Learning how to play piano is something that can be done in a variety of different ways. You can choose to take courses, or search for the best book to learn piano, doing things the “old fashioned” way.
Though there are some amazing apps and high tech ways to learn how to play, but there’s still lots of great information in books. A piano book can be used anywhere, plus, some people find it comforting to own something tangible that shows them how to play! There’s something nice about a collection of piano books sitting in the storage in your piano stool!
Also, it’s worth noting that some information is hard to find online. For instance, piano books can also be piano chords books that have collections of songs and sheet music from certain musicians that can be very helpful, this information may not be available even online.
Table of Contents
- 1 In a hurry? Here are our top picks..
- 2 The Top 10 Piano Books (and More)
- 2.1 1. Piano Book for Adult Beginners: Teach Yourself How to Play Famous Piano Songs, Read Music, Theory & Technique
- 2.2 2. Beginner Piano Lessons for Kids Book – Best for Kids
- 2.3 3. Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course
- 2.4 4. Faber Piano Adventures Primer Level Learning Library Pack
- 2.5 5. John Thompson's Easiest Piano Course
- 2.6 6. Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Method – Best for Jazz Piano
- 2.7 7. Piano and Keyboard All-in-One For Dummies
- 2.8 8. The Disney Collection (Easy Piano Series) – Easy and Fun Songs
- 2.9 9. Piano-K. Play the Self-Teaching Piano Game for Kids – Best “Game Based” Piano Learning Book
- 2.10 10. First 50 Popular Songs You Should Play On Piano – Great Piano Songbook
- 3 FAQs – Choosing the Best Book (or Books) to Learn Piano
In a hurry? Here are our top picks..
The Top 10 Piano Books (and More)
1. Piano Book for Adult Beginners: Teach Yourself How to Play Famous Piano Songs, Read Music, Theory & Technique
If you are looking for an all-in-one solution for piano books for beginners, this could be a great option. It has a bit of everything and can teach you from the very start of your piano career.
This is a piano lesson book written by someone who truly knows what they are doing! Damon Ferrante is the composer and musician who has created this resource. He’s well-known as a professor of piano and of music theory, but he’s also a composer, guitarist and classically trained pianist in his own right. He won the Simkins Award for contribution to music.
The method he has put together doesn’t use the traditional method of reading music, you can learn how to play without having to learn how to read sheet music.
It can take you from absolute beginner to the point where you can play some songs you are happy with, and also, there is a video course included with the book, also created by Ferrante. A simple code can allow you access to this course.
If you want to learn how to play piano, but you aren’t bothered about being able to read music, the methods in this book can help. It is very clear and the inclusion of videos to accompany the text lessons makes it even simpler.
2. Beginner Piano Lessons for Kids Book – Best for Kids
If you are looking for the best piano books for beginners, you may also be looking for a kids book. It is good to get books to start your children learning to play piano early on, and this is a book that has been designed for school kids.
The book has the ability to keep kids entertained and focused on their piano playing, which is easier said than done. It is aimed at ages 5-11 and there is plenty of fun included via the included online video and audio courses that come free with this course.
Following the piano lesson book can get your children playing songs pretty quickly. The first lessons are about playing with the right hand, and eventually introduce the thumb on the left hand, the full left hand and get you to the stage where you can play full compositions.
The songs included were chosen to give a good all-round knowledge of the basics, there is notation as well as fingering notation and hand shifts in order to allow you to learn more quickly. The method is taught in the book, but also accompanied by audio and video lessons, this can help kids who want to learn more visually.
The songs are designed to be learned slow first, and then the speed can be gradually increased.
If you are looking for piano lessons for adults, this may be a bit childish for you in tone. It will teach anyone the basics, but the songs especially are aimed at kids, to keep them interested while they learn how to play.
This piano course is great for adults who are looking to get started. It doesn’t go through a huge amount of theory or reading music, instead it aims to get you playing chords quickly and effectively. Alfred piano books are very well known, and set up as different levels. However, this simple level 1 course lets you get started with the basics.
It includes loads of songs that you can learn to play fairly quickly, and there are some true classics in the songbook section as well as the song lesson book. Au Claire de la Lune, Over the Rainbow, Happy Birthday to You and loads more songs appeal for a lot of different occasions. Though it could maybe do with some more current poppy songs for a more eclectic choice on what you want to learn.
One of the best things about this book is the way that everything is laid out within. It makes it really simple to learn each step of the way, split into tiny manageable chunks that you can go through at your own pace.
The individual lessons may teach you a specific technique, keys or chords, it then shows you some exercises you can do to get familiar with whatever you have just learned. Finally, a song for you to play through using this technique or these chords. It is a very clever way of cementing the knowledge.
The Alfred piano book range is pretty big, and another great thing about this book is that it shows you which books you can move onto next in order to learn how to play in a certain way, focusing on different styles and techniques. This is not just the brand plugging their books, but they are genuine positive next steps you can take.
This book was originally published in 1983 and has been really well reviewed over the years, so to say this is a popular way of learning piano is probably an understatement!
Something a little different from the other options on the list, the Faber Piano learning pack has a collection of books covering different aspects of playing piano. These are a popular and effective resource for music educators, you’ll find them in the arsenal of piano tutors and musicians around the world.
The books are split into Theory, Technique and Artistry, Songbook and a Lesson Book. The parts of the books that should be grouped together as lessons are coded so you can clearly see which pages of which books make up a full piano lesson. A lot of people who are looking to learn how to play opt for these books, because they are so thorough, they allow you to go in depth with some specific techniques, or approach things as a beginner.
Some of the lessons span multiple books, which can be a little bit annoying, having to flit between the two, but it isn’t a massive inconvenience. The books can teach you a little bit about more intermediate and advanced techniques, and even the art of musicianship, composition and more. There’s a huge amount of information packed into these books.
Many tutors like to use this curriculum to base their lessons on. It is a set of piano lesson books that appeals to all sorts of ages and abilities, and makes an excellent resource. You’ll pay a little more for it as you are getting a 4-in-1 deal, but it may be worth it. The only real downside is the fact that it doesn’t come with any multimedia such as video lesson access. If you love to learn reading from books then this won’t be an issue at all.
Here we have another brilliant option for children to learn how to play. You can see just by looking at the front cover that the book is aimed at children with fun illustrations and a colorful design. There’s plenty to keep youngsters interested in this piano book. It also lays the foundations of playing piano correctly, teaching classical methods and reading music as part of the basics, even if it does so with exceptionally simple songs.
When it says “easiest” it does mean it! The book is a sort of “pre level one” course. It’s good for younger elementary children, but don’t be embarrassed if you turn to this piano lesson book as an adult! The fundamentals of playing piano are the same no matter what age you are, and this does a good job of teaching them.
It won’t get you to the point where you are playing full pop songs, but it is designed to just be the first part of a bigger course, expect to be able to read very simple sheet music and also to be able to play melodies quickly (and with the correct technique) if you follow this course.
Though the course covers the basics, it does it in a way that could lead to playing classically in the future. For instance, it has some sight reading drills included. This is quite an advanced technique, but if you can learn the principle behind it at a young age then you are on a good footing musically.
This is a very good book for youngsters to get started, especially if you have ambitions to one day play at a very high standard. It isn’t the quickest way to start to learn pop songs, but it is a quick way to start learning melodies.
6. Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Method – Best for Jazz Piano
Jazz piano is a very popular way of playing, and if you know that your ambition is to play jazz piano, why not go straight into this method and learn the style from the very start? You might think you need to specialize later in the process, but with books like the Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Method then you can get started with the style you love!
The book is designed at anyone from complete novices to intermediate players who just want to learn a bit more about the theory or the way to play in jazz stylings.
If you are into jazz, this can also be one of the most rewarding piano books to learn from, it is full of piano chords and jazz licks and riffs to get you started, and they sound great. Also, this is one of the courses to include an audio accompaniment, so you know what it should sound like and if you are playing it correctly.
This book can be helpful if you want to learn other styles of piano, too. Jazz piano methods can be specific, but much of the theory and the areas covered in this book can help no matter what style you want to play.
The topics that are covered within this book are theory (but not too much, this isn’t just a theory book), rhythm, soloing, playing scales and even improvisation. It really can take you from novice to an accomplished intermediate.
The “For Dummies” series is huge, and they cover such a lot of different categories, it can be hard to think they are the right choice for piano. Surely you want something from a specialist piano tutor? Well, these books are all under the same umbrella, but the piano and keyboard books are written by piano and keyboard experts! Don’t be put off by the fact that there’s also a “For Dummies” book about building websites or mechanics.
This book series is, as the name suggests, for people who are brand new to playing. It is fine for use by older kids and teenagers, and the language isn’t complex, so anyone can understand. The brand say they have designed this series as a refresher course or to start from scratch.
This resource has multiple books included as a 4-in-1, you get Piano For Dummies, Keyboard For Dummies, Music Theory For Dummies, and Piano Exercises For Dummies. There is a wealth of information within, to take you from beginner to intermediate player. There are loads of exercises included to improve your technique.
THe other books also include lots of supplemental information. This may be useful depending on how you wish to use your musical ability. You can learn theory, how to compose and also how to use keyboards and music technology.
If you are looking to specifically learn one style of piano, these books won’t teach you everything, but there is a huge amount of knowledge within the pages to use as reference.
8. The Disney Collection (Easy Piano Series) – Easy and Fun Songs
Instead of a piano lesson book, this is a piano song book that can be a huge amount of fun for all the family. You can’t use this book alone to learn the piano, as it doesn’t actually have any lessons within, instead this is a book of easy piano songs that are actually great fun to play, especially for Disney fans.
All the lyrics are included as well as the sheet music and chords so that you can play along to over 60 different Disney classics. The book was first published in the 90s, but it has been updated for modern classics including Frozen.
Other classic Disney songs include “Beauty and the Beast”, “Bare Necessities”, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and many more. The book might challenge beginners, and some of the songs are probably for advanced beginners. However, this is a great way to learn.
Kids will love the reward of being able to play songs they love and know from their favorite films. The book is filled with simpler arrangements of songs that can let you pick things up a bit quicker.
Though you will have to combine it with other lessons, this is one of the best books for Disney fans and children to learn specific songs they love from the movies.
There are other books in the Easy Piano Series if you’d rather focus on different styles and genres. These are also arranged in a simpler way to suit beginners.
9. Piano-K. Play the Self-Teaching Piano Game for Kids – Best “Game Based” Piano Learning Book
Although there are loads of books out there to help you learn how to play piano, some of them are quite similar in nature. We wanted to include a different option in our list of the best books to learn piano, and the Piano-K book provides exactly this. It aims to turn the piano into a game, to keep kids interested and avoid their attention spans waning after 10 minutes of practice!
The course doesn’t need any previous experience of music. It is a great book to combine with a beginners songbook, and use it to help you to decode the sheet music within.
The colors and figures included are designed to let children associate the keys of the piano with colors and simplify the process. There are three levels, using the right hand and left hand as well as combining both together. A simple set of stickers comes included with the book to use on the piano and help to color code.
Adults may not get much out of this book, but for young children who need an extra stimulant along with the words, the practice of turning it into a game could be ideal. Some children who have struggled with other ways of learning find that this casual style can keep them interested for longer.
10. First 50 Popular Songs You Should Play On Piano – Great Piano Songbook
If you are looking for a collection of great songs you can learn to play then this could be the ideal option for you. The songbook has been collected as a set of songs that even those just getting started are able to learn.
This is published by Hal Leonard LLC, they are the world’s biggest source of books, both physical and digital, for learning to play piano. They have over a million products out there to help you to learn to play.
This is a great resource if you can read music, or you are looking to learn how to read music. It doesn’t simply list piano chords, though, this is proper sheet music, so make sure this isn’t too daunting for you before you get started with this songbook.
It has a collection of brilliant songs including the classic songs that most people learn first on the piano, things like “Chopsticks” and “Happy Birthday” are simple songs to get you started. The book also covers some intermediate songs and things you can wow your friends with like “Candle in the Wind” and “Let it Be”. There are even modern songs like “Happy”.
There’s something for everyone in this songbook, making it a good overall resource. While it is not designed to actually teach you how to play piano, this is one of the best beginner piano books for those looking purely for new songs and sheet music to use as a resource.
FAQs – Choosing the Best Book (or Books) to Learn Piano
Do I Need a Lesson Book, Song Book, or Both?
Lesson books are those that teach you how to actually play piano, giving instructions on the methods, diagrams and information regarding the theory of playing music. Song books are collections of sheet music for songs by a certain band or artist, or in a certain category. For instance, the Disney song book that we listed as one of the best books to learn piano.
Song books are useful for expanding the repertoire of songs you can play. However, they’re not going to be able to teach you how to play without additional information in the form of a course or lesson book. Some lesson books include some sheet music to get you started, but in an ideal world you should have some of both to help you get to grips with the piano.
Do I Need to Read Music?
It is helpful to be able to read music if you are going to learn to play piano. A lot of the books out there focus in on reading music as it provides a language for them to teach you new scales and techniques. If you are going to learn via books, it might be a good idea.
That said, it’s not essential to be able to read music, and some of the courses focus on shapes and patterns rather than being able to read music. This can undoubtedly get you learning songs quicker, but it might be a hindrance in the long term, especially if you want to learn to play in a classical way.
Generic Book or Focus in on One Style?
Another choice you will have to make is whether you want to learn the basics in a specific style or not. Most beginner courses do not hone in on a style of playing, or a specific genre. Instead, they tend to just teach you how to play a few basic songs meaning that in the future, you can learn how to specialize in a certain genre. The basics are the same no matter what style you wish to play. A C chord is still a C chord!
That said, if you are dead set on learning one style of playing then there is no reason not to focus in from the very early stages. For instance, you can get beginner books that teach you how to play classical music or how to play jazz piano. There’s no pressure to decide on the style of playing before you buy a book, but it might help.
Are Books the Best Way to Learn?
This isn’t an easy question to answer, as people like to learn in different ways. There’s a reason why books are still popular though, even though they aren’t the most modern method of learning to play. People still find books are a brilliant resource. It’s nice to have a big collection of books, and multiple songs to choose from if you are looking to learn how to play piano.
It’s also good if you supplement this with other ways of learning. Absorb information in whichever ways you can. Why not take a video course as well? Many of the best 10 books to learn piano even come with access to audio and video courses that let you see and hear what is happening, too. This minimizes your chances of making mistakes without realising it.