Favourite Piano Method Books for Adult Beginners

Today I’d like to talk about my favourite piano method books for adult beginners. When I say “beginner”, I mean specifically those adult learners who have never played the piano before and quite possibly have no other musical experience to draw from. We’re talking complete piano newbies! 

Before we start, a little disclaimer: I have in no way judged all possible piano method books out there, but I have looked at, taught from and studied quite a few. Furthermore, just because I don’t mention a particular method here, does not make it a ‘bad’ method.

Also, the world of piano teaching is always evolving and changing, and it is entirely possible that if you ask me again in 10 years what my favourite method books are, the answer I give is completely different.

Finally, the books that I recommend here are the books I use most often with my adult students. I’m in no way affiliated with these publishers. I simply like teaching from these books and students enjoy learning from them, and I have noticed student progress satisfactorily when using these methods over other books (or no books at all). 

Why use method books anyway?

Piano method books are designed by pedagogical experts and contain a curriculum to help students learn how to play the piano from scratch. I like method books from a teaching perspective because they provide a solid curriculum to follow in the first 2-3 years of learning that ensures the foundations are laid correctly.

It is extremely difficult to teach a complex topic such as music and piano playing from the very beginning without any help at all. It requires a HUGE amount of planning to ensure all the basics are covered in the span of 1-2 years in a logical order, both from a conceptual AND a technical perspective. I think for any individual teacher to try and tackle that challenge by themselves without a method is a little… ambitious. 

While you could ‘wing’ it, chances are high that you’ll forget important concepts and skills, or get the pacing or order all wrong.

My favourite method books provide a guideline for teacher and student and are built not only by a TEAM of pedagogical experts, but they are “road tested”, modern and up to date with the latest learning insights. 

I consider a method series ‘good’ when it is fun and varied and teaches the instrument in a wholesome manner. That means I expect the series to include technique, theory, performance practice, reading skills, listening skills and creative activities such as composition, arranging and transposition.

To adult or not to adult…

I also have to address an elephant in the room: the many “adult” methods out there.

There are a lot of books out there that market themselves as an ‘adult’ method – but it’s important to understand that fundamentally, adults don’t learn to play the piano that differently from children. Yes, abstract concepts will be much less of a struggle, but the foundation of all piano playing – the physical movements required to learn to control the instrument – is just as new and uncoordinated to the 60-year-old newbie as they are to the 9-year-old beginner. 

So it is absolutely crucial that a series used by adults does not progress too slowly but also not too quickly

Often series designed for younger children (<12 years) move rather slowly and are quite child-like in design. This can feel frustrating or worse, patronising, for adult students. 

On the other hand, a lot of so-called adult methods seem to move much too fast and don’t allow for sufficient consolidation of motor skills in between teaching concepts. For most adults, this can lead to frustration when eventually they can’t keep up with the pacing.

Key Criteria

Beyond pacing and curriculum, there are other important aspects I consider before giving a method the thumbs up. Things like the way reading is approached, how much the hands move around the keyboard etc. 

To sum up, for me the 5 key criteria for a good beginner piano method book are:

  1. Created by experts based on years of research/expertise/pedagogy
  2. Wholesome curriculum that covers more than just playing pieces and reading notes
  3. Reading is taught via landmark notes and intervals, NO mnemonics
  4. Hands need to be in various positions on the keyboard from the beginning, not glued to middle C for weeks or months on end.
  5. Pacing must be right: not too fast, not too slow.

With that in mind, let me show you my 3 favourite books for 2023 for beginner pianists, in order of preference:

  1. Piano Adventures Accelerated
  2. Piano Safari for the older beginner
  3. Piano Adventures Adult Method

Piano Adventures Accelerated

Cover of Piano Adventures Accelerated Series

A well-known, much-celebrated series, particularly in the US, and a favourite among many teachers (for good reason!). Randall and Nancy Faber have done a great job of creating a curriculum that’s balanced, wholesome and fun. While this method is marketed towards teens, it’s actually perfect for most adults and preferable to the Adult Piano Adventures books (see below!).


  • No fixed hand positions
  • Dedicated technique book
  • Varied musical styles/genres and popular tunes
  • No rote pieces – this is a pro for some adult students (though see also cons!) 
  • Students get to play with both hands right from the start
  • Lots of recognisable tunes, as well as unique pieces
  • Pacing is excellent for adult beginners – allows for proper consolidation of technique and reading skills
  • Wholesome curriculum when using all the books
  • Reading is taught by landmark notes (guide notes) and intervals


  • Slightly juvenile in design – usually not an issue though
  • No rote pieces: a missed opportunity for additional ear/hand development

Most suitable for: Students who lean towards pop/rock/film and popular, well-known classical music. Great for students who like a very solid, gradual skill-building programme that moves at a steady pace but not too fast. Allows a more relaxed approach with a particular focus on fun and creative activities. The ideal student for this method is someone who enjoys/requires a wide variety of pieces and exercises to stay motivated.

Piano Safari for the Older Beginner

Cover of Piano Safari Older Beginner Book 1

This series is a relatively new method, developed by Katherine Fisher and Dr. Julie Knerr, two powerhouse pedagogical experts from the US.


  • Pedagogy is top notch – includes a lot of rote pieces which allows the student to familiarise themselves with the keyboard in its entirety, lets them focus on technique and allows for music making by ear.
  • No fixed hand positions
  • Reading is taught via landmark notes and intervals
  • Design is simple to the point of bland, which means it feels quite grown up as a method
  • Emphasises piano technique and reading skills right from the start while also training ears via rote pieces.
  • Pacing is excellent – not too fast, not too slow.
  • The best method for beginners with a particular interest in classical music
  • Strong focus on technique


  • There are a LOT of hands separate exercises in the early lessons which some adults find lacking in appeal. 
  • Early lessons rely a lot on teacher accompaniments, which is not always easy to do in online lessons.
  • Some students don’t respond well to rote pieces and will try and analyse/read the music – while this is not necessarily a problem, it does take a lot of time away from other activities and can create unnecessary confusion in some students.
  • Theory moves fast and is a little dry – there are not a lot of creative exercises such as composition

This method is suitable for: Motivated piano students with a particular interest in classical music, who prefer a serious, no-nonsense method that’s technically demanding and requires highly regular practice routines. As a student, you’re patient, you enjoy perfecting your pieces and exercises and love ‘deep’ learning. 

Faber Adult method book

Cover of Piano Adventures Adult Method Books

Finally, the adult method by Piano Adventures is an option for certain students, though I almost always prefer the accelerated series as the pacing of those books suits the vast majority of learners better.


  • No fixed hand positions
  • Students play with both hands right away
  • Varied selection of musical styles/genres
  • Lots of recognisable tunes, as well as unique pieces
  • Reading is taught by landmark notes (guide notes) and intervals
  • Lots of helpful online materials such as teaching videos available via links in the books
  • Contains lots of lead sheets to learn from – which is a nice addition to an adult book!


  • Pacing is FAST – too fast for most adult newbies in my experience
  • Not as wholesome as the accelerated series: theory and technique are extremely condensed compared to that series.
  • Not many creative exercises beyond lead sheets
  • No rote pieces
  • Requires a beginner to be already very coordinated and have a good sense of rhythm, beat and overall musicality skills.

Suitable for: adults with a background in music (either via another instrument OR via lessons in childhood) who need revision OR adults who display an enhanced ability to coordinate their hands, who have an excellent sense of rhythm and pulse and who practice hard and diligently.

And there you have it – my 3 favourite adult method books of 2023. Each of these has its pros and cons, and the order in which I’ve presented them reflects how often I use each method with my beginners. The Faber accelerated series is the most popular series, followed by Piano Safari, and finally, the Piano Adventures Adult method.

Until next time,


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