More Methods for Adults

Featured publications are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

Having looked in-depth at some of my top choices, here are some other, great alternatives to consider…

Play it Again: Piano

Melanie Spanswick’s superb series of three deluxe books is uniquely aimed at a different market to the others in this round-up: the returning pianist.

According to Spanswick:

The first two volumes between them cover the full range of the eight grades offered by leading UK exam boards, meaning that the returning player can either recap from the start, developing good new habits while revising well-loved music and encountering new pieces, or else jump straight in at the level that suits them.

A third book covers post-Grade 8 and Associate Diploma level, making it ideal for those working towards professional qualifications, as well as those who are simply intent on taking their personal piano journey to the next level.

I reviewed this course in more depth when it appeared, so if you are interested you can read all about it 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…

Hey Presto!

Finally, a great choice for those looking for a simple, no-nonsense method built around original 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.

I really do think Marcel 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.


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!

I really hope that the suggestions offered in this year’s Which Adult Piano Method feature will help you explore new musical method and enlarge your skills and understanding.

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