Getting children interested in music-making from a young age is so important and can set them up for a lifetime of enjoyment.
With so many health and wellbeing benefits associated with the ability to play an instrument, irrespective of what skill level is attained, starting toddlers and very young children off on their own musical adventure is a great thing to do.
You don’t have to spend huge amounts of money to start that journey with them. For well under $100 you can pick up a good keyboard from a well-known manufacturer, packed with features that can inspire them for months or years. It will also be a great starter instrument if they want to progress to something bigger as they get older.
We’ve picked out fourteen of the best small keyboards available in 2021. Any one is sure to delight your child, and you.
We have not included the very basic ‘toy’ keyboards. That’s not to say they don’t have a very important place and role to fulfil for the youngest babies and toddlers, but there are so many available in a huge range of styles that we simply couldn’t pick them out here.
Instead, we have gone for the small but well-crafted keyboards, designed for tiny fingers and full of interesting features. Just because these feature mini keys, it doesn’t make them any less valuable than full-sized keyboards and pianos.
With a long tradition of creating high quality musical instruments, it’s no surprise that Yamaha has built a number of keyboards for young children. These small instruments are still of great quality and full of features, at a very reasonable price.
Touted as “the beginning of something special”, the ‘Remie’ (model PSS-E30) has bene out for a couple of years, although it does currently seem to be more difficult to obtain in the US, with even the Yamaha site claiming it is not currently available to ship.
That said, if you can snag one (they seem to be readily available in the UK and Europe) it’s definitely worth it. A lot of thought seems to have gone into creating this stylish and feature-rich keyboard.
37 HQ (high quality) mini keys and 32 note polyphony (how many sounds can be played at once), 49 different voices including a drum kit and two sound effect sets, 28 accompaniment styles, and a ‘smart chord’ function for controlling that accompaniment, as well as a metronome (to provide a beat to practice timekeeping to), transposition (shifting the notes up or down for each key), mini speaker plus a headphone jack for private practice, make this a very capable little keyboard.
There is even a built in “quiz mode” which asks the player to guess the sound effects it plays, along with a more advanced mode that asks players to guess the right notes.
It can be powered by 4 AA batteries, for ultimate portability, or with a USB power adapter, saving on the cost of replacing batteries.
At $99 it’s a great instrument to start with. Buy at Amazon.
More colourful than Remie, the PSS-F30 has many of the same features. The number of voices has been more than doubled, at 117, along with 114 preset accompaniments with main and fill-in variations. As well as the metronome and transposition options, the whole keyboard can be tuned, which is likely to only be useful if playing along with a recording which doesn’t have standard pitch. It also comes in at $99. Buy on Amazon.
The PSS-A50 retails for $169 and is a mini-keyed instrument not strictly designed for children. It steps up the keyboard to include touch response, meaning it behaves more like a piano in that the harder a key is struck, the louder the note is.
It has less voices (40) but does include an arpeggio function and motion effects. Additionally, it allows the recording of short pieces of music, and its USB micro B port allows for connecting to a computer or other device.
This is quite an advanced instrument and some of its features may be lost on younger children. However, it does mean its longevity is increased, with the main issue being larger fingers struggling with the mini keys.
These three 44-key keyboards from Casio share virtually the same features. The SA-76 and SA-78 differ only in their case colouring — the SA-76 has orange trim while the SA-78 is in dark pink — while the SA-77 has a few variations for the Indian market.
With seven more keys than the Yamaha models above, a wider range of notes can be played. In fact it has half the number of keys as a standard piano keyboard.
Features include 100 built-in sounds, 50 drum patterns, live drum pads, 8 note polyphony, an LCD screen which shows information about the current sound as well as the notes displayed on a musical staff, power from batteries or an AC adapter, and headphone socket.
Casio also offers free, non time-limited access to its online Music Academy which includes videos, play along exercises and interactive graphics.
The keyboards retail for around $50. Buy on Amazon.
The SA-46 is the smaller version of the trio above, featuring 32 mini keys. It has the same sounds, accompaniments and many of the same buttons as the previous models, but its smaller size means you do miss out on the larger display. Instead you get a two-digit numeric LCD showing the instrument number and a few playback icons.
It’s still a capable little instrument and very affordable, coming in at around $44. Buy on Amazon.
This lovely little instrument, available in black, white, red and pink, is truly a miniature grand piano for your young child.
While it may lack some of the features of the Casio and Yamaha instruments, its cute factor has to be considered.
The 25 key natural touch mini keyboard is velocity sensitive, and it features 25 sounds, 50 demo songs, the ability to transpose notes, connect headphones, and power from batteries or AC adapter.
It certainly isn’t the cheapest option, coming in at around $240, but is arguably worth the investment. It also comes from another trusted name in keyboard instruments, so you can be assured of its quality. Buy on Amazon.
Melissa & Doug
Although better known for high quality wooden toys in general, Melissa & Doug does offer a couple of interesting tiny pianos which we think many children will adore.
Classic Grand Piano
This beautiful miniature grand piano definitely looks the part, with hinged lid, spindle legs, and a bench included.
It features 30 hand-tuned keys, a colour-coded backboard for identifying notes, and a songbook. A really beautiful addition to a play room or bedroom, it retails for around $160. Buy on Amazon.
For something more colourful than the classic grand above, take a look at the learn-to-play piano, available in pink, blue, and multicolour, and also available to be personalised with a name on the front panel.
Modelled on an upright piano, it features 25 keys, coloured backboard, and illustrated songbook. It retails for around $54. Buy on Amazon.
Record & Learn KidiStudio
Although this offering from VTech is much more akin to purely a toy keyboards, we wanted to include it because it’s from a trusted name in the children’s educational market, and still packs in a number of musical features.
Perhaps the most interesting inclusion is a microphone which can be used to alter the voice and record music. There’s also built-in songs and music lessons, six different instrument sounds and a variety of fun effects.
Retails for around $45. Buy on Amazon.
Schoenhut 30 Baby Grand
This lovely baby grand piano comes in black, white, red and pink finishes and features 30 keys, a bench, and Schoenhut’s patented learning system. It helps to promote hand-eye coordination, develops creativity and introduces very young children to basic keyboard skills and musical concepts.
It retails at around $149 and is available from major online stores. The Schoenhut website currently states that they are completely out of stock but intend to have more instruments available in Spring 2022, so this and other Schoenhut instruments may become scarce in the next few months. Buy on Amazon.
Schoenhut My First Piano II
With a more compact form, the My First Piano II from Schoenhut is a 25-key piano modelled more on an upright acoustic piano, and comes in pink, red or white. It is worth noting that the sound produced by this piano is not like a traditional piano, but more akin to a bell/xylophone effect. It is quite a charming sound.
Retails for around $98. Buy on Amazon.
Schoenhut also make a range of other piano-like instruments for young children so it is worth checking out what else is available.
Classical Kids Piano
Also in the style of a mini grand piano, the GoPlus Classical Kids Piano comes in black or pink, features 30 keys, a bench, and a folding lid. It produces a tone similar to that of a glockenspiel. Retails for around $90. Buy on Amazon.
We have covered some of the best and loveliest mini-sized music keyboards currently available. There are plenty of other variations, some of which may be good and others not so.
It is important to bear in mind that all of these offerings are fairly basic instruments. That’s not to say they have been built badly or have no good features, but simply not to set your expectations too high.
In particular note that not all of the electronic keyboards have touch sensitive keys, so the volume will be the same no matter how hard a key is pressed.
Also, none of the acoustic ‘grand piano’ instruments produce a tone of any real similarity to that of a piano. Most are more like bells, glockenspiels or xylophones. This gives them a particular charm of their own, but also means they are not suitable if a more authentic piano sound is desired.
It is also possible that the acoustic instruments may be slightly out of tune, or lose tuning, over time; something that will not happen to the electronic instruments.
The electronic instruments will likely require frequent replacement of batteries, particularly if the instrument proves popular, or alternatively (where available) a suitable AC adapter can be used.
Look for online deals as it is often possible to find these instruments cheaper than list price, or bundled with additional items such as power adapter, music books, and the like.
Above all, have fun! This may be the start off a beautiful musical adventure for your child.