Making sure that you are progressing and improving on your instrument of choice is an important thing. In the beginning, the improvements can be quite quick depending on how much you practice and the sort of practice you do. However, as you progress, the noticeable improvements might be less obvious. And they may take more time to accomplish.
When you have reached the intermediate stage, you must be practicing the right things to go to the next level. Finding the best piano books for intermediate players is going to help you.
Practice Does Not Make Perfect
“Practice makes perfect” is a saying I am sure you are familiar with. But it is a fallacy. “Good” practice makes perfect. Just practice is not going to do much at all.
The Intermediate Stage
Starting on your piano journey is an important time. But, moving through the intermediate stage is vital. Ultimately it will decide whether you are going to be an average player or a very good pianist.
It is about ensuring the fundamental techniques of playing the piano are firmly secure in what you do. Therefore, the curriculum you are following must take you where you need to be.
To this end, I have created a list of books that are going to move you in the right direction. So, let’s take a look at them, starting with…
Top 7 Best Piano Books For Intermediate Players on The Market in 2023
1 The Giant Book of Music
Let’s start with Schirmer’s Library of Classical Music. This is a book that is widely known and respected as a very effective teaching aid. There are several books in this series for beginners, intermediate and advanced players. We are looking just at the intermediate level.
A Classical Leaning
In this book are 269 pieces across over 380 pages that are composed by some of the world’s greatest composers. So, it is a book with a very pronounced classical leaning. It is one of the best-sellers worldwide for intermediate piano students and, in many publications, carries a 5-star rating.
A Variety of Classical Music
The range of Classical music is wide and includes most of the finest. Particular attention is given to works by Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, and Schumann. Whilst the music included would be considered Classical, they don’t all come from the “Classical” period.
It provides not only just practice but an accurate study of each of the pieces. And as the styles included are so wide-ranging, there is bound to be plenty of music that will appeal to everyone.
One of the good things about this book is that they have included a range of pieces graded by ability. They fall right on what you might describe as the upper and lower boundaries of the intermediate level.
This is particularly suitable for those just moving into this higher level. That means for beginners or improvers; there are some easier intermediate pieces. This will give you the introduction to the more complex pieces to come.
But also, for those who might be nearing moving on to more challenging pieces, there are some more “advanced” intermediate pieces to study.
During the Baroque Period, many composers combined two aspects to their music. Firstly, it had to be pleasant and uplifting to listen to. Probably with a heavy religious bias.
But, they also wrote them so that they could be used as technical playing exercises for the students that they taught. JS Bach was particularly known for this. You will find a good number of those pieces included in this book.
What Do I Think?
Much of the music included is perfect for moving players towards a higher level. There is a huge list of music and songs to achieve this. If there is a negative, it is that there isn’t too much in the way of technical instruction. The price point is reasonable, and it is obvious why it is such a popular piano teaching aid.
- Very popular and respected learning option.
- Massive range of classical pieces.
- Different pieces for differing abilities.
- Lacks technical instruction.
- Very affordable considering the size and what’s included.
2 Classics to Moderns for Intermediate Players
This is a teaching book that hasn’t got as many pieces included as some but offers a little bit extra in terms of instruction.
What is Included
You will find many of the great composers included. But as you may guess from the title, there are some more modern works included as well. It is full of great compositions that piano students are going to love.
This is certainly not a book for the beginner. It gives you 115 pieces that range in complexity but are all for the intermediate-level player.
It includes guidance and help across all the genres it deals with. This includes instructional titles and notes that are laid out to be easily remembered. In that way, it has a little more to offer as an instructor.
As I said, this is not a book for a beginner and is aimed at the higher intermediate player. It will assume you have mastered certain techniques and have already achieved an intermediate standard.
Having said that, all the music included can be played. But some, as you will see, will require some more practice and work than others. That is a good thing, of course, as it starts to push you and improve your standards.
You will find that the majority of the music in this book is perfect for performances. But it also acts as a preparation for advancing even further in your studies.
What Do I Think?
There is no doubt that this is a quality piano instruction guide for the intermediate player. It covers a range of styles in various genres, both modern and classical. That can be an advantage for those people who don’t only want to play classical piano music.
The negatives might be that there is not a specific sequence of exercises to follow. A further thought is that as this may be used on the music stand, it would be better if it was spiral bound. That would make turning pages easier. Nevertheless, a great book and one that will help the intermediate player.
- Extensive range of pieces from different genres and time periods.
- Excellent for performances.
- No set course or order; it’s more of a random learning tool.
- For higher intermediates.
- Spiral binding would make it easier to use.
3 Easy Piano Classics
This is another book that some may be familiar with, as it has been a proven resource. It is a follow-up to another book by Ronald Herder, “Favourite Piano Classics.” Its title, “Easy,” is a little misleading, and I will look at that a bit later on.
Teaching The Classics
This is a highly-regarded book for those who love to play the classics. Ninety-seven pieces cover all the great historical periods of music by the masters for the intermediate player.
Included are pieces that can be graded in terms of complexity. And some are easier to play than others. Therefore, it is an ideal volume for those who are just moving to an intermediate stage from improver in their piano playing.
At the other end of the scale, some pieces will test you out as you move towards a more advanced playing style. All of which makes it one of the best piano books for intermediate players.
What is Inside?
As you might expect from a book that concentrates on the great masters, the names will be familiar. But so will some of the pieces. You will find works by Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Chopin, and Bach. Of Grieg, Liszt, Schubert, Debussy and Mendelssohn.
But then, to add just a sprinkle of later composers, there is the Scott Joplin piece, Bethena, a Concert Waltz, written in 1905. You will also find some of the most popular piano concert pieces to get under your belt as a musician:
- Beethoven, Für Elise.
- Brahms, Five Waltzes.
- Grieg, Grandmother’s Minuet.
- Mendelssohn, Venetian Gondola Song.
- And plenty of others.
This is a book of piano music that is not only for improving your abilities. It is a book that deserves a place on your bookshelf as a resource of great music for the intermediate player.
But, you should be aware that this is probably not a book for those at the lower end of the intermediate scale. Most of the pieces are intermediate to upper-intermediate levels and are certainly going to test you. They are not over-simplified and will certainly take some work.
For the intermediate player, there won’t be much that they find in this book that they can realistically call “easy.” Therefore, the title is a bit of a misnomer.
To get the best from this book, you will need a certain standard of understanding of music theory and its application. You will also need to be up to speed on your scales and notation and be able to play different parts with your left and right hand.
What Do I Think?
Certainly not a book for the faint-hearted at all. This is going to test you, so don’t be fooled by the word “Easy” in the title. Easy to some, but they are probably playing orchestral concerts in Berlin, Vienna, or London. However, it is a book that will improve you if you’re diligent at working with it.
One negative has nothing to do with the content but more with the way it is presented. The text and the notation are quite small and not easy to read.
- Extensive range of classical pieces.
- A great bookshelf resource.
- Nowhere near as ‘easy’ as the title implies.
- Smaller text and notation may make it difficult to read for some.
4 WunderKeys Intermediate
This is a book that deals with a problem that only surfaced in quite recent times. The history of the piano student was usually that they sat down at the piano and diligently did their scales and the practice.
That is still probably the case for younger students, but it seems not to apply to some of the teenage variety. As the students get older, the more traditional ways of learning the piano seem to be less appealing. They go looking for shortcuts to “get to the music quicker.”
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. You have to master the basics, or you aren’t going anywhere. Those oh-so-boring and “uncool” piano skill-building exercises are vital. Skip them, and you might as well give up ideas of becoming a good piano player in whatever genre.
You need the scales practice, the sight-reading, the rhythm development, and theory. Without it, you will end up frustrated at why others can do things you can’t. Your progress and improvement will grind to a halt.
There needs to be a solution to the problem. And forcing them to do these exercises isn’t the way. You’ve got to find a way to get these students to do them without realizing they are.
That is where this book comes in. WunderKeys Intermediate is a book that allows them to reinforce their scales, chords, and patterns with the left hand into a different format. Using this book, they will improve because they want to improve, not because they have to.
Students use powerful pop music, much of which they will be familiar with, to improve their skills. They will use a variety of keys and use different hand positions and finger patterns. All of which is helping them to build the skills they need to become better piano players.
Not Just Pop Music
This book provides a look at every genre, exposing the student to various styles and ways of playing. It is very conscious of the need to be able to use the hands to form triads and other techniques. And it offers exercises as well as an instruction and note section on those techniques. It offers simple explanations and descriptions, which is one of its big plus points.
What Do I Think?
Whatever it takes to get people to practice must be a good thing. But to reiterate one of my opening statements, “Good practice makes perfect. Bad practice is a waste of time”.
But what this book does is add an extra interest value to the music. This, it hopes, will keep the student fully engaged with their improvement and ultimate progress.
Is there a negative? Only that some people will prefer the values of learning the piano in a traditional way using the classics. If you are convinced that is the way to learn, then this book probably isn’t for you.
- Excellent motivational method of studying the fundamentals.
- Uses pop music which will be very appealing to some.
- Not the ‘traditional’ way to learn.
5 John Thompson’s Piano Course for Intermediate Players
From a teaching resource aimed at the younger students, let’s go to something for the, shall we say, more mature student. And I’m referring to age, not mindset.
This is a piano course for intermediate players created with the older student at the forefront of their thinking. The study contained in this book is therefore going to be much different than the last choice.
Same Destination But Sometimes a Different Journey
The goal of both junior and adult students is basically the same. To be as good as you can be. But sometimes, the journey to that goal can have different routes. The last book suggested a more modern route. This is very much a traditional road.
Compiled for Adults
These books for intermediate students have been compiled for adults. They contain a mix of some of the great classical piano pieces. But they also have some well-known standard folk and traditional songs.
It encourages the student to be thoughtful and artistic in how they approach the songs and music. Interpreting the music in a very traditional way.
An Audio Track
There’s an audio track that goes with the paperback, which can be downloaded or just streamed. It is accessed through Hal Leonard’s system called MyLibrary and has some interesting features you can utilize. These are some of them:
- Slow down the audio without changing the key to help with practice.
- Change keys if you wish.
- Pan left or right.
- Set loop points for a continuous playing of one section.
At an affordable price, the book covers technical issues and the basic fundamentals for the intermediate player.
What Do I Think?
A very well-put-together book and audio package that is aimed at the adult intermediate player. The fact that it has well-known songs used throughout is an advantage. And the instruction includes sections on how the piece should sound. It will suit the adult learner more than the younger intermediate.
- Helpful interactive audio guide.
- Creative method of studying.
- Uses well-known songs.
- For adults, not teenagers and younger.
A few more options…
Before we close this look at the Best Piano Books For Intermediate Players, there are a couple of publications that also deserve a mention.
This is a collection of some of the most popular classical piano pieces. Whilst they are for intermediate players, they are not the most difficult to play. It might be fair to say that many of them cross that bridge between Beginner/Improver to Intermediate. It is set at a nice price point.
For those that may struggle with the left hand in their playing, this is an ideal book to have. This book covers a range from below intermediate level through to upper-intermediate. And, it deals with one of the big problems that many players encounter, that of left-hand coordination.
It isolates the left hand and gives you some useful left hand piano exercises to counter any problems. Well worth considering if you have that problem.
Interested in the Piano?
We have you covered. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Digital Pianos for Under $500, the Best Digital Piano With Weighted Keys, the Best 88-Key Keyboards, the Best Digital Grand Piano, the Best Cheap Keyboard Piano, the Best Portable Keyboard Pianos, and the Best Digital Pianos For Beginners you can buy in 2023.
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Best Piano Books For Intermediate Players – Conclusion
These are some of the best books for the intermediate piano player who wants to improve. I hope that they will be very useful to any type of piano player at an intermediate level. But, most of all I hope these books will motivate you to keep at it. The rewards are well worth the time.
So, until next time, let your music play.