Learning to play the piano can be an incredibly rewarding experience for people of all ages, but especially for adults.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or have some prior musical knowledge, playing the piano can help reduce stress, improve memory, and boost cognitive function.
However, as an adult learner, it can be challenging to know where to start and what resources to use. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the top 8 books for adult beginners interested in playing the piano.
As a lifelong pianist, I am passionate about helping others discover this incredible instrument! And I’ve created various resources to help people learn in a way that fits their goals, learning style, and interests.
Teaching yourself by using books is one way to learn, but it’s definitely not the only way. Stick with me to the end of this post for even more resources on how you can start your unique piano journey!
Adult Piano Adventures All-In-One Lesson Book 1 by Nancy and Randall Faber
The first book on my list is designed specifically for adult beginners. It includes an introduction to music notation, basic rhythms, and the layout of the piano keyboard.
Lessons in this book are organized progressively, so you can build on your skills as you go. The book also includes access to online audio tracks that you can use to practice. Audio resources include instructional videos and backing tracks.
One of the standout features of this book is its use of familiar tunes and popular songs. Many of the pieces in the book are arrangements of well-known songs, such as “The Entertainer” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
Playing easily recognizable music makes learning more enjoyable and less intimidating. Additionally, the book includes helpful tips and practice techniques to help you improve your playing.
Yet another valuable feature of this book is that it’s spiral bound, meaning it will easily stay open while you play. You will definitely thank me for that feature!
And if you’re interested in supplemental books, the Fabers also have level one books of Christmas, Classical, and Popular music to enhance your learning experience.
Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course: Lesson Book, Level 1 by Willard A. Palmer, Morton Manus, and Amanda Vick Lethco
The next book on my list has a special place in my heart because this was the series I learned from when I was younger.
Alfred’s course has a whole series of books for children taking piano lessons from a piano teacher; however, their adult edition is an excellent book for people who want to learn at their own pace.
This book is designed to teach adult beginners the fundamentals of playing the piano, including basic music theory, hand positions, and fingerings. The book also emphasizes chord playing early in the learning process.
One of the strengths of this book is its emphasis on music theory. The lessons in the book include explanations of key signatures, scales, and chords, which can be helpful for adult learners who want to understand the underlying principles of music.
The book also includes a variety of musical styles, from classical to popular, so you can explore different genres of music.
Piano Scales, Chords & Arpeggios Lessons with Elements of Basic Music Theory by Damon Ferrante
While this book is not a traditional piano method book, it is an excellent resource for adult learners who want to improve their technique and understanding of music theory.
The book is written by a piano professor and includes online lessons. As one of the newer books on this list, you can expect quality instruction from an expert who has been on staff at multiple universities.
The book does a great job explaining the basics and then encourages self-learning based on previous lessons. In other words, this book would be a great choice if you had a solid foundation of playing previously and are now looking for a refresher.
There may be better options than this book if you’re a complete beginner. And the songs in the book are somewhat dated but familiar.
If you enjoy this learning method, the author does have a second book in the series that would be worth checking out.
John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano: First Grade Book by John Thompson
The fourth book on my list is a classic piano method book that has been used by generations of piano students. This book was initially published in the 1930s and continues to teach students the basics of reading music, hand position, and playing simple songs almost 100 years later.
Although the book is designed for young learners, adult beginners may also find it approachable. And many students love the simple melodies in each piece and the fact that each song teaches you a specific lesson about playing.
One drawback of the book is that it doesn’t come with any extra video or audio resources; however, if you need help with a specific lesson, there’s a good chance you can find a YouTube video that addresses your question.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Piano Exercises by Karen Berger
This book is a comprehensive collection of exercises designed to improve your technique and dexterity on the piano. The exercises cover a wide range of topics, from hand positions to chord progressions, and are suitable for players of all levels.
Although the book isn’t necessarily designed to teach beginners how to play, it’s an excellent supplemental book on exercises to improve dexterity and reinforce note reading, key signature recognition, and other necessary keyboard skills.
One of the benefits of this book is its organization. The exercises are arranged in a progressive order, so you can build on your skills as you go. Additionally, the book explains each exercise and how to practice it effectively. This can be especially helpful for adult learners who may not have a teacher to guide them through the learning process.
Again, this is an excellent supplemental resource, regardless of which method you use for your foundation learning.
Beginner Classical Piano Music: Teach Yourself How to Play Famous Piano Pieces by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven & the Great Composers by Damon Ferrante
If your goal in learning to play the piano is to play classical music, then you should check out this next one. This book is written by the same author as the 3rd pick on this list.
And as a university faculty member, you can be reassured that Ferrante knows classical piano.
One of the great aspects of this book is that it includes streaming videos and MP3 audio, valuable features when teaching yourself an instrument.
And many familiar classics are included in this book ranging from Fur Elise to Pachelbel’s Canon and even Gymnopedie. It’s a treasure trove of familiar classical favorites.
Although not ideal for someone interested in learning chord playing or how to improvise, this book is an excellent option for beginners focused on classical repertoire!
What You Need to Know Before You Learn Music Theory – Eric Fine
Although the next book on this list doesn’t necessarily teach you the art of playing the piano, it does help you understand the fundamentals of music theory.
This book promises a revolutionary way to look at the basics of music theory, which is a notoriously challenging topic.
And understanding music theory helps you become a better pianist by enabling you to understand how music is put together. This, in turn, helps you become a better sight reader, improviser, player by ear, and overall musician.
There are many ways to improve your understanding of music theory, but this brand-new book should be your first resource.
The Best Modern Piano Book for Beginners – Dan Spencer
If you want a more laid-back approach to learning, check out the next book on my list. This book promises a coaching-based system that helps you progress on your musical journey more quickly than other learning styles.
The book comes with online video lessons to enhance your learning. And it also has a 30-day practice journal to keep you on track.
Spencer also has a podcast called “The Best Music Podcast,” so you can get a sneak peek of his teaching style and approach.
If you want to learn your favorite rock and pop hits, this might be one of the best piano books to accomplish that goal!
Can you really learn to play the piano by reading a book?
This question comes up so often for adults who want to learn to play the piano. After all, most adults I know already have hectic lives. Many have young children, and fitting one more thing into their day doesn’t seem possible.
Learning on your own time and at your own pace feels like a great option when it comes to embracing a new hobby.
And it can work for the piano, too.
Learning to play the piano independently can work if you combine other learning elements. As an example, there are many helpful resources on YouTube.
There are also online courses and apps for learning to play the piano, but books can provide another learning resource for your toolkit.
If you’re interested in learning to play the piano on your own, check out the resources I’ve put together to help you accomplish your goals.
I understand that traditional piano lessons don’t always fit into your life, but that shouldn’t stop you from picking up a new hobby.
And it’s never too late to start! Read through the following and get started today!
- 13 Piano Tips for Adult Beginners: 2023 Beginner’s Guide
- Baby Grand vs. Upright Piano: Which is Right for You?
- 13 Easy Classical Piano Pieces for Adult Beginners
- Playground Sessions Review: Waste of Time or Worth the Hype?
- Acoustic vs. Digital Piano: Which One is Right for You?
- Can You Learn to Play the Piano by Watching YouTube Videos?
- The Best Ways to Learn Piano in 2023
- Can You Really Learn Piano Without a Teacher?
- Your Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Piano Practice Routine
- Ranking the Best Budget Digital Pianos
- The Best Unconventional Ways to Learn Piano
Learning to play the piano can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, no matter your age or skill level.
If you’re an adult beginner looking to start your piano journey, there are many excellent resources available to help you along the way. The eight books I’ve highlighted in this post are great options for adult beginners, and each offers a unique approach to learning the piano.
Remember, learning the piano takes time and dedication. Still, with the right resources and a willingness to practice, anyone can learn to play.
Whether you follow a traditional method book or a more contemporary approach, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the learning process.