The Perfect Method Book for You

Is there such a thing as a perfect method book? There is so much to learn when you start working on a new instrument and even more if you’re learning a new instrument AND learning how to understand music.

Over the time I’ve been playing and teaching I’ve seen loads of method books. Some have come and gone and others have stood the test of time. When I started learning back in 1981 my teacher taught me using John Thompson’s method. To this day, you can still get those method books. 

Back then every book on the shelves used the middle C approach. Both thumbs on middle C then a finger on each key. Learning to read those notes and expanding from there. Reading was really the only way people taught back then.

Teaching methods have evolved over the years. The issue with learning through the middle C position is that it encourages wrist twisting straight from the start. It’s an awkward position because both hands sit right in front of your torso.

Now, there are a few methods that use what’s known as intervalic teaching. One of these methods is Piano Safari, which is the method I use. An interval is the relationship between 2 notes and is measured in numbers. Getting to recognise intervals quickly is an excellent way to learn reading.

When I think about the way I read music, I rarely look and register the note name. I will do that for the 1st note then the majority of the time from there I will just know how far to move because of the interval.

What’s my point about method books? Well, it’s not to find music that you’ll play for the rest of your life. There are thousands of piano pieces out there to discover across hundreds of years and more composers than you know. Of course, occasionally you’ll come across some repertoire that you love and that’s great. Just don’t get too attached to any one piece for too long.

The method books are purely there to help with concepts. Learning intervals, technique, reading, improvisation, duets and much more. It’s once you’re beyond the method books that it’s time to start looking in to music you would love to learn because you have the basic tools required.

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