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Hi

I am a complete beginner and trying to learn the piano. What are some recommendations for books to buy for self trained beginner like myself?

Great forum BTW


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Good luck,it’s a wonderful journey you have begun.
You’re going to hear this over and over again-try starting with a teacher as soon as you can. I went for four years without a teacher and thought I was doing well, but I kept coming upon roadblocks and when I did start with a teacher he had me pull everything back. I know a lot of us prefer to go it alone,but you will progress so much quicker and play with so much more skill if you start with a teacher. I’ve discovered this time and again over a course of over twenty years.

Good luck and enjoy!

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Alfred's series, Piano for Dummies.



“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
- Robert Schumann

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These 2 are very popular for self-learners:

Alfred’s Adult All-In-One

Faber’s Adult All-In-One

I personally used the Faber Level 1 when I first started but got myself a teacher too.


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For the price, get both books and see which one you prefer smile


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
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Originally Posted by alans
Good luck,it’s a wonderful journey you have begun.
You’re going to hear this over and over again-try starting with a teacher as soon as you can. I went for four years without a teacher and thought I was doing well, but I kept coming upon roadblocks and when I did start with a teacher he had me pull everything back. I know a lot of us prefer to go it alone,but you will progress so much quicker and play with so much more skill if you start with a teacher. I’ve discovered this time and again over a course of over twenty years.

Good luck and enjoy!
well i think you have to factor in what the goals are first ? there are plenty of musicians out there that have learnt without teachers, but i do think having a teacher is a bonus , but really what you have is music in front of you and its down to you to learn yourself even if you have a teacher or not.

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I like the idea of a teacher but budget is limited these days.

I was reading on a previous forum and they recommended John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano/FIRST Grade Book.

and

Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course: Lesson Book, Level One.


I found a book online which has a yellow cover. Alfred's Self-Teaching Adult Piano Course.



What is the difference between Alfred's Self-Teaching Adult Piano Course and Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course: Lesson Book, Level One?

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Hi Ryan and welcome!

Just in case you think like I thought when I started to play the piano. I thought: Why would I need a teacher? I have taught myself lots of things. I can figure out myself which note to play when. So I taught myself to play piano, until I wondered: why does everything I play sound so ugly? Well, because I don't know the first thing about key attack, phrasing, expressive effects, relaxation. In order to learn to play beautifully and expressively, I had to start all over again and un-learn lots of bad habits.
Now you may not be like me. But maybe you are.

Anyway, for self-teaching I would recommend Fabers' rather than Alfred's because at least Fabers at least has some mention of piano technique, whereas Alfred's has almost nothing.
Plus: watch a lot of YT videos on how to play the piano!
Plus: try to get feedback every now and again. cool


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Hi Ryan! Welcome laugh

I am self-teaching and using Faber's Adult Piano Adventures (book 1), so I can comment on that one. To begin with, the adult version is an all-in-one course, so you only need to invest in this one book to get started for now. I am learning for a month now and halfway done with the first book. Once I'm done I will continue with the 2nd book, as I am really enjoying the method!

I have not used Alfred but have considered it. They actually offer 3 options:

Basic lesson book - there are also separate theory and technique books; this option would be best if you had a teacher, but I know people who used it on their own. Each book goes more in depth than the other options below. There are 3 levels on this series and this is equivalent to doing Faber's individual levels (primer, level 1 etc., where you also need to invest in 5 books per level).

All-in-one book - the basic lesson, theory and technique in one book. This would be equivalent to the all-in-one from Faber. This one also assumes you will have a teacher to maybe provide you with extra theory or help you practice sections (just like Faber's). But this is what MOST people are using, even self-taught. It's not like there's content missing, or like you will not understand things if you are on your own. The content (specially theory) gets a little more concise here than with the Basic option. There are also 3 levels, same as the Basic books (on Faber there are 2 levels for the adult course).

Self-teaching - this claims to be the same as the all-in-one, but for people teaching themselves. It might mean they will explain things a little better, or maybe they will add some kind of self-assessment at the end of each unit (like, "you are ready to move on when: - you can play a C chord, - you can name the notes" etc.). It is not super clear what they mean, but what is clear to me is this couse only has one level, and thus I feel the content is more rushed. This is NOT all 3 levels of the other courses in one, it's just the first level.


I think you would be happy with either Alfred or Faber. My understanding is that Alfred has been around longer, and lots of people have gone through it, so you will find many reviews and opinions. Both courses will teach you what you need to know, but Alfred will focus more on doing chords with your left hand and exposing you to more different rhythms early on. Also, it will all be smooth-sailing until it suddenly throws some hard challenges at you. Faber Piano Adventures will focus on both hands, reading the grand staff, and although it does present many different styles of music, it focuses a bit more on the classical.

Now, like I said, both will teach you all you need to know initially (and none will teach you ALL you need to know, as it comes with time and practice). Both will have you following a set structure and progressing through the content in a logical way. Both methods also offer supplementary materials (like songbooks) that match your main book level, so you can get started playing music outside of the book lessons. It seems to me many teachers are now migrating to Faber because they feel the choice of music to play is more fun, the arrangements are more exciting. I also prefer to not have any jump in skills, and instead have a smoother ride all the way. And, I don't know, Alfred looked quite old-fashioned (maybe I'm biased because of the cover image on that purple edition?!) and Piano Adventures looked fresh and updated.

TLDR: I am really loving Adult Piano Adventures and warmly recommend it!

Let us know which method you decided to go with!


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There is a synergy between Alfred All-in-one and Piano Marvel.

Piano Marvel actually offers all the piano pieces to practice in their application for Alfred All-in-one book 1 and 2. And they are all cleanly bundled together in one collection. Piano Marvel offer tools to help practicing these pieces. Tools that are, in my opinion, very valuable particularly if you are a beginner. Also Piano Marvel, while not a substitue for a real teacher, is perhaps the application I would recommend for a brand new beginner.


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Faber is great too.

I got book 1 & 2. Faber recorded great videos that help substitute what a teacher would try to teach and correct. But you have to listen carefully to those videos. They are invaluable. You have to really look at his technique and his posture. The way he press the keys, moves his hands and all that he says in his videos are extreamly important and kind of gospel if you don't have a teacher. One thing I really like about Faber too is that he recorded accompaniment instrements for everything that you play in his books. That is really helping if you are beginning. It gives you a foundation for accompanying your playing and gives some form of tempo and texture.


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hi. my reply is more specifically about a compare and contrast between adult alfred and adult faber piano adventures (apparently the 2 most popular method book series for adults), but since this thread is fresh, i'll post here. hoping this helps people make an informed decision about what method book to go with.
i just finished the first book of each series. a little about my background, so you'll know where i'm coming from: took a yr of piano lessons when i was 12. used the bastien books. started at the primer level and got up to the beginning pgs of level 1. i forgot everything. i'm now 35. about a year ago i took a group class on piano. the teacher had us get the adult alfred book. the class ran 8 wks but i kind of "dropped out" cuz it was going so slow. instead, about half-way through the course, i started coming in during the week (2-3 times for about an hour) to practice on their piano, cuz i didn't have my own. it was during these hours practicing by myself that i realized for the first time that i could teach myself. up until that point i had just assumed that you needed a teacher. months went by with no piano in my life. it wasn't until about 3 mos ago that i finally got my own digital piano.
from what i read on the internet, there was a general consensus that the faber adult piano adventures was actually the better series. this is one reason why i ordered piano adventures. the other was that i thought i wasn't getting enough practice with the alfred book. specifically, i felt i hadn't gotten enough practice with G position, which when i first learned it was a real shock cuz it was like some weird parallel universe version of C position that i had to learn all over again, except this time i had to unlearn C position in order to learn G position. however, the alfred book introduces G position early on in the book when you're still doing really simple songs, so the G position songs are really easy to master even if you're not truly used to G position. (by the way, it turned out that for all the other topics i think i got enough practice with the alfred book. it was just G position that was such an initial shock.)
anyhow, after i finished the alfred book, i moved onto the piano adventures book. this is what i think: i can't say i agree or disagree with the general consensus about faber being better. they both have their pros and cons:
faber is definitely way, way easier than the alfred book. and i'm not saying this just because completing the alfred book made the faber book easier. i'm sure it did, but objectively, the faber songs are a lot more babyish. flip through both books for yourself if you don't believe me. when i first flipped through the alfred book, i was impressed with how advanced the songs at the back of the book looked. can't say the same of the faber book. some people on the internet alluded to this in a roundabout way, by saying that the alfred book moves too fast. yes, kind of, because by the end of the alfred book you've already covered 5 different key signatures -- they introduce you to a new signature, give a couple practice songs using that key and then you're on to a new one. but bottom line, the alfred songs are more complicated. there will be times in the alfred book where you'll feel stuck and almost overwhelmed. this won't happen with the faber book. whether this is a good or bad thing completely depends on how you look at it. that the faber book is easy is good because you're less likely to give up, especially if you're learning on your own. it's bad because it's not as challenging. and if you're serious about learning, this could be a bad thing. i would say this is the main difference between the 2 series.
moving on, the main reason almost everyone seems to prefer faber is because of the song selection. honestly, i don't know what they're talking about. they have a few more classical songs (extremely dumbed down versions), but they're so simple they don't sound very good. alfred has more traditional folk-tune type songs, but the songs are more complicated, so in that respect they sound better, and they're more fun for my hands.
i liked faber for going more into theory. they teach you about scale degrees and chord functions and such early on, and introduce you to the major sus4 chord and the major pentascales and cross-handed arpeggios. they also challenge you to do your own transpositions, improvising, and harmonizing. there's also ear training. however, you need someone else to do the improvising and ear training, so i couldn't do those things. (with the improvising, the teacher's supposed to play a duet part, and you're supposed to improvise over that.) in that sense, i'd say the faber course is more well-rounded. and they introduce things to you real slow, like even to the point of introducing a few new notes at a time. with the alfred book, they say "here's the key of C" and you're supposed to memorize all those notes at one time. i don't think that's asking for too much, but i'm just saying that the faber book takes it real slow and gentle. but you also don't get as far.
one thing that everyone was criticizing about the alfred book is that it's chord based and gets you dependent on finger numbers. call me crazy, but i think it's the other way around, especially since the faber songs are so easy. melody in the right, chords in the left. they stick with that formula all the way through. this is especially true given that the entire book is pretty much just based on C and G position/major (the only key signatures they introduce in the first book). with the alfred book, especially with those 10 extra practice songs at the back that can be a real challenge, it's more complicated. starts to sound a lot more professional. you cover more key signatures, and in no time i had lost my dependence on C and G position, instead building a piano geography in both my mind's eye and in my tactile memory. i credit this in large part to 1)keeping my eyes on the sheet music and not looking at my hands and 2)color-coding my sheet music, making it a lot easier to read and work with.
i've decided to do both series. i've started the 2nd faber book, which i decided to do first since i know it'll be easier than starting the 2nd alfred book, but i plan to do the 2nd alfred book, too, because i know it's more like the real deal.
i really appreciate having done both series. i'm glad i did the alfred book for the sense of accomplishment, and i'm glad i did the faber book, even if some might consider it redundant, because i felt like it was a much needed review. i think it filled in the gaps i had, and smoothed out my foundation. so my final conclusion: do both, especially since the faber book is so easy and won't add much extra time to your piano journey progress. (i finished the faber book in about 2 weeks [practicing at least an hour a day, oftentimes more.]) hope this helps.

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Iluv2practice, I couldn't agree with you more! I too started with one (Alfred's) & tried the other ((Faber) to see if I was missing something. Your assessments are on the nose, IMO. Regarding Faber & theory, I don't think it offers more than Alfred's, actually. Faber might give more "homework" on some elementary things where Alfred's introduces the concept, gives some homework, then incorporates the concepts into the songs from then on.

Also, Faber strikes me more as a sampler: try a little of this, try a bit of that. Alfred's gets you going with all 10 fingers in various I-IV-V7 patterns & using intervals. But each song has a change up, so you're not doing the same thing ad nauseum. You work hard to learn something, then you have to break it all down & relearn it another way. It's a subtle way of learning how chord structure - roots & inversions -- underlie the note patterns. Alfred's does a better job of reinforcing what it teaches, imo, because of the repetition & variation on themes.

Faber's songs get better in the latter third of the book, & I like how it encourages you to explore sounds by imitating thunder, chimes, rainfall, etc. up & down the keyboard. I like its musicality the farther I get in the book. Alfred's has some fun blues/jazz pieces for variety.

Please don't take this as a knock against Faber. I like Faber very much, & use it to take a break from Alfred's when I need something easy & lovely to practice at my skill level. But if I'd started out with Faber's, I believe I would have been searching for something else with more meat to it.

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They are all the same stuff it's beginning piano. The only difference is some authors explain things in a way that works for you, better than another author so a matter of what do you prefer. Most music stores have all these basic books so if you can it worth going to store and reading a few pages of a couple books and see which clicks for you.

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Is John Thompson's Modern Course good for beginners?

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There are pros and cons to Thompson. It's one of my preferred courses but you have to be aware of its drawbacks.

It's over fingered largely because it uses transposition, which is good for reading skills. There are some alterations to well-known classical pieces that might be better avoided. There are easier classics and the muscle memory from early learning can be very ingrained.

I also wouldn't use it on its own (nor would I any piano course). It works very well in conjunction with Beyer Op. 101 and either Faber's course or the Hal Leonard one.

Learning piano is like scaling a mountain. There are many routes up but not all will take you to the top. All these beginner books get you somewhere you're going to go beyond at some point. No beginner course should be relied on beyond a couple of years. Thompson One and Two are good if you follow the early advice throughout. Three isn't necessary and graded repertoire books are better. Four and Five skip several years and include pieces for advanced players with 6 to 8 years of tuition from a teacher.

As a testament to its popularity, it was produced in 1936 and it's still in print. You're not likely to do much better elsewhere.


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Found your post too hard to read as there was no standard capitalization. Also, maybe leave more white space between paragraphs. As it stands, it is not readable for me.

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Hi,
I've been a beginner several times in my life although I always managed to retain most everything that is absolute beginner and grade 1 material.

The Alfred Adult Beginners' Book looks good.

I would recommend moving on to the material found at the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal School of Music web site. Their grade 1 book dovetails nicely with the Alfred book. There is a difference in piano styles which is important to know about.

1.) The Alfred (and the Faber) head in the direction of popular music accompaniment with block chords in the left hand.
2.) The ABRSM exam books will give you a chance to learn independence of the hands. The one method is not harder or easier than the other but independence of the hands is important in learning to play fluently in all styles of music.

The ABSRM book 2 is illustrated and played in this video.

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Has anyone had any experience with the Piano Book for Adult Beginners by Damon Ferrante? As a beginner I am currently working through that book. I was wondering if I should try Alfred's instead. Thank you smile

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I never have and never would recommend Alfred's. It appears to me to be geared towards what I think of as pub piano.

I have no experience with Damon Ferrante's book but I've used the look inside feature on Amazon and watched two videos. These are my thoughts:-

His advice for posture is to keep a straight back and you arms and shoulders relaxed. That appears to be it!

For learning the notes he says "It is a good idea to associate each key with some object and imagine the object on top of the key..". What a load of ...!

The back of the book lists "some of the Great Piano Music that you will learn in this book: " and begins with Fur Elise by Beethoven and The Entertainer by Scott Joplin. It takes the typical student four to six years before they're ready for Fur Elise and six to eight years before they can effectively tackle The Entertainer and that's with one-to-one tuition. It's disingenuous to suggest that the book will get you to a point where you could play these pieces.

The playing in the videos is dreadful for a twenty year piano professor.

The Fur Elise video has a cheap keyboard resting on carpet, possibly the floor. He seems to be lying prone on the floor resting on his left elbow. The video does no more than say what notes to play, less, in fact, than the sheet music tells you. The sheet music has bar lines that show where the accents go, and a time signature that tells you how to count the piece.

I have nothing good to say about the book.


Richard
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