Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Printables

DIY: Silent Mini Keyboards

I recently decided that I wanted to own a set of silent keyboards for doing introductory piano activities with young children, and for using during group theory activities.  Unfortunately, buying a set of silent plastic keyboards (view them at musicinmotion.com) can be a rather large studio expense.  Of course, a cheap alternative would be to simply print a picture of a keyboard on paper.  But there is something nice about the 3D features of a silent keyboard…so I decided to make my own.  I got the idea from Anne Cosby Gaudet’s Piano Discoveries website, where she made similar keyboards with wood and foam.

My DIY (Do It Yourself) mini keyboards do not have true-to-life sized keys as the store-bought plastic silent keyboards have.  However, I spent less on the supplies for making a set of six keyboards than it would have cost me to buy just one plastic silent keyboard!  Here’s how I made my set of six keyboards:

Materials:

  • 1 package of 6 wooden slats (each piece measures approx. 7 x 3 inches and 1/4 inch thick; these packages are available at craft stores for about $3).
  • white acrylic paint
  • small paintbrush
  • an ultra fine tipped black permanent marker
  • ruler
  • clear lacquer spray / acrylic spray
  • pair of scissors
  • 1 sheet of extra thick black foam
  • clear silicone adhesive/glue (less smelly than other strong glues, although other glues may work just as well.)

Instructions:

  • Paint each piece of wood using 2-3 coats of white paint, as needed.
  • After the paint dries, use the thin black permanent marker and a ruler to draw the lines between the white keys on each white board (to form 12 equally-sized white keys).
  • Coat all sides of the wood pieces using the acrylic spray, following the directions indicated on the can.
  • Cut 1cm x 4cm rectangles out of the foam sheet.  You will need a total of 48 black keys for 6 keyboards.  Use the clear silicone adhesive to glue the black keys to the wooden boards in groups of 2’s and 3’s.

A few quick examples of ways to use silent keyboards:

  • Introducing keyboard topography to groups of preschool / pre-piano students: Ask them to cover the black key group of two with fingers 2 and 3.  Then ask them to find Middle C and other notes.  They can even “play” beginner songs together in rhythm on their mini keyboards.
  • A reference tool when teaching theory: Students can find and “play” chords on their mini keyboard in front of them as needed while you are teaching or they are completing a worksheet.  Or, students could also use glass gems to form chords, five-finger patterns, etc.

Download a printer-friendly pdf of the instructions at the Printables > Other Resources page by scrolling down to the D’s for “DIY: Silent Mini Keyboards.”

10 thoughts on “DIY: Silent Mini Keyboards”

  1. Joy,

    I love these!! I’ve always used printed paper diagrams, but you’re right – there IS something nice about the 3D version. I’m going to have to make a trip to the craft store! Thanks for sharing!

    Jen Fink

  2. It’s awesome to visit this web site and reading the views of all mates regarding this paragraph, while I am also eager of getting know-how.

  3. OMG I love this idea not for teaching but for a centerpiece at my daughters Fresh Beat Band Party I couldn’t figure out what to do for Shout’s keyboards. Thank you you are a life saver.

  4. Great idea. I have the plastic keyboards for my music class however I’m short 5 and will be making them this weekend!

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