MIDI keyboard requirements for Musiah piano lessonsMIDI keyboard requirements for Musiah piano lessonsThe 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.

Happy playing,

Brendan Hogan L.Mus.A, A.Mus.A.
Piano Teacher & Musiah Inventor


Dear Sir
I went into a music to shop to buy a MIDI keyboard, to be told that MIDI was "old hat" and that we needed "USB". Unfortunately I still don't understand what MIDI means (what does it mean?). Nor do I know whether a "USB" keyboard will work with your programme. Can you please let me know? The keyboards I was shown are: Casio CT-X700 £210, Casio CTX 3000 at £300 and Casio CDP 130 at £340. Of these, the first two had only 61(?) keys. The Casio CDP130 had the best tone and 88 keys, but DIDN'T have the "bells and whistles" of built-in violins, drums and various other knobs. Can you offer any advice a) whether any or all of these would work with your software and b) whether you have any advice of one model over the others? The shop-keeper wasn't terribly helpful, so I'm hoping you can be. Obviously, I don't want to buy a keyboard and then find that our plan to learn from Musiah.com doesn't work...! Kind regards Lucy
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Hi Lucy, thanks for your inquiry. It's not so much that MIDI is old hat. Rather, there are two types of MIDI ports commonly used on MIDI keyboards – the older style MIDI In / MIDI Out ports (which the salesperson was probably referring to as "old hat") and the newer style of USB to Host port. Some keyboards have both types of port. In either case, they broadcast MIDI data to your computer or iPad. For the purposes of this discussion, MIDI is the notes you play, and related data such as the timing of your playing, etc. A MIDI keyboard is a keyboard capable of sending this data to your computer / iPad while you play. A "USB keyboard" (to use the salesperson's vernacular) is still a MIDI keyboard. For our software, any MIDI keyboard will suit as long as it has at least 49 keys. Keys outside this range you will rarely (if ever) use. Re the sounds, etc. If you want a keyboard that has its own sounds so you can play it even if it's not connected to your computer / iPad, then yes, you'll need to consider whether you like the sounds. If you purely wish to use the instrument with Musiah, you could just buy a MIDI controller (a keyboard that does not have its own sounds) as the sound of the notes you play will come from the Musiah software. A suitable example is the Acorn Instruments MasterKey 49. Even if you have a keyboard with its own sound, when using it with Musiah, we recommend turning the volume of your keyboard down to ZERO so you can hear the sound of the virtual instruments coming from your computer / iPad. Re the three models you mentioned, they are all MIDI keyboards, so they will all work with Musiah. I can't really recommend one over the others. But unless you particularly like one of those instruments, I'd consider cheaper options initially. Then, if you like your lessons and wish to continue your journey, you could consider purchasing a fancier keyboard down the line from a shop keeper who deserves your business. Hope this helps, Brendan
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