Ever since my mom started teaching my kids piano via Facetime, she and I have been researching piano curriculum options to find the best piano music and theory books for young pianists. We have both taught many young piano students over the years, but this is the first time either one of us has really focused on pulling together an up-to-date piano curriculum we were happy with. Together, we have built a nice collection of music and theory books for beginning pianists, so I thought I would share that here today.
Another incredible piano resource is the online Hoffman Academy curriculum. The videos are free for anyone to watch, and the downloadable curriculum is very reasonably priced.
The best piano music and theory books for young pianists
When I look for piano music and piano theory books, I have specific criteria that I need to fulfill. I have zero interest in forcing my children to learn to play a musical instrument, but I would love for them to be able to play. This means that I need to find songs that are interesting enough to motivate my children to practice them – and play them for fun. Music books are divided into two categories: music books to help my children learn to sight read music (very important for a pianist), and music books with pieces that are more difficult but can be memorized to perform. Learning to read music and understanding the theory behind how music is written will allow children to sight read better and to learn new pieces more easily, so I decided to also look for highly engaging and instructive music theory books.
Music Reading Books for Young Pianists
The Music Tree Student’s Book: Time to Begin is the very first music book that I used with Johnny, who was not reading words or music when he first started to play. This book does not use ledger lines (the sets of five straight lines that you can see in the image at the top of this post) at all for the first half of the book, but simply places notes on the page. The student follows the placing of the notes up and down across the page. Johnny could easily follow the path of the lines and match that path to the piano keyboard. Lines are added gradually – and this is where this book stopped working for us. It was easier to move Johnny from no lines to a full set of ledger lines than to add them in slowly. I recommend this book for very young beginning pianists.
Music Performance Books for Young Pianists
Paula Dreyer’s Little Gems for Piano are by far the best memorization pieces I have found for young pianists. The notes are simple, but the melodies are engaging and sound “fancy” enough that any child would be happy to play them for family and friends. The songs are intended to be learned and played by rote, and they are so nicely composed that you won’t hate them after hearing them over and over.
Music Theory Books for Young Pianists
Do you have a piano music or theory book that should be included in this list? Let me know in the comments, and I will look it up!