help me help my girlfriend teach herself to play piano!
December 27, 2011 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a book to help my girlfriend learn to play piano!

My girlfriend received a very nice keyboard (full length, doesn't feel EXACTLY like a piano but it's close) as a Christmas gift from her parents a year ago, and she recently mentioned that she hasn't used it much because she doesn't really know how to play; as a belated Christmas gift when I fly out to see her at the end of this week, I'd like to give her a book (or two) to help her teach herself.

Some background: She's taught herself guitar over the past couple of years (and I think took a semester or two of lessons in college). She has a good ear and is interested in music theory, but I think has been intimidated when she's tried to learn more via the Internet and doesn't know where to start. Her musical interests tend more towards the pop/folky side of things, and I think she'd probably be happy (at least initially) learning enough that she could noodle around and play some Beatles songs or play along with other people. I realize lessons would be the best strategy, but I don't know if that would gel with her work schedule, so I thought it might be best to start with this (also figuring out how to give her lessons as a gift is tricky since we don't live in the same place and I'm not sure what's available in her area). She's very, very good at motivating herself to learn, so I think she'd be able to work her way through something that would help her learn to read sheet music and some basic theory, and help her gain some confidence with the instrument.

I took lessons all the way through high school, and I started out with whatever Alfred series of books existed at the time, but the ones I used were very much little-kid oriented and I don't know if there's something analogous for adults, so I thought I'd ask the hive mind. Any piano teachers out there have any recs?
posted by dismas to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
There is an adult version of the Alfred books: the Alfred Adult All-in-One Series, conveniently available on amazon.
posted by shannonigans at 11:22 AM on December 27, 2011

Is it any good? I'll go with it if only because I recognize the name, but I don't want to miss out on some better method if one's out there.
posted by dismas at 12:55 PM on December 27, 2011

Although not a "learn to play" book, I found Noah Adam's book "Piano Lessons: Music, Love, and True Adventures" to be an excellent frame-of-mind book for my having re-taken up the piano after a 30 year hiatus.

As a side note, I have never encountered an adult who is happy that they gave up playing the piano when they were young.
posted by bz at 12:57 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am not an instructor, but I used the Alfred Adult books last year when I returned to playing the piano. I had lessons for several years as a child and wasn't starting with a blank slate, so I began with Book 2. I don't have anything to compare them to, but the Alfred books worked really well for me. I also had a piano teacher at the same time, though. The books seem like they'd be really good for someone learning on their own because they're all-inclusive (theory and repertoire). Book 3 in particular was very satisfying, because it had some great classic piano pieces at the end, including Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata. I don't think you can go wrong with the Alfred series.
posted by shannonigans at 1:06 PM on December 27, 2011

bz: Ooh, that looks great, I'll have to give it a look (and yes, once I move out of this apartment I'm stealing my piano back from my dad and tackling those Bach inventions again...)

Shannonigans: Good to know, thanks!
posted by dismas at 1:28 PM on December 27, 2011

You don't want to deal with lessons, but I'll add this anyway:
She doesn't need a weekly piano lesson forever, but 3-4 weekly lessons will allow her to get a lot of the basics that don't come easily (proper hand position & posture, scale and chord fingerings, and possibly even inversions if the lessons are structured right).

Of course, all of this can also be handled with books or even for free online. But lessons have the advantage of getting feedback from a real person, and allowing the student to ask questions.

I'm all for being self-taught. But for a beginner there's really no substitute for lessons from a competent person. Certainly the half-dozen guitar lessons I took in the beginning paid off in spades over the years.
posted by coolguymichael at 3:18 PM on December 27, 2011

Went with the first two Alfred adult books. She loved the gift. Thanks again, y'all.
posted by dismas at 12:19 PM on January 3, 2012

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