How to play electronic keyboard

Updated March 23, 2017

An electronic keyboard, often referred to as a digital keyboard or a piano keyboard, comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from the full 88 keys of a traditional piano down toy electronic keyboards that feature as few as 15 keys. Electronic pianos are played the same way a traditional piano is played. The notes and chords are the same. The difference between an electronic piano and a traditional piano is that most electronic pianos are capable of digitally reproducing other instrument sounds as well, and many of them come with built-in rhythms or can even allow users to record what they play. Using an electronic keyboard isn't any more difficult to learn than learning how to play traditional piano and can open the door to a world of musical possibilities for you.

Familiarise yourself with the instruction book specific to your electronic keyboard if one is available to you. There are many different models of electronic keyboard, each with its own set of features, so the best place to start is with the instruction manual. In the absence of an instruction manual for your model, experimenting with your keyboard will be the best approach.

Purchase a basic piano starter book that will show you a few chords. The keys on an electronic keyboard are identical to piano keys, so learning piano chords will give you the basic foundation you'll need to play simple music. A few starter chords, such as C, G and F will also give you chords you can use as you test the features of your electronic keyboard.

Try out the different instrument sounds. Many electronic keyboards list the instrument sounds on the keyboard itself, along with a number. There will typically be a number pad on your keyboard. By entering the number beside an instrument name, you can get your electronic keyboard to sound like the corresponding instrument. The number of instrument sounds you can get from your keyboard depends upon the type of keyboard you play. More expensive models typically have a wider variety of sounds.

Create a simple song. Most electronic keyboards come with preset rhythms. You can access them the same way you access instrument sounds. Choose a simple pop rhythm and play along with it using a few basic chords. Experiment with your basic instrument sounds to see what you can improvise. This will get you used to moving around on your electronic keyboard and help teach you the controls.

Number the keys on your electronic keyboard to help you get familiar with playing melody lines. You can purchase sheet music and music books at a music store that use numbers rather than musical notes. This allows you to play without studying music.

Pursue further music instruction if you want to continue with your electronic keyboard or even try other instruments. The electronic keyboard can be fun to play around with, but serious musical study (note reading and music theory) is an important element to add if you want to be able to play and write music. Though music theory is complex, you can learn the basics with a beginning book or even free resources online (see Resources).

Things You'll Need

  • Electronic keyboard
  • Instruction manual
  • Piano chord book
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About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.