Recommended Books, Sheet Music, Tools and Resources for Learning Music
Parents, you can bookmark this page to come back and purchase these as needed.
My music teaching methods utilize a combination of curriculum and materials including Suzuki, Kodaly, & Dalcroze Eurythmics.
Each lesson is usually broken down into these areas:
- Repertoire – pieces that are being worked on to performance/recital level and memorized
- Reading – working on learning to read standard music notation
- Theory/Games – learning the concepts of music
The following books and materials may be suggested for use with your child. After the first few lessons, I will recommend certain sheet music, books and materials for your child.
Early Childhood Students
For pre-school and pre-reading (both music & English language) students I have been using the following with great results
Play Piano For Kids, Vol 1 – Penguins Don’t Play Piano But You Can! - by Andrew Ingkavet
This is my first interactive multi-touch iPad book. It contains video, audio and animation and captures the essence of the first month of lessons with me for most young children. I’ve used these basic approaches for ages 3 to 8 with great success. Even if you aren’t currently studying with me, you can download and begin today!
Update September 25, 2013: I’m currently working on Books 2 and 3 to accompany this first volume. Look for them in the Apple iBookstore soon.
Adult Piano Adventures - By Nancy and Randall Faber -
Even though it says adult, this is a very well done book series that has a nice selection of tunes. The problem with most of the earliest lesson books is that the songs are so boring! Still, I think most piano and music method books are a bit too busy with too much stuff on each page – this one is a bit better.
Piano Lesson Book: Complete Level 1, for the Later Beginner - This is part of the Alfred publishing series and I really like the songs in the book. Much more interesting for the kids to keep their interest in learning how to read traditional music notation.
Masterwork Classics Series - By Jane Magrath
I recently discovered this series which I really like for the following reasons. They are graded to levels and include more than just Classical or Baroque but also Romantic and Contemporary which resonate with some students more than others. They are also shorter pieces than the Suzuki repertoire which will allow us to work on the longer harder pieces in the Suzuki series whilst still making progress on shorter and still lovely pieces here.
Jazz, Rags & Blues by Martha Meir – Link at Amazon: http://amzn.to/RwvoF6
What a clever series of books that Martha has created. She has written pieces that are simple yet capture the flavor of all the great Jazz, Rags and Blues repertoire. It’s a great way to introduce the swing feel to younger players and before you get into full improvisation.
The Music Tree - This a great way to get reading notation without reliance on finger numbers. It really starts teaching the staff using intervals. There’s a whole series that starts from here along with activity workbooks. While this has been highly recommended and I do use it for some of my kids, unless we are doing duets, the solo part for the kids can be a bit tedious.
Teaching Little Fingers to Play: A Book for the Earliest Beginner (John Thompsons Modern Course for The Piano) – I use this mainly as a way to engage the younger students as the tunes are fun and memorable along with words. As far as reading, it really gets kids too reliant on finger numbers which can be hard to break later on.
I use this with almost all my students. It’s important to start listening to the music right away everyday. It can be passive listening in the background. You will be amazed at how quickly your child will learn new songs after they’ve been hearing them for weeks and months. Suzuki Book 1 is all folk songs and some very basic classical. They are well thought out especially as to their order, so we usually don’t skip around too much.
Book 2 is a bit of shock after Book 1. There’s a big leap in technical requirements to play even the first song. These pieces are all classical, baroque, romantic repertoire pieces that are lovely, but there is a much slower rate of progress. As long as the students know there’s going to be not a song a week, but probably a 4 bar phrase, then we can get going. It is beautiful music to listen to and program your child with.
So I was having coffee with my friend and fellow composer Bettina one day and I asked her what books or curriculum materials would she suggest for my voice students?
“Well, mine,” she said.
“I had no idea you wrote one!”
Well it’s wonderful and though it’s aimed at adults who are learning on their own, there are many years of teaching gems hidden in here, including a CD showing all the examples. I would recommend this for parents teaching their kids or current voice teachers who want some other perspectives.
I have my own curriculum for some of the youngest students. After about 6 months we move on to other materials.
I like to use the Hal Leonard Guitar Method Volume 1,2 & 3 with CDs with some of my students.
Also for classical stuff, I really like this book:
50 Easy Classical Guitar Solos – by Jerry Willard
It comes with a CD and also features traditional notation and TABLATURE. The pieces are beautiful and sound more impressive than their technique. Perfect for showcasing at a recital!
The Christopher Parkening book is also good especially for the critical photos of right hand positioning in the beginning.
And the Baroque Guitar collection by Frederick Noad has been in my library for over 30 years!.