15 Best Piano Books for Beginners and Returning Adults

Discover the Best Piano Books for Beginners and Returning Adults

There are so many piano books on the market these days that it can be genuinely hard to find the right one, especially if you’re a beginner.

However, whether you are a parent looking for the right book for your talented child or you’re an adult looking for a great educational or even refresher book, I’ve compiled a list of the 15 best piano books for beginners of all all ages.

Best Piano Books for Young Beginners

Let’s begin with the Bastien Piano Basics series of books.

1) Bastien Piano Basics

Now the best book series to get for any young beginner just might be the Bastien Piano Basics book series. It comes highly recommended by many piano teachers and helps to create a positive and easy learning experience for the students. Laid out in a way that encourages motivation and achievement, young students are able to achieve piano success using this book series to progress their skills.

Bastien Piano Basics

So what exactly is the Bastien book series?  Well, it’s a series that’s comprised of five correlated books that each focus on a different aspect of playing piano: piano, theory, performance, technique, and sight reading. Beginning with the five-finger C position, students learn finger dexterity and note movement before learning to read the staff.

Additionally, the gradual multi-key approach creates an easier learning experience and more mental retention through the reinforcement of previous concepts while adding on new ones. The illustrations within the book not only keep the young students’ attention, but the keyboard images help students find the correct keys on their own.

The Bastien book series utilizes simple and common childhood songs to keep the student’s attention and motivation and while this doesn’t do much for technique learning, it will help build a strong keyboard foundation in young beginners.

2) My First Piano Adventure

My First Piano Adventure by Nancy Faber is a great first book for young beginners. Written for kids age 5 & 6, My First Piano Adventure has fun songs, rhythm games, and technique activities meant to capture the student’s attention while developing beginning keyboard skills. These books introduce skills that are extremely helpful for when the student begins to advance such as pre-reading and elementary music theory.

My First Piano Adventure

The curriculum within these books includes beginning ear and eye-training by not using the music staff right away. Rather, the student is able to get comfortable with the keyboard and the more basic theory behind piano playing which will make learning pieces in the future and advancing their skill easier.

A distinct features of this series is the audio tracks on CD or via online access that come along with the book. These tracks make it possible for the young student to listen, sing, tap and play along with prerecorded tracks to help enhance learning. Many of the tracks also include children singing along to the lyrics of the song which can help to excite students to continue learning these pieces. The audio becomes a ready-made practicing partner that can help guide both student and parent through the book.

The illustrations also help to capture the student’s attention. These “friends at the piano” help to introduce the basic rhythms and keyboard layout to the students along with the different style of songs: blues, classical and folk. While these books are on the shorter side, this can help with the feeling of achievement with students quickly moving on to the next book and advancing through the levels.

3) Alfred’s Basic Piano Library

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library is one of the more popular options for you beginning piano students, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great option. It’s step-by-step method of teaching emphasizes correct playing habits and interval recognition before note reading. Its illustrations are cheery and fun to keep kids’ attention while not detracting from the task at hand of learning piano.

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library

The series starts with the very basics of teaching keyboard topography and fluent recognition of black keys before progressing to their relation to white keys. It then focuses on simple rhythms and intervallic reading before slowly introducing the lines and spaces of the grand staff. Through this very broken down curriculum, younger students are able to progress at a pace natural to them and retain the information given to them.

This series is written for students aged 7-10, and while it is easiest to be used under the direction of a teacher or experienced musician, with parental guidance it is possible for these books to be used independently and with younger students. The series assumes that the player has zero experience and starts at the very basics of playing piano moving through the playing techniques and theory at a great pace.

4) Me and My Piano

Me and My Piano written by Fanny Waterman is an exceptional book option for young beginners. It starts at the absolute beginning teaching the students that the piano has black and white keys and showing them where middle C is. After that it progresses through a comprehensive curriculum separating the hands and putting them together to play new songs.

Me and My Piano

It’s colorful and fresh design will appeal to its younger audience including the fun characters such as Sammy Squirrel and Ostrich. These characters help to guide the students through the instruction and learning of new concepts such as hopping up and down the keyboard to learn octaves. The later books even include puzzles, duets and ways to learn outside of the keyboard with rhythm exercises and songs.

Me and My Piano teaches at a gradual pace so students can decide how fast they wish to progress through the songs. Unlike many other beginning piano books, this one is easy for students to use on their own without teacher or parental guidance. 

However, once students complete this series there is not much else to advance with, it is very comprehensive for beginners but does not really tap into intermediate skills or playing. For that, students will need to look at other series.

5) John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course

This book is written especially for the young beginner. It does follow a classic curriculum with it’s comprehensive step-by-step course. That includes introducing new student’s to the staff notes a few at a time allowing space for repetition and retainment.

John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course

Included within the Easiest Piano Course is writing exercises, sight reading drills and review work. Along with the colorful characters and illustrations younger students’ attention will be grabbed and engaged in the new learning. Additionally there are worksheets and read aloud activities to help retain new concepts.

Students will be sure to get a great foundation in all of the most important aspects of classical piano training with this book. While it is possible to do this book independently (or with parental guidance), like many other beginning piano books it would be more effective to be used in conjunction with working one-on-one with a professional teacher.

6) Ultimate Beginner Series: Keyboard Basics

The Ultimate Beginner Series for Keyboard Basics uses text and DVD in conjunction to be able to teach students all of the foundational skills they need to be able to grow into great musicians. Beginning with the basic hand positions and finger shaping, this book enables students to independently learn how to play the piano.

Ultimate Beginner Series

The curriculum within this book and DVD covers any skill a piano player can think of. They have exercises to teach proper body positioning, how to find notes on the keyboard, basic chords, arpeggios, scales, chords and even beginning improvisation.

This book, and the series as a whole, is solely based on building up the foundation skills meaning there are very few songs. While that may make it a bit harder to keep the younger students’ attention, the DVD is meant to function as a teacher who can help with both the teaching and attention keeper.

Best Piano Books for Teenage Beginners

Let’s now mow onto piano learning books that would be excellent choices for teenage beginners.

7) Accelerated Piano Adventures for the Older Beginner

Nancy Faber’s My First Piano Adventure doesn’t stop with the young beginners. Her Accelerated Piano Adventures for the Older Beginner is another great option for students that may be starting at an older age and are able to learn a bit faster than the younger ones. In general it is recommended these books be used for students age 11 and up.

Accelerated Piano Adventures for the Older Beginner

Book 1 covers fundamental rhythms, all of the notes of the grand staff, C position, G position and gets students playing some well known songs. This series does introduce the staff a lot faster than the younger version, which can be overwhelming for some students, but creates a strong foundation.

The accelerated books also includes theory practice and many common tunes that the students can learn quickly and get them excited and motivated to continue playing and learning piano. The book comes highly recommended by piano teachers, especially for those beginners who have past musical experience whether that is in another instrument, or intense listening of certain styles.

8) Learn to Play Piano: Step by Step Guide

Learn to Play Piano is written by Heather Milnes, a piano teacher with over 30 years of experience. Each of the ideas presented in this book has been tried and tested on her real students to ensure that they are effective.

Learn to Play Piano: Step by Step Guide

This book is meant for older students because of its emphasis on learning to read music and play at the same time. The concept of multitasking and the accelerated speed at which this book introduces new concepts can be tricky for the younger students. The goal of Learn to Play Piano is to teach students how to coordinate their fingers and mind to be able to play and read music at the same time, an important foundational skill as their learnings advance.

The skills introduced in this book are done so one step at a time making it easy to follow and the immense amount of repetition ensures retention and solidifying of the skills. The songs in this book are a great mix of well-known songs, original compositions of well-known songs and a few less known songs. 

Students are able to learn skills by using the well-known songs as they already know what it is supposed to sound like, however they are still challenged in their playing skills through the use of original compositions and the lesser-known songs. They are forced to read the music and play at the same time rather than rely on their ears and knowledge of the tune.

9) Hal Leonard Piano for Teens Method

The Hal Leonard Piano for Teens Method is an easy to follow course specifically designed for young adults who are looking to learn how to play the piano or keyboard fast. Its clear instructions allow students to play each new song with confidence and progress at their own pace with strength. Each new concept is clearly laid out with the clean and simple page layouts so it is easy to understand and engage with the new concepts while learning the songs.

Hal Leonard Piano for Teens Method

The best part of the Hal Leonard Piano for Teens Method is its use of popular songs to teach the new skills and keep the teen’s attention. The book includes songs such as “Hallelujah”, “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift, and “We Will Rock You” by Queen. In addition there are the classical piano songs that every students wants to learn such as Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” to keep the students interested.

However, through it’s use of only popular songs, students may find it hard to transfer to other courses or external sheet music. Popular songs can teach some skills, but they are not too complicated to play making this book perfect for beginners trying to engage in piano, but difficult for those looking to develop the foundation needed to advance their skills afterward.

10) Piano for Busy Teens

The Piano for Busy Teens is exactly what it sounds like, a beginning piano book for busy teens. Designed for the normal teenage life of sport practice, activities, and homework, this is one of the best piano books for beginners who can’t find the time to study music they love. 

Piano for Busy Teens

The book’s layout and curriculum are broken down into minute pieces that take minutes to help make a busy teen’s life less overwhelming. Each section contains 1 minute FYI about the upcoming pieces, 5 minutes of warm up (Hanon style), 15 minute practice plan and 5 minute finishing touches. Teens will be able to sit and practice for the recommended 25-30 minutes by simply following the instructions.

From solo pieces to duets and Hanon warm ups, teens learn to play those classic piano songs they’ve always wished they could learn. Their attention will be grabbed, and their musical spark ignited. Even further this book ensures they will be glad they have found the time to start playing again and teach them effective practice techniques that fit into any lifestyle as they grow and change.

Best Piano Books for Adult Beginners

And finally, let’s give some much important love and attention to adult beginners looking for a book (or two) that will aid in their ability to master the piano.

11) Piano Book for Adult Beginners

The Piano Book for Adult Beginners is written by Damon Ferrante and guides students with step-by-step lessons. It is designed to be interactive, engaging and fun for adults that have no prior piano experience. The gradual introduction to the staff and note recognition helps with those that have no music reading experience, and it’s supplemental 20 streaming video lessons are a great add on.

Piano Book for Adult Beginners

This book is specifically meant to expand a student’s repertoire of piano songs rather than a focus on technique or playing skills. It explains a simple breakdown of chord progressions, finger patterns and technique, but does so through the song progression in the book. It begins with left hand songs, moves on to right hand songs before putting them together.

While the piano book may not be the most holistic introduction to piano, it is meant to help students improve their technique and enhance their understanding of music. It is written for adult beginners looking for a fair paced piano course, but it can also serve as a refresher course for any adult that is looking to pick up their previously abandoned piano skills.

12) The Older Beginner Piano Course

The Bastien’s Older Beginner Piano Course is written as a true self-instruction book, rather than many of the other options where it’s more like a teacher writing down their knowledge. This book is clearly written for students with absolutely zero knowledge of playing the piano and progresses as if the only learned knowledge is that of the previous pages.

The Older Beginner Piano Course

By using songs as teaching tools for techniques and musical knowledge, the predictable formula within the piano book will keep the eager students pleased. Students will feel like they are actively making progress and get to playing music right away. Additionally each unit ends with a quick theory page meant to reinforce the learned unit concepts without too much repetition.

These books are no nonsense, and unlike their primer counterparts do not have engaging pictures or filler songs or coloring activities. However, the limited additions create more space for students to learn everything they need to know in a timely manner. It does include a slightly interactive portion; however these are not needed to be completed in order to learn the information provided.

13) Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner

The Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner is everything an adult learner needs to know in order to become a successful musician. It starts at the very beginning and moves rapidly through music and technique selected and composed to appeal to the adult student. Students are encouraged and equipped to create and compose, understand theory and read music with simple exercises meant to challenge and improve their playing.

This book has a younger student partner series, and takes many of the concepts and language used in that series and applies them to the older students. This ensures that the instructions and learnings are easy to understand and follow for all adult students.

The curriculum of this book is all inclusive with studies of 65 new subjects, 155 solos and duets and even 107 one-line pieces to help students practice their sight reading skills. There are pieces that teach students how to accompany pieces on the piano as well as learn the skill of transposing to new keys. On top of all this learning, the book has 22 units that have exercises to work on technique, rhythm, written work and improvisation.

All of this information can be a bit overwhelming for the absolute beginner, but it is a great starting point and really is an all-encompassing curriculum that doesn’t require a teacher. While there are complaints about the small font size, if the text were any bigger students would need to purchase two or three volumes! This one volume has so many things and with its theory components is really the best book for beginning students who aren’t afraid of a challenge.

Best Piano Books for Returning Adults

Piano is such a popular instrument for kids to learn, but it’s quite common for kids to abandon it and then find they want to pick it up again as an adult, maybe to play alongside their own kid. However, it can be difficult to find the books that aren’t meant for straight up beginners.

So, where can you find books geared towards adults looking to refresh their piano playing skills?  Well, I’ve found two options (below) that I think might just do the trick.  These two books are great options for adults looking to find their “playing spirit” again. 

Both books aren’t necessarily meant to enhance or advance one’s piano skills, but the books can indeed help a student refresh his or her memory and start playing songs again (before seeking out teacher-student lessons for further education).

14) Returning to the Piano: A Refresher Book for Adults

This book written by Wendy Stevens is specifically geared towards those adults who used to play piano but fell out of it and are looking to find the joy in playing again. Rather than focusing on teaching skills and theories like the rest of the books for beginners, this one simply uses the arranged songs to help adult students find the playing spirit.

Returning to the Piano

The refresher book is not meant for improving skills or learning new technique. It only consists of songs and a few tips on how to get back into the groove of playing piano. The simple arrangement of the songs without having them sound easy can encourage adults to restart their piano journey.

Included with the purchase of this book is access to professional recordings of each song with backing tracks for practicing and playing along. The recordings also include a playback ability which enables players to change the audio speed, key, and set a loop point for extra repetition. This book is a standalone practice course.

15) I Used to Play Piano

The I Used To Play Piano book is exactly what it sounds like: a refresher course for adults that used to play piano and are looking to pick it back up again, but don’t want to start at the very beginning. Students choosing this book must actively want to begin playing again and have much self-motivation to start up again.

I Used to Play Piano

There are 11 units containing diverse styles that range from classical arrangements, jazz, boogie, blues, ragtime and more. These units are meant to help an adult learner progress their skills with potentially new styles, not start over from the beginning.

The strategic review sections and test at the beginning of the book not only help the adults find the unit to begin with that best matches their ability level, but also allows them to progress through the units with confidence at their own pace. Overall this book uses a gradual yet constant pace to guide the students.

Similar to many other beginning books, this one comes with a CD making it possible to use it effectively without a teacher and self instruct. A more unique feature of this book is its comb binding, which allows it to lay flat on the piano stand rather than most other books that pop up and have pages turning before it’s wanted.

Any adult that wants to pick piano back up but is looking to find their own ability match and refresh their skills before going to a piano, this is a great book to find. Being one of the best piano books for beginners doesn’t always mean those simple and colorful characters, beginners are on a spectrum, and returning adults might find this one starts right where they need it to.

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