Last month, I talked about keeping things fresh as a piano teacher. One commenter mentioned buying new materials to teach and I couldn’t agree more. I thought it would be helpful if we helped each other out by listing some of the resources we like to teach from. I love Faber and Faber method books, but method books get pretty boring. Do you have any favorite solo series? Any particular song staples in your teaching repetoir? A favorite method book or a go to online source? Here are mine:
There are a few pieces of music that are so timeless, it is almost guaranteed every child will want to learn them. You probably teach most of them too, but if not, here they are:
Fur Elise, The Entertainer, I’m Always Chasing Rainbows, Moonlight Sonata, Clair de Lune, Ode to Joy, Egyptian Ballet Dance, Lean on Me, Somewhere Over the Rainbow
The following are books I cannot function without. They all provide nice arrangements of classic songs in levels that kids can actually work with.
Faber and Faber Jazz and Blues series. This series has helped me keep kids on track in their note reading lessons. They tend to get bored fast with the method books, but the simple arrangements of these tunes are easy to read, and because it’s Jazz, they kids love the songs! The other series I recommend by them is the Rock and Roll series. My students have no problem reading notes with such fun melodies.
Of course I have to give Faber and Faber another prop with their classical books. Faber and Faber has several other series, including Popular, but I haven’t had much luck with them. If you recommend anything else by them, please chime in and let us know.
My First Book of Classical Music. This book has a lot of pluses. First of all, it’s published by Dover so it’s cheap!! Second, the arrangements are beautiful! Sometimes when I feel like playing something really easy but beautiful I will skim through this myself. The arrangements are challenging enough for a beginner, but definitely reachable, and the beauty of the original tune is still there. I highly recommend this one.
A Dozen a Day. Another teacher recommended this series to me a few years ago, and I cannot believe how effective they are! Each book contains 6 “groups” of 12 exercises that students are asked to play once a day. The groups are super fun and push the kids harder than a typical method lesson book, so students feel like they are making a lot of progress. Sometimes I am tempted to scrap the method books and just teach out of this series… that is how good they are! A student brought the Dozen a Day Songbook to his lesson the other day, and I was very impressed by it. I am planning to order a copy of each level for my own library.
I like this site because I can find famous classical songs in multi-level format, and it’s free to print! This is especially helpful if I am in a hurry and don’t have time to go through my entire music library. One stop to Making Music Fun, and I can find a song that I know my student will want to play.
Another good source of free sheet music.
Now it’s YOUR turn. Help us out. Let us know what you like to use in your lessons. What songs are guaranteed to get piano students excited? What books and websites make your job easier and more efficient?