I began learning to play piano when I was six years old, my mom taught me. She also taught many neighborhood kids and continues to teach her grand kids. I’m so thankful music has been a part of my life. I love playing the piano! As I grew older I added the trumpet, guitar, and French horn to my list of instruments I can play, but it all started with the piano. When my oldest child was six years old, I decided I wanted to teach him to play. Not long after that I had friends approaching me asking if I’d teach their kids and I now have ten students (well, almost ten, my youngest will be starting this summer). I have many piano teaching tips and things I’ve learned along the way, but this post will focus on my favorite piano books for beginners. The following books I’m recommending are affiliate links to Amazon to purchase them. There is no additional cost for you to buy them from this link, but I do get a small commission which helps keep this website going, so thank you! I will only recommend books I’ve used and love and recommend to friends!

Faber Piano Adventures

Hands down, the Faber series has been my favorite! (get it, hands down? ha!) Their primer books are very simple and would work with 5-6 year olds. I actually had to skip some of it with my students because it progressed slower than they needed, but I still highly recommend it.

The majority of the songs have a simple teacher duet at the bottom which I love. Playing the duets really helps my students stay on beat and improve their counting.

My very favorite Faber book so far is the 2a and 2b Piano Adventures. Lots and lots of songs that boys and girls enjoy. Not quite as many teacher duets as the levels get harder, but still quite a few. The series teaches chords and how to play a melody with your right hand and add in the chords yourself with your left. I didn’t learn that until I was older and wish I would have learned that earlier. My students have really enjoyed supplementing with the performance book as well.

If you teach piano or your kids play and you haven’t tried this series then you’re missing out. I love it!

John Thompson Series

The John Thompson book, “Teaching Little Fingers to Play” was the first piano book I bought to teach my son. Unlike Faber, it jumps right into note reading with the full staff displayed. I personally like this approach, especially if your student is older than 5. Younger kids need the slower, simpler pace of the Faber primer, but I’ve started all of my students with “Teaching Little Fingers to Play”. All my students have LOVED the final song in the Little Fingers book which is “From a Wigwam”. They’ve all memorized it without me even asking them to.

The next book in the John Thompson series is “The First Grade Book”. It has some really great pieces that sound beautiful and I love listening to my students play them. There are no teacher duets and this book progresses very quickly! You are playing two hands together all the time, there are lots of accidentals and various key signatures, but they aren’t impossibly hard. Your student will feel very accomplished playing these pieces as this book has more of a classical and professional feel than some of the cutesy newer books.

The Second Grade Book gets difficult very quickly. It is not similar to the level 2 Faber or other level 2 books I’ve tried. If you have older students or a student that can move at a quick pace then this series is perfect. Once my students reach book two in this series I begin using it to supplement the Faber series and rely more heavily on Faber because of the difficulty level in book 2.

John Thompson also has another series called “Easiest Piano Course”. These are shorter pieces and a bit more fun than his Modern Course I discussed earlier. I like them alright and use them with a few students.

My very favorite Faber book so far is the 2a and 2b Piano Adventures. Lots and lots of songs that boys and girls enjoy. Not quite as many teacher duets as the levels get harder, but still quite a few. The series teaches chords and how to play a melody with your right hand and add in the chords yourself with your left. I didn’t learn that until I was older and wish I would have learned that earlier. My students have really enjoyed supplementing with the performance book as well.

If you teach piano or your kids play and you haven’t tried this series then you’re missing out. I love it!

Using Both Faber and Thompson

My top recommendation for beginner piano students is to you Faber AND John Thompson. Let me show you what you’ll learn from each book that makes them both necessary.

Faber

  • Progresses more slowly
  • Only marks some fingering
  • Lots of teacher duets
  • Newer, fun songs
  • Chords and lead sheet
  • Transposing
  • Fun lyrics

John Thompson

  • Progresses quickly
  • Marks most fingering
  • Almost no teacher duets
  • Classic and difficult sounding songs
  • Variety of key signatures and time signatures
  • Scales
  • Hand positioning, syncopation, and styles

As you can see, they both teach many essential elements and I think you’ll enjoy both series. My main reason for using them in tandem is that John Thompson marks the fingering a lot and Faber doesn’t. Because of this, the John Thompson songs are harder and the student gets the feel of playing more difficult pieces with hands together early on, but with Faber the student must read the notes and not rely on fingering being marked. It’s a perfect combination!

If you teach or play piano, leave a comment below with your favorite books and why. Or let me know if you have any questions! I’ll be posting more piano tips soon, sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date with My Income Journey!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I have used both of these series on and off, but my go to series is Alfred’s. I love how it started with notes only without the staff, and it starts on the BLACK notes, which are easier for kids to play when they begin. I appreciate the thoroughness of all your posts I’ve read so far. You’re good at what you do.
    I’m on the verge of starting my blog/website, and you’re encouraging me to dip my toe in the water! Thank you.

    1. Thanks, James! I like Alfred’s early beginner books, but my students haven’t enjoyed their level 2 and beyond. I do use them for supplemental songs sometimes though. I definitely think you should start a blog, it’s been a great experience for me!!

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