If you're just starting out, learning to play the piano can be an exciting and yet daunting experience at the same time. There's just so much information out there and you might not know where's the best place to begin your learning journey.
Fortunately, there are many well-thought-out piano method books that have been written specifically to help you begin your musical journey and develop a solid foundation in piano playing. This article will introduce some of these books, which offer step-by-step instructions on basic techniques, note reading, and rhythm, as well as fun and easy-to-play songs that are progressive in difficulty. Whether you're a complete beginner or have some prior musical experience, the right book can make a significant difference in your piano playing progress. In this article, we will explore some of the best books for beginner piano players, covering a range of styles, approaches, and skill levels.
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Can Piano Be Self Taught
A traditional route of learning to play the piano would be to take lessons from a qualified teacher, but in this day and age, when information is so freely available on the internet in so many different formats (eg youtube, blogs, instagram and more), it is natural to wonder if it's possible to learn to play the piano on your own. And the answer to that is, yes, and in fact, you will find no shortage of examples of great pianists who are self-taught. With the help of online resources, instructional books, and plenty of practice, it is possible to develop the necessary skills and techniques to play a variety of songs.
However, it's important to note that it is very likely that self-taught pianists could miss out on some aspects of piano playing, such as proper hand posture and fingering techniques, which can lead to bad habits and injuries over time. Most beginners think of playing the piano as simply the pressing of the correct keys in the correct sequence at the correct timing, but did you know that when it comes to the simple action of pressing a single key on the piano, there are multiple techniques to do it? For example, there's the technique of forearm rotation, wrist circles, and also, pure finger technique, as in, thinking of movements from the knuckles. These different techniques are used for varying purposes and situations, and while a beginner might be able to get by playing simple pieces without any knowledge of these things, many piano beginners get stuck very quickly in their learning journey because they were never taught how to think in terms of these different basic movements.
Additionally, apart from the musical aspects of playing the piano (eg technique, how to interpret notes and rhythms on a music score), a rarely-talked-about aspect of piano playing is the development of one's ability in visualizing future actions before executing them. And many self-learners get stuck in their progress because they do not consider this aspect of piano playing; most think of piano playing as simply lots and lots of repetition, but there's much more to successful piano practice than mindless muscle memory. This is where an experienced piano teacher comes into the picture; an experience teacher not only is able to give feedback on technical aspects of playing (posture, movements, etc.), the value of an experienced teacher is also curating the right materials for specific learning objectives, and controlling the pace of learning for optimal improvement and expanding a student's mental bandwidth to take on more challenging pieces.
Hence, while self-taught piano playing is possible, it's important to consider that there is much potential for important learning objectives to be missed out upon, which could possibly place a very low cap on how far you could take your piano journey.
How Should A Beginner Learn Piano
There are a few fundamental concepts that every beginner should learn before moving on to more advanced techniques. These are what a piano beginner should learn first:
It is important to learn proper hand position and posture at the piano, which involves sitting with a straight back and keeping the wrists level with the keyboard. As mentioned earlier, there are multiple techniques of simply pressing a piano key. There are instructional videos online that breaks down the different ways of pressing a piano key, or a teacher can also help with that.
Learning to read music notation is also essential, beginning with the basics of note names, rhythms, and key signatures. By learning to read music notation, it positions you in a better place to be able to understand further musical ideas, especially later in your piano learning journey. While it is true that there are great pianists who can't read, you'd want to do things that increase your chances of success in your learning journey, and learning to read musical notation is definitely one of those things.
It is also common for beginners to have this idea to dive right into learning just that one favorite piano song or piece of theirs, and without learning anything else about playing the piano. However, the truth of the matter is, even if you wanted to just play a modest performance of your favorite piano songs (not an over-the-top professional quality performance), it still requires the development of many different competencies in piano playing before you could pull off that 'modest' performance of your favorite song. Simply put, to dive right into learning just that one favorite piano song without learning anything else, is very much like going to a physical trainer at a gym and telling him or her that you want to attain the strength to carry 300kgs of weight, by going straight to the 300kg barbell and attempting to lift it every day. It doesn't quite work like that. You have to work your way up through smaller steps. In piano learning, these smaller steps, would be simpler pieces, technical exercises, scales, arpeggios, etc. Your chances of success at learning to play the piano would be best with a teacher who curates the right material for the right learning objectives.
What Are Best Books For Learning Piano
By Willard A. Palmer, Morton Manus, and Amanda Vick Lethco - This series of books is designed for adult beginners and it includes lessons on basic technique, note reading, and music theory, as well as a variety of songs in increasing difficulty to practice. There are two additional books in the series, and this series leans slightly towards a more chordal style of playing the piano. For a more wholistic development in your piano journey, you might want to consider transitioning to a graded syllabus route like ABRSM graded piano syllabus after completing the first book in this series. Nevertheless, this book is still a well thought out book for learning the basics of playing the piano. Click here to purchase this book
Hanon exercises are a popular set of piano exercises created by French piano teacher Charles-Louis Hanon in the late 19th century and have since become a staple in piano pedagogy. For beginners, it helps to strengthen one's mental connection to each individual fingers to prevent misfiring of fingers. Click here to purchase this book.
This is a set of piano exercises and studies composed by Carl Czerny in the early 19th century, and it makes for a great learning resource for piano beginners. Piano teachers often use the exercises found in this collection as supplementary material to teach techniques such as wrist rotations, forearm rotation, and more. The exercises are also designed to develop a wide range of technical skills, including finger strength, dexterity, and independence, as well as note-reading and rhythm. Click here to purchase this book
"Adult Piano Adventures All-in-One Piano Course Book 1" by Nancy Faber is a comprehensive piano method book designed specifically for adult learners. With over 170 pages of material, this book provides a complete learning experience for those who are just starting out on the piano. The book is structured around a series of lessons that guide the student through the basics of piano technique and music theory. It is best used with a teacher's guidance but if you're diligent enough, you'll be able to put this book to good use on your own as well. Click here to purchase this book