It’s just before back to school and students start walking through the door again for their piano lessons – and it’s always good to start the term with some new books! I’d like to share my second shopping list for students from Faber Music’s piano teaching library in the hope there may be some new things that others might also want to dip into to fire up enthusiasm for the new term. These books have served me well as I continue to consolidate but also rejuvenate my own teaching curriculum.

Improve Your... Series by Paul Harris 

Paul continues to write extremely useful and inspiring material that supports piano students to improve their core musical skills. Some real hits with my own students include the A Piece a Week series and the Improve Your Sight-reading Piano Duets books. There’s also a fabulous little book I keep in my teaching bag for whenever it is needed – the Improve Your Sight-reading Teacher’s Book


A Piece A Week Grade 7 & 8 – It’s super tricky to find inspiring material at this level and I have to say Mr Harris has hit the spot here! For sheer variety alone, students love this book. It’s well worth the purchase with a wide range of keys, rhythmic complexity and styles (from fugues to Mozartian with a signature Alberti bass). Reading is improved with no exam material required! 
Improve Your Sight Reading! Duets (0-1 and 2-3) – Use just one of these each lesson to keep students maintaining the pulse and keeping going – these little books are perfect! Duet playing is fun but also extremely good for modelling expression and phrasing. Also useful for preventing what can sound like note stammering (repeating the same note several times), these are useful collections that are also bench-marked around ABRSM and Trinity sight-reading tests. 
Improve Your Sight Reading! Teacher’s Book (Grades 0-5) – A bit of a well-kept secret, this book provides well-written examination sight-reading examples for teachers at all the early grades. Just put on the piano music stand whenever needed – another ‘one-stop-shop’!
PianoTrainer Series by Karen Marshall, David Blackwell, Heather Hammond and Mark Tanner 
Particularly the Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced Pianist books - which encompass post Grade 1 to Grade 8. Do check out the new PianoTrainer Scales Workbook too! 
These books are standard issue in my studio, especially now my students are taking less exams – it is my own curriculum put into print. Progress has been excellent using them and often adults love them too (although they are written to be used with a piano teacher, and not for self-learners). The series provides a ready-made piano curriculum that’s all in one place, covering reading, theory, technique, musicianship and repertoire. The books are ideal to use whilst students are learning exam material so that learning continues – preventing a limited curriculum. Alternatively I often supplement them with a light repertoire book such as a film, popular or jazz collection. It’s reassuring to know with these books that the thinking and planning has already been done, so a student will be covering all the bases required to develop into a rounded musician. The PianoTrainer Scales Workbook includes all scales and keys simply and clearly, with notation but also keyboard diagrams and super-useful theory activities, too!  
A few other honorable mentions...
Sonny Chua’s Cool Keys 1 & 2 – Written for his fledgling piano students, these collections are so pianistic, packed with superb pedagogical content and masses of variety. For students needing some material to improve expressive playing, these will be my ‘go to’ collections at the late elementary / early intermediate stages.  
Play at Sight by Christine Brown – Initial to approximately Grade 2 level, this book is particularly good for those who are neurodiverse, so needing a systematic approach. I use this with all my students because it’s not linked to graded music exams but is focussed on piano-reading pedagogy. A whole year’s work, there’s a page a week to complete which gradually progresses to around Grade 2 level. Teachers can add in their own dynamics or even invite their students to do so, to gradually up-skill a student’s expressive sight-reading without over-burdening them if they’re struggling. 
My own HerStory: The Piano Collection, spotlighting lost female composers and their stories, is getting much use by many of my students and I plan to get others to purchase it this term. A lovely ‘one-off’ gift purchase, the book contains pieces from Grades 3 to 8 and includes fascinating human interest ‘story’ pages about each of the women. There’s also a piece of chamber music and duet with free accompanying audio to download. 
People Get Ready: The Piano Collection – In the book’s own words: This book has been compiled to celebrate a stunning selection of music by Black composers and songwriters. I’ve not used this collection yet but am super excited to. Timeless classics like Bob Marley’s Redemption song and Nina Simone’s To be Young, Sing to the Moon along with so much more! The arrangements look excellent for pianists.