piano-xmasHi Everyone! It’s been a busy fall season. And wouldn’t you know it, the Christmas season is upon us. The Christmas holiday is a perfect time to give those “important” gifts—the kind that will mark a milestone, create hours of fun and open new worlds of excitement for you and your family.

In my case, these moments have often been created through the gift of a musical instrument. At 5 years old I received my first guitar, and a few years later my first piano keyboard. Fast-forward a number of years, and I’m doing the same for my kids: gifts have included digital pianos, violins and electronic drum sets. I must say these have been the BEST GIFTS EVER in terms of “return on investment.” Hearing the kids explore music, watching the kids learn (on their own or through private music lessons), and sharing my own musical skills has enriched our household immensely.

Features a beginner’s piano should have

Today I’d like show you a few pianos that I think would be suitable as a first piano in your home, or a gift for someone special. There are a number of variables to consider when making your purchase, and I’ll focus on some of these as well. You’ll find all of these pianos (and many more!) in BestBuy.ca‘s Keyboards & Digital Pianos section.

In my opinion, there are a few important features a first piano should have. When you’re shopping, be on the lookout for these attributes:  keys

  1. Headphone jack;  
  2. Quality of sound;
  3. Touch/Feel; and
  4. Versatility (number of different sounds, for example).

Because you’re giving the gift of a first piano, we’re going to take a look at some simpler, smaller, and less-expensive keyboards. Each of these contains the features I just mentioned above, and makes them good choices for a first piano. And, they’re a lot of fun!

CASIO SA-76 (44-key electric keyboard)

sa-76_xlarge
The Casio SA-76

CASIO’s SA-76 is a formidable unit designed specifically to be your first piano. It has everything you need to get started exploring the world of pianos/keyboards! It’s 44-keys make it exactly half-size compared to a full-size piano (which has 88 keys). For the the beginning musician, this is all you’ll need for the first few years as those little hands (or slightly bigger ones!) develop technique and increasingly complicated repertoire. They keys are very easy to play, and the sound is very respectable for a keyboard of this quality and price range.

The SA-76 also features a headphone jack (perfect for those inspired moments, that might otherwise be a bit noisy in the background) and it also features over 100 different sounds. There is also a ton of fun to be had with the “DJ” features, which will take musical exploration to another level!

CASIO CTK-3200 (61-Key electric keyboard)

The principle reason I like the Casio CTK-3200 is it’s versatility. It has everything needed to get things started on piano, and is an instrument that will be “at your side” for many years to come. And it comes at an attractive price point for all of the features it contains.

CASIO CTK-3200
CASIO CTK-3200

The CTK-3200 has a ton of sounds, and it has drum rhythms to play along with too. It also has an “on-board tutor” to help with learning, and that ever-useful headphone jack for home practice. What’s really cool about this unit, however, is that you can use a USB cable or Midi cable to connect this keyboard to your computer for music making—like home recording (using apps such as Garageband or Ableton Live, for example). Having this feature makes this keyboard so much more than just a first piano! I can easily foresee it being around the house for many years, and enjoying many uses, especially for the younger ones as they grow and discover music-making in today’s world in which the computer has become an easy and fun way to produce great music!

I’m thinking this unit could soon make an appearance in my home … Santa, are you reading this? 😉

The ONE 61-Key Smart Electric Keyboard

the-one-light
The ONE Light Keyboard

This option is a bit different. The ONE Smart Electric Keyboard is conceived and designed for the piano student. Using a iPad or other tablet device, you can download piano lessons and have guided practice at home. I had the opportunity to have an in-depth look at The ONE, and you can read all about it here. The ONE has many of the features you’ll want for a first piano. However it does sacrifice some variety of the sounds for the novelty of the tablet function … and (of course), you need to own an iPad, a tablet (or iPhone/Android device) to take full advantage of what The ONE has to offer.

Take A Look Around

While I feel that these suggestions are good ones for the first piano gift, you may also want to continue shopping. Start here at the BestBuy.ca Keyboards and Digital Pianos page, but also take a closer look at a couple of my other posts about piano features, as well as beginner/intermediate/advance choices for pianos. You may find the information very useful.

Now that you’re getting closer towards choosing your gift of a first piano, remember a few things: 1) You can get a great keyboard for a very decent price; 2) Choose a keyboard that has some other fun options beyond that of a basic piano; 3) Make sure there is a headphone jack!; 4) Get ready to enjoy the experience!

piano-standYou’ll also want to shop for a stand and maybe even a piano bench for your new keyboard. Best Buy has a selection of these, and you’ll probably want to start with something simple like this keyboard stand, or like this keyboard bench. They’ll help get things started on the right “note.”

It’s incredible how the gift of a musical instrument can liven up a home and enlighten those who use it. I can not stress enough how valuable a purchase this could turn out to be! Making a piano or keyboard your choice of instrument will give you lots of options, and hours upon hours of fun. In my case, it’s turned out to be a lifetime of fun … and a career!

Here’s one last thing to think about: What would you want a musical instrument to bring into your home? Take a look around BestBuy’s Musical Instruments section and dream about the possibilities!

Thanks for reading! Enjoy your holidays with your loved ones, and enjoy giving the gift of music!

Images: 7-themes.com, Casio USA, www.smartpiano.com

Clinton Ryder
For over 20 years, Montreal bassist Clinton Ryder has been on the Canadian music scene. With over 20 album credits, he works with musicians of all genres and generations. In recent years, he’s performed with Jim Byrnes and Petru Guelfucci, and a member of the Félix Stussi’s 5 (featuring trombonist Ray Anderson). He continues to freelance on his instrument of choice while honing his skills in Logic Pro, Sibelius and other interests, including his website www.country-music-hoedown.com.