This year, I’ve come across two different books for beginners that are innovative and target different kinds of beginner piano students. Both are relatively new, and I’ve been implementing them into my lessons with success!
1. Cougar’s Great Adventure
This book is by Marianne Marusic, piano teacher, RCM Examiner, and founder of the Metropolitan School of the Arts at Rosedale United Church. She has taught piano for over 30 years and is involved in many musical endeavors including singing and playing the piano and organ in church settings, and choir conductor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Toronto.
Use this book for:
Very young beginners (as young as 3 years old). This book is cleverly written in a story format, with the letters of the musical alphabet and their location on the keyboard disguised into a story about a cougar looking for the source of the aurora borealis. Children love to hear stories again and again, so this is the perfect way to introduce them to the piano. I’ve even used the book for kids who have already taken lessons for a year, just to read to them the story, and have them play the musical examples on the piano! They just love it!
Here is Marianne explaining how her books work.
Companion activity book called Cougar’s Activity Book. Plenty of duet playing examples as well as coloring in the piano keys (identifying where the notes are located).
2. Piano Pronto
This series of books is by American pianist, teacher and composer, Jennifer Eklund. She received her Bachelors degree and Masters of Musicology from California State University Long Beach. She has a real gift for arranging and composing. Her duets are the best sounding I’ve ever heard for beginner method books, and students and teachers love them.
Use this book for:
The things I love about her method books are that they have large font, featuring clear, concise explanations. Everything is black and white so it limits visual distractions. the pacing and layout of the books help students to grasp concepts and skills quickly so that they feel a sense of achievement. There are many familiar tunes, which students are delighted to discover. The Keyboard Kickoff is her newest method book, and is perfect for beginners aged 5-7, or those who need a bit slower progressing beginner method. The Prelude book is great for any faster learner or older beginner, including adults. And yes, you will learn the piano, pronto!
Duet book. You must buy this separately, but the advantage is that the student’s book is not filled with duets they cannot play yet. Below is an example from Keyboard Kickoff (for the student) with the duet part (for the teacher). .
Jennifer also has a Facebook page for parents and students to interact directly with her!
Where to buy her books:
Unfortunately, her books are not stocked in Canadian books stores yet (she is relatively new, and local retailers need to hear from their customers before they stock her books, hint hint!). However, you can buy the books directly from her at her website. You can purchase the hard copy of her books (and she will autograph them for you!) or if you don’t want to pay for shipping, you can also download the digital version and print it off at home.