[Menvi-discuss] piano methods

STEPHANIE PIECK themusicsuite at verizon.net
Sat May 4 11:18:26 EDT 2013


American Printing House for the Blind sells the complete Alfred Basic course 
(Levels 1A, 1B, and 2 through 6). They're expensive, but this is still one 
of the most widely-used method series in the U.S., both for kids and adults.

Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has the Oxford Piano Course 
(Piano Time, books 1 through 3; Piano Time Pieces, books 1 and 2; Duets with 
a Difference for ensemble work; and Tunes for Ten Fingers, More Tunes for 
Ten Fingers, and Fun for Ten Fingers--all by Pauline Hall). The "Ten 
Fingers" books are really good for very young beginners because they 
introduce musical notation reading using middle C as the starting point for 
both right and left hands and working outword. This makes it easier for 
players with very small hands to play; it also fosters stronger 
note-recognition earlier in students than the usual C Major 5-finger 
approach does because it encourages reading by relationships, not through 
memorizing isolated note positions on the bass or treble staff.

Another excellent (and fun) series is Christopher Norton's "American Popular 
Piano Repertoire" series. The Library of Congress has the Preparatory Level 
and Levels 1 through 8 available for download, and Prima Vista Braille Music 
Services sells all these plus Levels 9 and 10. I like these both as 
supplementary material and as sight-reading practice for my sighted 

For general repertoire collections, one of the best comprehensive series is 
Denes Agay's "Classics to Moderns". There are four volumes: "Easy Classics 
to Moderns, Volume 17", "More Easy Classics to Moderns, Volume 27", 
"Classics to Moderns for the Early Intermediate Grades, Volume 37", and 
"Classics to Moderns, Volume 47". All can be borrowed and some can be 
downloaded from the Library of Congress. These books offer a very wide 
variety of pieces spanning from early Baroque (Jerimiah Clarke, the Bachs, 
Handel, and many French composers such as Rameau, Dandrieu, etc.) through 
early 20th-century ones (Stravinsky, Bartok, Villa-Lobos).

The Bastien "Piano Literature" series in four volumes is also still widely 
used and while it has a much smaller sampling than the Agay books, it 
contains the most popular "old standbies" of classical music teaching: "Fur 
Elise", Elmenreich's "Spinning Song", (both in Volume Three), Mozart's 
Sonata K. 545 and various Bach two-part inventions and Chopin preludes 
(Volume Four). Apparently, the publisher of this series has produced a 
Volume Five and Volume Six, but neither of these are available yet in 

If you're unable to purchase music from RNIB, you can join their National 
Library for the Blind and borrow titles. This makes it possible to access 
any of the graded exam pieces from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools 
of Music--which for some reason can't be bought by anyone outside the United 
Kingdom. These books offer a wide variety of styles and periods at each 
grade level (1 through 8), and also give blind teachers an opportunity to 
have access to some of the more modern arrangements and compositions. For 
example, the 2013-2014 Grade 2 book includes a nice easy jazz piece called 
"Strange Things Happen" by Sarah Watts; a great arrangement of "Meet the 
Flintstones!"; and pieces by Thomas Attwood, Matthyas Seiber, Handel and 
others. Further up the difficulty ladder, at Grade 5, the 2013-2014 book 
includes "For Lydia" by Darius Brubeck, MacDowell's "To a Wild Rose", and 

The Suzuki Piano School books (Volumes 1 through 7), available through the 
Library of Congress, are good sources for many of the "standard repertoire" 
pieces, too. I have heard from sighted colleagues who use the Suzuki books 
that they have been revised many times over the years, so I'm not sure how 
the Braille would correspond to what's being published now.

The Alfred "Sonata Album" (Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven), and Scarlatti's 
"Sixty Sonatas" are both available for download from the Library of Congress 
and are fixtures in any good teaching collection.

The "Piano Adventures" series is really popular, but as yet, I'm not sure if 
it's available in its entirety, although Prima Vista was working on it. The 
concepts in it are well-presented, but they're done in highly visual ways so 
I'm not sure if this would be an easy book to use for a Braille reader 
working with sighted beginners.

Finally, while not used as much these days, some teachers still rely on the 
following books:
Bastien "Piano Lessons" books--Primer and Levels 1 through 4. If you end up 
using these and want to make sure your students have matching print 
equivalents, be sure that you ask your print music retailer for the "old 
edition"--i.e., not revised or updated. I haven't used these in a long time 
because I didn't like the constant use of chord symbols--students ended up 
cheating and just reading those instead of learning to read bass clef 
John Thompson's "Modern Course for the Piano", beginning with Teaching 
Little Fingers to Play and continuing from First to Fifth Grade books--the 
constant use of finger numbers infuriated me, but these can all be borrowed 
from Library of Congress.

Hope that helps you get started ...

Stephanie Pieck

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Stephanie" <sim.musicschool at gmail.com>
To: "This is for discussing music and braille literacy" 
<menvi-discuss at menvi.org>
Sent: Saturday, May 04, 2013 8:40 AM
Subject: [Menvi-discuss] piano methods

> Hi all,
> I am just begining to start my teaching studio and looking for piano 
> methods to use.  I'd like to buy one for use at home, and if possible have 
> a complete one, not the first few books.  Any help would be fantastic!
> Thanks,
> Steph
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