Good Classical Music Student Book? : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

My question is for the teachers: Can you recommend a classical music book for someone at my level? Alternatively, how would you feel about my plan below?

I am an adult who has been taking piano lessons for about two years now. After completing Levels One and Two of Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course, my teacher started me on "Noona Clavier The European Approach" by Walter & Carol Noona. We proceeded through the first four compositions of this 17-composition booklet. I was not very enthused about a couple of these pieces and was lukewarm about the others. (Though "lukewarm" trumps my enthusiasm for some of the children's songs in the Alfred's Adult course.) When we started working on the fifth composition (Bach's Minuet in G minor) in the Noona book, I started despairing: These works seem obscure. I haven't had affection for them. I wasn't enjoying practicing them.

Through this all I have also been working on my recital piece (which I like a lot). Also, last summer I enjoyed and finished Feldstein's Practical Theory book.

I very much want to continue learning pieces from the classical, romantic, and possibly baroque periods, as well as perhaps some more modern pieces (Gershwin? Weil? Joplin? Some Blues? Something from a musical now and then?). I have thought of asking my teacher if I might bring in music listed in the book _Playing the Piano for Pleasure_ by Charles Cooke (c. 1940). Cooke lists some 100 pieces ("exquisite flowers" he quotes from Bachaus) in order from easy to intermediate. I chose my recital piece using a relative of one of the compositions he lists. Also, I saw that Noah Adams' _Piano Lessons_ recommends pieces in the "ambitious" section of Alfred's Level Three Basic Adult Piano Course.

Could you as a teacher support a plan where the student brought in, say, three or so compositions to work on for the year?

I know I would benefit from more theory but I think my teacher has something specific in mind for this to build on my Feldstein work and occasional discussion at my lessons.

This is a wonderful web site and service.

-- (, April 06, 2001


One of the BEST values and a wonderful collection is available through Alfred:

Essential Keyboard Repertoire, Vol. 1.

I recommend getting the C.D. also. For $25.95 you'll get over 135 pages of classical music (stress MUSIC, not music & text), from the Baroque to Modern periods, plus a recording of all of the pieces. Being spiral-bound is just icing on the cake! The book alone is $14.95, but if you plan on working on pieces yourself, the CD will be a valuable reference! There are more volumes in this series; Vol. 2 has more challenging pieces.

Look at Level 4 of Faber & Faber's Supplementary library (FJH Music Co.). Here you'll find small collections of Jazz & Blues, Ragtime & Marches, and other Popular music. Also look at Faber's Piano Adventures Level 5 for some accessible arrangements of St. Louis Blues, After You're Gone, and some "bluesy and jazzy" pieces by the authors; classical pieces are also included.

Hal Leonard's Piano Lessons Book 5 (if you can deal with the cover) has some of the same classical pieces found in Essential Keyboard Vol. 1, along with nice "bluesy" pieces by Bill Boyd (look for his books) and arrangements of Simple Gifts, Joplin's Bethena, and Pachelbel's Canon in D. (sorry, Menuet in G minor from Anna Magdalena Bach's notebook is also here!) If $6.50 seems like a lot for one book, remember that a single sheet is over $4.00 now, so if you like 2 or more pieces you're getting a deal! Can you tell I used to work in a piano music store?!

The Celebration Series, Albums 1-10 (Frederick Harris Music) are great when you buy BOTH the STUDENT GUIDE and the PIANO REPERTOIRE ALBUM. The student guide offers wonderful backgrounds on the composers, as well as DETAILED instructions on technique, form, and how to go about practicing. Cassettes are also available, making this another good choice if you want to work on some pieces independently.

I absolutely support any student bringing in ideas on what they wanted to work on; if this is an issue you may need to find another teacher! A qualified teacher who is interested in what YOU desire to learn will be able to find APPROPIATE arrangements of pieces (Gershwin, Joplin, etc.) and will encourage you to have an imput concerning the direction of your lessons. You may not get to learn ANY piece you bring in (yet!), but you can certainly find appropiate pieces AT YOUR CURRENT READING AND TECHNICAL LEVEL. If you can find CLARK'S KEYBOARD THEORY Books 1-6, check them out! You'll get a chance use all of that theory in creative ways AT THE KEYBOARD, and may discover a knack for composing as well! I admire your desire to continue lessons; never stop learning!

-- John Bisceglia (, April 07, 2001.

I think the Bastien Piano Literature books are wonderful samplings of period works (usually include classical period, baroque, romantic and some contemporary).

-- Susan W (, April 07, 2001.

I think your teacher should be happy for you to bring in music you would like to learn. It doesn't take a PHD to know that any student will work harder on something they like to play, and will work on stuff they don't like so well if it leads to playing what they like to play. And teachers also learn new music that way, and I imagine are sometimes really surprised by what their students want. If you can let them know where you want to go, they should be able to help you get there. I hope you can talk to your teacher and set up a program that you are both happy with. That should be very possible.

-- Mary Jo (, April 11, 2001.

I echo the suggestions for the Alfred Essential Keyboard series. Also the Bastien Piano Literature Vol. 1 or Vol. 2 (though there is much less there). These and several other collections are listed at Browse through the elementary supplementary books (look for later levels) and the various intermediate periods and collections - you will find that some areas have more listed than others.

-- Jon Ensminger (, April 24, 2001.

Bastien piano lit. bks.

Kjos Master Composer library (ed. Snell): each book is devoted to a single composer & is affordably priced. CD recordings are available separately.

Visit for information on the above 2 series. Hope this helps.

-- Music Educator (, April 30, 2001.

My favorite classical books are the Alfred Masterworks Classics. There are tapes and CDs of the music also. If you listen to the music you may develop a taste for it because it becomes familiar. So many of my students want to only play pieces that they know. Your ear can help you a lot if you recognize the piece.

-- Chris Simpson (, June 08, 2001.

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