If you're learning the piano and very keen on improving, you'll likely end up using a piano book.
With all the endless books available, you may wonder, "What are the best beginner piano books?"
Some of them can take you to new heights, while others, not so much.
This article will discuss the best piano books for children and adults.
Let's dive right into the piano book world.
Can A Piano Book Help You Learn The Piano?
If you've seen a glimpse of the piano community, you know that lots of pianists use books. "How helpful are these books? And, which one should I get?"
Since the invention of the piano around the year 1700, piano books have a primary way to learn the instrument. Even Mozart likely used a book called "Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments." C.P.E Bach wrote this book, and it was one of the most popular of its time. So, what's my reason for saying this? It's to show that even one of history's greatest pianists used a book.
Learning from a piano book can be one of the most effective ways to improve. Though online resources can be highly beneficial, finding a guided plan can be challenging. Most of the time, the authors are excellent pianists themselves that know effective steps you can take.
What Defines a Good Piano Learning Book?
I believe that not all piano books are made equal. Some are much less helpful than others. However, these less effective ones can still be visually stimulating, causing you to buy them. Here are a few characteristics that define a great piano book:
When a book has songs you've already heard, it's much more entertaining to go through. You also need something that helps with music theory and technique. A balance of popular songs and technical playing aspects makes the learning process more manageable.
Best Piano Book For Kids
This book is one of the most widely-used piano books of all time. It's for children who are just starting their piano journeys. Within the book, there are many bright colors and illustrations to keep kids interested. However, this book is a little outdated, and there are still more visually appealing books out there.
Nevertheless, the Alfred series is still a standard used throughout the world. Teachers use it because it brings consistent results. This book does an excellent job of covering all the important piano playing aspects. On top of this prep course, Alfred has 4 more series' for children. You can mix and match these courses to create an ultimate learning plan.
These books have a definitive style that kids adapt to easily. And, once they do, the learning comes very smoothly. You learn lots of helpful ear training exercises, music theory, and piano techniques. Whether or not your child takes piano lessons, this is a tried-and-true method of learning.
Here's a children's book that's worth evaluating. The "Piano Time" series, written by Pauline Hall, includes many unique books catered for children. This series includes a full piano course and several seasonal books, such as Piano Time Christmas Carols.
Piano Time Classics is an excellent book for children. Loads of appealing colors keep kids interested and engaged. The quiz pages are a great feature. Kids learn without realizing it when they answer these questions, which is very convenient.
This book isn't only made for small kids but also can serve teens. Pauline Hall specifically made it not too difficult for kids and not too easy for teens. You'll find that this book isn't as long as many others, but that's not all bad. Some pianists claim it doesn't have as much fluff and includes only the critical things. With heftier books, kids can also lose interest and become discouraged by endless pages. You don't want that to happen. A small book gives kids hope that they'll be able to finish it.
Piano Time Classic is an excellent book that keeps kids engaged while teaching them valuable techniques. However, there's one thing you should keep in mind. Though this book can work wonders, you should use it alongside other books. The reason being, learning only from this can give kids a 1-dimensional understanding of the piano.
Here's another classic piano book series. These books work best for beginners aged 4 to 6. However, you can use them with older children and late beginners as well. The Bastien books provide children a wealth of knowledge and material for many lessons.
This piano book series is highly convenient because of its 4 books. There's a book dedicated to performance, theory, technique, and general piano. Publishers did this to spread out the learning process rather than cramming everything into one book. It's ideal for kids to start with the general piano edition. Of course, there are some downsides to having all these books. It can become tedious for kids to carry all of them to their lessons. Also, you have to buy each of them individually. For teachers, it can also be slightly frustrating to transition from book to book.
Other than that, the presentation of these books is pleasant. Kids who follow the material are in for a thorough ride through the basics, sheet music, and more. A convenient aspect of these books is they aren't too quick or slow. They cover ideas just enough to stick, but not too much for them to be redundant.
For beginner pianists, this is the UK's most sought-after book. It's suited for children who've never touched the piano before. Inside, kids learn the black and white notes and other fundamentals. This book is delightful to look at and has beautiful colors to keep kids' attention. "Me and My Piano" is for the beginning stages and nothing more.
In other words, it's a resource that'll take kids from a beginning to an intermediate level. That's one of the downsides. Once a kid finishes, there's no apparent progression of books afterward. A teacher will likely know where to go next, but if you're a parent, you'll have to figure it out on your own.
In the big picture, this book is a delightful resource for children. The word games do a great job of teaching notes and concepts in unique ways. For example, a rabbit hopping up and down might resemble octaves on the piano. For complete beginners, it's a must-have.
For learning sheet music, this is one of the best books for children. Many piano books treat sheet music as a side skill, while this one places it at the forefront. Without focusing on sheet music skills, children can be disadvantaged in the long run.
However, this book has one major drawback, and it's the design. Though it has excellent concepts, the colors and illustrations are dry and un-captivating. Most of the pages are in black and white, which may not keep a kid's interest.
There isn't much mentioning of music theory or technique, which is unusual. The book focuses more on playing pieces, which can be nice but also dull. Instead of being treated as a comprehensive learning tool, it's better to use the book for learning sheet music and pieces. So, it may be great to pair it alongside a theory and technique book.
Overall, this is a good piano book. It excels in the sheet music department but lacks a bit in other ways. In presentation alone, it's certainly not the most appealing.
This book is one of the first on this list dedicated to older beginners. For teens and young adults, it's one of the best options.
Though it's for the older beginner, it doesn't assume that the student has any prior piano knowledge. With this book, a teen or young adult learns sheet music, notes, and basic pieces. A convenient aspect of this series is its compatibility with tight schedules. If you only have a little time to practice the piano each day, the book works great. Lots of teens are busy with school and don't have as much time to practice.
The book uses efficient and accurate visuals to demonstrate different piano concepts. But, rather than merely showing these concepts, the book focuses on results. Because of this, kids see consistent progress and maintain their motivation. The book teaches a wide variety of styles, including pop, classical, blues, and jazz, which is fantastic. Sometimes, books focusing purely on classical are hard to get through.
Even if a kid doesn't have a teacher, they can likely still get through this book alone. Bastien explains everything in an easy-to-understand way.
The last children's book on the list is "Piano Lessons," and it doesn't disappoint. Over the years, Hal Leonard publishing company has been a standard in kids' music journeys. This 64-page book focuses on finger numbers, rhythmic patterns, and the keys. As the book progresses, kids learn hand positioning and sheet music fundamentals. A CD comes with the book and features countless play-along songs for kids to follow. Many teachers enjoy this book because it allows kids to learn by ear and sight.
The book introduces concepts in a way that doesn't bog down beginners. When kids understand what they're doing, they feel more confident in their abilities. That's important because people often lose interest in things when unconfident.
One downside of the book is the song selection. There aren't many popular songs, which can make it a bit dull to some. Using well-known songs in books requires authors to pay a ton of royalties, which isn't ideal for some. However, many teachers agree that it's one of the best piano books for kids.
Best Piano Books For Adults
Piano Jumpstart is a concept-based, informative, and well-written book geared for adults. In this book, Ross breaks down concepts into individual units, which makes it easier to follow.
This book starts by teaching you the keys and hand positions. After that, you learn about rhythms, intervals, sheet music, and pieces. Without having good internal rhythm, it's nearly impossible to be a good pianist. The way Ross dives into rhythms is excellent for adults. Before playing the exercises, you have to tap them out first. Most units end with short pieces that adults can try out on their own. These pieces incorporate some of the key concepts taught in the unit.
The book effectively demonstrates ideas in real music, which is incredibly helpful. Some books only introduce concepts rather than apply them. That's not nearly as effective.
One thing this book excels in is teaching all the core principles. Many method books lack in this area, so it's a significant feature. It moves at a slow and steady pace, and it's full of valuable instructions for adult beginner pianists.
Bastien is a renowned author of children's' piano books. Some people may not know this, but he also wrote some highly-effective adult books. This book teaches you sight-reading, theory, technique, and lesson materials. Compared to other books, this one focuses a lot on sight-reading. After all, it's an essential piano skill. There are tons of helpful sight-reading exercises to take your piano game to the next level. You can do these as much as you want and go at your own pace.
This book has a lot of valuable music theory material in the units. So, instead of learning to play through pieces mindlessly, you will understand what you're playing on a deeper level. The book also works on your note recognition and makes you clap rhythms. One slight downside to this book is its lack of a CD. There's a CD available, but you have to buy it separately. You might also find it challenging to go through this book alone, as it doesn't lay out everything completely. It may be best if you pair this book with another. There are also some more book editions in the series that you can check out.
This book might be a little old, but the material is still very relevant. With 207 pages, this book covers loads of material. It doesn't move concepts too quickly and gives you plenty of time to digest each one. Pianists have 155 pieces at their disposal, which is a big plus.
With this book, you do lots of sight-reading. It starts easy and progressively gets more challenging as your skills improve. Basically, it has an excellent structure. The book also covers lots of scales, music terms, and more essential things.
Rather than starting with hard right-to-left-hand passages immediately, Clark starts easy and slowly brings both hands together. That makes it less overwhelming for you in the beginning. Nobody wants to start out too hard. A downside to this book is how small the text is. Though there's a heap of information, it's sometimes hard to read.
Adult Piano Course by John Thompson is an excellent resource for any adult wanting to learn the piano. If you want something with a wide variety of genres, this book delivers. You play through classical, jazz, pop, rock, and many more genres, which is excellent. Some books only feature one primary genre, and it can make for a dull experience.
It's only 80 pages, so it's a little shorter than your average piano book. However, don't be fooled by how short it is. Thompson covers a lot of material, including rhythm, technique, and sheet music. There's a lot of emphasis on playing each piece with the correct fingering, which is a nice aspect. Some piano books teach fingering in the beginning but expect you to figure it out on your own as they progress. If you're a visual learner, you might enjoy the illustrations that teach hand positioning.
Though this book covers all the basics, it still leaves out some things. On the other hand, you probably won't find a book that has everything you ever need anyway. An advantage of this book is its easy-to-follow design. With teachers' notes dispersed along with the pages, you can get through it without a teacher.
The material goes by at a relatively fast pace if you're up for the challenge. If you have a teacher, there are pleasant duets you can play together.
This book is an excellent resource for adult pianists. The repertoire list is highly enjoyable and arranged by style. Some pieces are mostly rhythmic, while others are lyrical or technical. The main areas covered by the book are repertoire, technique, and etudes. "What's an etude?" An etude is a piece composed specifically to improve a specific technique.
Book 1 is a great place to start for adults, as it's not too easy or difficult. In the beginning, there are simple duets you can play with a teacher. These duets are short, but you can gain a lot from them. You can play each piece solo or with a rhythm section. There are many styles, including swing beats, straight 8ths, Bossa Nova, and many more. Playing different styles makes you well-rounded and expands your musicianship.
In terms of having technique and theory material, this book delivers. Compared with other books, this one has lots of guidance and step-by-step instructions, helping you stay on track. If you get confused at any point, you can ask questions to convenient online support. So far, this book is the only one on the list with this type of feature. Their online tools include instructional videos and play-along tracks.
You'll go through repertoire, rhythmic drills, and other standard piano method things in the book. It starts by teaching you scales, triads, rhythms, and ledger lines. As you progress further, you learn arpeggios and some more advanced things. The repertoire of this book is very distinguished. Some of the popular tunes include Amazing Grace, The Entertainer, Greensleeves, Danny Boy, and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. These well-known songs make it much easier to stay interested.
As you'd expect from the title, this book is solely for classical piano. This book has an array of organized piano lessons that cover the important aspects of playing. It also thoroughly covers the pedaling technique, which isn't always included in other piano books. There are detailed diagrams included with each lesson, which is excellent for visual learners. The end of each chapter consists of a series of questions to make sure you learned the concepts. To check your answers, you can use the answer key in the back of the book.
Since the methods progress in a structured way, you can follow along with this book easily. In terms of difficulty, the pieces get progressively more challenging, which is standard. The pieces come in many styles and are lyrical and fun to play. For adult pianists learning on their own, this book is a must-have. It can build your skills from the ground up and give you consistent progress.
One minor downside is how fast it introduces the first couple of concepts. If you don't take some extra time to study them, you might not digest them well enough. However, if you're willing to dissect the material and work on it separately, you can reap many benefits.
Most piano books focus on classical music, but this one is an exception. If you want to learn jazz instead of classical, this might be your prime option. Though the style is primarily jazz, you still learn all the fundamentals of the piano.
Hal Leonard includes convenient recordings to play along with. You'll learn all the different types of chords and the theory behind them. Chord voicings are mainly focused on since they're essential in jazz. On top of everything, the book teaches you to improvise. Improvisation is a beautiful part of music, in general. In fact, most classical composers, like Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin, composed their pieces by improvising. It's a powerful skill that can sprout your creativity.
This book also heavily focuses on rhythm since it's essential in jazz. You'll also learn about phrasing, which can help to bring music your music to life. It's worth noting that this book isn't ideal for an absolute beginner. Before starting it, you might want to understand scales, key names, music theory, and fingering. In general, jazz can seem overly complicated if you don't have a grasp on the basics. If you want to focus on jazz instead of classical, this could be an excellent book for you.