Favorite Supplemental Piano Teaching Repertoire
My name is Christina and I harbor an obsession with supplemental piano teaching repertoire. 🙃
Note: For me, the term “supplemental” simply refers to music that is not part of a method series.
Knowing my way around the repertoire gives me freedom to approach my lessons with music that is individually catered to the student in front of me. In fact, the bulk of my teaching is through this “supplemental” repertoire.
Many of my elementary students *do* use a method book, but at a level that is nearly-sightreadable; allowing me to assign method pieces as independent studies so we can focus on the richness of the rep outside those sequences.
The following list does not include historical literature. Perhaps someday I’ll make my own list, but for now I refer those requests to my expert friend, Janna Williamson.
While it feels nearly impossible to narrow this list down to a consumable number of selections, I’ve done my best to include my absolute must-haves. These are the collections I come back to time and time again.
Before sharing my list, I must say this:
We are blessed with abundance in the piano repertoire.
Teachers have a wealth of engaging pieces – dating back multiple centuries – and growing every day.
Harnessing the variety available to us is an essential component in helping our students find a lifelong love of music.
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That’s just smart business, but the recommendations are fully my own and given without icky sales motives.
Pre-Reading Made Fun: Kevin and Julia Olson
This is, hands-down, my favorite book for the under-seven(ish) crowd. The unique presentation of pre-reading used here is a hit with both neuro-diverse and neuro-typical children.
It also carries bonus sentimenal value: My own children used to sit and play along with the recordings from start to finish. Cute, engaging, accessible.
Black Key Blast! Wendy Stevens
I'm a HUGE fan of everything Wendy Stevens. I most appreciate her pieces for their variety of rhythmic interest, which is often lacking in early repertoire.
This is a Pre-Reading collection from a collective of all-star pedagogical composers. Keeping bonus pre-reading on your shelf can be a lifesaver for teachers who find themselves in need of a backup plan.
A Day in the Country: Mary Leaf
Mary Leaf is another go-to composer for me. Her accompaniments are evocative and rich, helping students feel even more proud of the music they are making with their teacher.
Repertoire by Rote: Dennis Alexander
I am so happy to see the piano teaching world embracing teaching by rote. These pieces do not LOOK like pre-reading pieces, but are designed to be taught away from the score. Students (and parents!) love their mature sounds.
The Best of Martha Mier
Two words: Gold Doubloons. This piece is an absolute favorite of my students and makes everything else in the book feel like a bonus. Pieces in this collection begin simple and end with some chord playing and substantial accidentals, making it a book that will grow with your students.
Here's ANOTHER book that will grow with your students. I consider it a "legacy collection'. William Gillock was a revolutionary composer of pedagogical repertoire and this book is a wise investment in repertoire that will keep on giving.
You'll find Kevin Olson's name all over this list because I'm SUCH a fan. This is another favorite early elementary collection, including a very clever take on Beethoven titled, "Ode to Snoring".
I often refer teachers to the NFMC Festival Lists when they are seeking new supplemental literature. I love every book in this series (there are four!) because they highlight some of the FJH catalogue's Federation selections. They are consistently engaging across the board.
Diane Hidy is a true champion for piano teachers. She writes with acute attention to function over tradition; composing for students of today. I always appreciate the way she considers the student reading experience in her publications.
The perfect precursor to Chopin, these three books of Preludes span the gamut of lyricism and virtuosity. They also introduce students to a variety of key signatures. I always recommend buying the complete collection, rather than three separate books.
No one writes romantic stylings quite like Melody Bober! I love all six books in this series (as well as her many companion series) but I chose to highlight this one for the forever-crowd-pleasing "Dragonfly".
This series features compositions by some of the most respected names in pedagogical publishing. It's an excellent "sampler" to learn composer styles and strengths.
I love Joyce Grill as a composer (and a human!). Her writing is relatable to students and lends itself well to writing accompanying lyrics, which is something we do OFTEN in my studio. I particularly love "Scary Movie Night" in this collection.
I love exploring these rhythmically-diverse pieces with my students who have some facility to show off! This collection gives a wide range of style and emotive opportunities.
I'm wrapping this list up with a heavy-hitter. These pieces are a treasure of the Intermediate repertoire and I teach them ALL THE TIME. If you're not familiar with this visionary set, give these your attention pronto.