Teaching Piano/Keyboard at Home?

I would love to purchase a keyboard and teach my 3rd grader how to play. Problem is…I don’t know how to play piano! With the other extracurricular activities we are involved in, we can’t really afford private lessons at the moment. Does anyone know of any good websites/videos/curriculum that I can use to teach this while learning myself?


We use Teach Yourself Piano Step by Step…


If you don’t mind a learning along with your child approach, I may have a book recommendation for you. I started teaching beginner piano to a girl this year through a private lessons program that a local Christian school and my church’s homeschool co-op is sharing, and the coordinator suggested I use this book. It does a nice job of easing you into familiarity with the keyboard and reading music, and there’s also an accompanying music theory book you can get to reinforce things.

For the record, I did already know how to read/teach music going into this, since I studied piano as a child, I was a flute performance major in college, and I’ve been teaching that since my sophomore year there. So I’m not sure how teaching out of this book would be with less music experience. But I hope that helps!

CHILDRENS MUSIC JOURNEY!!! It’s the piano curriculum I’ll be using. This is a computer software and keyboard program. It has Disney like characters of all the composers that teach 3 different levels. Each level has a number of lessons and then games to drill the lessons in fun ways. I can’t wait to get ours in!

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I have not tried this program yet but I plan to!
Quick Piano by Renee Ellison. Find it on her website:

We use Piano Wizard Academy. www.pianowizardacademy.com It comes with keyboard and software for a laptop or iPad, ect. Also has color coded stickers for the keys. They learn through games and there are different levels. Higher levels introduce music notes. Very colorful and fun.

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Have kids been able to play on a regular piano away from the wizard? Did it teach them how to read music? Thanks!

We have been using Hoffman Academy online. It is free with tons of lessons and the gremlins seem to like it so far! You can purchase the optional worksheets to go along with the lessons. www.hoffmanacademy.com

We were using a book curriculum at home with our keyboard. The lessons were great and my daughter learned a lot, but consistency was our problem. I had it scheduled into the end of the school day - which meant we’d finally reach the end of the day and just say “forget it!” and go outside to play instead. At this point it’s been 4-5 months since we picked it up. I have every intention of beginning again this summer - and perhaps STARTING our day with the lessons next year - for example, maybe while one child gets ready for the day, the other can do piano lessons, then they can swap. Good luck! I’ll be watching this thread to see what great ideas other people come up with!

What book curriculum were you using? Do you know how to teach piano? I know nothing!!

@khollow - NO! I don’t play anything on the piano (I want to! As of now I can rock Mary Had a Little Lamb! haha) My husband is naturally gifted on the piano, but he can’t teach the kids at all… so it is left to me… the one who doesn’t read music or know the notes. I went to the piano store and talked to the people there. I was interested in Piano Adventures books - the people at the store said it is good, but suggested I begin with Bastien Piano Basics - they said it’s a bit easier to begin, follow, understand, etc. It has a Theory/Technique Book that has pages to coincide with the Lesson Book. I suppose you just go at the rate that is comfortable with you. We did one book lesson per week - and the accompanying theory/technique pages - we’d practice that same lesson over and over all week so that by the end of the week the song/lesson was usually “mastered” - not memorized - just played fluidly without mistakes. The following week we’d move onto the next lesson in the book and spend a week there. As I said, it worked great for us, but we lost track of doing it in our move… then kept pushing it out of the way. Here’s a link for what we’ve used… the red Primer A books (2 books for level A - the lesson book and the Theory/Technique book)… as I said, Piano Adventures looks fun also, and it looks like someone else above mentioned it - we only went with this one because it was recommended to start here. Whatever you decide, even if you want to order something online - I’d suggest going to a piano store to see what they recommend and get your hands on some of the books to see what they are like.
Here’s a link to one of our books - it doesn’t show much, but you look at a couple of the pages inside to see how it begins by simply showing students finger placement… http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/piano-for-the-young-beginner-primer-a-sheet-music/312590?d=sem_msn_Piano_Methods_bastien_piano_basics&kw=bastien+piano+basics&mkwid=1Wqrk9jC|pcrid|1082644865&utm_Piano_Methods=Piano_Methods_Top_99&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=MSN&utm_term=Piano_Methods

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Thank you so much for your reply and the link. I am definitely going to look at those and also check what Erica uses. I just know I have to do something different soon!

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@triton17 - What a thoughtful reply!

I have taught with both the Piano Adventures (Faber & Faber) books and the Bastien books too.

One of the things I love about the Piano Adventures is actually their SUPPLEMENTARY books. If you need to stay around the same level for a while (because, let’s face it, we all get stuck), or if you just want to spice up the core lessons, they have books like Classics, Kids Songs, Hymns, Jazz, Popular Tunes, Christmas, etc. that are pretty fun.

I’m curious, you mentioned you want to learn piano too, but I know those series are really designed for the kid led by a teacher. Was that working out well for you with the Bastien, or did you feel a little lost? What did you like, and what was challenging?

@kawiah - great questions! Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of insight I can share :slight_smile:
As a parent with no piano background, I did NOT feel lost with the Bastien books. It was easy to follow (now remember, we never got beyond book 1 as we moved and lost track of doing piano). Book 1 was easy enough for a non-piano playing parent to follow. I usually did each lesson before or after my daughter so I could learn too. It’s possible that if we had progressed beyond level one that the program would have become a bit more intense (but luckily, my husband is an amazing pianist, so I can always ask him for help.) I doubt very much that the books (any program) can make up for an actual teacher, but for some of us, time and/or money - or both! don’t allow for a teacher. Thus far, I have found the books to be a decent enough substitute. If my daughter begins to really “take off” playing the piano and show a great interest in making it “her instrument,” then we would absolutely do what is necessary to get actual lessons. For learning the basics, thus far, this is enough. One thing I do like about Bastian is that the student learns to number the fingers then quickly progresses to the actual letters, all the while beginning to learn where the actual notes are on the staff and keyboard. Some people shy away from this because it seems too hard for a young child, After reading many piano teachers say this is the right way to do it and using color coding is not good for a myriad of reasons, we decided to go the “traditional” route and have my daughter follow a book that teaches notes, keys and staff reading (this is also the way my husband learned and it worked great for him). To each their own opinion - this is just what we are going with based on recommendations from so many pianists. Also, my daughter started the Bastian when she was 5/6 - and she quickly grasped the keys, notes and letter names - if it was confusing at all, it was so short lived that I would continue in this manner.

I am very interested in the Piano Adventures books. They look so bright and colorful, and I like the look of the progression. You mentioned they have supplementary books - I love supplements - it’s the type of stuff I like to use during down times, vacations, etc - where I don’t really want us to progress, but I don’t want us to get bored repeating or just stop. I would definitely consider a program that has this feature. Our original recommendation from the piano teacher at the piano store was to do Bastian for 2 levels, then switch to anything we wanted. I just took his recommendation as I have no background to fall on. Hopefully we’ll pick up close to where we left off this past year. :smile:


@triton17 - Thanks for your reply!

It’s really interesting to hear your thoughts on the Bastien books and how they’ve worked for you and your daughter. I agree with all the sentiments about learning to read on the staff. I learned a rather backwards way of reading the treble staff when I started violin, and it was a crutch that took more work to break than if I had learned correctly in the first place.

Here’s a link to the Piano Adventures supplementary books I mentioned: http://pianoadventures.com/publications/mainLibraries/ptbt/primer.html

These are for the primer level. If your daughter can read the lower treble and upper bass notes, you could look at Level 1 too. I like how they’re organized by genre. Sometimes when my students just need to stay at the same level for a while, or if they need a reward, I let them pick any of these pieces that they’re excited to play. Might be something easy to pick up this summer for you and your daughter to play for fun!

I completely sympathize with the money problem for private lessons. There’s a lot of value there, but there’s no question that it adds up quickly. I have taken a few students on scholarship when they’ve shown a lot of promise and didn’t have the means to pay full price–I think of it as paying it forward because a wonderful teacher once did the same for me. (Seriously, that had a big impact on why I’m a musician and teacher now!)

I’m also designing a video series for beginning piano for the same reason. Would it be okay if I shared that with you later too? I think I could be an excellent guide as your “virtual teacher” to help lay that great foundation. :slight_smile:

Some other parents have told me they want to learn piano with their kids too. It sounds like you’re doing that already with your daughter. Would it be helpful to have a series that does that specifically, with more activities and pieces that the two of you can do together?


Oh absolutely! It would be a great help if there was a “curriculum” that tailored itself to the parent/child learning together. The more activities/supplements/options it provided for us to do/work on the better! I’d love to see/hear anything you have to share! Thanks so much :smile:

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Awesome! I’ll send you a PM so we can keep in touch later.

We have purchased Merrienan Melodies Curriculum for our 8 and 6 year old to use in the fall (they will be on different levels). For more information visit: http://merrienan.com. This curriculum was written by 2 sisters. I know how to read sheet music already but have very basic piano skills. This system pairs colors with notes initially to help kids distinguish the notes and recognize where they are on the keyboard, which I liked. There’s also an interactive kit you use throughout that includes various game components because it has hands on learning activities to do off the piano as the student works through their workbook and play games that teach not just how to play the piano, but how to read music on all the clefs (not just treble and bass, I didn’t even know there were more), chords, and music theory and composition on a level kids can understand. Instead of using familiar songs that everyone already knows, they use short easy pieces they wrote or the kids “write”, making a song with their name, rolling a special dice and spinning a spinner to determine what notes to put on the staff, this means they have to actually read the music and not just play it by ear.

We came across this at our homeschool convention. These ladies were so sweet and helpful. They print the stuff themselves and bind it and send it out. It is extremely high quality and the interactive kit even comes in a really cool organizer container with a clipboard on the front. You can get student workbooks with answer key if you aren’t a music person, and you can call them if you have any questions or problems and they will answer. These ladies formulated this system and use it with their own piano students and a number of schools and professional teachers are also using it too as word spreads. I feel great about it because it is so much more than just sitting at the piano which can get old, and it teaches you so much more about music that transfers to other instruments and vocal music too. We will be using this along with a hymn book that is a part of our Heart of Dakota Bigger Hearts for His Glory curriculum and is scheduled into those lessons for music.

Ordering was a bit complicated, there are 2 age levels and multiple skill levels within each age grouping. There was a teacher’s manual, a student workbook, and a student songbook that we got for each student as they fell into different age ranges and one had more musical exposure than the other. We also got one interactive kit that they will both use. If you are interested and have questions, you can contact them through the website, they are very helpful.

We bought a 76 key keyboard with stand on Craigslist that has a lot of great features and saved a ton of money, so we won’t feel terrible if piano isn’t our thing forever, but if we do love it for the long haul, it has touch which means if you press the keys harder it plays louder like a real piano. It will also work with sound systems and microphones and you can record pieces and hook it to the computer. If we get good enough to play worship at church some day we won’t need a new keyboard and we spent the price of a much cheaper keyboard.