Good beginning piano books for kids?
June 2, 2008 6:50 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to start introducing my almost 6-year-old to the piano. What are some good books or new techniques that are designed to teach young children how to play the piano, basics on music theory, etc.?
posted by adverb to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
A quick search around google suggests that Alfred's Basic Piano Library was the series I learned on back in the early 90s. I went all the way through the levels and got really good. Having absolutely no musical talent (or interest in piano), I have to imagine that the books were pretty decent.
posted by phunniemee at 6:58 PM on June 2, 2008

Oh, and we (my teacher and I) briefly tried the "My First Piano" books, but they sucked balls (as much as my 5 year old self could assess something like that). YMMV.
posted by phunniemee at 7:00 PM on June 2, 2008

I promise I will shut up soon. These are the books I used. Still Alfred's, but the new editions have different covers (the ones in my amazon link); I don't know if the innards have changed. I'm guessing not much.

Good books, though. And I definitely recommend the accompanying workbooks.
posted by phunniemee at 7:03 PM on June 2, 2008

My childhood piano teacher teacher (who is/was somewhat of a legend in my neck of the woods, and turned out a good amount of legends) started everyone off with the same two books: John Thompson Grade 1, and Edna Mae Burnam's A Dozen a Day.

What we were made to do was to warm up with A Dozen a Day (finger exercises), and then proceed on to John Thompson (songs).

Also, I've heard good things about Bartok's Mikrokosmos, but I've never tried them out myself.

And you probably don't need this information now, but I'm on a roll anyway: When we finished John Thompson Grade 2, she moved us on to Michael Aaron Grade 3, up to Grade 5. And beyond Grade 5 ... we'd work on books instead, particularly those from the Alfred Masterworks series (random book).
posted by Xere at 7:16 PM on June 2, 2008

Oh MAN, "John Thompson" and, even better, "A Dozen a Day!" I haven't seen or thought of that in years, Xere, and it ALL comes rushing back as soon as I see that green cover. Thanks for the memory! I can attest that these were great ways to start learning the piano at about that age.
posted by nkknkk at 7:22 PM on June 2, 2008

You know, you might think of engaging a music teacher for just one session, they're cool with that kind of gig, call it a consultation or whatever. That way they can recommend something that's geared for your kid's distribution of talent. For instance, if they're good at learning tunes quickly but as a result stop bothering to read the music (too much hare, not enough tortoise), Mikrokosmos is the book for them. The tunes are musical yet unpredictable, so you can't fake your way through them.

Of course, the teacher might also recommend more lessons, and from a strictly musical standpoint would be correct in doing so. So fine, hear them out, in any case you'll be far better informed.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 10:54 PM on June 2, 2008

Thirding John Thompson. I learned from a second-hand set in the 70s, and I just saw them again at the music shop recently. They really do a good job of progressively introducing techniques without being too boring.

I'd get a Hanon and a Czerny to go with it, too, but they're too boring by themselves.
posted by ctmf at 10:56 PM on June 2, 2008

Well, now I have to come out and say that when I was a kid I found the John Thompson stuff to be trite, predictable, and boring. (Not that I could articulate it that way, back then.) I won't explain it further; I'm only emphasizing the point that certain material is good for certain students.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 11:24 PM on June 2, 2008

Have you considered Suzuki Method at all? I'm a Suzuki violin teacher/former Suzuki student so quite biased, but it's definitely geared towards young children and worth checking out if you haven't yet. :)
posted by chihiro at 5:15 AM on June 3, 2008

If you came into my shop, I would definitely recommend you John Thompson, Joanna McGregor's Piano World, which is laid out as a cartoonish story, or Pauline Hall's Tunes for Ten Fingers. Dozen a Day is popular with teachers, but I think it's a little dry. I suggest you actually have a look at the books in a real shop rather than ordering them online, because you know your son, and you'll be able to spot the features that he'll respond to.
posted by featherboa at 5:28 AM on June 3, 2008

I started with the Suzuki books as well.
posted by spec80 at 6:10 AM on June 3, 2008

John Thompson and A Dozen A Day! I did those too. I also practised my scales using the official ABRSM books.
posted by hellopanda at 8:36 AM on June 3, 2008

I agree with the Suzuki suggestions. This will help develop your child's ear for life, whether s/he continues with music or not. IA fine-tuned ear will help your child focus in general, and many other skills will come easier to him/her. I wish I had studied Suzuki Method as a child!!
posted by cachondeo45 at 12:41 PM on June 3, 2008

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