Piano Playing Technique: The Best Piano Technique Books for Adult Beginners

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Are you an adult beginner pianist eager to improve your piano playing technique? You're in the right place! With so many piano technique books available, it can be challenging to find the perfect ones for beginners like yourself.

But worry not! I've done the hard work for you. In this article, I have meticulously handpicked a variety of books that offer great results and provide effective instruction in piano technique for beginners. So, get ready to elevate your playing as we explore these carefully chosen gems together.

Piano Books to Help You Build a Great Piano Playing Technique

To make it easier, here I have compiled a step-by-step plan with suitable materials to help you build a great piano playing technique. My step-by-step plan is tailored specifically for adult beginners, ensuring an enjoyable and rewarding learning experience. So let's dive in!

Improve Your Piano Playing Technique Step by Step

Improve your piano playing technique.

Step 1: Building Strong Foundations - Finger Drills

To kickstart your journey as a complete beginner, I recommend starting with Edna Mae Burnam's "A Dozen a Day Mini Book", for technical exercises on the piano. While it is intended for children, the content remains highly valuable for adult learners.

Once you are comfortable reading and playing both hands together in a five-finger position, progress to Burnam's Preparatory, followed by Book 1, and Book 2 for a great foundation of fundamental movements in piano playing. Don't worry about the books' intended audience; they contain fantastic piano exercises suitable for everyone!

Step 2: Mastering Scales

It's time to incorporate scale practice into your routine. At this stage, simplicity is key, so focus on learning scales and chords by heart. Here is a free lesson where you can learn to play 10 major and minor scales by ear: Piano scales the easy way. This approach will help you internalize the scales and develop a deeper understanding of them.

Step 3: Exploring Piano Etudes

While working through "A Dozen a Day" (Book 1, Green), as mentioned above, consider delving into Frances Clark's and Louise Goss's "Piano Etudes Book 1 for Musical Fingers." This resource offers valuable performance instructions and emphasizes musicality in your playing.

Step 4: Honing Your Technique - More Finger Drills

It's time to embrace the power of Hanon! Grab a high-quality edition of "The Virtuoso Pianist" (Just the title makes you feel great, doesn't it? And since this book will be an investment for many years, get a great edition, even put plastic on it!).

Focus on the first 10-20 exercises first. If you need guidance on practicing Hanon's piano exercises effectively, read more about how to practice Hanon's piano exercises here.

Step 5: Expanding Your Scale Repertoire

To further diversify your scale practice, this is also the time to get a good quality, comprehensive scale book (unless you are OK with the tiny note scales included in Hanon!). While Alfred's "The Complete Book of Scales, Chords, Arpeggios, and Cadences" is a reliable choice, there are various acceptable options available at this level. Feel free to explore and select the one that resonates with you.

Step 6: Advancing With Etudes

I must admit I am in “love” with the Piano technique books in the Celebration Perspectives Series. The "Celebration Perspectives Series" offers a fantastic selection of graded repertoire for an exam system. Take advantage of these books and continue practicing your scales, Hanon exercises, and other techniques. By doing so, you'll steadily progress from beginner to early intermediate levels.

Hands on piano keyboard

What's Next? Exploring Sheet Music Books

Numerous sheet music books can help you improve your piano playing technique. These are the ones that I find "fool-proof" and have stood the test of time. They give excellent results together with a beginning piano method book or two.

By working your way through the piano technique books I have written about here, you have mastered the beginner levels of piano playing and have reached an early intermediate level.

You can continue to work with the Celebration Etudes Series as it is graded anthologies with many different composers of very high quality. With Hanon's exercises and a good scale book, you are set for quite a while!

Recommended Piano Technique Books For Beginners To Intermediate Levels

Here is a summary of my recommendations for piano playing technique books with exercises and etudes for beginner and early intermediate pianists. The piano exercises are fun, effective, complement each other, and really work:

  1. Edna Mae Burnam's: "A Dozen a Day," Mini to book 2
  2. Piano Etudes For the Development of Musical Fingers, Book 1
  3. Hanon "The Virtuoso Pianist." Especially exercises 1-10, 11-20, 21-30.
  4. Celebration Series: Perspectives Piano Studies/ Etudes from Grade 1 and on.

Also recommended to continue with at an intermediate level:

A great resource is Ingrid Jacobson Clarfield's: Burgmuller, Czerny & Hanon: 32 Piano Studies for Technique and Musicality, The three BIG names for piano exercises! 

It's like having three books in one but organized in a logical order. Start with book 1, which begins at an early intermediate level.

Advancing levels:

As you progress, I recommend getting the Technique for The Advancing Pianist by Valerie Cisler. It's a collection of all types of technical exercises from an intermediate level and up to advanced levels of technique.

I like to use it with my students, especially adults, who have progressed well and need more challenging materials. You'll find Hanon here and many different composers' finger drills, scales, chords, arpeggios, etudes, etc.

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