Which book will help you best to learn to play the piano?
The piano is to music what chess is to strategy games: the basics can be learned quickly, while mastery can take a lifetime. Teaching the piano yourself is now more convenient and easier than ever with streamlined, modern textbooks, tested by tens of thousands of students who want to learn the instrument at home at any age.
Damon Ferrante’s “Adult Beginner’s Piano Book” works with a streaming video course to get you started as a pianist while teaching you the classical songs you know and love. Appreciated by Rolling Stone magazine, this book is a fantastic introduction to the instrument that helps build confidence, with a strong, consistent program that makes sense regardless of your musical background.
What you should know before buying a book to help you learn to play the piano
Learning to read music is often the biggest hurdle for people starting to play an instrument. It’s a new language that has its own set of complex rules, often unlike anything you’ve learned before. However, once you become familiar with middle C, learn basic scales, chords and arpeggios, you will find that many popular songs can be played more easily than musically notated by playing chords with your left hand while the melody continues to play the right. Some beginners find it helpful to label their keyboard and write corresponding letters under their sheet music until you start reading and playing more intuitively.
Piano lessons are now commonly conducted virtually as technology has made it possible for students and teachers to practice together without leaving home. With this in mind, many piano textbooks and courses include video tutorials and an online interactive component, allowing beginners who wish to become self-taught to receive additional visual and auditory instructions for their motivation and practice.
Keyboard vs Piano
If you are just starting out, you may not be ready to invest in a piano until you are certain that you or your children will enjoy it for the long term. A keyboard is a much cheaper alternative that works just as well as a piano, requires no tuning, and often includes features like built-in metronomes and a recording component for playback. Modern keyboards also have weighted keys that simulate the feel of a traditional piano.
What to look for in a quality book to help you play the piano
There are some techniques that should be mastered early on when learning to play the piano. Most experts agree that the basics of playing the piano start with understanding scales. First, try to develop mastery of the C major scale on the right hand, then the left hand, followed by G major. This allows for a comfortable level of correct hand and finger placement and noticing how the notes sound and how they feel under your fingers. It is also advisable to practice the rhythm with a metronome to understand the timing of half and quarter notes. A quality music book will provide the necessary instructions to accomplish this and more.
Some music books are designed to be taught professionally by a qualified music teacher, while others are user-friendly enough to be suitable for home learning for dedicated self-starters who have the necessary discipline. If you’ve embarked on the journey of teaching yourself piano, you’ll need to decide whether you’d rather use your textbook alongside online tutorial videos (of which there are hundreds of thousands available) or look for virtual 1-on-1 coaching with one certified piano teacher for more detailed instructions. Many beginners find that starting with a book on their own time gives them a solid foundation of understanding that increases the value of professional instruction tenfold thereafter. If you want to be completely self-taught, which is definitely doable, buying the right books and manuals will save you a lot of frustration and time to begin with.
Pop and contemporary music that family and friends can sing along to is usually a little easier to play than classical music and can be a great way to practice beginner piano after you’ve learned your chords. Popular music is also usually more fun and helps build confidence. Since you probably already know the melody of many pop songs, it should be easier to get the rhythm right. Seeing a song written in musical notation that you are already familiar with can also help you learn to understand sheet music more easily.
How much you can spend on a book to help you learn to play the piano
Purchasing an instruction book to help you learn to play the piano is an inexpensive and convenient way to start at home before investing in formal tutoring. These books cost around $10 to $30 depending on what they offer and whether they have additional features.
Book to help you learn to play the piano FAQ
Can you really learn piano without a teacher and lessons?
A Absolutely. Learning to play the piano really only requires two things: an instrument to practice on and the motivation to check it out. Like any hobby, it will be successful if you give it regular time and try to improve, even and especially when it gets frustrating. Additionally, repetition is key to achieving muscle memory in your fingers and hands.
Do you have to read music to play the piano?
A Learning to play the piano by reading sheet music is the traditional method and allows you to learn a larger repertoire of classical songs over time. Many musicians also play their instruments by ear, which is very true for the piano. Once you become familiar with how certain notes sound and where they are located on the piano, you will begin to develop a sort of musical intuition. However, it’s always best to learn the basics from a book.
What is the best book to help you play the piano?
Top book for learning to play the piano
“Piano Book for Adult Beginners”
What you need to know: This popular piano textbook comes complete with a corresponding online video course for step-by-step instructions.
What you will love: This book will help you understand the basics of playing chords and getting your fingers on the keys properly, both of which are the foundation of learning to play the piano.
What you should consider: When purchasing, make sure you select the physical book and not the digital copy, as the e-book is too difficult to read while actually playing the piano.
Where to buy: Amazon
Top book to help you learn to play the piano for money
“Alfred’s Basic Piano Course Lesson Book” Level 1A
What you need to know: This classic piano course has been used for decades to teach beginners the basics of learning to play the piano at a truly unbeatable price.
What you will love: The proven methods are guaranteed to form a solid basis for understanding the instrument.
What you should consider: The best use of this piano textbook is when coupled with formal instruction.
Where to buy: Amazon
It’s worth trying
Accelerated Piano Adventures for the older beginner
What you need to know: This book is an excellent introduction to adults who want to teach themselves piano at home and older children who are taking formal lessons.
What you will love: This book includes finger placement, chords, visual guidance, and some music theory, making it a standard by which other beginner piano guides are judged.
What you should consider: A very small number of reviewers who received a damaged copy due to shipping issues.
Where to buy: Amazon
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Ashley Britten writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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