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Best starter book? #2855811 06/05/19 02:05 PM
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Hello all, I am a very very beginner wanting to learn to play the piano and read music. What's the best book to start with?

Thank you for all your recommendations smile

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Re: Best starter book? [Re: Arcanegirl] #2855836 06/05/19 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Arcanegirl
Hello all, I am a very very beginner wanting to learn to play the piano and read music. What's the best book to start with?

Thank you for all your recommendations smile


There is no "best" book, but there is the best book for what you are looking for. That's because not everyone is looking for the same thing. There are 2 very popular books here on Piano World and on Amazon. They are these two:

https://www.amazon.com/Adult-All-On...oding=UTF8&qid=1559767170&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/Adult-Piano-...;qid=1559766401&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Alfred's focus is playing chords with your left hand. The advantage to this method is that songs sound "fuller" and more satisfying at the beginning levels. The disadvantage is that your left hand doesn't develop as much independence as in other methods. This book is often recommended for those that intend to play pop songs.

The other book, Faber's, is more in-line with classical learning, where the left hand develops more independence and doesn't play chords as much, although it does also teach chords. They just don't "focus" on it.

By the looks of it on Amazon, based on the number of reviews, Alfred's seems to be the most popular book, by far. However, Alfred's would not have worked for me because I was looking for a more classical, left hand independence kind of learning. I currently use the Faber one and I really like it.

Of course, there are a lot of other beginner method books, but these 2 seem to be the most popular now, easily accessible, have YouTube videos with people playing songs from them, etc. You can't go wrong with either. If you will be getting a teacher, it's probably best to wait and ask her what book she wants you to use.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 06/05/19 03:40 PM.

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Re: Best starter book? [Re: Arcanegirl] #2855939 06/06/19 01:51 AM
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My advice would be to get a teacher. Your teacher will have their own preference as to what books they prefer to use. Playing the piano is a skill which involves a great deal of technique that can really only be taught by a human teacher, not learnt from a book. By all means teach yourself once you’ve mastered the very basics, but do at least have a few lessons first.


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Re: Best starter book? [Re: Cheshire Chris] #2856047 06/06/19 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Cheshire Chris
My advice would be to get a teacher. Your teacher will have their own preference as to what books they prefer to use. Playing the piano is a skill which involves a great deal of technique that can really only be taught by a human teacher, not learnt from a book. By all means teach yourself once you’ve mastered the very basics, but do at least have a few lessons first.



Couldn't agree with this more. You'll progress much faster and have a better understanding of what to do with your daily practice under an instructor.

Re: Best starter book? [Re: Arcanegirl] #2878087 08/09/19 01:23 PM
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Arcanegirl Offline OP
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Wow this is all great information. Thank you all for your answers!! smile

Re: Best starter book? [Re: Arcanegirl] #2878115 08/09/19 03:23 PM
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Get a teacher. Injuries and bad technique in the first six months took a lot more time to sort out. Lots of wasted time alas.

Last edited by newer player; 08/09/19 03:23 PM.
Re: Best starter book? [Re: newer player] #2878117 08/09/19 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by newer player
Get a teacher. Injuries and bad technique in the first six months took a lot more time to sort out. Lots of wasted time alas.


I couldn’t agree more. My self-study was not productive, and full of mistakes.


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Re: Best starter book? [Re: newer player] #2878119 08/09/19 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by newer player
Get a teacher. Injuries and bad technique in the first six months took a lot more time to sort out. Lots of wasted time alas.

I'm curious - I believe you were very keen on self-teaching from Fundamental Keys and classical music, and you seemed to be making good progress, judging by your posts.

What was the problem that eventually made you decide to get a teacher?


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Best starter book? [Re: newer player] #2878124 08/09/19 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by newer player
Get a teacher. Injuries and bad technique in the first six months took a lot more time to sort out. Lots of wasted time alas.

Agreed. I self-learned for the first 4 months. I didn’t make it very far without guidance.


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Re: Best starter book? [Re: bennevis] #2878195 08/09/19 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I'm curious - I believe you were very keen on self-teaching from Fundamental Keys and classical music, and you seemed to be making good progress, judging by your posts.

What was the problem that eventually made you decide to get a teacher?

Good memory bennevis.

I had sharp pains principally in wrists and forearms from a combination of flawed technique and over practicing. As a child, I played other instruments and studied far too much so that "disclipline" did not help. Practicing less every day likely would have prevented the pain at least for a while, but it would not have resolved the flawed technique. Taubman technique worked for me and I have zero pain (and no tension when playing correctly); I see others here have used other techniques with good results also.

Teachers also helped with more advanced mechanics and musicality

Re: Best starter book? [Re: Arcanegirl] #2878284 08/10/19 08:22 AM
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I played string instruments (violin and viola) since junior high, and in college I taught myself recorder. But I started taking lessons as soon as I got my piano. I wanted to learn proper technique. My teacher uses the John Schaum books for both her child and adult beginner pupils, and I'm quite happy with them. She knows that I'm interested in classical piano music, and she says she will introduce it as soon as I'm capable of playing some pieces.

I know how many mistakes in technique I made as a self-taught recorder player, and I didn't want to repeat that when starting piano, which is a much more difficult instrument to play. My teacher has been invaluable to me in learning proper technique and piano musicianship.

Last edited by Fantine56; 08/10/19 08:23 AM.

Started May 2018 with John W. Schuam books; now using Faber PA Level 3A. I play a K. Kawai GL-10 baby grand.
Re: Best starter book? [Re: Arcanegirl] #2878446 08/11/19 02:42 AM
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I agree getting a teacher is sound advice, and it took me only a matter of weeks when I started to know I would have to get one.

However, the method books referenced in the first reply are good up to a point. Even if contrary to what a teacher might work with, they are good supplements.


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Re: Best starter book? [Re: Arcanegirl] #2878506 08/11/19 09:27 AM
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I started out “self-learning” and from the recommendations here, I purchased the Faber Adult All-in-one Level 1. I didn’t get past the first few units before I ended up wanting a teacher. Coincidentally, the Faber book was the exact book she started her adult students with, so I continued it until I finished that book. On my request to follow the RCM route, I am now not doing the Faber series anymore, but still highly recommend it for self-learning or with a teacher. I found it the perfect pace for me and songs quite satisfying, although I do have some music and keyboard experience from before.

Now, I’m doing RCM all the way from the beginning and the songs are much less satisfying and much more “juvenile” sounding but the finger independence and concepts taught are on a whole other level of difficult. I’m always surprised at what appears to be such simple pieces are in fact so difficult to learn and master for one reason or another (for me at least). I do not recommend something like RCM for self-learning. That route really does require a teacher to fill in all the blanks.


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Re: Best starter book? [Re: Arcanegirl] #2878523 08/11/19 10:15 AM
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What are your goals in piano? Do you want to eventually play Chopin, or pop songs, or jazz, etc? If you're not sure, that's OK too, but if you want to play mostly pop, your approach will be very different from a traditional/classical approach.


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Re: Best starter book? [Re: Arcanegirl] #2878580 08/11/19 01:39 PM
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I started off self-learning with Faber Adult AIO, too. I got a teacher after the first book when I decided I was going to take piano seriously and wanted to actually be able to play really well someday (not that you can't without a teacher). I'm in level 4 (of 5) now and still really enjoying it. One thing that my teacher told me was that it's important to also play a good amount of non-Faber pieces to not get too dependent on Nancy Faber's style (which I would guess would be the same for any method books you used). So about half of my pieces at any given time are from the Faber books (I'm using the lesson, technique, and performance books.... my teacher uses a different program for theory) and the other half are from other sources. I think my teacher does an awesome job of finding a good mix of pieces for me, but she also knows what I tend to like and not like, so I almost always enjoy what she chooses. That's one of the things I like most about having a teacher smile That and advice on technique. "Don't twist your wrist... move up the keys" changed my life, haha.

Re: Best starter book? [Re: enw10] #2878617 08/11/19 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by enw10
"Don't twist your wrist... move up the keys" changed my life, haha.


Haha, my teacher said that to me too. For some reason, I thought playing higher up on the white keys were taboo for some reason. LOL.


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Re: Best starter book? [Re: Morodiene] #2878899 08/12/19 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
... if you want to play mostly pop, your approach will be very different from a traditional/classical approach.


The OP stated a wish to learn piano and specifically learning to read. These skills are useful regardless of what your specialty may eventually be. So, don't see how you would have to take a drastically different approach. Piano playing is not all that different by genre and why or how we have so many top Pop artists that were classically trained. I mean, what other officially recognized training is there really? Lead sheets were invented by jazzers to cut to the chase, but very few schools actually teach it. So, you can't go wrong in either genre of clasical, Pop or jazz if you start with a traditional approach to playing piano. Even peterson took classical lessons to improve on speed technique.

Not opposed to setting goals and understanding what you wish to achieve, but really don't see a need to start specializing for a long time to come. There isnt much alternative anyway.
.


Re: Best starter book? [Re: Greener] #2878936 08/12/19 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener
Piano playing is not all that different by genre

Piano playing is very different by genre.

Compare a jazzer who's had rigorous classical training to one who hasn't, and you can see - and hear - the difference immediately.

The latter might well even say he's the better jazzer........


Quote
Not opposed to setting goals and understanding what you wish to achieve, but really don't see a need to start specializing for a long time to come. There isnt much alternative anyway.


Why would an adult beginner who just wants to play pop want to go through the rigorous technical training of a serious classical student - scales & arpeggios, sight-reading, the lot? He really just wants to know how to use chords and play by ear. Two-Part Inventions? What for?

If you don't know what's expected of a classical pianist - even in the first year - look at any classical exam board syllabus like RCM.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Best starter book? [Re: Arcanegirl] #2878944 08/12/19 04:33 PM
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Oh, you again ...

Your first statement isn't true. Most jazzers can either swing or they can't swing and no amount of classical training will teach them to swing.

You lump everyone into categories of what they need and what they don't. It is never this black and white. Truth is, if you're good in one genre you are likely to advance well in other genres.

Re: Best starter book? [Re: Greener] #2878949 08/12/19 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener
Oh, you again ...

Is that a problem?

You don't have to respond, you know.....(And don't worry, I won't be offended if you don't smirk )

Quote
Most jazzers can either swing or they can't swing and no amount of classical training will teach them to swing.

So - isn't it better they don't have any classical training whatsoever? After all, what's the point of all those years acquiring a classical technique if they still can't swing? Much better to spend those hours listening to their idols and absorbing what needs to be absorbed.......

As for swinging - try listening to many Eastern European jazzers, most of whom have been through conservatory training. Most of them don't swing. Not even in the least. But they have lots of chops.

Of course, you'd probably say they aren't jazzers.........er, what was that the Duke said?

(BTW, if you ever visit Poland, I can recommend a good jazz club to visit. No swinging, I promise).

Quote
You lump everyone into categories of what they need and what they don't. It is never this black and white. Truth is, if you're good in one genre you are likely to advance well in other genres.


Not so.

To really advance in classical, you need to have enough interest in it - and for adults, long-term goals - to want to go through a lot of hours practicing technical stuff which might not be very interesting. Those who believe that just by playing only the pieces they like will get them to an advanced level are sadly deluding themselves.

Whereas with pop, you can get started on 'nice songs' straightway - actually, that's the way many adult primers sell.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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