MIDI keyboards and OS X, want to learn the piano

MacFrag

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 24, 2015
66
22
The Netherlands
Hi all,

I want to learn how to play the piano. I have some experience many years ago with keyboards but now I would like to learn how-to play on the piano.

Rather getting a real piano I would like to try it with OS X so I can also put on a headset and not try to irritate (or amuse) my neighbors.

Could you all please provide me with some pointers for me to start looking at, what MIDI (piano) keyboards, what software (garageband?) and what else I should need to get started either on my hack or on my :apple: MBP 2012.
 

polaris20

macrumors 68020
Jul 13, 2008
2,221
192
You can get a MIDI controller for not a lot of money; probably $100 or so. But I would definitely look for one with weighted, full-sized keys, as it gives it a more piano-like feel. You can use it with GarageBand, which will automatically detect the MIDI input. Just plug headphones into the normal headphone jack; no special drivers are needed for low latency.
 

wesk702

macrumors 68000
Jul 7, 2007
1,807
358
The hood
Go on Craigslist and get a midi keyboard. You can find them crazy cheap and resale even cheaper. Definitely get at least 48-88 keys. Usb powered is a plus. And you might want to get something with at least semi weighted keys. It'll feel better.
 

fastlanephil

macrumors 65816
Nov 17, 2007
1,211
235
If you want to learn to play the PIANO then you should buy a fully weighted digital piano, new or used. They all have headphone outs for silent playing. If you want to record music then a software piano plug-in is the way to go or the GarageBand piano, using your digital piano as a MIDI controller. If you want to use it as a all around MIDI controller then get a digital stage piano with the pitch bend and mod wheels or get a separate MIDI keyboard controller with the pitch bend and mod wheels. The advantage of a MIDI keyboard controller is that it can also have the after touch feature, if you need this, which a digital piano doesn't have and also has a lighter action for non-percussive software instruments.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,652
456
Redondo Beach, California
Hi all,

I want to learn how to play the piano. I have some experience many years ago with keyboards but now I would like to learn how-to play on the piano.

Rather getting a real piano I would like to try it with OS X so I can also put on a headset and not try to irritate (or amuse) my neighbors.

Could you all please provide me with some pointers for me to start looking at, what MIDI (piano) keyboards, what software (garageband?) and what else I should need to get started either on my hack or on my :apple: MBP 2012.
You need a piano keyboard, that means one with a weighted piano action (levers and suck that emulate hammers on a real piano. These weighted action keyboards cost more than simple "synth action" keyboards and very a LOT in price and quality. Kawai makes some really nice keyboards with good realistic action bit so does Roland and Yamaha. Quality ones start of over $500 and quickly go up.

You don't need any MIDI stuff, software of a computer. Just the Kawai/Roland/Yamaha digital piano and a pair of headphones

MIDI and software and computers come into play when you want to record.

There are two basic kinds of digital pianos (1) "Stage Pianos" these are portable instruments but, that said the weighted action is of course "weighted" and a portable instrument might weight 40 or more even 60 pounds and require very solid stand. oe (2) the "home piano" these are designed to look like a very small acoustic piano and have integrated stands made of wood-like material. The advantage of these is that they most come with the full three pedals and the pedals are FIXED to the pianos and don't move about.

The feature to look for is the quality of the piano key action emulation. The high-end pianos from all of the first their companies are very good, better "feel" then some older pianos that ar many times in need of some work. The other feature that is not so important is the quality of the sound. Some do a better job of actually sounding like a grand piano. They come close enough so you can practice but for convincing sound you need some third party software. But then yo are not going to need that for a while

Look at the Yamaha P255. If has a good compromise of features, quality and price. Casio 750 is less expensive and not bad. There are so many to choose from. Go into one of the big stores like Sam Ash and play a few of them. Bring your own headphones.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,652
456
Redondo Beach, California
Go on Craigslist and get a midi keyboard. You can find them crazy cheap and resale even cheaper. Definitely get at least 48-88 keys. Usb powered is a plus. And you might want to get something with at least semi weighted keys. It'll feel better.
The OP syas he has tried "keyboards" and now wants a PIANO. These is a very big difference. Pianos have hammers operated by levers connected to the keys. keyboards simply have springs under the keys. A weighted keyboard has little bits of metal weights glued under the keys and still has springs under the keys. Pianos are mechanically complex and will cost more. Some of the digital pianos actually have a WOODEN key action that works just like the grand piano. Yamaha makes a digital piano that uses the real action off a yamaha grand piano. It is very expensive and better for the much more advanced player.

One mistake not to make: So many beginners thing they are buying their last piano, thinking if they get a good enough one they can use it for a long time. This is wrong. You are buying your FIRST piano, to be upgraded several times every few years.
 

wesk702

macrumors 68000
Jul 7, 2007
1,807
358
The hood
The OP syas he has tried "keyboards" and now wants a PIANO. These is a very big difference. Pianos have hammers operated by levers connected to the keys. keyboards simply have springs under the keys. A weighted keyboard has little bits of metal weights glued under the keys and still has springs under the keys. Pianos are mechanically complex and will cost more. Some of the digital pianos actually have a WOODEN key action that works just like the grand piano. Yamaha makes a digital piano that uses the real action off a yamaha grand piano. It is very expensive and better for the much more advanced player.

One mistake not to make: So many beginners thing they are buying their last piano, thinking if they get a good enough one they can use it for a long time. This is wrong. You are buying your FIRST piano, to be upgraded several times every few years.
No, read again. He wants a midi keyboard. When he says "piano" he means he wants a controller in keyboard format. He does not want to drop $500+ on a piano with midi out. He wants a midi keyboard he can plug into OS X.
 

Morpheo

macrumors 65816
Feb 26, 2014
1,273
1,588
Paris/Montreal
No, read again. He wants a midi keyboard. When he says "piano" he means he wants a controller in keyboard format. He does not want to drop $500+ on a piano with midi out. He wants a midi keyboard he can plug into OS X.
Yeah but since he wants to "learn the piano" it's not just a cheap "midi keyboard"... I'd recommend nothing less than 88-notes, hammer-action controller. 49 or 61 notes is useless in his case. OP, depending on your budget, maybe look for a used one, here are a few options: Akai MPK-88, M-Audio Oxygen 88, Roland A-88... Again, your budget is key. You can also find older models at a more attractive price.
 
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wesk702

macrumors 68000
Jul 7, 2007
1,807
358
The hood
Yeah but since he wants to "learn the piano" it's not just a cheap "midi keyboard"... I'd recommend nothing less than 88-notes, hammer-action controller. 49 or 61 notes is useless in his case. OP, depending on your budget, maybe look for a used one, here are a few options: Akai MPK-88, M-Audio Oxygen 88, Roland A-88... Again, your budget is key. You can also find older models at a more attractive price.
Yeah, at first I was thinking 49-61 would be enough, but can't lose with 88. I kinda wished my MPK261 came in an 88 but love the tricking controller.
 

Tucom

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2006
1,214
274
Not meaning to hijack, and this may pertain to the OPs goal, too. Is there a learning software or game (like Rockband 3's keyboard mode) that runs on OS X that aids in learning how to play? I'm with the OP in wishing to learn the keyboard. Or Piano.
 

fastlanephil

macrumors 65816
Nov 17, 2007
1,211
235
I'm sure there are Windows and OSX software based piano courses available for sale online. A search should bring up some. Another idea might be to check with a community college or extension about the possibility of them offering class piano as a pay per credit hour adult course.

Just learning chords and scales can go along way in understanding the piano. The biggest diffence between the piano and other keyboard instruments is that the piano is a percussive instrument. The harder you hit the keys the louder it sounds. This gives it another musical dimension along with use of the pedals, mainly the sustain pedal.
 
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JoelTheSuperior

macrumors 6502
Feb 10, 2014
384
297
London, UK
No, read again. He wants a midi keyboard. When he says "piano" he means he wants a controller in keyboard format. He does not want to drop $500+ on a piano with midi out. He wants a midi keyboard he can plug into OS X.
The fact is though that those MIDI keyboards have really bad action for piano playing. You're much better off buying a proper digital piano and using that. Most digital pianos now (if not basically all) have MIDI out so you can still use them as a MIDI keyboard.
 

Greene

macrumors regular
Jul 15, 2015
149
42
Fort Worth
A word of warning about midi keyboards with weighted keys: If all you want to do is play in the style of an acoustic piano, they're great! If you want to do anything else, especially laying down a drum track, the weighting can get in the way.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,652
456
Redondo Beach, California
No, read again. He wants a midi keyboard. When he says "piano" he means he wants a controller in keyboard format. He does not want to drop $500+ on a piano with midi out. He wants a midi keyboard he can plug into OS X.

the OP is not here and may not be reading what we type but he wrote

"I want to learn how to play the piano. I have some experience many years ago with keyboards but now I would like to learn how-to play on the piano...
He makes a distinction when he uses both words piano and keyboard. But we don't know much else.
 
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