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ELC Carry Along Keyboard

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10 Reviews

Brand: ELC / Age: 3 Years+ / Type: Music

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    10 Reviews
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      01.12.2012 11:21
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      Musical keyboard from The Early Learning Centre

      We now have two of these noisy pianos thanks to my lovely in-laws! One was definitely enough to be honest but they first bought my little girl a pink one a few years ago and then recently they bought my little boy a red one. Both are exactly the same and do nothing different, it's just the colour that differs.

      I really want my children to be interested in music so I actually don't mind them around the house but they Are rather loud and noisy and obviously have quite an electric sound to them rather than the nice sounds of a regular piano.

      The piano or keyboard I should really say has a handle at the top of it so it is portable and my kids will often carry theirs around the house so they can play or listen to them. The keyboard has quite a cool retro look to it as it is rounded At the top and also has two old fashioned looking speakers on either side.

      The keyboard has 14 white keys and 10 black keys. They are actually quite nicely sized keys and are big enough for adult fingers to play. The keys press down as they would on a proper keyboard so it's quite an authentic one for a toy. You can play this as just a regular keyboard or you can also play songs on it by the touch of a button. If you wish to play it as a regular piano you can have the sound of he notes come out just like piano or like an organ, violin, trumpet, mandolin, bell, music box and guitar. I think they have captured these sounds well as they do sound authentic and you can pick out what is what. This is definitely a great keyboard for a child's musical education.

      Above the keys are two rows of buttons and its here that you can choose the style of musical song you want to listen to. For example you can listen to a song in salsa style or dance or disco to name a few. The songs are quite loud and uptempo and just keep going and going until you turn it of and this is the noisy part for me that does get on your nerves a bit. The songs are quite familiar tunes, if you listen hard enough you can even hear Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi!!

      Thankfully there is an off button on the top row of buttons on the piano as well as a volume + and - which I always turn down to the lowest it can go. At the moment my kids just like to press the buttons to hear the music but when they get a bit older there is a nice record and replay function you can do on this so you can listen back to your own music which is nice.

      If you leave this piano standing for few minutes and don't play on it, after a while it will play a little ditty jus to remind you that it is still on and ready to be played with.

      Just to add to the excitement of the piano there are flashing lights at the top that go off when you play on it.

      All in all this is a fun toy that my kids enjoy and that I can just about put up with! It is available from The Early Learning Centre.

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      25.10.2012 22:12
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      A great portable keyboard at a reasonable price

      Two year old Freddy loves electronic toys, he has quite an obsession with pressing buttons to set off sounds and lights and although he is severely delayed in many areas, these sorts of toys really are his forte. What better way to foster this love of pressing buttons than a keyboard, lots of buttons to press, each giving a slightly different sound and perhaps a little music at the end of the day. The ELC Carry Along Keyboard, is considered suitable for children over the age of three, but as he is always strictly supervised anyway it was bought for Freddy's second birthday back in April. Although the keyboard is sold for £15 as standard it is regularly included within the ELC sales, and we bought it for £7.50 just after Christmas.

      ==A Parent's View==

      Available in two colour schemes (red and pink), this is a much larger than usual portable keyboard, formed of a shiny plastic and decorated with stars and concentric circles. Being approximately 42cm in length, it is far more substantial than many keyboards within the same price range, and yet it is also deceptively light, meaning that it is easy for even young children to carry around using the built-in handle. There are a total of twenty four keys, fourteen white and ten black, meaning that it does not quite cover two octaves in range. The keys are all a good size, making it easy for the child (or adult) to press one key at a time (something that isn't true of those tiny bargain basement keyboards) and it only takes a small amount of pressure to activate the keys while they still provide a decent amount of give. There is a silver encased speaker at each end of the keyboard and then a large number of buttons in two rows above the keyboard. There are also lights on each side of the built-in handle that light up and flash as music is played. Being a portable keyboard, this is powered by batteries and the three AA batteries are housed on the rear of the keyboard, hidden behind a flap that is fastened by a tiny screw. I would have liked the option of using an adapter with the keyboard, but this is not possible, perhaps if the ELC are reading this and looking at ways that this keyboard could be improved, then that would definitely be a start.

      The keyboard is easy to switch on via a sliding switch, which is clearly labelled (not that most three year old children would be able to read it), in fact all of the various buttons are clearly labelled. There is a volume control that allows the level to be adjusted in gradients ranging from barely audible to loud enough to drown out the TV. There are a total of eight different instrument sounds available including piano, organ, violin, trumpet, mandolin, bell, music box and guitar. I wouldn't say that any of them are particularly true to life, but they do all sound different and if you let your imagination go wild you could probably just about identify the different instruments. While a little on the electronic side, the piano option is possibly the most realistic, while the bell sounds quite cool. There are also four different drum sounds, a bass, snare, hi hat and cymbal, that really don't sound anything like the real thing. As is common with this type of keyboard there also some rhythm buttons that play what I like to think of as a backing tracks in various styles including salsa, slow rock, rock, dance, classical, march, disco and waltz, amusingly (for me at least) the classical rhythm is the tune from the Fruit and Nut advert (does anyone else remember that). These rhythms can be sped up or slowed down using the tempo button housed just above the rhythm buttons, with the speed ranging from slow and ponderous to a caffeine overdosed manic.

      In order to show off just what this keyboard could produce in the right hands there are two demo buttons, one of which plays a single short exert, while the other plays the full six recordings. These demo tunes are quite short, lasting no more than thirty seconds each and cover a range of different styles and instruments. The majority of these demo's are recognisable, even though I do not actually know the name of them all and include such delights as "The Bear Went Over The Mountain" and Living On A Prayer. One aspect of the demo's that I do not like is that while they are playing the actual keyboard is muted, meaning that you cannot play along and learn the tune yourself. The final function of the keyboard is a record function, that (obviously) records any masterpiece as the child plays it, which can then be played back to amaze Mummy and Daddy. Well it can be played back as long as the power is not turned off in-between as the memory is not permanent and disappears as soon as the power is switched off. Talking of the power being switched off, this does not happen automatically after a period of inactivity, meaning that there is the potential for battery power being unnecessarily drained. Even worse, this keyboard is one of those toys that gets lonely when not played with for a period of time and it will let out a short ditty to let you know that it's still around, which can come as something of a shock when the house is quiet.

      Durability-wise, this keyboard has proved to be as excellent as I would expect from any toy manufactured by The Early Learning Centre. Freddy has developmental and behavioural difficulties and we often joke that if a toy can survive an hour in his hands it will last a life-time for any other child. Freddy has had this keyboard for over six months now, it has been thrown across the room, dropped onto the floor, stood on and even investigated for stickers to peel off and eat and is still in almost perfect condition with only a couple of tiny scratches to show what it has been through. The keyboard is also relatively easy to clean, there are some areas that pick up sticky, but this is easily removed with a cloth dampened with antibacterial spray. Depending on the make battery-life is pretty good, Pound shop cheapies can easily last a week of regular play, while the more expensive brands can last up to a month and this is with a couple of hours play a day (broken up into shorter periods of five to ten minutes).

      From an adult's point of view, this is a well made keyboard, that while a little loud at full volume, has proved durable and fairly economical as far as batteries goes. Definitely worth paying a little extra for (compared to the super cheap keyboards you can buy), as an adult I would give it four stars out of five).

      ==A Child's View==

      As soon as he unwrapped this keyboard, Freddy was entranced, here was a toy that had lots of buttons and made lots and lots of noise. As I've mentioned before, Freddy has a significant developmental delay, including problems with his social skills (most likely Autism), but he has a real obsession and skill with electronic toys, being able to work them out much quicker than most adults. We did have a moment of distress when Freddy realised that the keyboard did not work straight out of the box, but luckily we were able to distract him with other presents as the batteries were inserted.

      Within moments of being handed the now working keyboard, Freddy was busy exploring, it didn't take him long to work out how to switch it on, which button did what and just how much noise he could make with it. From his birthday onwards, this has been a favourite toy, but I have to admit it is a toy that does get put away periodically as it is very, very loud at full volume and Freddy's favourite volume level is as high as it goes. To begin with, Freddy would simply press the button and then dance along to the different tunes (again and again and again), but over the last month the way he plays with the keyboard has evolved a little. He will now actually sit and play little tunes himself, pressing the keys, watching the lights and smiling the whole time. He does still love to dance to the demo tunes though, although he does seem to just stick to the one tune which he will play over and over again (this would be the autism). He also now seems to recognise The Bear Went Over The Mountain, sometimes scrolling through the demo tunes to find it, if it happens to be the song I sing during before bed song time or if it appears on Show Me, Show Me.

      From Freddy's point of view this keyboard is one of the best toys ever, being surpassed only by his talking Thomas and certain Happyland sets. In fact he loves this so much that if he had a chance he would take it to bed with him at night, but as he can turn it on so easily I'm a nasty Mummy and won't allow him to. If he were able to tell me how many stars he would give this keyboard, considering how often it is played with (a couple of hours a day in short bursts), I would imagine it would be nine stars out of five.

      ==Age Suitability and Developmental Benefits==

      Although the Early Learning Centre state that this keyboard is suitable for children over the age of three, there is nothing about it that would make it unsafe for younger children. While they most probably wouldn't be able to access all the functions, children from the age of two onwards will still enjoy pressing buttons, playing and listening to tunes and watching the lights flash. The Early Learning Centre claims that this keyboard will help your child's development in many ways including cause and effect as they press the keys and make sounds. Creativity is also developed as they make up their own tunes, while their confidence may improve as they play, sing and dance along. Fine motor and hand-eye coordination is also improved as they learn to accurately press the correct keys. I would not put an upper age limit on this keyboard, I'm (cough) forty and I still enjoy playing around with it, trying to remember my scales and the simple tunes I learnt as a teenager and it doesn't look so babyish that a under-ten year old would refuse to play.

      ==Final Words==

      This portable keyboard is definitely proof that it is often worth paying a little more for a product that both delights and lasts the course. Freddy's Nana had bought him a cheap and nasty portable keyboard for Christmas that was flimsy and completely unable to survive his style of play, that I had to throw away before Boxing Day had even arrived. This keyboard, however, has lasted six months and will easily last another few years, giving Freddy many hundreds of hours of musical fun. Freddy absolutely adores this keyboard and the only time he becomes frustrated with it is when the batteries run down (when it makes the most peculiar noises). From an adult perspective, I do have to admit that at full volume it is very loud and when you've listened to the same snippet twenty times in a row, it does start to grate, but whenever I start to feel I want to throw it out of the window I just need to watch the way Freddy dances round and round in circles as that tune plays (yet again).

      Am I recommending the ELC Carry Along Keyboard? I most certainly am, it is a wonderful piece of kit that will encourage your child's musical side from the age of about two onwards. How many stars out of five am I giving it? Well if it was just my opinion then I would give it four, but taking Freddy's love of it into account, I have to give it the full five out of five. (Only wait until it is half price in a sale, because at £7.50 it's a steal).

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        12.09.2011 21:57
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        A great first keyboard

        This has easily got to be my #1 ELC toy, and we have many in our house!

        My eldest daughter received it from my parents when her little sister was born, and both of them have had so much enjoyment from it since then.

        The keyboard measures around 37 x 17cm, and isn't too heavy for little ones to carry. The carry handle at the top of the keyboard makes it very portable, and it's great for taking out of the house and keeping kids amused in the car. We have the pink version, but it's also available in red. Ours has flowers above the buttons at the top, making it nice and girly. It's of a sturdy build, made from tough plastic and doesn't feel in the slightest bit cheap, unlike some other keyboards you can buy.

        There are 24 keys (counting black and white) along the bottom of the keyboard. They are just the right size for little fingers to play, but adults will find them a bit too small to play a proper tune on (I can just about manage Twinkle, Twinkle with my long fingers!)

        Above the keyboard itself are 8 tempo buttons and 8 instrument buttons. Pressing one of the tempo buttons (salsa, rock, etc) starts a tune playing to that beat. The keys can be played along with this tempo, which is a good way of teaching children about beat and tempo, getting them to play along with the beat. The tempo speed can be slowed down or sped up to assist them with this.

        The instrument buttons simply change the sound of the keys to the instrument chosen. For example, to change the sound from the default piano to a trumpet or guitar sound when the keys are pressed. Again, it's a great way of teaching kids the sounds that different instruments make, although some of the sounds aren't the most authentic, especially the guitar. You get a preview of each sound just by pressing each instrument button.

        Got a budding drummer in the house? Start them off gently with the four drum buttons - bass drum, snare drum, hi hat and cymbal. All four buttons can be pressed at the same time as the keyboard and when the tempo tunes are playing.

        One good feature is the record button. Kids can press record, then hammer a tune out on the keyboard, press play and listen to it back. You need to press play straight after recording, don't press stop first or you'll lose what you've just recorded. It can be played back over and over, straight away, but won't be stored for more than a few seconds if left without pressing play. The stop button comes in very useful for stopping the tempo or demo tunes.

        Perhaps the feature used most by my girls is the "demo" and "demo all" buttons. Hitting the demo button sets off the most catchy song! I'm not too sure exactly what it is, it starts off sounding like "Do your ears hang low," but then doesn't sound like it, so answers on a postcard please if anyone knows?! This has been played so many times in our house over the years I often go to bed at night with it running through my head. The demo all button plays a medley of tunes, including "For he's a jolly good fellow," and much to my husband and I's astonishment, "Livin' on a prayer!" Not the song we expected to hear coming from a toddler's keyboard! Listen to the demos all the way through, or keep pressing the demo all button to change from one song to the next. Both demos can be stopped with the stop button. I showed the girls how to change the tempo of the demo tunes, and they love nothing more than putting one of the demos on and increasing the tempo to the max, then going completely crazy dancing to it - hilarious to watch!
        One more important feature to point out is the volume button! When switched on, the volume is at what I'd consider a slightly higher than average level, but then I've got sensitive hearing and don't like loud noise, so normally end up turning it down a notch. Full volume is quite loud, and the lowest level is still quite audible.

        The four lights at the top of the keyboard flash when the keyboard keys are pressed, and play in time to the beat when any of the preset tunes are playing.

        When you first turn the keyboard on, it plays a little 6-note tune, and the lights flash. If you don't press any keys within a few minutes, the same tune plays and it switches itself off to save power, which is great as anyone with kids knows that they often forget to turn things off. Power is switched on and off easily via a switch next to the volume, no need to be ferreting around underneath to turn it on or off.
        There are two silver speakers, one at each side of the keyboard, on top. I've always found them to be good quality until recently, when there's a kind of fuzzy white noise after each sound you play, which is annoying. I suppose after over 2 years and the amount of wear and tear it's been put through it's done quite well to last and remain in the good condition is has. Maybe it's telling me it's time we upgraded to the full size keyboard on legs?!

        The keyboard runs off 3 x AA batteries, which are located in a compartment underneath the keyboard, which you open using a smallish Phillips screwdriver. We have gone through quite a lot of batteries, and using rechargeable ones would save quite a bit of money over time.

        The keyboard currently retails at £15, but at the time of writing is on offer at £7.50 from elc.co.uk, which I think is an absolute bargain - not something I can say about many ELC products!

        The recommended age is from 3 years, but there are no small parts involved (unless you have a very strong child who can pull keys off!) Babies love to bash on keyboards and my youngest has enjoyed it since being a baby, so I wouldn't let the age recommendation put you off buying for younger children.

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        27.10.2010 15:04
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        A brilliant toy I would definately recommend

        I bought this keyboard for my sons second birthday a few weeks ago. Personally I don't think the 3+ recommendation applies.

        I bought it from my local Mothercare that stocks Early Learning Centre toys after the original store shut down. Boots also stock ELC toys as well as Argos stocking some.

        The keyboard originally costs £15 but I bought it when it was half price for £7.50. It comes in teo colours red or pink. As my son is a boy I chose the red one.

        It takes 2 AA batteries which are not included. I used the cheap ones you can buy in the pound ahop and they have lasted well and still seem to have plenty of life left in them.

        It has a large, chunky handle which is perfect for little ones carrying along and can be transpoted to grannies house when he's staying there for the night.

        The keys and buttons are large and chunky as well so great for little hands.

        It has lights which come on when you press the keys and it has a variety of options from playing songs which my little one loves to dance to with a tempo button to change the speed the song is played at.

        There is also buttons for the drums and a variety of different sounds - 8 in total - that the keys play from a normal keyboard sound to violin and guitar.

        I was pretty impressed by the record function which allows them to play a tune for around 30 seconds if I'm correct and then play it back as many times as they wish.

        We've had no problems so far even though it has been bashed and battered around there are no scratches or breakages which seems to be a good feature of ELC toys, they can withstand a lot of childrens play.

        I would definately recommend this product and if you can get it cheaper than the standard £15 then it's definately a bargain!!

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        22.07.2010 23:09
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        Highly recommended!

        I bought this keyboard as a present for my son around three years ago.

        It is an Early Learning Centre toy but some ELC toys can be bought elsewhere; Boots and Mothercare sell them, I'm not sure of anywhere else though. The Carry Along keyboard can be bought from all three stores and currently costs around £15.

        It is a smaller version of the Keyboard they sell on a stand that comes with a stool and microphone (if you've ever been into an ELC store you are bound to have seen it, they always have one on display).

        The carry along keyboard measures 37 x 17 x 5 cm. It has a large sturdy handle and large chunky buttons and keys. The key space measures 23 cm and the keys are 1.5 cm wide so they are a nice size and you can play them easily without catching the adjacent keys. There are four lights (two either side of the handle) above the keys that light up in tune as you play.

        It is a typical keyboard with demo music; there are 6 songs in total, an eclectic mix that includes, 'For He's A Jolly Good Fellow', and 'Living on a Prayer'. There are some songs that I'm sure that I know, but can't put my finger on.
        Accompanying the demo are buttons to adjust the tempo - my son finds it hilarious to play the songs as fast as they will possibly go - it gets quite annoying after the 15th time!

        You can also adjust the sound of the keys; there are 8 different sounds:
        Standard
        Organ
        Violin
        Trumpet
        Mandolin
        Bell
        Music Box
        Guitar

        There is also background music that you can use while playing, these are the standard types:
        Salsa
        Slow Rock
        Rock
        Dance
        Classical
        March
        Disco
        Waltz

        The feature I am most impressed with though is the 'record' option. You can record up to 30 seconds of play, it will then save it indefinitely (or until you record over it) for you to listen to as many times as you like.

        You know what, scratch that! The feature I am most impressed with is the volume button!!! you can turn it down so it is very, very quiet! All musical toys should have one!!!

        As previously mentioned, we have had this keyboard for around three years, and I am actually quite surprised that it is still working! We have had a few keyboards over the years, and the only one that lasted this long is the one my mother bought me when I was around 11 - it cost almost £200! Cheaper versions always seem to develop faults quickly, even just the odd key or button, but this one is still working perfectly; the thick, glossy plastic also shows very little sign of wear and tear.

        I am very impressed with the ELC Carry Along Keyboard. I also think that the fact that they are still selling this particular model after three years says something about the longevity of the product.

        I would highly recommend this for any child, it is suitable for all ages and is guaranteed to give a good few hours (weeks, months, years!) of enjoyment!

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          21.07.2010 16:35
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          carry along keyboard with 24 keys and record function

          My son received this keyboard as a birthday present for his 3rd birthday. He already has a bigger keyboard so I thought he would not bother with it as much but I could not be more wrong as he plays with it all the time and if he is going to his granny's to stay he will take it with him as it is light and has a handle on it which makes it easy for kids to carry.

          When turned on it plays a short tune and the four lights which are at the top of the keyboard light up and flash. There are 24 keys and loads of different buttons on the front which are in two rows and each feature a different function. The lower row consists of 16 buttons which each play a different tune for you to play along to ranging from salsa to slow rock to classical. Also they play the tune in different styles like a piano or trumpet. The top set of buttons is where the on off switch and volume button is as well as a tempo button which is used to alter the speed of the music. A good function of the keyboard is the record function which allows your child to record what they are playing and then play it back so they can hear it.

          The keyboard costs £15 from the early learning centre and you can choose from either pink or red. I think its a good buy as my son has played with it everyday and loves making up his own songs and recording them to play back for us all to dance to. It encourages children to use there creative imagination to play tunes and make up songs. Overall a good priced, sturdy keyboard.

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          20.06.2010 20:33
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          Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic!!

          My daughter received the carry along keyboard for her second birthday, and it quickly became a firm favourite with her. This was something i really wanted for her as she is a real musical little girl and loves anything that playes a tune and that she can either sing or dance along to. This keyboard definately ticks all the boxes!!!

          It says 3+, but personally i don't think that is very accurate as the child can press the demo button and listen to the range of songs that are on it! I don't think they need to be able to play the keyboard as such in order to enjoy playing with it.

          There are flashing lights on, which straight away grabs the childs attention, different instrument sounds when playing the keyboard, record and playback function (which yes i would say is for older children as they will have more understanding what that is for) and there are drum buttons for drum sound effects. The demo songs are fun, my daughter can dance for ages to them and quite regularly will get us up dancing with her - randomly one of the songs is living on a prayer which is strange for a childs toy!

          Like most toys from ELC, this keyboard comes in red (which presumably is for boys) and pink for the girls, however i dont think there is any need for gender difference with this toy and my little girl has the red one. It is a really sturdy toy and has been dropped by little hands several times and hasnt broken, cracked or been damaged in any way whatsoever.
          I haven't come across any negatives with this toy at all, and it really is a great buy!

          I really would recommend this to absolutely everyone!!

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          10.01.2010 12:23
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          great toy for creative youngsters

          This is a good little keyboard for small children. It is compact, light and easy to carry around and it has plenty of pre-programmed rhythms so that children can listen to music as well as create it. The tempo of the rhythms can be easily adjusted up or down to give more creative control to the child.
          They keyboard provides eight different instrument choices from Piano to Guitar so children can experiment with creating different sounds. There is also a drum function so that children can play bass, snare, hi hat and cymbal to accompany their tunes.
          The keyboard has a volume control which is great for parents! The only downside is that it doesn't allow parents to fix a volume which children can't change.
          Probably the best feature of this keyboard is the record function. Children can set it to record tunes or rhythms as they play and then listen back to their creations.
          The keyboard accompanies the child's playing with rhythmical flashing red lights to add additional interest.

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            27.08.2009 21:48
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            Great toy/instrument, teaches children music is fun

            I bought this keyboard for my daughter when she was two and a half and was her favorite christmas present, she loves anything that 'makes noise' and instantly took to it. Personally I would ignore the 3+ recommendation.

            Its size is great not too big to get in the way but not too small to be impractical. The keys are fairly soft so little fingers can play quite happily. It also flashes when music is playing which adds to the disco feel.

            The main reason I bought this model was because it had an on/off switch and a volume control, unlike her proper toy piano with strings. This meant that she could still play (but would not wake the whole house in the morning). However she soon learnt how to turn the volume up and down and she turns it up every-time I turn it down.

            There is also a demo button which plays a variety of tunes and is probably my little ones favorite bit as she dances to them over and over.

            My little 6 month old also tinkles on it and it teaches her about cause and effect. She enjoys the flashing lights and high contrast keys too.

            For a parent it is a good toy, not too expensive, very resilient, small and light. The tunes get a little annoying but I have head a lot worse!

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            15.02.2009 11:34
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            Great value and fun!

            This is yet another of the toys that made it's way into our house at Christmas! This time it was a gift from my my Mum and Dad for our eldest daughter who is 3 years old. She's quite musical (in a 3 year old kind of way!) and has now well outgrown her old baby toy piano so my parents thought she would like a keyboard. However, our house isn't enormous and we already own most of the ELC catalogue so a large keyboard was out of the question... but then we discovered the ELC Carry Along Keyboard!

            So what is it? The keyboard is a basic but fully working keyboard. There are only 24 keys but it has a variety of different rhythms, instrument sounds and drum beats so there is plenty to do on it! It will also record what you play so you can listen to your own music and there are lots of flashing lights!

            Any good? Yes! The size of the keyboard means you'll never play a concerto on here but it's a good basic keyboard for a younger child. The fact it is more of a proper keyboard rather than solely a musical toy would mean it would hopefully last a few years too. It's chunky and, like all of the toys from ELC, it seems very sturdy and up to taking everything a toddler can throw at it! There is also a nice chunky handle on the top so it can easily be carried around and it isn't too heavy either.

            Bad things? Nothing really bad here at all but if you want a proper sized keyboard you'd probably be best to upgrade to the ELC Superstar Cool Keyboard which is much larger and has a stand, etc too.

            Where and how much? The ELC Carry Along Keyboard is available from Early Learning Centre for £15 which I would say is a bargain! You can also choose from pink or red.

            A great keyboard for younger children who are beyond the baby musical toy stage but not quite reached the Mozart stage!

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        • Product Details

          Portable keyboard with 24 keys, flashing lights, eight rhythm buttons, eight instrument sounds, record and playback, plus drum beat buttons.