Composer(s) of the month – the Bastiens

Composer(s) for August…the Bastiens!


One of the first books I was taught from was James Bastien’s series “Bastien Piano Basics”. As a result, when I first started teaching piano, these were my “go-to” books.

I used Bastien’s Primer A and B books for young beginners, and continued with book 1, 2, 3.Bastien primer.png

Meanwhile, I used Bastien’s Older Beginner Piano Course for adult beginners:

Bastien older beginner.jpg

James Bastien (born 1934) was a piano teacher and educator, and wrote over 300 publications, selling millions of copies. James passed away in December 2006, and is survived by his wife, Jane Smisor Bastien, two daughters, Lori and Lisa and 4 grandchildren. Jane, Lori and Lisa continue to write music and method books and teach. All three are passionate, active piano teachers.

Jane Smisor Bastien (L) and I (R)
From L to R: Hannah, Lori, Jane, Lisa

I met Jane, Lori and Lisa at the MTNA conference in March 2017. They were showcasing their new publication, “Bastien New Traditions All in One Piano Course”. These books update the “Piano Basics” books written by James. New features include an “all-in-one” focus, which means the pieces, theory, technic and performance pieces can be found in one book (students had to previously purchase separate books for each). In these refreshed books, students fill in note names (theory) on the same page as the piece. As new concepts are introduced, there is an exercise written to practice the new technical skill. The books are filled with colourful pictures; although beautiful, may end up becoming a distraction to some students.

Popular Pieces

Since most of the repertoire written by the Bastiens fall in the beginner level, they can be used in the RCM Prep A and B exams. Below is a popular piece that students enjoy playing called Tarantella:


When teaching Christmas music to beginners, I like to use James’ Christmas books because of their simplicity, and often chord-like approach to the LH. Also, the leveling matches the levels in his method books:

Bastien christmas 2.pngBastien christmas.png


Although I no longer use Bastien’s method books as my primary teaching books, I still use a few of his pieces to supplement.  The Bastien method books continue to be popular with many teachers, and some find great success using them.

Published by hannahannika

Piano Teacher

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