The ideal way to begin your piano lessons with Musiah is to learn using a MIDI keyboard.
If you don't have a MIDI keyboard, for your first few lessons you can use our Free Virtual Piano Keyboard which is now included in the PC and Mac versions of the Musiah piano lessons software at no extra charge.
Put simply, the Virtual Piano Keyboard enables you to play piano notes using your computer keyboard. (Of course, nothing compares to learning on a real MIDI piano keyboard, but our Free Virtual Piano Keyboard is a great temporary solution for those wishing to try a few lessons before deciding to purchase a real MIDI keyboard).
Alternatively, on an iPad or touchscreen computer, you can also play notes using the Musiah On Screen Keyboard, i.e. by touching the screen.
What kind of MIDI piano keyboard do I need?
There are two main types of MIDI keyboards:
1. a MIDI controller (a keyboard without speakers) and
2. a stand-alone keyboard (with its own on-board sounds and speakers)
A MIDI controller is perfect for use with Musiah as it is smaller, more compact and lighter than a stand-alone keyboard and can be easily fitted on a desk in front of a computer monitor, and easily put away when it is not being used. Musiah does not use sounds from the student's keyboard. Instead all sound is generated by the Musiah software, so a MIDI controller is very suitable for use with Musiah.
By contrast, a stand-alone keyboard is usually larger and heavier than a MIDI controller, so it is less convenient to move around and does not fit quite so easily on a desk in front of a computer monitor. Depending on the space available, you may need to buy a keyboard stand to put the keyboard on. The advantage of stand-alone keyboards that appeals to some people is that you do not need to have the keyboard plugged in to the computer in order to play it. So, for example, you can bring your keyboard to a friend's house to play some of the songs you have learned in your Musiah online piano lessons. If you are using a stand-alone keyboard, be sure to turn your keyboard volume down to ZERO during your Musiah piano lessons so you can hear the sound of the Musiah virtual instruments.
General Requirements For All MIDI Keyboards
Whichever keyboard type you choose, it should have at least 49 keys (4 octaves). The keys must be full size, i.e. the same size as piano keys. (Some "toy" keyboards are made with 3/4 or even 1/2 size keys).
Also, we recommend you try to get a keyboard that has a usb 2.0 type B socket at the back of the keyboard for connecting the keyboard to your computer.
If your MIDI keyboard does not have USB 2.0 capability, you could purchase a USB-to-MIDI cable (in which case, please buy a good quality one such as the M-Audio uno midisport, not the cheap cables available on e-bay).
Please note: We are aware of some incompatibility issues between old MIDI keyboards and some (especially cheaper) MIDI-to-USB cables. For this reason, we recommend using a keyboard with USB 2.0 connectivity.
As a general price guide, somewhere in the range of $110.00 to about $250.00 will buy you a suitable beginners keyboard. Any less than about $120.00 may not come with a usb 2.0 type B socket. When purchasing a MIDI keyboard, please do not buy one for less than $100.00 as you really do get what you pay for.
Definitely do not buy either a "Base" or "Meike" keyboard as both of these brands are dreadful.
Is There A MIDI Keyboard That You Recommend?
While we don't recommend or support any particular make/model of MIDI keyboard, broadly speaking, you can't go too far wrong when choosing a MIDI keyboard.
All models above $110 are reasonably good, but with any model you may buy, there is always a 1-2% chance that there may be an issue of some sort and if this happens with a keyboard that we recommend, it has been our experience that folks are inclined to say, "but you recommended it".
If you're considering a MIDI controller, an example of one that meets the requirements is an M-Audio KeyStation 49. While this is not a recommendation, we have used this keyboard extensively in our software testing and in our experience, we have found the quality to be reasonable. But like I say, this is not a recommendation.
If you would prefer a stand-alone MIDI keyboard, I suggest looking at an entry level Casio or Yamaha keyboard, preferably one with USB 2.0 connectivity.
I Have A Keyboard: Is It Compatible With Musiah?
Quite often, people ask "is my model of keyboard compatible with Musiah?" The answer is: If it is a MIDI keyboard with at least 49 keys, then yes, it will work fine with one proviso: If you are using a MIDI-to-USB cable, there are sometimes incompatability issues between the cable and your particular model of keyboard (which will prevent the keyboard form working with any software — not just Musiah).
If you want to know with 100% certainty that your keyboard will work with Musiah, you can test it with a free MIDI diagnostic tool called MIDI-OX (for Windows) or MIDI Monitor (for Mac). Read more
Or alternatively, why not take our Online Piano Lessons 14 Day Free Trial.
If, for some reason, it seems like your keyboard is not working, please know that we are here to help — please feel free to contact us directly.
In most cases the keyboard / cable does work and any apparent issues are usually due to something simple that can easily be resolved.
And of course, we're happy to offer suggestions by email or to call you at a time that suits you to do a little testing over the phone.
So I warmly invite you to take our Online Piano Lessons 14 Day Free Trial and let us show you the great piano tuition Musiah has to offer — and lend a helping hand if / when required.
Brendan Hogan L.Mus.A, A.Mus.A.
Piano Teacher & Musiah Inventor