The basic requirement of a music keyboard that is going to be used in a classroom suite is that it should be midi-enabled. MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) is a communication protocol that has been around for more than 20 years and which allows keyboards to "talk" to computers. This means that if the computer is already loaded with music software - sequencing or sound editing programs for example - the music keyboard can be used to create a sequence of notes or to trigger sounds already stored inside the keyboard.
Controller keyboards don't need on-board sounds as these are supplied by the computer. And if they're going to be used primarily for note-inputting there's no reason for them to be either touch responsive or full size. One of the most popular controller keyboards is the Evolution MK249 (pound;75). If you're at BETT you can see it on the Counterpoint-MTC stand (Z18) Otherwise, check it out at www.counterpoint-mtc.co.uk or at www.dawsonsonline.com
The more expensive option, however, would be to buy a multifunctional keyboard that could serve as a midi controller but could also be used to generate sounds of its own. Or perhaps, one of the new generation of electronic keyboards that offer internet connectivity. The latest models from Yamaha are loaded with the interactive Yamaha Education Suite and can connect to the Yamaha website. For pound;350 the PSR-K1 gives you a 61-note keyboard with around 500 authentic voices, onboard recorder and SmartMedia drive. And the built-in microphone jack and wide selection of song accompaniments can only mean one thing. Yes, it's the class's favourite - karaoke hour.
At the top end of the range, the PSR-1500 (pound;1,000) is designed to be the centre of a music suite with its own 16-track recorder, generous LCD screen and more than 800 voices. Moreover, with direct broadband access (wired or wireless) users can download visual as well as audio support material from the Yamaha site.