Several months ago I started a conversation with Brian Romans about piano music. A few people may know that a piano teacher was my original career aspiration back in high school. Success at piano convinced me that I should reconsider (yeah, I understand the irony of it), so I changed my plans & decided to study geology. But I’ve taken 13 years of piano & 4 years of organ lessons, so my love of piano has not diminished. My main piece of furniture is still the 6 ft grand in the living room 🙂
So why bring this up? A recent request for beginning classical piano literature (preferably with recordings) caused a search through my shelf of music. A few years ago a friend was “given” organ lessons in return for playing at services & funerals, so I had already worked out that recommendation. But I had to think a bit about piano music. Most beginning piano literature is written for the 6-9 yr old crowd, which is probably not what adults are looking for. What I’ve gotten to:
- variety of composers option = Bastien – piano literature v. 1 (v. 1&2 are available as a combo CD)
- Bach option = First Lessons in Bach (I prefer the Alfred version, but you could also go Schirmer or this one that has an accompanying CD)
There are probably better recordings of both, but sorting through complete piano recordings is something that might well drag on until the end of time. There are pianists I like better, but at the beginning level, interpretation is not going to be the end-game. Now, if this continues onto intermediate & advanced recommendations, then I’ll get pickier with my recording recommendations & as well as what edition to go with.
Reasons for going with the multiple composer option: you’ll get a better idea of the variety of styles that have occurred since Couperin published his original book in 1716 on “L’art de toucher le clavecin” (the art of playing the harpsichord) and extends up to modern works. Admittedly, modern includes anything really written after about WWI in the piano world.
Reasons for going with Bach: well, its Bach. Couperin may have come up with a fingering method that Bach admired & used, but J.S. Bach is the “father of keyboard” music. Bach’s ideas on melody vs. harmony, chord progressions, and structure are the basis for all other piano music–whether its bending, breaking, modifying, or turning the original formulation around. Understanding Bach helps understand everything that comes after him–of course, try telling that to an 8-year old. I personally didn’t “get” Bach until I was 16 or 17, which probably made my piano teacher want to strangle me countless times.
Anyone have other favorite books they used at the beginning of their piano careers?