20 best piano books for all levels

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By Ellie Palmer

12 August 2019

Pianist's list of the best piano books out there.

1. Lang Lang Piano Book

£17.99 for 20 pieces of sheet music handpicked by Lang Lang, plus advice from him on every piece – AND presented in glorious hardback - is brilliant business. Currently almost 30% off, plus next day delivery. Get your hands on it!

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2. Jean Kleeb – Beethoven goes Jazz for Piano

The seven pieces inside this tempting book were composed for Beethoven’s jubilee year (2020), and are similar in style to the arrangements that Jean Kleeb published several years ago in a book called Classic Goes JazzThis grade 6-7 level book definitely provides some fun and interesting diversion from your normal classical repertoire.

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3. Janáček – Bӓrenreiter Urtext: Selected Piano Works

30+ pages of music, illustrations, and critical reports; this is a glorious collection of in-depth historical material. AND, it’s presented for the first time in an urtext condition – truly one of a kind.

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4. The Lion King

Disney recently remade this 90s classic on the big screen, which means it’s time to revisit the music behind it. Featuring Can You Feel The Love Tonight, Circle of Life, I Just Can’t Wait To Be King, and so many more magical pieces for you to enjoy.

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5. Afro-Caribbean pieces for 6 hands at 1 piano – Mike Cornick

Mike Cornick has made SIX-handed arrangements of a pair of traditional songs from the West Indies – Jamaica Farewell and Mary Anne – and Yellow Bird from Haiti. Join forces with a couple of friends and make this a fun evening.

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6. Seven Days Walking (Day One) – Ludovico Einaudi

The much-loved Italian composer is back with seven new releases this year – each one representing one day of his Seven Days Walking. The collection is inspired by Einaudi’s walks through the Italian mountains near his home. Each day gives a different account of the same walk. Einaudi’s music has always been accessible to the amateur pianist given its minimalism. So, if you are looking for beautiful music that isn’t too difficult to play, try this.

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7. The Complete Classical Piano Course – John Geraghty

London-based musician and teacher John Geraghty has created this self-teaching guide to playing the piano from scratch up to Grade 5 standard. We’ve taken a look inside, and the material is impressively detailed in its coverage of theory and technique. Is it worth the £297 asking price? If you think about it, that’s the equivalent of about 15 piano lessons – which these days is enough to barely get you through 1 grade let alone 5.

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8. Nocturnes Books 1 & 2 – Dennis Alexander

With Book 1 pitched at around Grades 3-4, and book 2 pitched at around Grades 5-6, this is perfect for the intermediate pianist. These Nocturnes are also pleasantly undemanding, giving you the opportunity to play like Chopin at a level you are comfortable with.

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9. ABRSM 2019 & 2020 Syllabus Piano Exam Pieces

ABRSM is the UK’s largest music education body and arguably the most respected provider of music exams in the world. Their latest syllabus has retained all the requirements of all the previous supporting tests (sight-reading, aural tests, scales/arpeggios); only the repertoire has changed. Each book can be purchased with or without accompanying CDs.

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10. Big Phat Jazz Piano Solos – Gordon Goodwin

Combining 30s swing with contemporary grooves of funk and jazz fusion, the Big Phat Band has won several Grammy Awards since their pianists – and the author of this book – founded it in the late 90s. He has adapted 10 pieces for piano solo that have been arranged to suit Grade 4 to 6 standard. Have some fun with it!

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11. Peaceful Piano Playlist - Faber

Peaceful piano music is rapidly growing in popularity for its ability to help so many of us concentrate on our work; whether that be University work, office work, or doing mundane tasks at home. Faber’s new release, the Peaceful Piano Playlist, brings that music to your fingertips. It features original pieces by Ludovico Einaudi, Agnes Obel, Max Richter, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Joep Beving, Poppy Ackroyd, Alexis Ffrench, Keaton Henson, Alexandre Desplat, and many more.

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12. Piano Lessons for Beginners: The Quick and Easy Guide to Learn and Play Piano Chords

If you are a complete beginner looking for a route into the world of piano, this book is perfect for you – especially if you can’t afford a teacher. This Piano Lessons for Beginners guide is only £7.99 and takes you through everything from learning basic keys and scales, to being able to create all sorts of chords on your own.

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13. The Essential Film Collection - Faber Music

The very first piece printed in this book is Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter, which made us want to buy our own copy immediately. If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, don’t worry. There is plenty of variety: This Essential Film Collection includes He’s A Pirate (from Pirates of the Caribbean), Dances With Wolves, the James Bond theme, the Rocky theme, Goldfinger and many others.

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14. Harry Potter: Sheet Music from the Complete Film Series – John Williams

If you ARE indeed a Harry Potter fan, this is quite obviously the book for you. Inside, you’ll find 36 pieces of music along with 8 glorious pages of cover stills from throughout the series.

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15. Selected Piano Masterpieces: Early Advanced Level

16 tricky pieces from Bartók, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Grieg, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Schumann and Scriabin. Ideal if you are wanting to advance your advanced playing (pun intended).

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16. Baroque Keyboard Anthology: 24 works for piano

Take yourself back in time with these 24 works from Handel, Telemann, Couperin and others.

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17. Short Romantic Pieces for Piano – Lionel Salter

Get in the mood with this five-volume graded anthology full of short pieces from the Romantic Era. Glazunov, Granados, Delius and Albéniz all feature inside.

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18. A First Book of Blues for the Beginning Pianist – David Dutkanicz

For those of you that would love to learn blues piano, A First Book of Blues takes you right back to the basics of blues playing. You will learn about a host of different blues scales and exercises before jumping into some well-known classics.

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19. Hit The Keys! Funk, Soul, and R&B

Get to grips with the best grooves, licks and chord progressions from the last century’s most talented funk, soul and R&B artists. James Brown, John Legend, Whitney Houston and Kool & The Gang are all included.

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20.  Pianist magazine

Okay; so we might not technically be a “Piano Book”, BUT each issue does come with over 40 pages of sheet music. If you’re looking for a wide variety of music to play, try Pianist for only £5.50.

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