Modern classroom piano labs allow teachers to teach in a group setting with the flexibility of individual instruction. Finding the right equipment for your classroom piano lab can be a daunting and expensive journey, so before you buy, make sure you know what equipment you will need for your teaching curriculum goals.
There are 4 main components of a classroom piano lab:
- Keyboard or digital pianos
- Teacher and student interfaces
- Two-way communication headphones
- Workstation desks and benches
The most important task is the selection of the proper keyboard or digital piano. There are several important questions you will need to consider during your selection process. How many keys do you require, or have room for, in your classroom? Some MIDI keyboards come with as few as 25 keys while other keyboards have 49-, 61-, and 88-key options. Do you prefer weighted or non-weighted keys? Is high polyphony, the total number of notes a keyboard can play at once, a requirement? Is storage a requirement for saving recordings, MIDI and other media files created? Common storage options include USB ports for flash drives, varying types of card slots, CD burners and internal hard drives.
Once you have selected the keyboard for your lesson curriculum, the second most important component of any piano lab are the teacher and student interface units. Consider the teacher unit as the brains of the lab. This unit is placed at the teacher workstation and receives the outputs of the student units. This master control unit allows the teacher to control the audio routing for the entire classroom. The student unit is placed at each student’s keyboard with an input for the keyboard and output for headphones. Some systems have a keyboard split option to allow two students to use one keyboard at the same time. The output from the student unit is connected directly to the teacher’s master control unit.
Another important component to any classroom piano lab are quality two-way headphones, such as the Koss SB-40, which allow the teacher to monitor a student’s progress and communicate with the student without leaving their desk. Since nearly every sound is routed through the headphones, a virtually silent classroom is created with no soundproofing required for the room.
The final component for any classroom piano lab is the furniture (workstations and benches). Depending on the size of the room, number of students and purpose of your classroom, the type of workstation you will require can vary. It’s important to choose one that will be durable for student use and also flexible to the needs of the classroom. If you are in a multi-purpose classroom, a lightweight folding keyboard stand may be the best option. However, if you have a more permanent classroom location, a more durable workstation desk or a digital piano with a more permanent or built-in stand would be suitable. The same is true for benches or seating. There are a variety of adjustable benches to choose from in the market today. If space is an issue, you may want to consider folding benches that can be stored when not in use. Other options include adjustable benches that also include a storage space for sheet music.
There are several brands of keyboards, digital pianos and interface units on the market today. Some of the more popular brands are Suzuki, Korg, and Yamaha. Each brand has similar and unique options available. Woodwind & Brasswind has created several Keyboard and Piano Lab bundles to help make your shopping experience as easy as possible. Educator discounts and leasing programs are also available. If you need help selecting the right system, our Institutional Staff Advisors will be happy to assist. Call 800.346.4448 for more details.