There are several piano books that I have used over the years with great effect. They aren’t the only choices out there, but in my opinion they are the best.
When looking for a curriculum to teach I look for 3 things.
First, rock solid teaching. A curriculum should build on what a student already knows and not make too big of leaps in one page. The pages should be easy to learn and the skills laid out logically.
Second, the music should sound good. Students should love playing their songs! You can teach all kinds of skills with horrible sounding music, but who would want to practice them?
Third, each book should have quality, easy to read printing. The pages should look appealing and fun. The music should be clear with high contrast between the background page color and the notes.
Here is my list of the books that have “made it”.
This is my go to curriculum. It is well thought out, and the songs are fun! The earlier levels have fun pictures that are well liked by children. Level 1A doesn’t drag on forever between new concepts, and the average student will be reading music on the staff in about 4-6 weeks. The later levels teach each concept well, and gradually increase the amount of skills needed in each song. I only have one aspect that could be a bit better with Alfred Basic. They teach 5 notes at the same time at the beginning. A child with no previous knowledge has a bit of trouble with the introduction of the staff. This is easily fixed by adding in some supplementary material during this part of level 1A. Other than this, it is fantastic!
Faber Piano Adventures
This is my second favorite. I love how Piano Adventures gives lots of tips on technique. Their introduction to the staff is gradual, and sometimes feels slow, but is thorough. The music is super fun to play, and the pictures in the earlier levels look great on the page. Piano Adventures has split levels 1, 2 and 3 into two parts each. This means that students will sometimes drag through these levels. However, all students who go through this curriculum are good note readers.
Bastien Piano Basics
Bastien is one of the oldest piano books I use. They’ve been around for a long time! The pictures are bright and a little to childlike, but are colorful and fun for children. Bastien begins with middle C position and progresses to key signatures quickly. Sometimes, they leap around with piano skills, leaving the student with a sudden that the song is super hard. Bastien only has 4 levels as opposed to Piano Adventures who has 5 levels, and Alfred Basic who has 6.
Alfred’s Prep Course
The Prep Course is ideal for young beginners who are 6-7 years old. They split levels 1A, 1B, 2 and 3 into two books each. This gives them lots of space to be sure that each concept is well learned before the next one is taught. I will often pull songs from level A to help fill in for a student struggling with note reading in the Alfred Basic 1A. Many of the songs are the same as Alfred’s Basic. The biggest difference is that the pictures are geared for younger children, and there are more songs per concept.
Accelerated Piano Adventures
This curriculum is perfect for the 10-14 year old who has never taken piano lessons before. It starts at the very beginning, and progresses rapidly. The pictures are smaller and less colorful than the regular Piano Adventures , making it feel more age appropriate for older beginners. Even though the pace is rapid, it still teaches step by step. After completing the second Accelerated Piano Adventrues, you’re ready to go into level 3A. This is the fast track, and will usually shave several months off of the time it takes to go through levels 1 and 2.
Alfred Adult Course
Adult beginners have a whole different set of goals and expectations in piano. The Alfred Adult Course is made specifically for these students. It starts with reading right on the staff, but includes the letter names on the notes for quite a few pages. The songs are fun, and the printing is clear and easy to read. The Alfred Adult Course teaches chords earlier and more thoroughly than the Alfred Basic Course.
Adult Piano Adventures
Similar to the Piano Adventures, the Adult Piano Adventrues is geared toward the adult beginner. The teaching is very step by step and the expilnation for how to use the pedal is second to none! I like the concentration on rhythm and coordination in this series. The printing is easy to read and the songs are fun to play.
I’ve taught using other curricula, but these are my top favorites. Did one of them jump out to you as something you would like to try? Make an appointment for a complimentary interview to talk about how Schupbach Piano Studio can help you to learn how to play piano. Don’t forget to mention your favorite curriculum!