The Ultimate Guide To The Best Piano Methods

The Ultimate Guide To The Best Piano Methods

When it comes to learning piano, it can become a daunting task trying to select the best learning method. In our last post, we explored Toronto’s unique piano learning history. Yet, as of today, there is a thriving international market when it comes to piano learning methods that are full of even more advanced, helpful techniques, books and software programs, each their own unique formulas for speedy and lasting musicianship. So, how is one to choose? 

In this resource the most popular piano methods are broken down, with their recommended age group, learning style, genre and pros and cons explained. It is broken down into 4 main sections:

  • The Most Widely-Used Piano Lesson Book Methods
  • Genre Specific Piano Method Books
  • Modern Virtual Piano Methods
  • Supplementary Piano Method Books

After reading, you will feel informed and confident in choosing the correct learning materials for you, your kids, or your students. 

Widely-Used Piano Lesson Book Methods:

1. Piano Adventures

Piano Adventures is a system of connected books and recordings created by Randall and Nancy Faber. Faber creates all of their material with their ACE philosophy in mind: Analysis, Creativity and Expression. 

Regarding Analysis, pieces are taught by breaking music down to its essential elements; rhythm, pitch and feel. 

Creativity is implemented by giving students their own choices within pieces, for example at times allowing them to decide the dynamics or the tempo.

Expression is defined by Faber as the ability to communicate an emotion or mood, which the series provides opportunities for by containing an eclectic repertoire, ranging from silly to scary to sad. 

The ACE philosophy attempts to improve not only the musical skills of the student, but also their cognitive development by using integrated right and left brain modes of teaching, learning, and experiencing sound. 

An innovative feature in this series is the accompanying Piano Adventures App which runs on iPad or iPhone. With it students can listen to the songs from the book while watching the sheet music and virtual keyboard move alongside. The tempo can also be slowed down and sections can be looped for further understanding. 

Teachers (and students) can also access virtual versions of the workbooks by subscribing to the Faber Teacher Atlas.

The Faber created system is one of the newest and most popular methods available, having won the 2018 Music Teachers National Association Keyboard Pedagogy Award.

Piano Adventures has specific streams for each group, which are as follows: 

My First Piano Adventure: Ages 5-6

This series contains 3 books, A, B and C, which take students from an introduction to the instrument all the way up to reading two-handed pieces in the grand staff. Each lesson book has a related writing book which goes over theory and provides opportunities for drawing and tracing musical symbols and notes. 

Piano Adventures does a great job of being kid accessible, as they are written like a story book. There are multiple characters introduced in Book A, and they continue to grow, change and get into crazy situations as the lessons progress; there are even supplemental sticker books available that can be used as a motivational tool. This feature is a huge help in engaging younger students. 

Each piece also contains a teacher duet section, which allows the student to play a simple melody while the teacher performs a harmonic accompaniment. In this way, the student is able to enjoy being part of a full and exciting musical performance. 

Basic Piano Adventures: Ages 6-11

This series is the next step, going from a Primer all the way up to Level 5. In each level there are 4 separate books, Lesson, Technique and Artistry, Theory, and Performance. The splitting of these elements provides deep learning at each level. 

A great advantage to this course is the high amount of interesting supplemental books that are available, containing the music of Disney, Rock and Roll, or even China. 

If used in conjunction with the Piano Adventures App, there are also modern and progressive features like a sight-reading coach that tracks your progress and improvement. 

After the Primer is completed, the numbered levels slowly advance the student through increasingly challenging skills and repertoire. By the end of the series students have an advanced foundation that has covered key signatures, minor and major scales, intervals, cadences, transposition, and even shifting advanced time signatures!

Accelerated Piano Adventures: Ages 11-17

Accelerated Piano Adventures covers the same concepts as Basic Piano Adventures does, but at an accelerated pace and with a tone more fitting to that of an older beginner. There are two levels to this course, each level containing 4 separate books, Lesson, Technique and Artistry, Theory, and Performance

The supplemental materials for this course contain a combination of repertoire taken from the basic courses supplemental materials, placed in curated volumes. 

Adult Piano Adventures: Ages 18 and above

This course is aimed at the adult beginner, but can also be used as a refresher for a returning advanced student. There are 2 levels to this series. Each level uses an All-In-one method and contains only a single book. 

The series takes the student through all of the traditional elements of classic piano pedagogy, with the interesting addition of lead sheet and chord symbol reading. This is a great way to engage students who have an interest in both classical and popular piano playing. 

This series is also connected to the Piano Adventures App, and includes over 2 hours of instructional video with Randall Faber himself. 

Pros and Cons: 

Pros: 

  1. The course boasts varied and interesting supplemental repertoire books.
  1. The storybook element of the series increases the engagement and interest of young students. 
  1. The integrated Piano Adventures App moves the program into the future and allows greater connectivity with students. 
  1. The course covers a large swath of skills, allowing a student to stay with the Faber method for many years before having to move to another. 

Cons: 

  1. The Basic and Accelerated courses require four books per level for the best results, which is a lot to ask a student to purchase, carry and complete. 
  1. The series lacks an in-depth ear training, improvisation and composition education. 
  1. Though the beginner books contain fun and accessible songs for kids, the focus is primarily on Western classical music. It would be nice to see a more varied repertoire from the beginning, and include storybook characters from other musical disciplines. 

There is one other book in the Piano Adventures library worth mentioning, and that is the Primer Level Teachers Guide. This volume provides understanding and analysis of how the whole Faber technique works and is put into practice. It is recommended reading for all teachers of the method. 

To help better serve students who have worked with other methods before coming over to Piano Adventures, Faber has also created a handy correlation chart. 

2. Alfred’s Basic Piano Library

Alfred's Basic Piano Course Covers

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library is an educational series with a course for every age group. It has been the best selling piano educational method for over the last 2 decades! 

The founding philosophy of the series was to create a system that was both educationally sound and fun for beginners. The creators believed that if students were having fun they would stick with the instrument longer and be able to truly reap the benefits of a musical education. Thus, Alfred’s series combines colourful and fun images with repertoire that can hold the interest of pop music loving young students. 

The Alfred’s Basic Piano Library method is split into four categories, each using the same approach but moving at different paces and containing different images and repertoire to better connect with the intended age and skill level group. 

The fundamentals that stretch through each course are: 

  1. Note reading through interval recognition 
  1. Playing in multiple keys (even though key signatures are not introduced in earlier books, by accidentals students will play in 7 different keys) 
  1. Included clever lyrics to encourage singing along and furthering the development of the ear. 

These are as follows: 

Alfred’s Basic Piano Prep Course: Young Children

Created for the young beginner, Alfred’s Basic Piano Prep Course takes into consideration the small hands and short attention spans of children. Illustrations and clear examples of new musical symbols and techniques keep students engaged and wanting to progress to see what appears next. 

The course contains duet accompaniments that can be played by a teacher or parent, allowing the student to be part of an exciting and full musical arrangement. 

Within the course the books are labeled by letters, from A up to F. Students can progress through this a book at a time, or, if the teacher is happy with the students progress they can be easily transitioned to the next series, Alfred’s Basic Piano Course, which contains the same information but moves at a faster pace. 

Supplemental books in this course include extended studies in theory and repertoire. 

Alfred’s Basic Piano Course: Children 6-12

Alfred’s Basic Piano Course is the original and best selling Alfred’s course. It runs from Level 1 to 6. The series contains much of the same information as the Prep Course, but moves at a more rapid pace.

The great thing about the organization of Alfred’s method is that jumping back to the Prep Course is an easy and smooth transition; students don’t just have to go one way! If a teacher finds that after Level 1B a student would benefit from a more gradual approach, they can return to the Prep Course at a higher level book such as Book E, and vice versa. This is a fantastic feature, allowing not just for an increase but a decrease of pace while still obtaining the same skills. 

Supplemental books in this course include extended studies in theory and repertoire. 

Alfred’s Basic All in one Course: Pre-teens and teens

The All-In-One Course combines pages from Alfred’s Basic Piano Course as well as its respective supplemental books covering theory and repertoire. The advantage to this is again an increased learning pace, as well as removing the need or want to use supplemental books. 

Alfred’s Basic All-In-One Course interacts with Alfred’s Basic Complete Course. After the first 2 levels are completed students can choose to continue all the way up to Level 6, or can jump up to the next series. Again, this is dependent upon the learning needs and pace of the student. 

Alfred’s Basic Complete Course: Pre-teens and teens

This course is for the later beginner, or especially talented younger students. It moves at a more rapid pace, preparing the student for advanced repertoire. If the pace needs to be reduced, students can move between this and the Basic All-In-One Course. 

The ages above are provided for ease of comparison, however, the unique feature of Alfred’s course is that all of the books are interconnected. Meaning, at the discretion of the teacher, students can jump from level to level, or even series to series if growth permits. 

Beyond the series books there are also supplemental books that focus solely on ear training, note reading, sight reading, as well as repertoire specific books that include collections of Christmas songs, Popular music, duets and more. 

Alfred’s Adult Piano Course: 

Alfred’s carries two methods for adult beginners, Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course and Alfred’s Basic Adult All-In-One Piano Course

Much like the approach to their children’s series, both the Basic and All-In-One Course contain the same information and many of the same pieces, the All-In-One simply moving at a faster pace. The All-In-One also goes into more detail with theoretical concepts. 

Each book gets the student playing in the grand staff very quickly, within the first 10 pages to be exact! Though it doesn’t require prior musical knowledge, both of these series have a steep learning curve. The teacher will have to expand upon the information given in the book and explain concepts in a more accessible and thorough manner. 

If the student is more casual in their learning goals the Basic Course would be the better choice, as it is more streamlined and each book is shorter in length. If however the student wishes to really dive in, the All-In-One Course would be the better option. 

Pros and Cons: 

Pros: 

1. The best asset of this course is its ability to go forward and backwards to adjust the learning pace. It is very common for difficulty to increase too quickly and discourage students, even causing them to stop playing altogether. The design of this series can help eliminate that from occurring. 

2. Though supplemental books on theory, technique and repertoire are available, they do not negatively affect the quality of the course if unused. 

Cons: 

1.  Much of the artwork and lyrics are dated. Some lyrics would even qualify as racially insensitive by modern standards (e.g Ten Little Indians). 

2.  Not as forward thinking as Piano Adventures, Alfred’s lacks technological interaction. 

3. Music for Little Mozarts

Filling a gap in the market, Music for Little Mozarts is a series created for children ages 3-6. It serves as an introduction not only to piano, but to musical concepts in general. 

The series contains 5 types of books, Lesson, Discovery, Music Workbook, Recital, and Supplementary Repertoire. There are 4 levels of each 

In the Lesson series each book advances at a slow and steady pace, introducing new musical concepts while allowing for the limited dexterity of young students. Each page contains pictures and a story to engage and promote fun learning. 

The Discovery section is quite interesting and different from methods we’ve seen so far. In it, singing, listening and movement activities are introduced. This is fantastic for young students, as it can be nearly impossible for them to sit still for a traditional half hour lesson. These physical activities introduce rhythm, melody, mood and genre in a fun and exciting way! 

In the Music Workbook collection, the focus is on the training and development of the ear. This is fantastic to have a section solely dedicated to this facet of musicianship, especially in a series for such young students. Beyond this the workbooks give opportunity for students to colour and draw, continuing to enhance their engagement. 

The Recital books contain sheet music for very basic pieces. How these pieces are rolled out is also original and engaging. The entire series is a story about a bear and mouse performing music around their town. As the teacher or parents reads the story out loud, the student performs songs on the piano as characters in the story! 

The Supplementary section is full of additional repertoire and pieces for students who are moving quickly and need a little extra music. Each of these books follows the same concept as the recital books. 

Beyond this, there are plush toys for each of the characters in the books. Children this age learn best through drama, fantasy and play, and Music for Little Mozarts implements this fact in their program with the addition of these stuffed animals. 

Pros and Cons: 

Pros: 

  1. Little Mozarts is specifically aimed at students ages 3-6. This provides material and concepts that will work especially well with this often challenging age group. 
  1. The early implementation of ear training and physicality provide great foundational concepts and skills, giving these students a musical head start. 

Cons: 

  1. The series does not continue further than musical foundations, and as such will require the student to transition to a totally different method upon completion. 
  1. It may be difficult to direct some students using this course, as it could easily turn into “play time” and lose its educational benefits. 

4. The Suzuki Method

Originally created for violin instruction by Japanese musician Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, the Suzuki Method takes a different approach to music education. Instead of a physical set of books and literature, a new philosophical mindset is required. 

The underlying principle of the method is to treat learning an instrument the same way as learning a language. 

With this in mind, the Suzuki Method focuses on listening as a primary skill, for in language we learn to listen before we learn to speak. From an early age it is advised for parents to continually play music to their budding musician, as this will feed the subconscious with the raw materials of musical language. 

Parents are highly involved when using the Suzuki Method. They are required to sit in on each lesson and act as an “at home teacher” throughout the week. In fact, it is the only method where the teacher must instruct the parents as well as the student, in order for them to be of confident assistance during at home practice. 

When it comes to our first language, we learn to speak before we learn to read. Dr. Suzuki applied this thought process to music, delaying the learning of note reading until the student has achieved basic technical competence on their instrument. 

Though these techniques differ greatly from traditional Western education, the Suzuki Method believes in music being an aural art first, with musicians relying on their ears before their eyes. While this does heighten the initial learning curve it bears impressive fruit in time, allowing for accelerated memorization skills and the ability to focus on self-expression and artistry rather than basic dictation. 

Due it’s familial approach, the Suzuki method requires the most commitment but provides opportunity for exceptional musical growth. 

Pros: 

  1. Focuses on aural skills from the very start, providing a massive musical advantage for students who start early enough. 
  1. Involves the family in a necessary way, providing opportunity for the social and communal aspects of music to be understood and engrained. 

Cons: 

  1. Requires much more time and effort from parents than any other method. 
  1. Due to its initial steep learning curve and delayed gratification, some students may be led to quit before the benefits have a chance to surface.

5. The Royal Conservatory Method

The mission of the Royal Conservatory is based on the conviction that the arts are the best route towards personal growth and social development. It considers the mind to be the greatest instrument, understanding that musical education is closely linked to success in other fields that require increased cognitive development, such as mathematics and science. 

The RCM method boasts a highly structured curriculum that covers technique, repertoire and aural skills. In this method there are assessments at the end of each level which need to be passed before moving on to the next. The complete system begins with a Prep course and ends with a Diploma upon the completion of Level 10. 

It is important to note that the RCM method begins after students have a basic understanding of the piano and musical theory. It is not a beginner program. 

The RCM method is much less guided by age than the other programs covered here are, rather, ability takes precedence. More advanced students can skip levels till the point where sufficient challenge is met, and newer students cannot move forward until their current levels requirements are met. 

A more traditional European approach to music education, the repertoire consists almost entirely of classical music from different eras. As well, each assessment is graded in a “jury” setting where one or two adjudicators listen and mark the session. If the grade is not high enough the student must repeat the process again at a later date after improving their skills. 

Depending on the type of student, this can either encourage development and a self-improving spirit, or discourage and create feelings of fear and dread around music. 

For each level of study there are 3 main sections: Repertoire, Technical Requirements, and Musicianship

In the Repertoire section students select contrasting pieces from a list of available options. This gives students a controlled choice, which is a useful feature that allows for independence with boundaries. 

The Technical Requirements consists of scales, arpeggios, chords and patterns. These start basic and progress as the levels rise. 

Musicianship encompasses ear training, rhythm clap-backs and sight reading. These again start simple and increase as the student progresses. 

When the student performs their assessment, Repertoire is weighted most heavily, Technical Requirements second and Musicianship third. A stark contrast from the Suzuki Method, the RCM system values note reading and full piece performance much more than it does listening skills. 

For a student who enjoys and benefits from structure this is the most organized system available. However, students who have more difficulty in rigid and traditional learning environments may not respond as well. 

Pros: 

  1. Structured, in depth and requiring performance, the RCM method is the most complete system of all reviewed here. 
  1. Having specific levels allows students to track their progress and mark results. 

Cons: 

  1. Uses a traditional European educational style, which does not work well for all students. 
  1. Focuses almost exclusively on European Classical music. While the program does provide a wide technical curriculum, it is narrow in genre and music from other cultures. 

6. The Music Tree

The Music Tree is a beginner piano program created by Francis Clark in 1955. This series has the most varied repertoire in terms of genre, with pieces covering classical, jazz, folk and pop. The Music Tree differs from other methods by providing an introduction to arrangement, transposition and composition. 

The course is multi-level like the others, including a Prep series, followed by 4 levels that each include an A and B section. Each level requires two books, a Student Book for lessons and repertoire and an Activity Book for written exercises. 

The Music Tree implements an intervallic approach to teaching note reading. This differs from Alfred’s Basic Piano Course and Piano Adventures which both primarily use the “Middle C Method”. 

The “Middle C Method” teaches the note Middle C first, and every other note is found in relation to it. The hands are set up with the thumb of the right on middle C, and the pinky of the left on either low C or low E. In this way students orient themselves and find notes. 

In the intervallic approach, F, G and C are used as “landmark notes”. Students then learn how to see and play the intervallic distance rather than counting alphabetically from  middle C. 

The Music Tree also uses a “growing staff”, which expands from 2 to 3 to finally 5 lines. In this way students learn to read sheet music in a slower, more thorough and approachable way. 

The series moves at a slightly slower pace than Piano Adventures or Alfred’s Basic Piano Course, which depending on the student may be a good or a bad thing. For students who require more repetition of new concepts before truly digesting them, this is an advantage. However, a quicker learner may become easily bored with this method. 

Pros: 

  1. Contains a wide variety of genres, exposing young beginners to multiple styles right out of the gate. 
  1. Uses the intervallic note reading approach, and employs a growing staff, educational tools which allow thorough understanding and complete digestion of written music. 
  1. Is the only beginner course that introduces arrangement, transposition and composition. 

Cons: 

  1. Moves at a slower pace than other piano courses without the ability to easily alter pace like Alfred’s or Piano Adventures. 
  1. An older course, the art and design may seem dated to young students. 

7. Bastien Piano Basics

An introductory course for the young beginner, Bastien Piano Basics is separated into four volumes per level, Lesson, Theory, Technique, and Performance. These books are aligned in the most organized fashion of all the courses, with each page of each book aligning in perfect coordination. For example, a new concept is introduced in the Lesson Book, a dexterity exercise using the concept is written in the Technique Book, the theory behind the concept is explained in the Theory Book, and a repertoire piece using the concept exists in the Performance Book

All of the pieces used in the program were composed by the Bastiens themselves, providing a unique and original course for students to work through. 

Bastien Piano Basics is considered a classic by many, though for the modern student and teacher it may feel dated, having been in publication since 1963. The art and design could be modernized to better engage young students. 

The Bastiens received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Music Teachers National Association in 1999. 

Pros: 

  1. Used an organized multi-book method with complete coordination. This provides a deep understanding of every concept. 
  1. Original music composed by the Bastiens themselves allows for a unique learning experience as well as solid examples of technical ideas. 

Cons: 

  1. An older course, the art and design may seem dated to young students. 
  1. Multiple books are required for each level. Even though they are organized fantastically, 4 books is a lot to ask a young student to engage with at once. 

8. Leila Fletcher Piano Course

Born in Hamilton, Ontario Leila Fletcher was a pianist and educator who designed her own piano course, which has since been used worldwide and translated into multiple languages. 

Designed to meet the needs of the average student, the course aims to provide a full and continuous musical education, covering the very basics and stretching to advanced repertoire. Depending on the starting point, the program is applicable to young students from the age 4, all the way up to teens and adults. 

With a focus on creativity and expression as a pedagogical tool, the Leila Fletcher Piano Course utilizes listening games and improvisation activities. Both of these cornerstones are missing in most other beginner methods. 

The series also contains sight reading exercises, showing  that this method focuses on strong musicianship skills first. This is especially useful for younger players, where dexterity may prove to be a hurdle; the musicianship skills absorbed here will be of great benefit once their bodies catch up. 

Though lesson books are the staple of the program, there are supplemental theory and repertoire volumes available. 

Pros: 

  1. Is a complete course, taking a student from the very basics of the instrument all the way up to advanced repertoire. 
  1. Utilizes listening games and improvisation activities, providing a complete musical education. 

Cons: 

  1. An older course, the art and design may seem dated to young students. 

Genre Specific Piano Method Books

1. The Pop Piano Book

This genre specific book teaches students how to authentically play in pop, rock and roll, funk, R and B, country, and gospel styles. It thoroughly explains and provides exercises and examples of how to create original arrangements from lead sheets and chord charts. 

The course is written for students who already have competent traditional piano skills and wish to move into playing popular styles, a true challenge for players who have spent their whole musical experience reading sheet music. 

If students wish, they can also purchase the accompanying video series where author Mark Harrison goes through each chapter in visual detail. 

Pros: 

  1. A specific book for learning to play popular styles on the piano
  1. Optional video content is available to supplement the written examples. 

Cons: 

  1. Assumes students know how to read music and play piano already. 
  1. The amount of genres the book teaches limits its ability to be as in depth as it could be. Ideally, each genre would have its own course. 

2. Jamey Aebersold Method

This series is a leader in jazz piano education. It is aimed at players who are already competent in basic technique and theory, and wish to begin learning how to improvise in a jazz style. 

There are a massive amount of books in the series, the best selling of which being “Volume 1 – How to Play Jazz and Improvise”. In it, jazz specific concepts such as the be-bop scale and swing are introduced, though in a way that is more of a refresher than a first encounter. 

The biggest draw of this method is its high quality backing tracks that have the piano removed; just bass, drums and sometimes a wind instrument are present. This allows the student to learn how to play and fit into an ensemble context. 

As the essentials are digested players can move on to more specific books with their respective play alongs, such as Ballads, Blues, and Swing

Pros: 

  1. Professional backing tracks with the piano removed provides a great way for a solo student to get ensemble playing experience. 
  1. A vast selection of style specific books and backing tracks are available, covering everything from ballads to swing. 

Cons: 

  1. Assumes students know how to read music and play piano already. 
  1. Though it introduces new jazz specific concepts, they are not in depth and will require further explanation by a teacher. 

3. Jazz Piano Technique: Exercises, Etudes and Ideas for Building Chops:

Jazz is the original American art form, and while there are many books explaining the concepts of lead sheets and extended harmony, there are few that provide technical exercises designed specifically for the style. 

This book fills this gap, providing scales and patterns that are rooted in jazz language and can be transferred to actual real world musical situations. 

Think of it as the RCM Technique Book for jazz. 

Pros: 

  1. Fills a technique hole in the jazz market.

Cons: 

  1. None. The book successfully covers what it sets out to do. 

4. The Jazz Piano Book

A staple of jazz piano education, this book by Mark Levine is required reading in almost all University jazz programs. The Jazz Piano Book is targeted at pianists who already have an understanding of classical theory and technique, but no knowledge of jazz playing. 

Highly in depth, each page introduces and provides examples for concepts such as modal theory, rootless voicings, upper structures, block chords, comping, and scale theory. 

Though a challenging book, if students take time to work with and assimilate the knowledge it holds, they will have a great foundation for understanding and playing jazz music. 

Pros: 

  1. Contains highly in depth explanations of all major jazz piano concepts. 
  1. Uses transcriptions of famous jazz pianists as examples of concepts in real playing situations. 

Cons: 

  1. Assumes students know how to read music and play piano already at a high level. 
  1. For a full understanding of jazz, aural training is necessary, and the book does not offer audio examples. 

5. Play it Again Piano

Filling a niche in the market is Play it Again Piano, a series devoted to adults who have played the instrument as a child or teen, and wish to get back into it. A common type of student, this two book course provides a specific and useful approach. 

Book one begins at an elementary level, with easy pieces and refreshers of musical symbols, concepts and techniques. The course ends with more advanced pieces. 

The repertoire throughout the series is varied and touches upon all important pianistic skills, providing a complete reintroduction to the keyboard. Play It Again Piano is a great way to get back into music. 

Pros: 

  1. Fills a niche in the market as a book aimed at returning rather than new adult students. 

Cons: 

  1. Is primarily based upon classical repertoire, limiting its ability to be useful to the tastes of all returning students. 

Modern Virtual Methods: 

Computers and tablets have become more and more common in all areas of education. Music is no exception, with new programs being released every year. Though they represent a futuristic style of learning and have less historical proof of success behind them, they are worth looking into and will without doubt become a huge part of the future of music education. 

These programs can be especially useful with younger students, as the inclusion of a screen makes the study of piano more like a game and less like homework. 

Here is a review of the current most popular methods available:

1. Playground Sessions

Playground Sessions as an interactive piano education software which uses a combination of video and play-along visuals. The student chooses songs they want to learn right from the get go, with a massive library of pop, rock, R and B and classical music arranged at rookie, intermediate, and advanced levels. These different levels make the program usable for all types of players, from complete beginners to advanced classical musicians who wish to become more familiar with pop methods. 

The program focuses on teaching through modern popular hits, a feature that sets it apart from all of the book methods. Since it is virtual and continually updated it has the unique ability to stay current in repertoire. 

The software, which runs on a tablet or computer, provides real time feedback for the students playing. The sheet music scrolls as the student practices, and a virtual keyboard has the correct notes turn green, the wrong one turns red, and incorrect rhythms turn pink. 

The software also collects data like a gym trainer, tracking time spent on concepts or songs, ratios of correct and incorrect notes, areas where significant progress has been made and where attention should be placed. 

The program also allows you to share your scores and compete with friends and family, as well as record your practice and post it for the world to hear. 

Much like Masterclass, a company which sells classes taught by famous experts in numerous fields, Playground Sessions boasts lessons and endorsement from musical celebrities Quincy Jones, Harry Connick Jr and David Sides

The program is sold as a monthly or annual subscription. 

Pros: 

  1. Highly interactive software brings piano education into the modern era
  1. Offers one-on-one type lessons with musical celebrities Quincy Jones, Harry Connick Jr and David Sides
  1. Focuses on popular music and teaches the same songs at multiple levels of difficulty. 

Cons: 

  1. The focus on visual learning may instill a crutch of using the eyes for creating music rather than the ears. 

2. Flowkey

Flowkey is very similar to Playground Sessions, minus the points system and celebrity endorsement. Flowkey is designed to be a more traditional piano lesson experience in the virtual realm rather than a game or competitive endeavour. 

The program focuses on the teaching of popular songs, and with a library of over 500 songs students are sure to find something they love. 

The interactive software allows music to be sped up or slowed down, looped, and the hands to be separated for optimal practice. 

Flowkey is subscription based, with monthly, tri-monthly, and annual pricing options. 

Pros: 

  1. The closest to a traditional piano lessons experience a virtual program can be at this moment. 
  1. Removes the statistics and game mode elements that the other programs provide. This may be good or bad depending on the student. 

Cons: 

  1. Removes the statistics and game mode elements that the other programs provide. This may be good or bad depending on the student. 

3. Yousician

Yousician is designed to be a game. Its main screen displays sheet music and a virtual keyboard that is colour coordinated, allowing students to easily see where their fingers are to be placed. 

The focus on Yousician’s method is connecting the visual element of the keyboard to the more abstract display of sheet music. While this is a quick learning method, it may instill a crutch of using the eyes for creating music rather than the ears. 

Just like Flowkey and Playground Sessions, Yousician allows music to be sped up or slowed down, looped, and the hands to be separated for optimal practice. 

Yousician is subscription based, with monthly and annual pricing options. 

Pros: 

  1. Uses colour coded visuals to get students playing songs quickly. 
  1. Designed to be a game, which makes it a good choice for younger students. 

Cons: 

  1. The focus on visual learning may instill a crutch of using the eyes for creating music rather than the ears. 

Supplemental Piano Methods: 

1. Hanon (The Virtuoso Pianist)

The Virtuoso Pianist, written by Charles Louis Hanon in 1873 is a classic resource of technical exercises and patterns that improve dexterity and speed. The Virtuoso Pianist is in the public domain, and serves as a solid and free supplement for more serious students. 

2. Earmaster

EarMaster is a fantastic app for teaching and practicing ear training, sight singing, rhythmic dictation and transcription. With a clear interface and detailed statistics, it is easy to remain consistent and improve musicianship. A big perk of the app is that it is available for mobile, allowing skills to be practiced during commutes or on breaks, a great way to make downtime musically productive.

3. Let Kids Play Music

www.letsplaykidsmusic.com is a great resource for free kids sheet music. While there is a limited selection of pieces, classics such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Marry Had A Little Lamb are available, with the notes written clearly as letters and the finger numbers below. This is especially useful for young students as a pre-reading supplement to get them playing songs they know and love. 

4. Musescore

Musescore is a free notation software, useful for writing out personal exercises or transcriptions. The website also includes user written transcriptions of many songs that can be extremely difficult to find free sheet music of otherwise. Though it requires a subscription to download files, they can be viewed on the website free of charge. 

End Notes

Well, there it is! The Ultimate Guide To The Best Piano Methods! If you have questions, or would like to learn more about our school, don’t hesitate to call us at 647-748-2787!

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