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How To Connect Your Piano To Your Computer To Help You Practice, Write and Orchestrate Your Own Music (VIDEO)

OLD MIDI Setup From Museum of Musical Instruments in Brussels

OK, so this photo is of a pretty OLD MIDI setup, but I’m a sucker for nostalgia!

In this post, I’ll show you how to hook up your electronic piano or keyboard to your computer and begin taking advantage of the fabulous technology known as MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface).

There will actually be very little video about the actual hookup, since that part is very simple. In fact, here’s what you need:

  • A MIDI-enabled piano or keyboard (look for the MIDI In, Out and Thru connections on the back)
  • A computer with an available USB port
  • A USB-MIDI interface, like the E-Mu Xmidi 1X1 V3 USB MIDI Interface found at Amazon (about $25)

And here’s what to do:

  • Plug the interface into your computer and let your computer automatically install the drivers. If it does NOT, you may need to use the CD included with your MIDI interface, or simply download the latest drivers from the manufacturer’s website
  • Using a MIDI cable (available online or from your local music store), or simply using the interface itself (like the E-Mu), connect the MIDI OUT port from your keyboard to the MIDI IN port on the interface
  • Using another MIDI cable, or the interface itself, connect the MIDI IN port from your keyboard to the MIDI OUT port on the interface

That’s it!

This video goes a little more detail on all this:

Now comes the REALLY fun part!

You can now use your keyboard to enter music into notation programs like Finale NotePad, AND you can record performances – NOT the audio, but the actual performance as MIDI events (also known as sequencing) using a free tool like Anvil Studio.

Check out this video for all the details:

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I hope this blog post and these videos gave you just enough information to be dangerous with your computer and electronic piano or keyboard! Once you get the hang of MIDI and begin using these software tools, you’ll find a whole new world of musical creativity and fun, literally at your fingertips.

So, jump in, play around, and explore the amazing, musical world of MIDI!


Please leave a comment if you enjoyed this post, have any questions, or might like me to put together a more formal course on the subject. Thanks!

  • Jan says:

    I’ve had Finale Notepad for yrs. More recent to have a midi keyboard.
    Thank you for these instructions for creating notation from my keyboard!

  • Gene Zuck says:

    Hey Bill,
    Great info on connecting my keyboard to my Laptop via a MIDI connection.
    I am definitely interested in your new project.
    I just wish there was more than 24 hours in a day. I need more time to practice and learn about technology and the piano.
    Have a happy holiday.

    • Bill says:

      Glad you liked it, Gene! I’m in testing mode right now on my project, so I’ll keep you posted. Happy Holidays to you, too!

  • Jim Reid says:

    Hi Bill

    I have had a couple of attempts to learn to play the piano over the years, but never got very far, mainly because, as a hardware/software engineer running my own companies, I never had enough time to spare. Now that I am semi-retired, and have a bit more time available, I would like make another effort.

    I have felt for a long time that it ought to be possible to create an interactive on-line musical training system, to teach the basics of reading music and playing a melody with with the right hand, whilst creating a simple chord accompaniment with the left hand.

    If this is the kind of course which you have in mind, I would be very interested in signing up.

    Jim Reid

    • Bill says:

      Thanks for your comments, Jim. Yeah, I’m trying to narrow down the necessary piano skills to those 20% that make 80% of the difference, you know? That varies for different playing methods, but things like reading notes and playing chords quickly come to mind.

      I’ve got lots of ideas, so I’ll let you know when I get into testing mode 🙂


  • Lee Clarke says:

    Hi Bill,
    Thank You for this video on midi and how to use it. I would like to do this eventually but I’m most interested in getting a video piano lesson of songs of my choosing like you did with Yellow Submarine for me. I got a lot out of that. I would also like to communicate with you by email to get your response on my queries. For Christmas I would like to do The Vince Guaraldi songs from Charlie Brown Christmas. Oh Christmas Tree and Christmas Time Is Here.
    Lee Clarke

    • Bill says:

      Hey Lee,

      I just (FINALLY!) replied to your email, so check that out.

      I did a lesson on Christmas Time Is Here last year – all the details are here: http://pianochordsfast.com/christmastimeishere.html

      I’m just about to release a Lead Sheet Breakdown on Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Haven’t gotten to Oh Christmas Tree yet, but that would definitely be a great one, maybe even for this Christmas, if I can get it done 🙂

      Thanks for your support and trust in me.

      Happy Holidays!

  • Loren McDonald says:

    I’ve been using Cubase for well… since V1.0 when it was only available on an Atari computer 🙂 so the info here really wasn’t anything new. However, I had to comment. The down side to using a sequencer all the time is being lazy when it comes to playing. I love your idea of a web based program to help playing and would absolutly want to use it. Even if it starts out small, just testing your playing skill, I could easily envision a lot of growth potential for something like that in the form of add-on modules or similar.

    My job is building web applications all day long so if you get stuck or need some help, don’t hesitate to ask.

    Happy Holidays

    • Bill says:

      Hey Loren,

      Thanks for your comments. The thing I think is really cool about sequencing is layering all the different tracks and creating an arrangement for multiple voices/instruments. I could just play around doing that all day!

      I’ll definitely keep you in mind if I get stuck on the programming. I am almost finished with some Javascript prototypes, so I’ll keep you posted!


  • Humberto Cruz says:

    Hey, Bill, enjoyed your two technology videos. I have a basic version of Finale and some time ago successfully connected my Roland FP-7 digital piano to my laptop but have not really taken full advantage of the many possibilities this technology offers.
    Will download a copy of Anvil Studio and play around with it for sure.
    Have a great holiday season!

  • John Ennis says:

    Hi Bill

    That was really cool and so informative, I did not expect such an in depth look at this for an introductory session. I may need to watch this video /s a few more times so hopefully you will keep it on for a good while. I have finale already but you have motivated to get that keyboard connected. I am very interested in the notation entry.
    John uk

  • Gordon Cotter says:

    I have a Yamaha keyboard, TYROS 2 I would love to be able to play. I have had lessons from a local teacher. 4 students, headphones and teacher comes and sits with you in turn. Maybe three times in an hour. Can read simple sheet music, I can find tunes with my right hand and do simple chords. I do wish I could make my hands do different things at the same time. Please help.
    Gordon Cotter

    • Bill says:

      Thanks for your comment, Gordon. I would recommend signing up for my free email/video piano lessons on this site, or over at http://propianochordsfast.com, and see if my teaching style resonates with you. If so, I have a number of different courses and lessons that may interest you, beginning with my very first one, Professional Piano Chords for Everyday Pianists, found here: http://pianochordsfast.com. Hope that helps 🙂

  • Nicole says:

    If you would like to use an electric piano or keyboard that does not have built-in speakers, you need to use a cable to plug in your instrument to your device.

  • Enrique marron says:

    Do you send DVD s to México ?
    Thank you

  • The cableing and having the right drivers are very important, I think these are the main things that first timers struggle with. However just like you said, once a user is comfortable with MIDI, then all is set to go!
    Kostas Chiotis recently posted..Casio PX860 BK Privia Digital Piano Review

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