With so many piano books available to purchase it is often difficult to know where to start.
When I first started learning music many years ago, every town had a music shop that you could pop into and ask for specialist advice on what to buy. Nowadays, many people don’t have access to a music shop or perhaps even a music teacher to get the best advice at the early stages. So trying to navigate the internet to find the right resources can be very confusing.
Without specialist help, this is where beginners generally make their first mistake. They download a song off the internet or from Youtube that they recognise but without realising it maybe far too hard for a beginner. For example, Für Elise is a great piece that most people recognise, but its really best for an intermediate to advanced student to learn and definitely not for a beginner. How would you know if no one is explaining it?
The other common mistake is buying a course where the expert guarantees you can play like a professional pianist after 3 weeks! What these experts admit to teach you from these courses is all the good technique that you need to master to play any style of music. So you can learn by copying their demos and then when you open a book to play a new piece by yourself you don’t really know where to start.
In both cases what can normally happen is people stop learning because they don’t think they are good enough and that’s not the case. It’s about finding the right music and approach for your level of skill.
In this blog I am going to share my thoughts on some of the beginner books I like to use for teaching beginner piano classes for all ages.
Piano Adventures Series by Nancy and Randall Faber
This is a great series of piano books that have been beautifully written by Nancy and Randall Faber and they really have created music for everyone.
For my youngest beginners I like to use My First Piano Adventure for the Young Beginner – Lesson Book B as a starting point. It is beautifully designed and the pieces are simple to play. Normally you can learn one or two pieces in a 30 minute lesson. I like that there are a few places on the music for students to add note names and which finger to use. This does help with note reading and remembering hand positions, especially when the student is practising at home. There is also enough music theory in the book to help learning but not too much that it becomes overwhelming.
What I really love is the great duet accompaniments that sound awesome when put together with the simpler parts. My students really love playing the duets and it does help with their musical phrasing and timing. The book is laid out so that it is easy to follow so the motivated student who does practice could easily work through the book at a fast speed and learn the material at home.
Perhaps the book switches into reading a large bass clef range a little too quickly for a total beginner but apart from that this is an excellent book for young beginners.
I like to supplement the beginner books with the Piano Adventures Level 1 Performance book.
This book is full of great repertoire that supports the piano student. Again, it is beautifully presented and the pieces are progressive in difficulty and developing your understanding of musical theory. These pieces are great for first recitals and many come with teacher piano duets.
For older students, I like to use the Accelerated Piano Adventures for the Older Beginner lesson book 1. It has a good layout and doesn’t have the cartoon images like the other beginner books for the younger students. Perhaps it has a little too much theory at the start that could be overwhelming without a teacher to explain. In all honesty some of it I skip with my students as I don’t think it is needed at that starting stage. Also the exercise where rests weren’t included are a little difficult for students to visualise and apply to the piano. What I do like is there are still pieces with piano duets and there is a lot of content in this book. It definitely is an accelerated piano method book and will take some time for students to work through the whole book. It will definitely give you a solid foundation to piano playing and a decent set of repertoire to play in recitals or to family and friends. It will also set you up ready to start the ABRSM grade 1 practical exam repertoire if you choose that approach.
John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano
John Thompson has a whole series of books for the total beginner up to the advanced player. Some of the beginner books for the younger players are called Teaching Little Fingers to Play and John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course. These are colourful books and a great series of progressive method books.
I like the First Grade Book from John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano because it goes straight into playing two hands together and the pieces throughout the whole book are good and progressive. I think this book is great for older students and adults. It’s also perfect for students who perhaps play another instrument and have some basic understanding of music theory and note reading already Unlike the Piano Adventures Series, this book doesn’t have duet options and the images are not as colourful. However it is a great method book and when we get about halfway through this book my students are ready to start learning the ABRSM grade 1 piano material if they wish to take practical music exams.
If you want to know more about piano repertoire, where to buy it or start lessons with us, please reach out. We are always happy to help!
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2 thoughts on “What Piano Books should Beginners buy?”
I actually don’t remember my first retail piano book, but I had a teacher who made me bring a blank notebook and he would just score pieces by hand for me to learn. It was pretty impressive. Hal-Leonard is great and so is Suzuki.
Hi Aerik, thanks for sharing. That’s a cool experience you had with your teacher and both Hal Leonard publishing company and the Suzuki method are great resources too.