Review: Alfred Method Piano Books

alfred book

Alfred is a well-known and well-respected name in piano music, with an extensive line of method books ranging from beginner to advanced, as well as numerous supplemental music books and anthologies.

Their most popular course is the Alfred Basic Piano Library.  This method offers a solid foundation in the basics, with new concepts and skills added in small, easy steps.  The lesson book is the center of the course, and is supplemented with several coordinating books that enforce the training through technic, theory, sight reading, and other skills.

PROS:

This method is very easy for teachers and students to navigate.  Everything is coordinated beautifully.  If you are learning a new key signature in your lesson book, you will be using the same key signature in all the other books, writing about it in your theory book, and matching it to the correct name in your notespeller book.

Concepts are introduced in easy steps, and new skills build on previous ones.  This is particularly helpful for beginning students, who might have trouble grasping the concepts at first.  The books are also arranged so that a student can move very slowly at first through the prep books, or can move seamlessly into the level 1 or level 2 books as needed.  This adds flexibility to the course, and caters to a wider range of students.

The course offers Teachers’ Guides, which are particularly helpful to a teacher who is unfamiliar with the books.

CONS:

The music is uninspired, and uninspiring.  Students will quickly become bored, as the very system that allows them to learn the same concept from multiple sources often creates the impression that they are playing the same thing over and over again.  The music does improve, however, as the level of difficulty increases and more classical pieces are introduced.

The course can be costly if you purchase the entire line of books.  On any given level, you could be using six or more books at a time, all of them emphasizing the same concept.

The music becomes gradually more difficult, but may move too slowly for some students.  A student who isn’t challenged often becomes a former student.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

The Alfred Basic Piano Library is a good choice for beginning students and teachers who need extra guidance navigating the world of piano music.  It is most effective if used as a basis for the fundamentals of music, while supplementing with outside source material to keep the student engaged.

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