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10 January 2011

What music to help my 17-year-old son learn to play the piano? He plays jazz guitar beautifully by ear and with fake books. He knows basic music theory. Now he wants to learn how to read music (finally) on the piano. But he doesn't want to learn via a "baby book." What should he start with? I just ordered a book of simplified Bach pieces. Anything else? I play the piano at the level of intermediate Beethoven sonatas but I started at age 6. I need "cool" stuff for him that isn't too hard for a real beginner at piano. Thanks.
There are plenty of things out there that are suited for adult beginners. Here's a list of five. My mom teaches a lot of adult beginners, and those names are pretty standard in the field.

"Cool" is a relative term. He needs to get the basics down, and he'll understand that working on Bach, etc. is the way to keep music theory integrated into the performance. These adult beginner books will do a good job of introducing concepts without the ladybug stickers and "Go Tell Aunt Rhody."
posted by Madamina 10 January | 21:23
Probably difficult to start with but Ryuichi Sakamoto is a very inspiring composer and artist.
posted by gomichild 10 January | 21:48
Thanks, Madamina. I've ordered one of those on the list already.

posted by DMelanogaster 10 January | 22:30
My kids do the Alfred's kids books but they also use Alfred's beginning adults. Once you get into the beginning adult course you might want to look into Alfred's Adult Duet Book. My kids have the Basic Duet book in level one and two. The difficulty is incremental.
posted by LoriFLA 11 January | 08:29
I'm going to offer some castor oil. Sorry.

Every instrument has a set of exercises that are mandatory to develop necessary skills. For trumpet (my instrument), they're the Clarke exercises. For violin they're the Felsch studies (IIRC).

For piano, my brother's instrument, it's Hanon. When I took piano, this was part of the game. If you can play Hanon exercises like this, then you will be able to go on to play something like this more easily (this is Etincelles, which Vladimir Horowitz used to use as an encore, played by my brother as part of an NPR interview). The point is that there is a reason for technique, and whether you adopt an approach of music through technique or technique through music, you'll still need technique.
posted by plinth 11 January | 09:36
Dammit. Flesch studies.
posted by plinth 11 January | 09:37
Hmm.. sounds like my request for"'cool' stuff" plucked some moralistic strings in some of you -- I do appreciate the suggestions and, as I said, I play the piano and know very well that technique is needed (Czerny, anyone?)

But one of my son's issues is that he has such a good ear that he immediately memorizes those exercises, which is fine if he's just going for technique - but he needs to learn how to READ music fluently. So I am looking also for more "random" stuff, that is, exercises that are not easily predictable (as opposed to arpeggios and popular tunes that he would be able to play easily by ear). We want to TRICK the ear!

I did order one of the Alfred books. I'm actually thinking I might write some random stuff out that won't be predictable, for sightreading exercises.

Thanks everyone!
posted by DMelanogaster 11 January | 15:58
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