Best Music Teaching Books & Music Education Materials
Welcome to the page where I have compiled my "best" list of music education books and music theory resources. All of the products recommended are ones that I have used in my private piano studio, so they have been tried and tested on actual music students. I'd be interested in hearing your comments or reviews! Please email me at contact @ opusmusiceducation.com to make a music teaching book recommendation.
Best Beginning Piano Teaching Method for Children (ages 6-12)
Piano Adventures is absolutely the best beginning piano teaching method I have used for my children students. This is my preferred method of teaching out of the three curriculums I have mainly used with my students (the other two are Alfred's Basic Piano Library and Music for Little Mozarts). I believe it provides a solid foundation of piano skills for the student while still being enjoyable to the young child. I really like it because it is the only method I used that moves away from a “C position” or “middle C position” and has the student play all over the keyboard. Not only is it enjoyable to the student, but I also enjoy teaching it. I have moved to using the Piano Adventures series for all of my piano students (previously I used Alfred’s).
By the way, if you are interested in seeing my comparison of early childhood piano teaching method curriculum, view my blog post here.
Best Beginning Piano Teaching Method for Early Childhood (ages 4-6)
Piano Adventures for the Young Beginner is the most delightful and effective method for young children aged 4 to 6. In my opinion, it is the best because of how fun it makes learning basic music concepts, especially with the songs on an accompanying CD. For example, one of the first lessons teaches the finger numbers and the CD has a version of "This Old Man" where students can wiggle their fingers one at a time along with the track. A diverse group of "friends at the piano" are introduced so that piano time becomes story time and a CD that accompanies the story. One of my students' favorite tracks is the "Monster Bus Driver" where the student imitates a honking bus horn on the black keys. I even use the songs on the CD for my older beginners who start in the Primer Level, to help learn the basic music concepts in a very fun way. I've never seen anything like it on the market and would highly recommend it.
Best Beginning Piano Teaching Method for Adults and Older Beginners
Alfred's Adult All-In-One Course is a comprehensive beginning piano method for adults and older beginners. When I was studying at Cal State Fullerton, this was the curriculum used in the group piano class for the beginning piano students at the university. It is also used widely at community colleges and group piano courses around the country. It is a great book because it embeds music lessons, written theory homework, and technical exercises all in one book, so you don't need to buy multiple books to learn the piano. Also, it is spiral-bound so is easy to lay flat on the piano.
Music Theory Made Easy is one of the most creative music theory books I have used with my students. It incorporates one of the most favorite things of a child - stickers! It comes with two full pages of stickers that correspond to each page of the theory book. For example, there are stickers of quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes, and the student has to select the appropriate stickers to put in boxes to match the correct number of counts. Kids enjoy it because of the colorful graphics and fun exercises.
Best Music Theory Book for State Music Exams
Basics of Keyboard Theory by Julie Johnson are the best music theory workbooks I have found for students preparing for state music exams. I live in California, and these books correspond perfectly with the 10 music theory test levels of the CA Certificate of Merit exam (it also includes the preparatory and advanced levels as well). These are no-frill no-nonsense workbooks that teach comprehensive music theory in progressive difficulty. A teacher's answer key workbook is also available to speed up the music lesson. This is highly recommended for music students that are preparing for those dreaded state music exams.
Best Note Teaching Tool
Students need help with note reading? These Complete Color Coded Flash Cards for All Beginning Music Students include all of the music notes, symbols and terms needed for the first two years of study on any musical instrument. I love these because the cards are large and the notes are clearly displayed in big font. I think that the best way to improve note reading skills is through flash cards. It helps speed up your recognition of notes and allows you to practice note reading away from the instrument. What I do with my students is use these flash cards to quiz during the lesson, and I send them home with their own set of flashcards that I print for them on my printer (go to my make-your-own-note-flashcards page.
Best Book for Private Piano Teachers
Practical Piano Pedagogy is single handedly one of the best resource books out there for private piano teachers. The author, Dr. Martha Baker-Jordan of Cal State Fullerton, is my former professor and mentor. Her textbook helped me tremendously in creating professional forms. Her book comes with a CD-Rom that has over 40 free downloadable and modifiable teaching and business forms, such as studio policies, assignment forms, and billing forms. I have customized a few of them on the free music business forms page so music teachers like yourself can download them for free.
Best Teaching Tool for Proper Piano Hand Technique
Ladybug Squeezie has been the best way for me to teach students how to have the proper hand position while beginning to learn the piano. Usually young students naturally find it easier to play with flat fingers. So I use "Ms. Ladybug" by putting her inside the student's hand. The curve of the ladybug's back helps create the perfect curved hand position and demonstrates to students that they should play on their fingertips. My students (even the older ones) love this!
Best Teaching Tool to Teach Steady Beat
Remo Lollipop Drum is what I use the most to teach children the concept of a steady beat. You can do a variety of exercises with this drum, such as have the study tap to the beat of music, tap out various rhythms on rhythm flash cards, or sing songs together incorporating drum beats. Children love the pattern and colors of this drum. Sometimes it is the first thing they ask for when they enter the lesson room!
Best Music Teacher Organization Software
By far the easiest way I have found to manage my piano teaching studio is by using Music Teachers Helper, a web based software. It allows you to track payments, lesson schedules, and send invoices to your students. Nothing compares to all of the administrative and accounting tools it offers. With over 30 students in my studio, it provides the best help to maintain totally organized in my studio. Use this link to automatically have a promo code applied (10% discount off your monthly rate).