Having looked in-depth at my top choices, here are some more, great alternatives which may also suit some adult beginners…
Here is a great choice for those looking for a simple, no-nonsense method built around contemporary-sounding music.
The unique selling-point of Hey Presto! is that the sustain pedal is introduced almost from the start, enabling the beginner pianist to create a “professional sound” very quickly.
The book comes as a handsomely produced 50-page volume in landscape format, and includes sufficient explanations of technique and notation along the way to provide for an older beginner’s basic needs; however, I would recommend supplementing the material, and the method would work best in the hands of an experienced teacher.
As I mentioned when I interview Hey Presto! author Marcel Zidani, I really do think he has created something very special and unique with this resource.
Marcel has also provided YouTube videos to support those using the book. The books themselves can be purchased from his website here.
Carol Barratt’s Classic Piano Course
The venerable Classic Piano Course by Carol Barratt was published some 25 years ago by Chester Music, and was one of the first methods to be written from the ground up for adults. And it’s still worth a look!
There are three course books in the series, of which the first (64 pages, also including a pull-out dummy keyboard!) is the most meaty and useful.
This is a notation-based approach from the start, which most adult learners will be fine with, and is fairly fast-paced. Some will struggle with the rapid increase in difficulty half way through the first book, but the mixture of familiar and adult-appropriate music is certainly engaging, as are the little tidbits of information about the great composers, liberally sprinkled throughout.
In addition to these books, Chesters have also produced four songbooks covering opera, ballet, blues and jazz, written by ace arranger Barrie Carson Turner. These don’t particularly tie in with the series, but are good standalone collections that can be used once the player has reached Book 3 of the series.
Play the Piano
Mike Cornick is best-known as the writer of dozens of books of excellent jazzy pieces, duet and ensemble music for older players; as such he seems an ideal author for an adult method. Surprisingly, however, his approach here is a rather conventional one, with a predominantly traditional classical emphasis.
Explanations are clear, there is excellent supporting text and background info, and some very good music throughout. There are two Levels, each comprising both the Method Book (with CD recording featuring demo performances, duet playalong tracks and some aural training) and supplementary repertoire book. There’s also a Christmas book.
All are brilliantly presented by publishers Universal Edition, although I can’t help feeling that the look and feel here is rather too serious.
As a method it would best suit the beginner with an academic background, or those returning to the piano after a break. But certainly well worth a look…
Available online from EVC Music here.
Adult Piano Adventures
Popular American method Piano Adventures has grown into its own huge industry of method books and spin-offs, some of which have now been adapted for the UK market where they are gaining popularity.
Adult Piano Adventures is sadly not one of these (yet, at least); it remains firmly US-centric, but will certainly appeal to Piano Adventures fans.
The course comes in a hefty “All-in-one” volume (there’s also a second book, although this wasn’t submitted for review) which covers all you need, although additional repertoire books are also available. The first method book includes both a CD of audio recordings and a DVD of instructional videos. The latter didn’t work for me (perhaps the wrong Region?) but happily the videos are available on the Piano Adventures website here.
It’s clear that a vast amount of work has gone into this method, and I can see why it is popular. For me, however, the overall approach is perhaps a little too prescriptive.
Looking through a range of adult-appropriate method books has once more left me excited by the range of good resources at our disposal.
The good piano teacher will actively use and promote a range of methods to suit the specific needs of each student. And when it comes to adult learners, that range is larger than ever!
Whether the student needs a methodical approach (such as Alfred’s Premier Piano Express or Heumann’s Classical Piano Method) or a more challenging pace (as offered by Pianoworks and It’s Never Too Late…), and with resources to suit different stylistic tastes (such as the more contemporary music in the Hal Leonard Adult Piano Method or Marcel Zidani’s innovative Hey Presto!), there really is something for everyone here.
I really hope that the suggestions offered in this year’s What Adult Piano Method feature will help you explore new musical method and enlarge your skills and understanding. And I’ll be back with a fresh update next year!