Learning piano is a journey, made up of many steps. Maybe you've already taken the first ones: deciding on a piano or keyboard and choosing an app like flowkey to be your guide.
Now, you might be thinking about other steps you can take to make your journey even smoother, like setting up a special space for playing piano. Such a space could have everything you need to make your practice sessions both fun and effective.
The right equipment and setup are an important part of this space, no matter whether you're a complete beginner or a seasoned player. To inspire you, we've curated a list of four key piano accessories that will help you build a setup that keeps you comfortable and motivated.
You can sit on anything to play piano—as long as you can reach the keys comfortably—but we believe that using an adjustable piano bench or stool makes a massive difference.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Playing piano takes more than your hands and fingers—it involves your whole body. For this reason, it's important to find a bench that allows you to move fluidly and securely so you can play with a full range of motion and expression.
Benches come in many different forms and price points. Most can be divided into two main design styles:
Traditional: These are probably what come to mind when most people think of a piano bench. They're very sturdy, comfortable, and many have built-in storage under the seat. Traditional benches are usually made of wood and have leather or faux-leather seat cushions. These materials make for a very classy design, but also push up the price point.
Modern: Light, sleek, and portable, these benches tend to be cheaper and a good visual fit for digital pianos. Some models can even be folded down flat, making them a nice option if you're tight on space.
When deciding on a piano bench, consider the amount of space and budget you have, and what look and feel you prefer. Some people find a traditional bench fits better visually with an acoustic piano, but they can be pricier and take up more room than collapsible modern benches.
Consider an adjustable bench
If you're shorter or taller than average, you might want to think about getting an adjustable bench that can be set to a height that's just right for you. Adjustable benches are also great for families where people of different sizes take turns at the piano.
Make sure to try out a bench before you buy it. It's the best way to decide if it feels right for you. Once you've picked your perfect bench, take a look at the "Proper Piano Technique" chapter of flowkey's Beginner's Guide to Learning Piano. It has all the details on how to set up a piano bench in the most comfortable position and tips for maintaining good posture as you sit at your instrument.
While acoustic pianos always come with a built-in structure to support them, you won't find this on electronic keyboards and some digital pianos. You'll want to use a keyboard stand to ensure your instrument sits at the correct height and remains stable when you play.
A good stand is a great support
You can always set your keyboard on a table or desk in a pinch, but investing in a stand that's made for your type of instrument is definitely worth it. It's unlikely that the keyboard will sit at the right height on a table or desk—which can mess with your posture and playing—and, unlike a purpose-built keyboard stand, these surfaces won't offer the right kind of support for your instrument.
There are all different kinds of stands to choose from; most fall into three main styles:
X-style stands: These will be your most affordable, beginner-friendly option. Single X-style models are light and fold away easily (ideal if you live in a smaller space) and work best with smaller, lighter keyboards. You can also get double X-style stands, which give you extra strength and stability—at an extra cost, however.
Z-style stands: These are flexible and sturdy, and tend to come at a higher price. Most Z-style stands can be adjusted length- and width-wise, making them a great fit for almost any sized keyboard or player. They can support heavier instruments and stay very stable, so you don't have to worry about any wobbles. Some higher-end models can even be folded down into a compact shape for storage.
Table-style stands: As their name suggests, these stands resemble a four-legged table. You can adjust the height and width on most models, and many come with hinges and supports for added stability. Table-style stands offer probably the most legroom out of all styles, which is a nice bonus if you're a tall player.
Whatever style you choose, look for a sturdy stand that keeps your keyboard secure, even when you're playing with feeling! It's also a good idea to pick a stand that can be adjusted easily, so you can set it to your ideal height without a lot of hassle.
Connecting with MIDI
If you use flowkey with a keyboard or digital piano, we recommend using MIDI to boost note-recognition accuracy, so you can enjoy an even better playing experience.
flowkey's note-recognition tech is what makes it possible for the app to understand exactly what you're playing and give you instant feedback. The note detection works with the built-in microphone of your device or via MIDI connection, which directly links your device to your keyboard.
Using MIDI is especially helpful if you practice in an environment where there's lots of background noise or if you're playing more complex or fast-paced songs, where precise note detection is vital for picking up on the nuances of your playing.
Note recognition with acoustic pianos
MIDI connections are only possible with digital instruments. If you play on an acoustic piano, you can use your device's built-in microphone for note detection. For the best results, try to keep background noise to a minimum and make sure your piano is tuned to standard pitch (440Hz).
MIDI offers other great possibilities beyond note detection, too. You can use it to connect your keyboard to an app like GarageBand or Audacity and record and mix your own music. MIDI also massively expands the range of sounds you can produce through your keyboard: you can use it to emulate the sound of synthesizers, drum machines, and any instrument you can think of, turning your humble keyboard into a powerful music-production station!
Want to check if your digital instrument supports a MIDI connection? Most keyboards and digital pianos have either USB TO HOST or MIDI ports to connect to other devices. You can usually find these ports on the back of your keyboard. Here's what they look like:
USB TO HOST (USB-B) port on the back of a digital keyboard
You'll need to follow different steps to set up your connection depending on the device you're using. For step-by-step instructions on connecting your keyboard to your device of choice, head on over to the flowkey Help Center.
If you live in an apartment or want to keep the noise down while playing at odd hours, a solid set of headphones for your digital piano can really come in handy. They're also great for helping you focus if you tend to practice in an environment where there's lots of distracting background noise.
You might already be using your day-to-day headphones for piano practice, and it's absolutely fine to keep playing with them. But when you compare your standard headphones to a pair that are designed for playing music, we think you'll notice a massive difference!
Headphones are not one-size-fits-all
Everybody's ears are unique, and that makes a huge impact on the headphones that will be best for you. A set of top-of-the-line headphones that produces amazing sound for one person might seem worse than a cheap pair of earbuds to another. Recommendation guides and reviews are a good starting point, but you shouldn't follow their advice blindly. We strongly advise you to try different kinds of headphones before you buy to make sure you like the sound they produce and they fit comfortably on your head.
While we won't go into the details of suggesting specific products here, we will recommend that you look for two main features in any pair of headphones you try: comfort and sound quality.
You're probably going to be wearing your headphones for extended periods of time, so to find a pair that fits comfortably, keep an eye out for the following features:
- An adjustable headband, so you can fit your headphones to the exact shape of your head.
- Padded ear coverings, which tend to rest more comfortably over your ears when playing for longer periods.
- The weight of your headphones. Some people find that heavier over-the-ear headphones can start feeling uncomfortable after they've been wearing them for several hours, so a lighter pair might work better.
When it comes to sound quality, you'll want to look for headphones that are optimized for the full frequency range of the piano (from 27.5 Hz all the way up to 4,186 Hz on an eighty-eight-key instrument).
Many modern headphones made for listening to music tend to emphasize the bass frequencies to make songs sound fuller. This is less ideal when you're playing music, as these bass frequencies can make the tenor registers of a piano sound muddled.
Several companies now make piano-specific headphones, which are designed to capture a wide dynamic range of sound. They'll be better at bringing out all the depth, nuances, and character of your wonderful instrument.
A Closing Note…
We hope the list above will get you thinking about how best to set up your piano and what accessories might make your practice sessions even better. Remember, you don't need to buy every single piece of equipment or spend lots of money on top-of-the-line accessories. Think about the space you have, how you like to practice, and what tools would enhance your experience. Use that as your guide for creating a piano setup that makes you excited to play and keeps you comfortable while doing so.
That being said, there's one accessory that we think every player should have: flowkey! If you aren't learning with our app already, we definitely recommend giving it a try.
With flowkey, you can learn to play thousands of songs–not just the classics, but everything from pop hits to movie soundtracks. We've created different versions of songs for players of all levels, so you can always find a piece that inspires you.
And there are lots of helpful features to make your practice more effective: you can slow songs down until you learn the rhythm and movements perfectly, play the right- and left-hand parts of a song one at a time, or play a specific section on a loop until you get it just right.
We think flowkey is a great companion for every player, and it's easy to use with any piano or keyboard. To try it for yourself, click the link below to download flowkey and add it to your piano setup in just a few minutes.
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