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Best book to help you learn to play piano

Which book to help you learn to play piano is best?

The piano is to music what chess is to games of strategy: The basics can be learned quickly, while mastery can take a lifetime. That said, teaching yourself to play the piano is now more convenient and easier than ever with optimized, modern instruction books that have been tested by tens of thousands of students wishing to learn the instrument at home at any age.

The “Piano Book for Adult Beginners” by Damon Ferrante works in tandem with a streaming video course to get you started as a pianist, while teaching you the classic songs you know and love. Highly valued by Rolling Stone magazine, this book is a fantastic introduction to the instrument that helps build confidence with a strong, consistent program that makes sense, regardless of your musical background.

What to know before you buy a book to help you learn to play piano 

Reading music

Learning to read sheet music is often the biggest hurdle for people starting out with playing an instrument. It’s a new language that has its own complex rules, often with no similarity to anything you’ve learned before. However, once you become familiar with middle C, learn basic scales, chords and arpeggios, you’ll find that many popular songs can be played in a more simplistic manner than musically notated by playing chords with the left hand while the melody is played on the right. Some beginners find that labeling their keyboard and writing corresponding letters under their music notes is helpful until you begin to read and play more intuitively.

Interactive learning

Piano lessons are commonly done virtually now, as technology has made it possible for students and teachers to practice together without leaving home. In that same vein, many piano instruction books and courses include video tutorials and an online, interactive component that allows beginners who wish to be self-taught to have some additional visual and auditory instruction for their motivation and practice. 

Keyboard vs. piano

If you’re just starting out, you might not be ready to invest in a piano until you’re sure you or your children are going to enjoy it long term. A keyboard is a much cheaper alternative that works just as well as a piano, doesn’t require tuning and often includes features like built-in metronomes and a recording component for playback. Modern keyboards also have weighted keys, which simulate the feel of a traditional piano.

What to look for in a quality book to help you learn to play piano

Technique tips

There are some techniques that should be mastered early on when learning to play the piano. Most experts agree that the foundation of piano begins with an understanding of scales. Firstly,  try to develop mastery of the C major scale on the right hand and then the left, followed by G major. This allows for a comfort level in correct hand and finger placement and memorizing how the notes sound and how they feel beneath your fingers. It is also wise to begin practicing rhythm with a metronome, to grasp the timing of half and quarter notes. A quality music book will provide the instruction necessary to achieve this and more.

Detailed instruction

Some music books are designed to be used for professional instruction by a qualified music teacher, while others will be user-friendly enough to be suited to at-home learning for dedicated self-starters who possess the necessary discipline. If you’ve gone the route of teaching yourself the piano, you need to determine if you’d rather use your instruction book in tandem with online tutorial videos (of which there are hundreds of thousands available) or if you want to seek virtual 1-on-1 coaching with a certified piano teacher for more detailed instruction. Many beginners find that starting with a book in their own time provides them with a solid basis of understanding that increases the value of professional lessons afterward tenfold. If you wish to be completely self-taught, which is definitely doable, purchasing the right books and manuals initially will save you a lot of frustration and time.

Popular music

Pop and contemporary music that family and friends can sing along with tends to be somewhat easier to play than classical music and can be a great way to practice beginner piano after you learn your chords. Pop music also tends to be more fun to play and helps build confidence. Since you likely already know the tune of a lot of pop songs, grasping the correct rhythm should be more straightforward. Seeing a song represented in musical notation that you’re familiar with already also helps you learn to understand sheet music more easily.

How much you can expect to spend on a book to help you learn to play piano

Purchasing an instruction book for helping you learn to play piano is a cost-effective and convenient way to get started at home before investing in formal tutelage. These books are sold at around $10-$30, depending on what they offer and whether they have additional features.

Book to help you learn to play piano FAQ

Can you truly learn piano without a teacher and lessons?

A. Absolutely. Learning to play the piano really only requires two things: an instrument to practice on and the motivation to see it though. Like any hobby, it will be successful if you dedicate time to it regularly and keep trying to improve even and especially if it becomes frustrating. Furthermore, repetition is the key to achieving muscle memory in your fingers and in your hands.

Do you have to read music to play piano?

A. Learning to play piano by reading sheet music is the traditional method and will allow you to learn a larger repertoire of classic songs over time. However, many musicians also play their instruments by ear, which is very true of the piano. Once you get familiar with how specific notes sound and where they are located on the piano, you’ll begin to develop a sort of musical intuition. It’s always best, however, to start by learning the basics from a book.

What’s the best book to help you learn to play piano?

Top book to help you learn to play piano

“Piano Book for Adult Beginners”

What you need to know: This much-beloved piano instruction book comes complete with a corresponding online video course for step-by-step instruction.

What you’ll love: This book helps you understand the basics of playing chords and placing your fingers on the keys properly, both of which are the foundations for learning the piano.

What you should consider: Ensure when purchasing you select the physical book and not the digital copy, as the e-book is too hard to read while actually playing the piano.

Where to buy: Amazon

Top book to help you learn to play piano for the money

“Alfred’s Basic Piano Course Lesson Book” Level 1A

What you need to know: This classic piano course has been used for decades in teaching beginners the basics of learning to play piano for a truly unbeatable price. 

What you’ll love: The tried-and-true methods are guaranteed to form a solid basis of understanding the instrument.

What you should consider: The best use of this piano instruction book is when coupled with formal lessons.

Where to buy: Amazon

Worth checking out

“Accelerated Piano Adventures” for the Older Beginner

What you need to know: This book is an excellent primer for adults who want to teach themselves the piano at home and older children who are receiving formal lessons. 

What you’ll love: This book includes finger placement, chords, visual instruction and some musical theory, which makes it a standard by which other piano instruction manuals for beginners are measured.

What you should consider: A very small number of reviewers receiving a damaged copy as a result of shipping issues.

Where to buy: Amazon

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Ashley Britten writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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