How To Set Up Your MIDI Keyboard – Detailed Instructions

These are the basic steps for setting up a MIDI keyboard with almost any software program – whether it’s a digital audio workstation (known as a “DAW”) or notation software. Once you (or your students) have an understanding of these basic steps you’ll be able to set up any MIDI keyboard with confidence.

Order is important!

Follow these steps in order:

1. Turn on your computer

2. Plug your MIDI keyboard into a USB port on your computer using the provided USB cable*

3. If your keyboard has an on/off switch, turn it on. Some MIDI keyboards don’t have a switch but you should be able to see a light or something showing on your keyboard’s screen if it has one.

4. Launch the software program (your notation software or DAW)

5. Next, you need to tell the software program to use your MIDI keyboard. This usually involves going into your software’s Preferences area. You can usually find Preferences in the File menu, or the Edit menu or – on a Mac – in the application menu. Look for the Input Device options and select your keyboard from the list. Make sure you click Apply/Save.

You are good to go!**


*The very first time you use your keyboard, you may need to install drivers. Drivers are available online on the keyboard manufacturer’s website. Although many keyboards are sold with an installer disk that includes the drivers, it’s best to download the latest version from the website because the version on the disk is likely to be out of date. Do an online search for the brand and model of your keyboard and the word “drivers”, then download and install the drivers. Once you’ve installed the drivers, restart everything and go back to step 1.

Older-style, non-USB keyboards require the use of a USB MIDI interface (such as the Roland UM-1 ) – a device that has MIDI in/out cables at one end which attach to your keyboard, and a USB cable at the other end – which attaches to your computer. If you are using one of these, you will need to install drivers for the USB MIDI interface (not the keyboard).

**Usually…most of the time 🙂 If your keyboard is still not working (ie. you have no sound) and you haven’t installed any drivers, do that next. If you still have no sound, consult your keyboard and software reference manuals for troubleshooting information, or contact their support.

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