What Are the Best Piano Methods For Beginners?
If you’re planning on dabbling in piano on your own, or if you want to educate yourself to a certain extent before speaking with potential piano teachers, this guide will give you a general understanding of the method materials at your disposal.
Before we jump in, it’s important to note the following:
- A qualified piano teacher will draw from one or multiple methods when teaching, but they will provide a unique and well-rounded education specifically tailored to your needs based on their understanding of pedagogy and keyboard literature
- You will never improve as quickly as when you work with an experienced teacher
- Daily, intentional practice as structured by your teacher is the most important factor in your development.
If you would like more information about our piano lessons in Houston, please get in touch! We also have locations for piano lessons in Katy, TX, as well as piano lessons in Pearland. We would love to get to know either you or your child.
Piano Methods For Kids
The Faber Method
We’ll start off with Faber because not only is it the most popular piano learning method out there, but it’s our go-to method for young beginners.
The Faber Piano Adventures, developed by Nancy and Randall Faber, is a widely used method for teaching piano to children. The series offers a comprehensive approach to piano education, covering technique, theory, sight-reading, and performance skills. The method is known for its engaging and diverse repertoire, which includes classical pieces (often reduced, accessible versions), folk songs, and original compositions.
The Faber Piano Adventures also emphasizes creativity and expression, encouraging students to develop their own musical voice. The series is available for different age groups, including "My First Piano Adventure" for young beginners and "Accelerated Piano Adventures" for older beginners.
Additional Reading: Intermediate Piano Checklist
The Bastien Piano Method, created by James Bastien and his wife Jane Smisor Bastien, is a popular choice for beginners, particularly younger students. It has been a staple in piano pedgogy classes for many years, but it has mostly fallen out of favor in music schools – it was an important stepping stone in the development of piano pedagogy.
The method is designed to be engaging and enjoyable, incorporating colorful illustrations and familiar tunes to keep young learners motivated. The Bastien Piano Method progresses gradually, with step-by-step instructions that help students develop a strong foundation in piano technique, music theory, and sight-reading. The method includes several series, such as "Piano for the Young Beginner," "Piano Basics," and "Piano Literature," ensuring that students can continue learning with the Bastien method as they advance.
Suzuki Piano Method
The Suzuki Piano Method, developed by Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki, is based on his "mother-tongue" approach to music education. The method encourages students to learn music in a similar way to how they learn their native language – through listening, imitation, and repetition. This approach emphasizes ear training and memorization, with students first learning to play by ear before being introduced to traditional notation. The Suzuki Piano Method includes a series of repertoire books, with pieces carefully selected to develop technique and musicianship. Group lessons and performances are also integral to the method, fostering a sense of community and providing opportunities for students to learn from their peers.
Alfred’s Basic Piano Library
The Alfred's Basic Piano Library, created by Willard A. Palmer, Morton Manus, and Amanda Vick Lethco, offers a well-rounded approach to learning piano. The method is designed for students of all ages, with a focus on developing a strong foundation in technique, theory, and sight-reading. The Alfred's Basic Piano Library includes a variety of sub-series, such as "Lesson Books," "Theory Books," "Recital Books," and "Technic Books," each addressing a specific aspect of piano education. The method also incorporates a wide range of musical styles, exposing students to different genres and helping them develop versatile playing skills.
Hanon: Supporting Technical Studies
The Hanon exercises, compiled by Charles-Louis Hanon in his book "The Virtuoso Pianist," are a collection of technical exercises aimed at developing finger strength, independence, and agility. While not a comprehensive method for learning piano, these exercises can supplement any of the aforementioned methods or be used by intermediate and advanced students to hone their technique. The Hanon exercises are highly repetitive, focusing on specific finger patterns and movements, and are intended to be practiced daily as part of a structured practice routine.
More Supplemental Material: Daily Dozen
The Daily Dozen Piano Technique Studies, often attributed to Walter Macfarren, consist of twelve exercises designed to improve finger strength, agility, and independence. These systematic drills target different technical challenges, such as scales, arpeggios, and repeated notes, providing a comprehensive warm-up routine to help pianists build a solid technical foundation and maintain their skills. Practicing the Daily Dozen consistently can lead to enhanced control, precision, and overall improvement in piano performance.
The Rockschool Method of Piano Learning
The RockSchool piano method offers a contemporary approach to learning piano, focusing on popular music genres like rock, pop, and jazz. The graded syllabus includes repertoire, technique, improvisation, and music theory, catering to students interested in modern music styles. RockSchool provides a motivating alternative to traditional methods, helping students develop versatile skills and fostering a deep appreciation for diverse musical expressions.
Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) Methodology
The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) piano method is a comprehensive, graded educational system designed to guide students through their musical journey, from beginner to advanced levels. The RCM curriculum covers essential aspects of piano playing, including technique, repertoire, ear training, sight-reading, and theory. By offering a progressive and structured approach, the RCM method helps students develop a strong foundation in piano performance and musicianship.
The RCM method includes a series of graded repertoire books, featuring a diverse range of classical and contemporary pieces, as well as technique books that cover scales, chords, and arpeggios. The curriculum also includes books for ear training and music theory, ensuring a well-rounded musical education.
Examinations are an integral part of the RCM method, providing students with goals to work towards and a means of measuring their progress. These exams assess students' performance, technique, and theoretical knowledge, ensuring they possess the necessary skills to advance to the next level.
The RCM method is highly regarded for its systematic approach to piano education, fostering the development of disciplined practice habits, artistic expression, and
Piano Methods For Adults
Choosing the best piano method for adults depends on individual learning preferences, musical interests, and goals. Adult learners often seek a well-rounded and enjoyable learning experience that caters to their unique needs. Several piano methods have been specifically designed or adapted to address the requirements of adult students, focusing on a balance between technique, theory, and engaging repertoire. The following methods are particularly well-suited for adult learners.
The Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course, developed by Willard A. Palmer, Morton Manus, and Amanda Vick Lethco, is a popular choice for adult beginners. The method covers essential piano skills, music theory, and sight-reading through a gradual, step-by-step approach. The repertoire included in the method features a mix of classical pieces, popular tunes, and folk songs, appealing to a wide range of musical tastes. The method also incorporates helpful practice tips and explanations, catering to self-learners or those working with a teacher.
The Faber Piano Adventures: Adult Piano Adventures series, by Nancy and Randall Faber, offers a comprehensive approach to learning piano tailored to adult students. The method covers piano technique, theory, sight-reading, and performance skills through a diverse range of musical styles, including classical, popular, and jazz. The Adult Piano Adventures series encourages creativity and expression, with activities such as improvisation and composition woven into the method. The series also includes informative historical and cultural context, enhancing adult learners' understanding and appreciation of the music.
The Hal Leonard Student Piano Library: Adult Piano Method, by Fred Kern, Barbara Kreader, and others, is another well-regarded option for adult learners. The method presents a comprehensive curriculum, covering essential piano techniques, music theory, and sight-reading. The repertoire includes a variety of musical styles, from classical to popular songs, ensuring a diverse and enjoyable learning experience. The Hal Leonard Adult Piano Method also features accompaniment tracks, providing students with a fuller, more engaging practice experience.
The John Thompson's Adult Piano Course, by John Thompson, is a classic method that has been adapted to suit the needs of adult learners. The course offers a step-by-step approach to learning piano, focusing on technique, theory, and sight-reading. The repertoire includes well-known classical pieces and original compositions, providing adult students with an enjoyable and motivating learning experience.