Beginner Pianos: What to Buy from a Teacher's Perspective

By Daz Thornton at The Piano Vault

As a piano teacher, it is very rare that I start working with a beginner who already owns a piano. Some arrive at their first lesson thinking that learning the piano simply involves turning up once a week. Others state that they are going to see how the lessons go, and then invest in an instrument once they are sure that it is something that they want to do. There are also those who are keen to buy an instrument to get them started, but understandably, don't have a clue what they need.

Let's take a look at what a beginner pianist will need as an absolute minimum to give them the best start on their piano playing journey, assuming they can't accommodate an acoustic piano.


Weighted keys are a feature that digital pianos (and some keyboards/portable stage pianos) include in their design to help mimic the action of an acoustic piano. By pressing a key on an acoustic grand piano, a series of mechanical parts are set into motion with the aim of throwing a hammer at the string(s).  This creates the familiar sound of a piano and provides a pianist with the level of control that is required to produce an array of expressive possibilities.

You can read more about the importance of weighted keys here in a separate blog post that I dedicated to the subject.



Many beginners often start their piano journey not only with an unweighted keyboard, but also one that only has a 61 key range. The standard number of keys on a piano is 88 keys, which means that if you were to progress quickly, you will soon run out of keys in pieces that require the standard 88 key range.

Another problem that a 61 key (5 octave) keyboard presents is disorientation. When a pupil arrives for a lesson who has already acquired one of these instruments, they often find it difficult to position their hands on the full 88 keyed piano, sometimes even playing an octave too high or low. This is due to the centre point on a 61 keyed keyboard being slightly offset  to that of an 88 keyed piano. Also, the missing keys on each end of their instrument becomes the norm to them, so when faced with a full size piano, the extra keys distort their spacial awareness.

To avoid this disorientation, as well as probably needing to upgrade from a 61 keyed keyboard relatively quickly, I point out to my beginner pupils that it would be a good idea to go for the full 88 keyed setup from the start.  This way, you are minimising any disruption to your learning.


Many keyboards come with an array of buttons positioned above the keys.  These are often a huge distraction, particularly to a younger learner. I often hear from parents that their child seems more interested in what these buttons do, such as activating various rhythm sequences, accompaniments, and a myriad of alternative sounds to that of a standard piano setting.  Who can blame them really, but, it is distracting them from actually working on the material that they have been given to prepare for their next piano lesson.

By choosing an instrument that keeps these buttons to a minimum, you will avoid the temptation of a beginner wanting to try out all these alternative features, as well as the practice sessions becoming unfocused, and unproductive.


On an acoustic piano, a key strike lasts much longer at the bass end of the instrument than it does at the treble.  This is due to the strings being longer and thicker towards the left hand side, and gradually becoming thinner and shorter towards the right hand side.

On some keyboards, the piano sound after a key has been struck does not behave in a way that it would on an acoustic or quality digital piano.  Often the sound will decay very quickly, which becomes a problem if the student needs to hold a key down for an extended time. If the sound decays before they have finished counting the length of a note, this will be extremely off-putting and counter productive.

When selecting an instrument, it is important that it responds in a way that is appropriate for what they are being asked to practise.  If it doesn't, their listening, counting, skills are being affected by an instrument that is not supporting them in terms of realistic sound duration.


When beginner pupils start their lessons with me, and don't have the space or budget for an acoustic piano, I always go through the above points when pointing out what they should be looking for in an instrument that is easily movable, but ticks all the above boxes.

Many manufacturers offer a beginner 'entry range' of portable, weighted keyed instruments that provide a good basis for building a piano technique. One such instrument at a very affordable price is the Casio CDP-S100. See the short video below for an overview:

This instrument is ideal for all the reasons I have discussed above. A young pupil of mine who is still using a 61 keyed keyboard tried out this instrument felt that it took him that step closer to the pianos that I have in my studio.

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There is more to it than meets the eye  when selecting a piano for the first time. If you follow the above suggestions, you can't go far wrong.  I would advise though that where possible, you try before you buy, unless you are taking advice from someone who's opinion you really trust.

A portable beginners piano such as the Casio CDP-S100 would be a good choice here, and, will not break the bank at approx £325.  Just for the key action alone, this price is fantastic!

If however you would like something more substantial than a beginners piano, why not try this piano selector to help you find an instrument that is right for you:

Find out more about the Casio CDP-S100 here:

Listen to more of the Casio CDP-S100 in this specially selected playlist

The Practice Tools Workshop

By Graham Fitch

This past Saturday, I embarked on a brand new venture – an interactive workshop on The Practice Tools, using technology to maximum advantage.

Sponsored by Casio Music UK, we hired a large conference room at the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel in London, which was set up with 15 Casio CDP-S100 digital pianos – and a Grand Hybrid GP-500 on the stage. Delegates were easily able to get to this central location and arrived not only from the UK but also from Europe to take part in the day.


We met at 9:30 for welcome tea and coffee and started with an introduction to Casio’s range of pianos by Chris Stanbury, and then moved on to our introductory session – a demonstration of how to use The Feedback Loop as the basis for all we do in piano practice.

There followed four sessions, aimed at the intermediate to advanced player as well as piano teachers. Each 60-minute session was divided up into three segments – a presentation from me on a particular topic, a breakout session where each delegate was able to plug their headphones (provided by Casio) into their own piano and try out the practice techniques I had just demonstrated, then a Q&A session where people could ask questions or give feedback. I provided practice worksheets for each topic, but the practice during the breakout session was not restricted to the repertoire extracts I had suggested – people brought their own music and practised what they wanted.

There were many benefits to this format. 

  • People got to try out very specific practice tools immediately after an explanation and demonstration, so that they could experiment with them while they were still fresh in the memory

  • Questions and further explanation or demonstration could be offered immediately, so there was no confusion

  • Nobody needed to play in front of the group unless they chose to, so there was no performance anxiety or nerves whatever associated with the workshop


The first session was all about slow practice, how to use ultra-slow practice speeds to hear and feel every single atom and molecule of the phrase so that nothing slips by our radar. Practising slowly is really quite challenging, and the mind and ear need to be fully engaged to derive the benefit. The second session was all about various ways to bring a piece up to speed (when not to use slow practice) with a special focus on up-to-speed chaining (using The Feedback Loop to correct errors and to refine and finesse). I had the feeling this was an especially important session for those who had struggled with fluency and coordination when playing at fast tempos.

After an elegant lunch, when we were able to chat and socialise a bit, we had a session on controlled stops – how to use the Floating Fermata in our practice to plan ahead and digest the music in our heads before laying our hands on the keyboard. 

The final session was all about managing repetition in practice. I demonstrated many different ideas to the group who seemed very keen to try some of these out in the breakout session.

After tea, we ended with a 60-minute wrap-up where we gathered around a piano and had a mini-masterclass on aspects of practice as well as technique. By that time, everyone seemed well and truly nourished and probably slept very well that night!

Some of the practice techniques we covered in the workshop can be found in the free Grand Hybrid taster e-book.

For news of more workshops, offers and resources it’s worth joining Casio’s Piano Teacher Network.

Click here to sign up to Graham Fitch newsletter

Two Pianos Rock ’n’ Roll Experience Review The PX-S1000

By Al & David 
Two Pianos - Rock ’n’ Roll Experience 

We are very excited to be using the Casio Privia PX-S1000 Digital Piano as part of our Two Pianos rock ’n’ roll production, which is currently touring UK theatres and we want to share our experience of using the PX-S1000 live on stage. 

The first thing that strikes you about the PX-S1000 is it’s compact size and portability. Weighing around 11kg, it’s very light weight and easy to carry around, especially if you are walking long distances for load-ins or venue to venue. It’s snug-fit carry case comes with adjustable shoulder straps, which make carrying the piano very little effort especially if you need to walk with it over long distances. I have struggled in the past with heavy stage pianos when transporting them, especially when it comes to commuting around busy cities like the London Underground. With it’s shoulder straps and light weight, it makes the journey so much more pleasant and you will hopefully not be worn out by the time you’re ready to perform. We had the opportunity to do serval shows on the Norfolk Broads last month and transporting the PXS-1000 was such a joy. It even runs on 6AA batteries if you can't access a mains supply!

Once set up the PX-S1000 boasts a very elegant, stylish and slimline appearance, with a shiny touch screen selection panel and a depth of 20.3cm and 10.2cm height. As part of our Two Pianos production we are required to house the pianos within a replica grand piano case to add visual effect to our live shows. We have had 2 new cases made to fit our new PX-S1000’s, which have reduced in size and weight from our previous cases, reflecting on the compact size and weight of these digital pianos. It also makes transporting them much easier, reducing load space, weight and  travel costs!

The PX-S1000 hosts a selection of instrument sounds, including several piano and electric piano sounds, harpsichord, strings and a range of organs. In our show, we tend to use piano sounds only, though with two pianos simultaneously playing, it is vital for us to achieve the distinction between each piano. We achieve this by using different piano patch selections. Alan tends to play in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis, so he finds using a brighter ‘rock piano’ sound has more cut within a live band situation. Also playing heavy rock ’n’ roll piano for over 2 hours can take its toll on your fingers, so having the option of a brighter piano sound is helpful and can reduce any over playing. myself on the other hand, I like to use a softer piano sound to suit my style of playing, which is more bluesy and jazzy. I have used both the default piano sound and the Jazz piano selection, which has a slight chorus effect on it that does sound rather nice on some of the ballads and country songs we perform. 

Touch and feel. The PXS-1000 has a very light and responsive touch, but still retains a great weighted key action. Playing the heavy rock ’n’ roll style of piano that we do, we tend to move around the keyboard quite quickly, with the right hand playing blues and jazz licks and left hand playing boogie boogie and rock ’n’ roll rhythms. The key response is very forgiving and allows you to play what you intend to play, if this makes sense. Some electric pianos can be be very light on touch, response and weight so getting this combination right is essential when playing tricky and technical stuff.  

There are lots of technical features such as split keyboard, sensitivity, transpose, bluetooth connection and the facility to connect to your phone to the via the ‘Chordiana Play for Piano’ app as a control surface. This is very useful on stage as the keyboard doesn’t have a display screen, so it does make selections easier to see on stage in live and pressured situations. 

We would highly recommend the Casio Privia PX-S1000 for it’s sound, portability and price and we are looking forward to performing with them on tour with Two Pianos. 

The Technology Behind Grand Hybrid

Grand Hybrid pianos are renowned for their authentic touch, thanks to the pioneering Natural Grand Hammer Action.

However, there is a lot more to these instruments than just an outstanding hybrid key design. Chris Stanbury reveals more about what makes these award-winning instruments unique.

The heart and soul of Grand Hybrid - Bechstein’s D282 Concert Grand Piano

The heart and soul of Grand Hybrid - Bechstein’s D282 Concert Grand Piano

Three European Piano Tones

Thanks to Casio’s collaboration with C.Bechstein, one of Europe’s most prestigious acoustic piano manufacturers, every Grand Hybrid has the heart and soul of a legendary acoustic grand inside, the D282 (RRP £138,000). Every note of this fine instrument is digitally recreated, giving you the same beautiful sound in a more compact form (plus, you can use headphones for silent practice!).

What’s more, there are two other European piano tones to explore too, named ‘Hamburg’ and ‘Vienna’ after the locations of other famous piano manufacturers. This is an incredible opportunity for students to explore the contribution that different piano tones make to their performance.

String Resonance, Duplex Scaling and Much More

When we hear a traditional piano, we’re not usually aware of how many different parts there are to the sound itself. Most digital pianos only capture the main part, what we call the basic ‘core tone’. As a result of intensive research carried out by Bechstein and Casio, a much more realistic recreation was possible that looked much more closely at the different parts of what make up a piano tone:

String Resonance - These are the extra harmonics that you can hear ‘ringing’ when you play an acoustic piano. Put simply, it’s the sound of the strings resonating which gives an acoustic piano its richness. These harmonics are also heard in every Grand Hybrid, as the ultra-fast AiR sound processor has a complete set of ‘virtual strings’ which are modelled in realtime when you play.

Duplex Scaling - In the largest concert grand pianos, the notes of the top third of the instrument have an extra fourth string. More strings per note mean a more brilliant sound, designed to fill a concert hall. The GP400 and GP500 recreate this incredible clarity, reproducing the sound of the finest acoustic instruments.

Action Noise - The mechanical noises of the keys and hammers working are part of every acoustic piano. Strangely, most digital pianos do not include these. Casio believe that these elements are an important part of an instrument’s character, which is why they are included in GP400 and GP500 models.

Key Off Simulator - Did you know that the speed of key release changes the sound of a note? Every Grand Hybrid senses whether a key is released quickly or slowly, for true legato and staccato tone reproduction.

Hear the acoustic of famous venues as you play, such as Sydney Opera House.

Hear the acoustic of famous venues as you play, such as Sydney Opera House.

Hall Simulator

When designing the Grand Hybrid series, engineers in Japan and Berlin made it their mission to produce an instrument that embraced digital technology.

One of the results of this forward-thinking approach is Hall Simulator. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to perform in a world-famous venue, Hall Simulator brings this dream one step closer to reality.

Using scientific measurements taken from Sydney Opera House, Wembley Stadium and many more, the advanced AiR processor in Grand Hybrid calculates the change in acoustics that you would hear if you were really playing in these famous places. The result is spectacular and has to be heard to be believed!

Watch pianist Graham Fitch show you how you can enjoy learning the piano and practising pieces using the Concert Play Feature, on the Casio Grand Hybrid.

Concert Play

Imagine being on stage with a world-famous symphony orchestra. This is the essence of Casio’s free Concert Play library. Stored in every Grand Hybrid are high-quality audio recordings of 15 pieces of specially-arranged orchestral masterpieces, ready for you to play along to. The musical scores are included, plus there are over 30 new arrangements to be downloaded free from Casio’s webpage.

Casio team up with Graham Fitch to release new eBook: ‘Practicing the Piano - an introduction to practice strategies and piano technique’


Casio Music UK is excited to reveal a new eBook in collaboration with one of the UK’s most esteemed and respected piano teachers, Graham Fitch. Entitled ‘Practising the Piano - an introduction to practice strategies and piano technique’, this eBook is a compilation of popular content based on Graham’s multimedia eBook series and is available for free.  Download it here.

For this release, Casio has collaborated with Graham to produce a guide to equip piano teachers with tips, and the tools to help enhance their piano teaching skills and thus create the next generation of talented pianists. 

Based on the series of eBooks from Practising the Piano - Graham’s popular multimedia eBook series - this latest instalment features popular extracts and highlights from previous editions. It comes together resulting in a useful resource providing practical expertise and tips on getting the most out of practice, specifically advising upon practice strategies and piano technique. 

Available as a free download the eBook introduces different approaches and strategies to practice, such as building a firm foundation, using quarantining to fix trouble spots and how to maintain pieces, through to practicing for maintenance. The eBook also offers guidance on how to organise practice sessions, outlines some essential tools needed and dives into the history of piano technique. It even includes selected notes and walkthroughs from Graham’s popular series on Burgmuller’s 25 Easy and Progressive Studies.

The eBook also introduces the reader to Casio’s Grand Hybrid Teacher Network, ensuring all that download the material have an opportunity to join a piano teacher community offering rich teaching resources, FREE workshops and special offers.

From Graham Fitch: My new eBook release with Casio aims to provide piano teachers everywhere the tangible tools and skills to help teachers and their students get better results from their practice between lessons. By making it free, we hope this will encourage teachers to download and utilise as part of their day-to-day work. The art of practising is often overlooked in music education, so it’s great Casio have teamed up with me to support them even further.

Based in London, Graham maintains an international career not only as a pianist, but also as a teacher, adjudicator, lecturer, writer and commentator on piano playing. He regularly updates his popular blog and his Practising the Piano multimedia eBook series has gone on to become widely acclaimed, read in over 70 countries.

Casio’s premium Celviano Grand Hybrid range is designed in collaboration with esteemed acoustic piano manufacturer C. Bechstein, it combines full-length precision wooden keys replicating the natural travel and the recoil of an acoustic grand piano, but with the added benefits of innovative digital sound technology. 

Practising the Piano - an introduction to practice strategies and piano technique’, is a free downloadable eBook available here. For more information, head to:

Looking for the best digital piano for beginners?

With so many models of digital piano to choose from, how do you know which is best?

Casio’s new CDP-S100 includes features that have never been seen before on a CDP piano. Here’s 7 things that make it the best digital piano for beginners in 2019:

Compact design

If you thought you needed lots of space to store a piano, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how little room the CDP-S takes up. It’s one of the most compact digital pianos available with built-in speakers and is 33% smaller than the previous CDP range.

New Piano Tone

The new CDP-S range uses a brand new piano tone which is capable of reproducing the fine nuances of an acoustic grand piano sound in much more detail than ever before. This is really important, as it means that students can learn to play with expression and dynamic contrast in the same way as if they were playing an acoustic piano.

New Key Action

Although you may have a digital piano at home, your teacher or school may have an acoustic piano instead. To make sure you develop the correct finger technique, what you practise on at home should offer the same key weighting as a traditional instrument. Casio’s new Scaled Hammer Action II does exactly that, so you can learn on a CDP-S100 and play an acoustic piano with confidence in your lessons, exams and concerts.

Ivory Touch Keys

Each white and black key on the CDP-S100 is textured to feel like those on a traditional piano. This is really unique, as the keys on most beginner pianos are just plain plastic. Having premium textured keys on the CDP-S allows you to play more comfortably and with more precision.

Chordana Play Piano App

Casio have developed a new app for Android and iOS devices, called Chordana Play Piano. It’s free and can downloaded from your app store. You can use it to control the settings on CDP-S100 , view PDF music scores and learn new songs using the built-in games.

Audio Input

This is a great feature if you want to play along to your favourite songs, or if you have music scores that use backing tracks (such as the free music downloads you can get with Casio’s collaboration with Rockschool). Use a standard 3.5mm audio cable to connect your media device (purchased separately) and hear your music through the CDP-S100’s built-in speakers.

Battery Power Option

Playing an outdoor gig? Practising in your garden studio? Maybe dashing off to a rehearsal? The CDP-S100 has a battery power option in addition to the included power supply. Simply install 6 AA batteries and you have up to 13 hours of playing time.

Explore the CDP-S Range


By Vivienne Luxford

What makes a band stylish and smart?

Stylish and smart are two words most people wouldn’t associate with music. Music means different things to different people, but I believe to stand out in the sea of others, bands must adopt a stylish and smart approach. A truly respected musician is smart enough to not change their style to suit the demands of a record label or radio, but instead produces their art authentically. 

Here are three artists who are changing the way they produce their art, in a stylish, smart, and unique way.   

Client Liaison 


Client Liaison immediately came to mind when I thought of smart and stylish. The Melbourne synth-pop quartet merges 80’s-Australiana-business aesthetic with an injection of pastel, to create something from a nostalgic dream. However, they are anything but out-dated; rather a time-transcending audio-visual feast for the senses- welcome to the world of Client Liaison. 

“International in flavour, cosmopolitan in style- we are Client Liaison”

Filling the stage with strong vocals and in your face outfits- high-waisted suits in plain pastel or embroidered with Australian iconography- Client Liaison still have a suave and stylish feeling about them. It’s interesting to note that an all-male band actively puts effort into their fashion, with multiple costume changes in one set. To add to the bands personal style and aesthetic, they created their own clothing, Client Liaison Deluxe Line, which blurs the line between fashion and merchandise, a business venture never-before-seen in Australian music.  

To complete the Client Liaison world, Expo Liaison, an Expo 88 themed mini festival for their “shareholders” (fans); a 7 hour event showcasing “all things Client Liaison.” With special guest, Australian legend John Farnham, Client Liaison continually link back to their style and kitsch of Australiana branding that fans have come to expect.  

Client Liaison is loved for their unique music sound, but are also loved for their outlandish and bold fashion choices, and making those choices accessible to their fans. They have created a well-rounded artistic style, integrating music and fashion to create their own universe within the Australian music landscape. 

Okay, but what if you don’t know what they look like? 
Without the visual aid, can they still be stylish?

Whilst ‘looks’ is the obvious answer, stylish and smart can also relate to how the band sounds.  Smooth vocals, sounds with a purpose, catchy lyrics and the ability to transform their environment into an intimate experience (whether live or listening through headphones) help obtain this image. 

Running Touch


Running Touch is touted as a “mysterious producer” and multi-instrumentalist from Melbourne, producing electro-dance hits. Arguably his most stylish song, “Better Together” is a collaboration with Australian electro-pop singer Hayden James, drips with dapperness. It’s a hip-swinger within the first second. Clean and crisp beats create an infectious production, and James’ clever lyricism makes this a slick and stylish dance floor hit. 

Unlike Client Liaison, Running Touch couldn’t be more separate from his music, stating, “I keep it anonymous to keep the limelight on the art…rather than who I am.” Anonymity allows him to escape the spotlight, and let the music speak for itself, rather than clutter the image of Running Touch- a minimalistic approach in a modern world defined by visuals. His music is full of atmospheric niceties, and using instruments to distinguish sections of “Better Together.

Running Touch has used his privacy to focus on making his music sound better, without any “gimmicky” tricks. Listeners don’t always need a face, identity or persona to follow and cling to, as it can sometimes distract from what the artist actually represents- music.  

Confidence Man 


Whilst you only see two band members, Confidence Man screams ‘effortlessly stylish.’ This semi elusive quartet is a conglomerate of Brisbane bands, all from indie-rock backgrounds, coming together to create a dance-pop sound. Moonlighting under the pseudonyms Janet Planet, Sugar Bones, Clarence McGuffie, and Reggie Goodchild, the band uses these hyperbole personalities to reflect the vanity and obnoxiousness in present in society. 

Confidence Man has an artistic maximalist approach to their projects. Their video clips are littered with visual red herrings, however it is unapologetically aesthetic with professionally choreographed danced routines. Although they use pseudonyms, McGuffie & Goodchild wear black beekeeping hats even when on stage, giving a strange air of drama and intrigue to their style. 

Their Splendour in the Grass 2017 set was divisive amongst critics. A choreographed dance routine to their hit single “Boyfriend (Repeat)” left some people confused as to what is music or art, however, it was quintessentially Confidence Man, stylishly sticking it to the man. You can’t deny the thousands of people all dancing full of energy is something to discredit the band for.  

The band is visually overwhelming, however, their sound is anything but “littered.” Confidence Man has great commercial appeal, but their music doesn’t fit into the parameters of mainstream pop, nor does it reflect modern indie dance music; it’s a strange self-contained genre solely consisting of Confidence Man. A smart but bold choice for a band that is still in its infancy, only being signed in 2017.  

On paper, these artists may have little in common; but they’re all just…cool, because they are passionate for the sound and the aesthetic world they have created. Client Liaison has created their own universe, Running Touch is a shadow in a world dominated by visuals, and Confidence Man live by their “stupider the better” motto. However, their choices don’t feel forced or a façade for something (or someone) else. They know who they are and aren’t ashamed of it. Now that’s pretty smart and stylish to me. 

The Stylish And Smart Series - Episode 1

Written by Demi Leigh, creator of Lost In The Sound UK

The music industry is an inspiring place to look for individuals that are both Stylish & Smart. For me, those qualities lie in the artists that have done well to capture their own unique individuality and went on to forge their own path from it. Immediately coming to mind was the talents that embraced their own essence perfectly and by doing so, blessed us with their pure originality in its best musical form—untouchable classics such as Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, Tupac and David Bowie are a perfect example of this. Musicians who knew exactly who they were as creators and by doing things their way, resulted in their work remaining loved and adored by generations all across the world. It was their undeniable passion and complete dedication to keeping a firm hold of their authenticity and vision, that not only had an impact on the quality of their work, but the appeal that surrounded them and furthermore granted their ultimate success. It’s why they, among others, have gone on to inspire the future of music in such an incredible way. All while firmly reminding us, that our individuality should always be embraced.

Many of today’s musicians share in these values. 

Being stylish is more than just the way you look, it’s how you carry yourself. The way you move and adapt with the times, while managing to keep a hold of your authenticity through every step. It’s finding who you are as an artist by following your heart and doing what feels right to you. Smart is sticking to that and staying true to yourself no matter what. It’s knowing what you as an individual can bring to the table and letting your differences inspire and carry you forward.

Below is my pick of a particularly stylish and smart bunch of artists that I am loving right now. Each making music a more special place to lose ourselves in, as they carry on blazing their own trail into 2019 and beyond.


Easy life

Easy life


This five-piece, Leicester-raised band, have been making their mark in the music industry since their brilliant debut single ‘Pockets’ dropped back in 2017. Gripping us with their fresh, creative and totally chilled tones, the guys have been surfing on their own wave ever since. As their storytelling tunes echo the influences of different genres,

merging the likes of jazz, R&B, indie, pop and hip-hop into their distinctive sound and infusing the overall creation in their own Easy Life essence—the boys certainly are a stylish bunch of creators. Joining forces as a group brought a whole host of strengths to their mix, allowing the collective to become a multi-talented force of musical good stuff. Led by frontman Murray, who forms the band alongside bassist, saxophonist and singer Sam, drummer Cass, guitarist Louis and Jordan on the keys and backing vocals; their combined creativity and talent have allowed the group to craft up a superb collection of tunes already and it’s only the beginning for them. Press play on their latest Spaceships mixtape below:



A force to be reckoned with, the super talented Bedford-born musician, Tom Grennan, stands in a total league of his own. His incredible vocals have a unique power behind them that will blow you away from the very first note he sings, especially when hearing him perform live. The music Tom

creates feels as though it beams directly from the very core of him. Charged full of his heart and soul, his songs tear through the distance and connect him instantly with his listeners, as his relatable lyrics passionately resonate with every play. He is an artist who appears to do things his way, owning his story and who he is, and projecting that in all its honesty through his art. Keeping his rawness and originality firmly intact, is a key element in Tom Grennan’s appeal as a creative. It’s also why he stands as one of the finest male solo artists in the UK right now. His debut album, Lighting Matches, released last year holds the proof of that in every track. Listen below:



Raleigh Ritchie, real name Jacob Anderson, has been a favourite of mine for a long time! He has a special way of wrapping his feelings and emotions up into the most brilliantly, creative little packages and then gifts them to the world in the form of songs. From the lyrics he delivers, to the production and visuals attached to his tracks, Raleigh is a creator who

perfectly sculpts his work into the first-class art that it is. The musicians debut album, You’re A Man Now, Boy—alongside each of his amazing EP’s—are a perfect example of his talents. He lowers his guard and bears all through his sound, which allows him to connect with his listeners in a very special and personal way. By embracing his individuality, Raleigh Ritchie stands apart from the crowd with ease. And with his music serving as a gateway into his one-of-a-kind world, Planet-Ritchie is a bloody good place to be! Find out for yourself below:



Hailing from Toronto, the incredible Jessie Reyez was an instant standout from the very first moment I heard her. Hitting the industry like a breath of fresh air, Jessie’s sound is hard to ignore. The raw talent she holds is captured in everything she produces and with her creative way of weaving through a

range of different moods, styles and lyrical topics in her material, the artist constantly keeps things fresh and exciting. From her captivating, love-infused breakout single ‘Figures’, to the hard-hitting ‘Gatekeeper’ and the attitude oozing Body Count’—everything Reyez crafts up is golden. She knows exactly who she is as an artist, which gives her a confidence that rolls boldly across each one of her tunes. The style and vision of Jessie Reyez as a musician, is presented through her current two EP’s, Kiddo released in 2017 and Being Human In Public, out in Autumn last year. We’re currently pending the release of her debut album, but there’s no doubt that it will be a beast of a creation. Watch this space.



Presenting us with a warm and wholesome energy in the atmosphere of his sound, South London MC Loyle Carner, sails in his own direction as an artist. By pressing play on his music, Carner’s storytelling, poet like qualities, read us through different pages of his life, as we’re welcomed in to listen to the echoes of his memories, feelings and the relationships he has with those close to him. He is an artist who

wears his heart openly on his sleeve and by having the confidence to do so, just increases his appeal. The release of his sophomore album, Not Waving, but Drowning out last month—a follow-up to his debut Yesterday’s Gone back in 2017—brought more of his distinctive features back to the attention of the industry. As we listen to his easy-going flow pace the music in his mellow laid-back manner—we are once again reminded that doing things our own way, is what this life is really all about.

Weighted Piano Keys: Why They Are Important for a Beginner.

By Daz Thornton at The Piano Vault

When I interview a prospective pupil, it frequently turns out that they don't currently own an acoustic or digital piano. They may have a keyboard, which is better than nothing, but, not really ideal for developing a good piano playing skills.

One of the questions that they ask is "what do you recommend as an instrument to get me started?" Many beginners / beginner's parents in the initial stages of learning are not always willing or able to invest in an instrument that will take them beyond the beginner standard of playing. With this in mind, it is important that I recommend an instrument that is affordable enough for them to decide whether piano playing is for them or not, but more importantly, it needs to be something that will help the pupil experience something of the feel and touch of an acoustic piano. This is where full size weighed keys are an important consideration.



Weighted keys are a feature that digital pianos (and some keyboards/portable pianos) include in their design to help mimic the action of an acoustic piano. You can see from the example above that by pressing a key on an acoustic grand piano, a series of mechanical parts are set into motion with the aim of throwing a hammer at the string(s). This creates the familiar sound of a piano and provides a pianist with the level of control that is required to produce an array of expressive possibilities.


Weighted keys will bring the beginner pianist closer to that of an acoustic piano, helping them feel the sensitivity required to push down the keys with different levels of control, as opposed to those on most keyboards that are unweighted. Unweighted keys do not provide the resistance that is needed to develop piano playing skills.

To make a good start in developing their piano technique, the learner needs to feel that they are pushing against they key to play a note, and also experience the sensation of the key pushing back up when returning to its resting position. On a larger scale, this is a little like the sensation of being sat on one end of a seesaw.

The unweighted keys that you get on many keyboards, don't provide this sensation, and will result in a pupil practising on an instrument that doesn't resemble the key resistance of an acoustic piano. This often presents them with quite a shock when they start to play for their teacher on a weighted action for instance. The evenness of their playing can be affected due to their fingers not building up the strength to move from one key to another, which in turn will also affect the dynamic level and tone they produce from the instrument.


For beginners who are on a budget, and/or may be limited for space, they may like to consider an instrument that is portable like a keyboard, but includes the type of weighted action that has been spoken about above.

Many manufacturers offer a beginner 'entry range' of portable, weighted keyed instruments that provide a good basis for building a piano technique. One such instrument (at a very affordable price I might add) is the Casio CDP-S100. See the short video below for an overview:

Casio have also gone to the trouble of designing these weighted keys to have a textured finish, rather than the slippery shiny plastic feel that is often used on keyboards. This adds a feeling of quality to the keys, which is great for an entry level product, as well as providing an element of grip whilst playing.

Whilst trying out this instrument, I asked a young pupil of mine (who currently owns an unweighted keyboard) what her first impressions were of these weighted keys. She answered by saying that the keys on her keyboard were "easier to push down". I then explained to her mother that she shouldn't be fooled by her usage of the word "easy". Just because there is very little resistance when pushing down on an unweighted keyboard, it doesn't mean that it will be of any benefit to her playing or in developing a good sense of control at the piano. In other words, don't associate the word 'easy' with the word 'beneficial' It would be like going to the gym and handing someone a really light dumbbell. They may be "easy" to lift, but that is not going to help in developing muscles. It is the weight and the resistance of the keys on an instrument like the Casio CDP-S100 that will help a beginner develop the finger control they need as a piano player.



It may be tempting as a beginner to go for a cheaper keyboard over something a little more substantial in the early stages of learning. What usually ends up happening though, is that a player will soon need to upgrade to an instrument that will take them further than a simple keyboard with unweighted keys can achieve. With this being the case, I would advise that you invest a little more in providing something that offers what they need to start them on their musical journey from the very start of their piano lessons, for all the reasons I have listed above.

A portable beginners piano such as the Casio CDP-S100 would be a good choice here, and, will not break the bank at approx £325. Just for the key action alone, this price is fantastic!

If however you would like something more substantial than a beginners piano, why not try this piano selector to help you find an instrument that is right for you:

Find out more about the Casio CDP-S100 here:

Listen to more of the Casio CDP-S100 in this specially selected playlist: