What Method and Theory Books Do You Use?

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions from readers just like you. If you have a question you would like to submit, you can do so here.


Good afternoon Amy,

I am wondering what your favorite method is to use? Why? Also what book do you use for theory. I appreciate your articles so I thought I would ask.

Thank you, Shirlee


Hi, Shirlee!

My favorite theory book series right now is the Celebrate Theory from The Royal Conservatory. Some of the things I like about it include:

  1. They’re clean, and uncluttered, and the covers are colorful.
  2. They’re well written and nicely laid out.
  3. At the end of every unit, students are asked to explore an excerpt of music (printed in the book) and answer questions in regards to what they see in the score.

I also use Fundamentals of Piano Theory by Keith Snell and Theory Gymnastics by TCW Resources (both published by Kjos) as well as Ready for Theory by Lauren Lewandowski.

Generally, this is when I have multiple students from one family. In order to avoid siblings comparing themselves, I like to keep them in different series. Otherwise, Celebrate Theory is what all my students get.

As far as the favorite method goes, it’s a much more involved answer as I have used it a lot over the years!

Currently, my go-to books include:

Tales of a Musical Journey by Irina Gorin

I really appreciate how Irina introduces technique (playing with fingers 3 and 2 first), as well as the note reading approach using landmark notes.

Even though it’s written in a storybook format, I tend to gloss over that part with my students unless they seem particularly interested.

While the series is directed toward younger beginners, I also use it with late elementary age students with success.

Music Moves for Piano by Marilyn Lowe

This series isn’t your traditional piano method however as it’s based on Music Learning Theory by Edwin E. Gordon.

That is, it uses an audiation-based approach to teaching music. Notation is not introduced the right way as in traditional methods.

It is full of a lot of singing, movement, and aural activities such as hearing the difference between duple vs. triple meter and major vs. minor tonality and building a vocabulary of rhythm of tonal patterns.

The pieces are very short and easily digestible. When I first started using this series that was actually a turn-off for me but I have found that my students really enjoy the pieces and it was more my issue than theirs!

Piano Adventures by Randall and Nancy Faber

While I’ve used the entire series with students in the past, currently, I mostly use book 1.

Very few of my students start one series and complete the whole thing, I tend to supplement a lot and zig-zag in and out of books and levels.

Level 1 of Piano Adventures is a winner though. It has a lot of really great pieces students love!




What method and theory books do you use and love? Share in the comments!



  • I have recently found and love Easy Notes by Rebecca Wilson (find it at wilbecks.com). There are two workbooks, as well as charming character magnet manipulatives. I have used mnemonics, not because I thought it was the way to go, but because I didn’t know there was a better way (yes, I use intervals some too). Easy Notes teaches note names (four octaves) through stories. It’s simple and whimsical, and the students really like it. Most importantly, it is making a difference in their note reading.

    • That sounds really interesting, Ginny! I have never heard of this series so thank you so much for sharing. I am going to check it out!

      • Wonderful! I only happened upon her and her new creation when I watched a webinar. I think she’s from New Zealand. The workbooks used to be $10 each but are now $18 each, but I recommend the Easy Notes Teachers Kit (with Large Magnetic Stave) for 109.99. The Easy Note Student Kit (with Small Magnetic Stave) is 99.99, is fine, too, but I just like having more space between the treble and bass staff.

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