Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here.
You now know the basics of reading rhythm and pitch. Are you ready to take that to the next step? Since we’ve been talking so much about ways you can play with music in your own home, I thought I would include here some resources for a common foundational instrument: the piano.
I am by no means a pianist. I can play block chords and simple arpeggios, but I have very little technical skill. I attribute this to beginning piano later in life and not practicing as much as I should have after I stopped taking lessons. That being said, what I can do on piano is enough to (roughly) accompany my vocal students and play simple songs for my kiddos or my own enjoyment.
Why think about studying the piano? It gives you a strong foundation in reading music and playing instruments. Even if you have intention of ever really picking up the piano, it can be a great reference for playing other instruments too. For example, I often check my vocal pitch against the piano for accuracy, and you can always use the piano for tuning your other instruments. Plus, it’s nice to be able to read at least part of a piano accompaniment to a song so you can hear the other parts in a song.
There were several books that I found particularly helpful during my own time studying the piano under a few different teachers. I have tried to select the most tasteful, beautiful, and efficient books that I have used to share with you.
Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner (Frances Clark Library for Piano Students)This is a progressive course for adults that gradually build your skills and technique. I like that this book goes a long way- you don’t need to buy 5 different “levels” as you work your way up, since the book has multiple levels in it.
Hanon – Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises – Complete: Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics– This book is a standard for developing dexterity of the fingers through daily exercises of increasing difficulty. Good if you already know how to read music and know where the notes are on the piano, but not for the complete beginner.
Masterwork Classics, Level 1-2 (Alfred Masterwork Editions)– Beautiful, simple pieces for beginners with the help of finger markings throughout. This book includes classic repertoire that is worthy of the attention of the professional, but easy enough that the newbie can give them a go.
Piano Pieces for Children: 1 (Kalmus Classic Editions)– I played out of a Bartok beginner’s book when I was studying, and the pieces were so pretty and enjoyable that I simply must share this book. Once you get past some of the beginner method books, this one or any other by Bartok provides alluring music for the novice pianist.
Children’s Beginner Piano Books– There are too many children’s method books to count, though I have left you a link here for your perusal. Check the reviews to find out what piano teachers did and didn’t like about each method book. Then pick your favorite. With most children’s beginner books, even if you are not a pianist yourself, you will be able to follow the lessons and help your child understand the basic concepts. We have used this Music for Little Mozarts book for J.
I remind you again, I am not a real pianist myself, so if any of you piano teachers have suggestions that you would like to give, please list them below in the comments.
What have you enjoyed trying the most during this series? Is there anything in particular you would like to see covered before 31 Days is over? I appreciate hearing your thoughts and wisdom. 🙂
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