For piano students of all ages, I generally use the Piano Adventures series. There are many piano methods out there, and I’ve used others before, but this one has worked the best for most students, and there is a wide variety of supplemental music available at each level as well. I also sometimes use the Alfred’s Premier series and may suggest this or another series if I am teaching a pair of siblings and would prefer them to have different books.
For Young Beginners (ages 4-6)
My First Piano Adventure: Book A – This book is great for the youngest beginners (4 to 5 years old). It includes kid-friendly songs and activities, and is designed to be developmentally appropriate for young students. This book is entirely pre-reading, meaning that students focus on learning technique, finger numbers, the music alphabet, rhythms, and playing loudly and softly– all before learning to read notes on the staff. The companion Writing Book reinforces concepts and skills from the lesson book with fun activities and songs. After this book, students move on to My First Piano Adventure: book B.
My First Piano Adventure: Book B – The second book in this series, but I often start 5- to 7-year-olds in this book. It introduces note reading in an easy-to-follow way, and encourages students not to rely on finger numbers but to learn the notes instead. Students learn to read notes moving by step in the Treble and Bass Clefs, and the C 5-Finger Scale is introduced. The companion Writing Book reinforces concepts and skills from the lesson book with fun music theory activities and songs. After this book, some students will continue to the 3rd book in the My First Piano Adventure set (book C), while others will be ready to move directly into Piano Adventures: Level One.
My First Piano Adventure: Book C – The 3rd and last book in the young beginners series. I often skip this book with students 5 and older, but this is a great review for students who need a bit more practice before moving on to the books for older kids. The companion Writing Book is recommended as well. Students learn a few new notes in the Bass and Treble Clefs, and learn to read skips on the staff.
For Kids (ages 7-12)
In this series, each level contains several books. There are four main books in each level: Lesson (where new concepts are introduced), Technique and Artistry (exercises for developing good hand position and expressive playing), Performance (longer pieces that are fun and great for recitals), and Theory (workbook and practice of concepts). There are additional books available as well of more “fun” repertoire. This comprehensive approach helps to train well-rounded musicians.
Piano Adventures: Primer Level – This is a good beginning book for slightly older kids. It begins with pre-reading work– learning finger numbers and rhythms first, then the music alphabet, and then beginning note reading about half way through. Once note reading is introduced, it moves pretty quickly, so it’s important that students have established good practice habits by that point in order to not get frustrated.
Piano Adventures: Level 1 – Although it is called level 1, this book assumes that students already know basic rhythms and note reading. Students who have some previous piano or other music experience may be able to start in this book, but beginners should complete either the Primer level or some of the My First Piano Adventure books first.
After Level 1, students may continue to levels 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4, and 5. Students are ready to begin playing some sonatinas and early-intermediate piano pieces around level 2B or 3, and a good selection of supplemental books is available for each level as well (Popular Songs, Kid Songs, Jazz and Blues, Rock, Hymns, and more).
For Older Beginners (ages 12-17)
Accelerated Piano Adventures: Book 1 – This series is designed for older beginners. It moves more quickly than the regular Piano Adventures, so it’s important that students are committed to practicing regularly in order to make progress.
For Adult Beginners
Adult Piano Adventures: Complete Book 1 – This is an all-in-one method (rather than multiple books) designed for adults, and includes classical themes as well as popular songs. It moves more quickly and includes more chord-based playing than the kids’ books.