Product Type: ELC Child Development
Newest Review: ... 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 rounde... more
A perfect introduction to making music!
ELC Carry Along Keyboard
Member Name: CheshireJ
ELC Carry Along Keyboard
Advantages: Well built, good price
Disadvantages: Noise quality not as good after 2 years
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.
Summary: A great first keyboard
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