Recommended Piano Books for beginners

Over the years, I have used many different piano tutor books with students of all ages as they start learning the piano. Sometimes, students come to a first lesson with a book from a previous teacher, or that their parents have bought in advance, and I usually try and work with that.

However, there are some books that I come back to again and again, because I think they are creative, well written and structured.

I’m sure you have your own favourites, but these are mine:

Years 2, 3 and 4

I used to think you couldn’t beat Piano Magic by Jane Sebba for young beginners – every time I opened it with a small person at the piano, I marvelled at how well it is thought out, and colourfully presented. Sadly, the latest reprint is in black and white. What possessed them?

I have shifted allegiance to Get Set Piano:

Piano Magic by Jane Sebba (published by A&C Black)

  • Tutor Book 1 (in other words, the course itself. This book is intended for the student, not the teacher)
  • Pieces Book 1
  • Duets Book 1
    (same for Book 2)

Get Set! Piano by Karen Marshall and Heather Hammond (published by  A&C Black)

  • Piano Tutor Book 1
  • Piano Pieces Book 1
  • Piano Tutor Book 2
  • Piano Pieces Book 2
Chester's Easiest Piano Course

Chester’s Easiest Piano Course by Carol Barratt
(published by Chester)

  • Book 1
  • Book 2
  • Book 3

Years 4-6

Play Piano by Alan Haughton (published by Kevin Mayhew).
• Play Piano Course Book One by Alan Haughton
• Play Piano Repertoire Book One by Alan Haughton
• Play Piano Theory Activity Book by Alan Haughton

• Play Piano Course Book Two by Alan Haughton
• Play Piano Repertoire Book Two by Alan Haughton

Years 7 to 10

Haughton Play Piano Teenage_198


Play Piano Teenage by Alan Haughton (published by Kevin Mayhew).
Don’t be fooled: this is more-or-less the same book as Play Piano, but with ‘cool’ teenage graphics. To my mind, this is the best elementary course for the first few years of senior school – well planned and executed. I use it for most students

However, I encourage serious students, the very bright, and those who already play another instrument to Grade 3 or above, to use the Barratt book below.

• Play Piano! Teenage – Course Book, Book 1 – with free CD by Alan Haughton
• Play Piano! Teenagee – Course Book, Book 2 by Alan Haughton

• Play Piano! Teenage Repertoire Book 1 by Alan Haughton
• Play Piano! Teenage Repertoire Book 2 by Alan Haughton

Years 11-13

The Classic Piano Course by Carol Barratt

The Classic Piano Course by Carol Barratt (published by Chester)
Available in three separate volumes. This course moves quickly, so isn’t for everyone. My local music shop offers it as a course to adults.

  • Book 1
  • Book 2
  • Book 3

There is also an Omnibus Edition, which I do not recommend. For some reason, known only to publishers, it is now slightly too small in size for comfortable reading – and doesn’t open flat with any degree of ease.

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