Quick Tip: Use headphones to enhance your playing


A few months I recommended trying a new voice on your keyboard to reinvigorate your playing.

My next tip is to invest in the best pair of studio-grade headphones you can afford.

Not just for private practice

It’s common to think that headphones are only really of use if you are wanting to play without disturbing your neighbours, or if you are doing some sound recording and need an accurate way of monitoring the audio.

However, I’d like to suggest that headphones are a worthy addition to your equipment list just because they give you a different perception of your sound.

Firstly, it’s worth investing in some decent headphones. They don’t have to be top-of-the-range, but you will be disappointed if you try to get away with iPod earbuds or many of the lesser ‘in ear’ solutions supplied with MP3 players.

Buy proper headphones from the likes of Sennheiser and you won’t be disappointed.

Why use headphones?

Though digital pianos often have reasonably good internal speakers, pop on a pair of good headphones and the amazing sounds of your instrument will envelop you.

You’ll almost certainly hear tones and nuances that you just don’t get from the internal speakers.

Just as playing with new sounds or trying out new techniques can liven up and enhance your playing, hearing your piano in a new way can do exactly the same.

Though you may not specifically be trying to keep the noise level down, playing with headphones on may well increase your confidence to try new things, safe in the knowledge that only you can hear what you’re playing.

Whether you play from music, improvise or compose from scratch, you’ll become lost in your music far quicker without other distractions around you. If you really want isolation, buy ‘closed’ or noise cancelling headphones that aid in shutting out external noise.

Precautions

Naturally, you need to be careful when using headphones that you don’t use them at high volumes for extended periods of time.

Pick out a good pair of headphones and you’ll get a quality sound without distortion that you can enjoy at safe listening levels.

It’s worth bearing in mind that if you do need to play quietly so as not to disturb others, bear in mind the sound of your fingers on the keys. I’m not joking – on weighted keyboards this can be quite loud!

Recommendation

For what it’s worth, I use the mid-range Sennheiser HD215 Closed Back Headphones which deliver a good all round sound, keep external distractions to a minimum, are very comfortable to wear, and come with a long, detachable cord and carry bag. You can get them for around £50 ($80).