Casio LK-40 Lighted Keyboard, a Yamaha Keyboard Stand and Yamaha Keyboard Bench. I set it up real nice with a ribbon and card in her empty new bedroom in anticipation of her arrival the next day.
The next day we celebrated her birthday by having a small lunch party at the Cheesecake Factory, then going on our two hour journey to our home in the mountains. Upon her arrival, we mentioned that there was a surprise in her bedroom. As she ran upstairs with powerful excitement fueled by the energy of a nine year old, she jumped with joy at the discovery of her new Casio keyboard!
To tell the story of her keyboard, she offers this brief essay, “When we moved into our new house on my birthday when I turned nine, I saw the awesome Casio in my new room. I was so excited and it was so amazing that I played for hours. It was all set up for me and I just really loved it. I got this keyboard two years ago and I still really love it.”
Though Casios are not necessarily keyboards for kids, it’s a good idea to shop within your price range for an actual keyboard as opposed to a toy. The Casio LK Series keyboards are about $125 on amazon and come with 61 full size illuminated guide keys that are programmed for teaching songs, along with 12-note polyphonic, 100 PCM tones, 50 rhythm patterns and the auto-accompaniment that plays 100 songs. It connects to the internet over a MIDI connection which we’ve never used and comes with two built in speakers and a headphone jack for quiet practice sessions. It operates on AA batteries, though we only use the AD-5 AC adapter that comes with it.
What’s great about these keyboards is that she feels like she can play it! It’s important to keep kids’ inspiration alive, and tough to achieve that with music instruments. But the illuminated guide makes her feel like a capable musician, and she plays with it in front of home audiences during parties and holiday dinner get togethers.
Our little three year old boy loves it too, and bugs her for it whenever it comes out for family gatherings. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep him apart during a performance, so I considered getting him a keyboard of his own for his third birthday.
After some research, I purchased the one of the Discovery First Act keyboards for kids for around $49.99. This definitely feels more like a toy. The built in speakers are pretty low and at the highest setting are not loud enough. The face cracked almost the same day he opened it, but that was really his 14 month old sister’s fault when she landed her bottom on it. And while it kept the little ones attention for a bit, I could have purchased another Casio, like the Casio SA series for the same price with free shipping.
Ultimately, if you’re considering keyboards for kids, it’s better to think of your budget and plan on buying a Casio or an adult version of the keyboard in your price range for the kids. The toy versions aren’t made well enough, and they’re just not much cheaper to make the value more attractive.
The Casio really kept our oldest girl’s attention and interest over two years after she received it, and I imagine that our boy would also stick with it for that long if he had the opportunity. So forget the keyboard toys and go for the real ones.