Beginning Piano Books For Children
First, you must understand that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of beginning piano books for children.
Try A Bach Teaching Piece
Here's Bach's Minuet in G (here it's presented in C) which shows Bach's simple approach to teaching his children.
| 5 * 1 2 3 4 | 5 * 1 * 1 * | 6 * 4 5 6 7 | 8 * 1 * 1* |
Bach's teaching strategy is fairly obvious and matches exactly every beginning piano book published since. Get the child comfortable with the first five notes (1 2 3 4 5.) Note how Bach cleverly introduces a variation (4 5 6 7 8) in the third and fourth bars.
Bach specifically calls for the keys 1 2 3 4 5 to be played by the extended hand using all five fingers: thumb, index, third, fourth, pinkie.
He understands that the material must be simple enough for a child's mind to embrace it enthusiastically.
All Piano Methods Steal From Bach
Piano teaching has progressed not an inch from what Bach introduced. Look at the first piece from the famed Bastien series:
Bastien Piece #1
| 1 2 3 4 | 5 * 5 * | 5 4 3 2 | 1
The only difference is that Bach's version is far more interesting and is an actual piece of real music created by a master. The Bastien piece is what I call "cardboard music" and is universally loathed by children.
Now go examine the other piano methods used today, Alfred, Faber, and you will see they all do the same thing: use the first 5 notes, 1 2 3 4 5. From there, they all do what Bach did, vary the pattern, thus:
Generic Variation Number 1
| 1 3 4 5 | 4 2 3 1 |
Every child I have ever taught becomes bored with these pieces almost immediately. The truth is that familiar songs that kids know and enjoy can be used to present all the concepts in beginning piano books. Kids see right through the "curriculum" presented so carefully in these books. But, musically, they are starving to death because such material is stiff, unoriginal and is in no way familiar to the child.
The Beginner's Variations
Here are the dry variations with which these beginning piano books annoy children:
1. All adjacent keys (1 2 3 4 5.)
2. Skip one key (1 3 4 5.)
3. Start on a key other than Middle C (3 2 1 2 )
These basic moves can easily be taught with fun, familiar songs, which kids know and enjoy:
1. All adjacent keys (Row Your Boat)
2. Skip one key (Jingle Bells)
3. Start on a key other than Middle C (Mary Had A Little Lamb)
Other Current Methods
Look on the internet and you will see many methods: by color, by animal, by letter. The reason for this is that reading music is hard, and boring (at least in the beginning.)
The strategy is always (except for standard, conventional methods) to find an easy, painless way for the child to get started. Even most fools can see that a child will not be interested if they are met with instant failure and criticism.
The key to a child's interest in the piano is to allow them to have fun at first, and slowly then direct them to the complexities of musical notation.