Piano Methods

Popular Piano Teaching Methods Reviewed

There are a wide variety of piano methods to choose from when you learn piano.

Which one is the best for you, as an adult beginner, or for your child just starting with lessons?

Many times, your teacher will have a method he or she uses and recommends.  Many times, over years of experience, teachers build their own piano method, using some books and resources from others and some they've created themselves. 

Don't be afraid to talk to potential teachers about the curriculum for lessons, whether for yourself or for your child.  It's important that students of all ages love the music they are playing in the process of learning.

I've spoken to many, many adults who quit piano as kids because they never got to play music they liked -- what a shame!

Classical Piano Methods

Still the most widely taught, traditional piano methods are the books you'll find at your local music store. These classical books teach you to play piano by learning to read music, note by note.

"Of course," you might be thinking.  "What other way could there be?"

Actually, there are many ways to learn piano. And to learn to read music, for that matter. You can read about them below, in the alternative methods section.

Classical piano methods all teachpiano playing and music reading at the same time.  Beyond that common link, though, there are differences. 

Each method approaches introducing musical concepts, rhythm, theory, and piano technique differently.  And every piano teacher has his or her own opinions (including me)!

I've chosen three of the most popular classical courses to review and included a brief introduction.

Piano Adventures Piano Method

Piano Adventures is far and away my favorite of the traditional piano methods! 

Piano Adventures is a graded piano curriculum written by the husband-wife team of Randall and Nancy Faber.  

Nancy is an award-winning composer and pianist, and Randall is a celebrated performer.  

If you're sold on the traditional method, these are the books I'd highly recommend for you! 

The music is original and interesting - kids and adults alike enjoy it.  And I find I like the speed at which the musical concepts unfold. 

Ages:  books for young beginners, older beginners, and adults

Best feature:  terrific, original music

Click here for a full review of the Piano Adventures Method!


Piano Adventures Primer Level - Lesson Book (2nd Edition) look inside
Piano Adventures Primer Level - Lesson Book
Faber Piano AdventuresĀ®. Methods. Primer. Softcover. 72 pages. Published by Faber Piano Adventures.

Smp_stars40 (18) ...more info



Accelerated Piano Adventures for the Older Beginner look inside
Accelerated Piano Adventures for the Older Beginner
(Lesson Book 1). By Nancy Faber and Randall Faber. Faber Piano AdventuresĀ®. Methods. Softcover. 96 pages. Published by Faber Piano Adventures.

Smp_stars50 (7) ...more info



Alfred's Basic Piano Library

Before I discovered the Piano Adventures series, I taught using the Alfred's books.  

The Adult All-in-One books are amainstay with many teachers because they include different musical styles and music theory in one volume.

I prefer the music in the Alfred's children's books to the Bastien books of the same level, and I like the order of the theory teaching better, too.

Ages:  books for young beginners, older beginners, and adults

Best Feature:  The All-in-One courses include a range of musical styles including jazz and blues

Click here for a full review of Alfred's Piano Method!


Alfred's Basic Piano Course - Lesson Book (Level 1A) look inside
Alfred's Basic Piano Course - Lesson Book (Level 1A)
Piano - Alfred's Basic Piano Course. Beginner. Instructional book (big note notation). Introductory text, instructional text, illustrations, big note notation, easy piano notation, fingerings and lyrics (on most songs). 64 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing.

Smp_stars40 (11) ...more info



Alfred's Adult All-in-One Course - Level 1 (Book) look inside
Alfred's Adult All-in-One Course - Level 1 (Book)
Piano - Alfred's Basic Adult All-in-One Course; Technique; Musicianship; Theory. Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course. Beginner. Instructional book. Introductory text, instructional text, illustrations and performance notes. 160 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing.

Smp_stars40 (29) ...more info



Bastien Piano Basics

The Bastien method books are among themost used by traditional teachers.

However, they're not my favorites. I find the music a bit dull and uninspiring.  

In my opinion, concepts (new key signatures, notes, rhythms) are introduced too quickly for good retention.

I always had to use supplemental material when I taught lessons using this method.

Ages:  very young beginners, children, older beginners, and adults

Best Feature:  widely available and inexpensive

Click here for a full review of the Bastien Piano Method!


Bastien Piano Basics, Primer, Piano look inside
Bastien Piano Basics, Primer, Piano
Learn To Play. Primer. Instructional book (big note notation). Introductory text, instructional text, big note notation, easy piano notation, fingerings, lyrics (on most songs) and illustrations. 64 pages. Published by Neil A. Kjos Music Company.

Smp_stars40 (14) ...more info



The Older Beginner Piano Course - Level 1 look inside
The Older Beginner Piano Course - Level 1
Bastiens' Older Beginner Piano Library. Learn To Play. Level 1. Instructional book (big note notation). Instructional text, illustrations, big note notation, easy piano notation, fingerings, lyrics (on some songs) and chord names (on some songs). 96 pages. Published by Neil A. Kjos Music Company.

Smp_stars40 (18) ...more info


Alternative Piano Methods

You might be getting the picture that I don't teach classical method piano! Actually, I did for many years.

As time went on, I grew more and more frustrated by the drop-out rate of my students. Their challenges and difficulties followed a pattern -- always happening at the same points in the music-reading process. Students wanted to express themselves at the keyboard - but they couldn't.

Even bright, motivated students.

Many students developed beliefs that they weren't smart enough or musical enough to play piano. I knew it wasn't true - but didn't know how to give them the experience they wanted.

I decided to investigate other teaching systems. I discovered some wonderful alternatives!

In case you're wondering: the alternative methods listed here DO teach music reading.  Just not at the very beginning.


Simply Music

I discovered Simply Music one afternoon by hearing a student play. 

Amazing, rhythmically complex music. My jaw dropped. 

I asked how long the student had been taking lessons.  "Oh, about six months!" came the cheerful reply. Other adults were also shaking their heads in wonder.

I transitioned all of my traditional students, over time, to this method.  The parents of my students, who were initiallyvery skeptical of a delayed-music-reading approach, were delighted.  Students practice without being asked.  Many of them are composing and improvising on their own.

Ages:  Anyone!  Kids, teenagers, and adults.

Best Feature:  immediate access to self-expressive piano playing, parental involvement and ease of learning.

Click here for a full review of Simply Music!


Suzuki Piano School

The Suzuki Method  is probably the most recognizable alternative piano method.

In my journey away from traditional methods, I researched becoming a Suzuki teacher.

I eventually decided that the Simply Music approach fit better with my teaching philosophy.

However, I respect and admire the Suzuki method.

In a nutshell, this approach begins with imitation:  watching the teacher (and other students), listening, and repeating.  Parents are involved, and kids start young into the program - even as young as three.

Ages:  children

Best Feature:  natural learning style, good parental involvement

Click here for a full review of the Suzuki Method!


Best for YOU?

The reality is, every student is different. No matter your age!

No one method will work for everyone.  No one teacher is right for everyone.

As you are learning about playing piano, really give time and energy to finding the right piano method and the right teacher for you.  Visit studios. Trust your instincts. What appeals to you?

What kind of music do you most want to play?

The right teacher and the right method are out there.  

Don't settle for less than a method that makes you happy and inspires you to play!


Every like helps me reach more people!  Please take a moment and like my page!

P.S. I love comments, too! Let's chat!

New! Comments

I love to hear from my readers! Leave a comment below and let's chat!