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10 Best Piano Books for Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Players of 2021

These days, we use apps for everything. From ordering toilet paper to playing musical instruments. So yes, piano learning apps are increasingly common. Especially those interactive ones. But a lot of us prefer old-school piano books, whether they’re hard or soft copies.

The best piano books let you easily toggle the real world with the virtual one. They may have downloadable versions. Or maybe they interface with apps via QR codes or page links. Let’s look at ten popular piano books and why we love (or hate) them. Then we’ll narrow it down to one.

OUR TOP PICK
best advanced piano books
Adult All-in-One Piano Course

  • With a good tutor, you can complete the book in 6 to 8 weeks.
  • You can buy the eBook (for Kindle) or the spiral-bound plastic comb
  • It's based on Alfred Piano's teaching techniques so its results are proven.
  • The book has hand exercises and fingering drills for strength, speed, and accuracy.
  • The song list covers indigenous, folk, classical, and contemporary pieces.
  • Every lesson ends with a written assignment to help you absorb the concept.

 

The Best Piano Books on the Market 2021

1. Lang Lang Piano Book

piano books

Everybody wants to learn piano quickly. So it’s easy to be drawn in by promises of four-minute piano lessons. And this is for targeted practice that focuses on mastery and technique. In reality, learning the piano needs time and patience, as Lang Lang can tell you. He is a world-famous concert pianist and his book has the sheet music for 29 of his most significant pieces.

This isn’t exactly a teaching tool. Rather, it’s a hardc0ver version of his 2CD-Collection. This coffee table book has performance tips, comments, exclusive photos, and anecdotes. It has easy reading cues that include ribbons to find your page and a belly band to keep the book in shape, pun intended. The book is part of Lang Lang Piano Academy in partnership with Faber Music.

If you dream of being a world-famous pianist, you might draw pleasure and inspiration from this book, and from Lang Lang’s life story. But this book won’t advance your piano skills.

Pros:

  • The hardcover format is long-lasting and you can buy the CDs to listen along.
  • It contains 29 pieces of annotated sheet music.
  • The book has marbled ends and sewn casing binding for aesthetics and longevity.

Con:

  • This book makes a good gift but the pieces are too advanced to be training tools.

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2. Adult All-in-One Piano Course (Our Top Pick)

best piano books

If you practice every day for ten minutes, it will take you 3 months to master scales and 4 to 6 months to play by ear. With that in mind, try the lessons offered in this book. It’s an updated version of Alfred’s Adult Piano Book and it’s written by Willard Palmer, Amanda Lethco, and Morton Manus. The book covers basic technique and music theory including scores.

This way, you learn to read sheet music and perform simultaneously. The book also has drills and hand exercises to improve your fingering and speed. The exercises are isometric so you’ll strengthen all your fingers on both hands, leading fluid piano play. Practice pieces progress from basic to complex and cover multiple styles and genres. The book as folk pieces too.

If you’d like to acquire a song repertoire that stretches from Alouette to Dvorak’s Largo and the Mexican Hat Dance, this is the book for you. Learn melody, harmony, and sight-reading too!

Pros:

  • It includes lessons in music theory.
  • The book has over 60 songs ranging from nursery rhymes to spirituals.
  • The physical book measures 11.8 by 9.3 by 0.5 inches and weighs a pound.

Con:

  • It doesn’t include any modern or contemporary pieces so it might feel outdated for today’s piano students.

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3. Suzuki Piano School and CD

best piano books for intermediate players

When it comes to piano makers and piano books, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Either way, many piano manufacturers have their own teaching methodologies. And Suzuki is no different. This book introduces their piano learning style. The book is available in several languages. And this updated version has helpful layout changes to ease the learning process.

Sheet music is restricted to one piece per page, with right-hand guidance at the top and left-hand guidance at the bottom. The music also has tempo indicated so you can master speed, mood, and pace in your playing. Suzuki method involves listening to an overview of the piece before you play, so a CD accompanies the book. It’s perfect for first-time music students.

Some Suzuki piano books come bundled with the CD. Others sell it as an accessory. So before you order, double-check the purchase terms or you may end up paying extra for the CD.

Pros:

  • The book comes with a CD by Seizo Azuma for aural guidance.
  • It’s printed in multiple languages including Spanish, German, and French.
  • The book is inclusive, with folk songs from Germany, France, and Bohemia.

Con:

  • This isn’t the NYSSMA version for exam prep, so if you’re revising for piano certification, buy the right book.

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4. John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course

intermediate piano books

Many adult pianists were forced to learn as kids, and it tainted their enjoyment. So while some went on to have musical careers, others still have traumatic keyboard flashbacks. Thompson aims to make piano fun for kids so they’re more likely to stick with it. It as colorful illustrations and a family or caricatured characters to help your kids learn. And it includes theory lessons.

By the end of this book, your kids will have basic sight-playing skills. The book takes a step-by-step approach that includes reading aloud. The kids also practice drills in fingering and sight-reading. This book is great for musical parents because it includes adult harmonies that you play along with the kids as they learn. Worksheets help you both monitor your student’s progress.

Some people just want to play casually. They’re not interested in notation or music theory. But if you want your kids to learn how to reads, write, and play music, this is the right piano book.

Pros:

  • The book is tailored for kids.
  • It has illustrated art by Sergio Sandoval.
  • Worksheets are included to help your kids practice.

Con:

  • It’s only 40 pages long so precocious kids will get through it pretty quickly. Buy some supplementary books (by other authors) or get the whole set of 8.

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5. Piano Scales, Chords, and Arpeggios

best intermediate piano books

Many times, self-taught musicians are more versatile than classically taught ones. The former are often better at playing by ear and creating harmonies on the spot. But there are instances where you need those ‘traditional piano skills’. So whether you’re a pop pianist that’s interested in theory or a beginner prepping for a music school, this book is a good primer.

The book is written and compiled by Damon Ferrante, an experienced piano professor. It guides you through more than a hundred lessons ranging from elementary to advanced music theory. Learn and practice major chords, minor chords, scales, and arpeggios (split scales). You also train on proper fingering and sight-reading. And you can follow along on video as well.

The best approach to piano play is to cover the basics of music theory then get a songbook in your preferred genre for practice. This book sorts out the theory portion of your piano classes.

Pros:

  • The book contains 14o lessons.
  • It also comes with 30 videos streamed for visual learners.
  • You can buy it as an eBook or a paperback.

Con:

  • If you’re more interested in contemporary piano play, this book may bore you.

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6. Piano Book for Adult Beginners

piano music books

If you liked the previous book, this one makes a good companion. They’re by the same author, but while one focuses on scales and technique, this is more of a songbook. The first few sections review the basics of piano play. But after that, the book jumps to more advanced song sheets with chord progressions. It’s a helpful tool for beginners who can’t read music.

While there’s some sight-reading later in the book, it contains illustrations of hand positions and fingering. So even before you learn to recognize staff notation, you can look at the diagrams and play songs. You can also use the 20 streaming videos for visual cues. But the book has small text that can be difficult to decipher so you may find yourself using the videos as a crutch.

This book (and its bundled videos) is great for piano rehearsal sessions. But it’s best used as a supplement, either with Ferrante’s other book or with any music theory training materials.

Pros:

  • You don’t need sight-reading skills to use this book.
  • It comes with 20 video streaming lessons.
  • The book focuses more on chords and harmony.

Con:

  • The paperback version is tricky to use because it has perfect binding and a small font, so it can be hard to read the staff notation that’s closer to the center margin.

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7. Adult Piano Adventures

classical piano books

Learning the piano as an adult can be challenging. If you’re a novice, your instinct is to get piano books for younger kids because they seem easier to follow. But these guides may leave you feeling patronized and you’ll soon quit. Instead, try this book, specifically designed for adult beginners. It’s about a foot long and spiral bound so it sits snug on your piano stand.

The book covers theory, chords, and technique. It includes song sheets that expose you to diverse rhythms, melodies, and genres … from Mozart to Lion King with the Can-Can between. You also get two hours of audio and video lessons. These can be crucial if you’re an aural or visual learner. You can get ‘backing tracks’ online as well, to harmonize as you play.

Even if you’ve never touched a piano or attended a music class, you’ll quickly progress in your playing. This book – and its partnered videos – turn piano lessons into a playful adventure.

Pros:

  • Before you learn two-handed playing, you can download accompaniment online.
  • The course includes 2h+ of video and audio piano tutorials.
  • Each lesson includes a son sample to practice the targeted skill you just learned.

Con:

  • This book works best if you’re working with a teacher. So if you like the Fabers but you want to learn solo without paying for piano lessons, get their Accelerated series instead.

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8. Piano and Keyboard for Dummies

piano book

‘For Dummies’ books may seem insulting. But if you have the self-awareness to enjoy the tongue-in-cheek concept, they’re great at breaking down complex ideas into comprehensible layman’s terms. And this musical version reduces piano lessons into easily consumed chunks. It combines four books – music theory, keyboard, piano, and piano exercises for dummies.

This book lets you experience multiple music genres. It also covers topics like how to choose a piano, working with external inputs (soundboards, amps, feeder apps, etc.). But unless you enjoy general knowledge, you’ll probably skip the first 5 or 6 chapters. The ‘proper’ piano lessons don’t start until around Page 100. And you can use the online audio tracks for practice as well.

Piano and Keyboard for Dummies is a comprehensive guide to all things piano. It teaches you to read and play music, but you also learn about types of keyboards and basic sound design.

Pros:

  • It’s a 4-in-1 compilation of music books from the ‘For Dummies’ series.
  • The book is paired with audio tracks that you can stream or download.
  • It also includes lessons in composing, arranging, and digital keyboards mixing.

Con:

  • If you’re an absolute beginner, the size and weight of this tome (656 pages, 2lbs) may scare you off. It looks intimidating and you might wonder if you’ll ever finish.

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9. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music Theory

piano music book

Here’s another helpful book that needs a healthy sense of humor. You may start out as an idiot, but by the time you’re done, you can hear a song on the radio and transcribe it into staff notation. The book contains easy-to-follow lessons on ear training, rhythm, composition, arrangement, chord progression, transposition, and more. And yes, you’ll also learn the piano.

At the end of every chapter, you’ll find exercises to practice the skills you’ve just acquired. Many of these exercises can be done using a piano or keyboard. And because this book is laid out in a mundane manner, you can easily see your progress. Nothing beats the excitement of hearing the theme song of a new series and having the ability to transcribe its score and play it back on piano.

For beginners who want a comprehensive yet user-friendly dive into music theory, this book does the trick. But if you’re into casual pop play, look for something lighter.

Pros:

  • It teaches trackable, practical skills e.g. turning pop songs into sheet music by ear.
  • This edition comes with a CD for audio guidance.
  • The book has a reference list for chords and thorough lessons in time signature.

Con:

  • It’s not strictly a piano book so impatient learners may find it tedious if they just want to learn their favorite pop song.

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10. Bastien Piano for Adults

piano learning book

If you have kids, you know how tedious bedtime storybooks can be. They’re deliberately simple so kids can understand them, but they grate on your adult mind. Kids’ keyboard books can have the same on adult piano novices. So opt or Bastien instead. In addition to training you in theory and technique, they carefully select pieces that drill the skill you learned immediately prior.

And in addition to rehearsing with known music pieces, Bastien has included scores for their original pieces. These pieces help them better target specific piano skills. Think about it. An original keyboard melody composed to practice staccato arpeggios will give you deeper, more intrinsic practice than a synth drum solo or a trap music backing track. It’ll sink in better.

Bastien books are designed for adult learners who have little to no piano exposure. It provides a broad range of lessons in diverse styles and genres. Worksheets offer extra immersion.

Pros:

  • The book is spiral bound for easier use with a piano stand.
  • It’s simplified for adults without dumbing it down.
  • It has song sheets in multiple musical genres.

Con:

  • The series only has two volumes so it doesn’t feel as comprehensive as rival brands with 3 to 8 books per series.

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Your Piano’s Perfect Companion!

Of these ten suggestions, we’d recommend All-in-One. Here’s why:

  • With a good tutor, you can complete the book in 6 to 8 weeks.
  • You can buy the eBook (for Kindle) or the spiral-bound plastic comb
  • It's based on Alfred Piano's teaching techniques so its results are proven.
  • The book has hand exercises and fingering drills for strength, speed, and accuracy.
  • The song list covers indigenous, folk, classical, and contemporary pieces.
  • Every lesson ends with a written assignment to help you absorb the concept.

Which piano book are you using at the moment? Show us the cover in the comments!

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