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on March 11, 2008
I used to play the clarinet in middle school. Now I'm 18 and it's been quite some time since I've read sheet music. Playing guitar for six years literally ruined my ability to read the stuff, because I would always use tabs instead. But eventually I grew jaded with the guitar, and I decided to choose a new and fresh direction -- the piano!

This book is very well-written, and leaves no gaps. Within just a few days I found myself relearning all that I had forgotten from band class years before, and I've now reached the point where I know more than I did! And I haven't even finished the book yet!

Plus, it tests you on theory and technique. You get to fill in parts of the book, which really helps you get involved with what your learning.

One reviewer downrated this book because of the song choices, and its accompanying CD. I feel that this is in err. I believe the song choices are just as good as any. If the tunes were familiar, then they wouldn't be as challenging to learn. And as for the CD...I did notice that the piano parts are rather quiet, but I always thought this was because it was a play-along CD (which is what I use it as). It's as good as it needs to be.

Besides, the pieces get more interesting as you progress, some of the final pieces being "Greensleeves", "Scarborough Fair", "The Entertainer" and "Amazing Grace" (and written in a way so that each hand will be dually occupied). And by the end of the third book in the series, you'll be playing some of Beethoven's most popular pieces, like "Fur Elise" and "Moonlight Sonata"!

Also -- something that concerned me when I bought this book: do you need a full-fledged piano? The answer is...no!! A sizable keyboard will do you just fine. But, you just might find yourself looking to buy a real piano once you delve deeper into these lessons...because this series really does inspire and nurture a great love for this amazing instrument.

If you're looking to learn the piano and can't afford a teacher, don't have time for one, or you just learn better on your own -- this is a must-have aid to your learning.

Good luck, and I wish you well in your learning!! :)
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on April 11, 2000
I am using this book for piano lessons I started taking in early January. I've wanted to learn how to play the piano my whole life and now at 40 I decided to do it. This book makes it very easy, so far anyway! The pace is steady, I look back now at the songs in the beginning that I struggled with and they are so easy! The combination of warm-ups and songs are just right. I highly recommend this book!
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on December 27, 2011
No single book will take you from piano newbie to concert level performer. No single one hour practice session, not even a week of piano lessons from the best teacher in the world teaching 24/7. Just not possible and really not what learning piano or any instrument is about. It's not a contest. People have different reasons for and expectations from learning piano and books should try to match those reasons/expectations with what they offer, but really a good piano teacher is the best guide. I'm not a piano teacher but if I were recommending the book I'd say it is well suited to new players who wish to delve into performing popular music (e.g. Christmas tunes, Billy Joel, Elton John, etc.) more so than those seeking a 'classical' piano education- but there's nothing wrong with that or the approach in general. In fact, I think it's a great way to motivate new players who will come across familiar tunes that have pretty simplified arrangements. One big bonus in the book is having a CD accompaniment. I of the camp that believes knowing what a piece should sound like helps new students.

I've read critiques that say the book is strong on C position fingering which is completely false. It covers other major and minor scales. Some also state it is weak on theory but for it's size it actually covers quite a bit without being too overwhelming. All in all I think it's a great starter book for most learners HOWEVER there are a couple of weaknesses.

One weakness is it's lack of discussing the circle of fifths. It's nice to be spoonfed a couple of easy keys but it wouldn't hurt to cover this very important concept early on. I can understand it's exclusion as being the kind of thing that seems to raise more questions than answers but that's probably not a bad thing in a self-instruction book.

Another weakness is the lack of discussing standard scale fingerings for one and two octave runs. You run into them eventually and it's so much easier to begin using them off the bat than to learn them later.

The last weakness is the sparse examples and practice material. I'm not deducting anything from this book for a lack of including a hundred plus pieces of sheet music but the fact is that some concepts in piano require a lot of practice and examples to fully sink in. Take music reading for example. Which reader is going to be more proficient- the one who has read fifty 4/4 bass and treble bars worth of examples or the student who has read 300 completely filled pages of varying sheet music? Every example, every single example in the book should be practiced many many times in a variety of ways. That's how you learn the instrument and that can be a fun journey. At the very least I would hope any instruction book have a supplement or point to further sources of practice material- this book doesn't which is it's Achilles heel. I don't knock it because it's not the only one (most don't), but students who buy it should be aware of that and have something or someone to point the way to practice. Perhaps book 2 in the series does that.

That said, great book, lots of fun, could be better but a good starter. If I would add any advice to students who buy it:

1. learn circle of fifths, key signatures, Major/Minor Scale, Every scale pattern (visually) and proper fingerings for each scale.

2. Check out sheet music books from the library to practice reading music.

3. Download Major/Minor/7ths chord fingering chart and learn them.

4. Practice a few 'easy piano' classical pieces but be sure to listen to how they sound first, especially if you're completely new to the piece. Look in the library for free material and match it to free sheet music from the library.

5. Practice smart, network with other players and have fun. :-)

6. Remember, it's not a race.
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on February 10, 2004
Okay, I am a "middle-aged" adult, and for years wanted to learn to play an instrument and be able to read music. I first started out with the violin because I really liked the instrument, but didn't continue because it was too much at once (violin + reading music).
Anyhow, I recently picked up the Alfred's Piano course, in conjunction with a keyboard purchase, mainly to teach me how to read music. The piano was a learning tool more than anything. But this book has sparked my interest in the piano! I'm actually having a lot of fun "playing" the lessons (the keyboard helps too).
Overall, this is a great book that combines lessons, theory, and technique.. It's exactly what I was looking for. If you order the book, I'd recommend getting the book/CD combo.
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on May 4, 2007
About a month ago, I decided I wanted to learn to play the piano. I have been playing guitar for almost 5 years but had no experience with reading music or any professional training, and since I want to start recording some songs soon, I thought it would be nice to have some piano skills.

I chose this book based on other reviews, and they had me convinced. Well I've been using this book for about two weeks now and I cannot be happier! It's ultra-comprehensive, and starts simply but moves quickly. I love the exercises included in the book; they have helped very much with reading notes (which I am finally learning!) I'm almost on page 40 (out of more than 150, I believe.) The songs to practice are fun, and I can't even believe how much I've learned in the small span of time I've been practicing.

If you want to learn how to play the piano, buy this book! I can't say whether it's a substitute for a good teacher, since I've never had one, but if you are self-motivated and prefer to work at your own pace (and thus enjoy learning even more!) I would recommend this book 100%!

Hope this helped!
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on August 10, 2012
We bought a piano (Yamaha C2) when our youngest daughter Lia expressed interest in playing the piano in 2009. I turned 50 that year and decided that I wanted to learn to play as well as I always had an interest. I played musical instruments while growing up but never that seriously (no marching band, etc.) so I knew how to read music but never a keyboard based instrument that required two sets of staffs (melody and chord) to be read simultaneously (sometimes the left and the right hands go in opposite directions and mostly at different beats!). So I started with Alfred's All-In-One Course Book 1, then 2, teaching myself how to play (also purchased Book 3 but have only peruse through it but haven't started it yet). Once I learned the basics though, I figured that "Life's too short" and that Alfred's taught me enough fundamentals that I should just start playing music I enjoy for self entertainment. In this video, I play short snippets here and there from Andrew Lloyd Weber's "The Music of The Night" from Phantom of the Opera. I thought it was impossible at first (so many sharps/flats) but you soon realize that you just play on the black keys instead of on the white ones. I wrote the keys and fingers used to play the key (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 convention starting with your thumb) on the notes to simplify and eventually learned to play the whole song. Like most compositions, there are several pages of music but only a fraction of it is unique and the rest are variations on the same theme. I play the only the unique snippets here and there to try to fit the video within the acceptable limit for Amazon Video Review. Anyway, I hope you also tell yourself that "I can do it" and after learning the fundamentals, just start playing like I did as it is quite rewarding (much better than singing since the piano does the heavy lifting). Hope you enjoy! Yes, "you can teach an old dog a new trick."
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on February 12, 2008
This book is good for adult beginners in that it starts them playing songs right away. It uses a Middle C approach, however, which I do not care for as I think it makes it more difficult to play later on. I teach piano for all ages and I've found that when I use the Music Tree series (for adults and children) my students have an easy time reading music. When they use a Middle C approach, they associate the fingering with note names and have a hard time telling me that the 2nd space in treble clef is an A (and so on). Re-learning to read music is always frustrating. That being said, I do think adults have an easier time breaking this habit, so I would not say not to purchase this book. There is also theory in it, which is a plus. I would say it is good, not great.
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on April 30, 2011
Based on a few recommendations, I decided to give this book a whirl as my first introduction to piano playing. I can read music thanks to the high school music course several years ago, but I'm pretty rusty. Trying to fit this in between university studying and homework, I decided to go the self-taught route, though I absolutely recognized this as generally being a poor decision. But hey, I'm pretty self-motivated, so why not?

I made it through level 1, and part-way through level 2 before deciding to switch books. There are several major problem with the series that I've noticed and that eventually drove me away from it, as well as various minor issues.

The first problem is the music. It sucks. No better encompassing word for it. The music is simplistic and boring. A lot of the music consists of simple Christian hymn-style tunes. I might have expected "When The Saints Come Marching In" and its friends in a children's piano course, but this is being aimed at adults. The music has no atmosphere, no texture, and overuses simple refrains (again, a lot of this is what one would expect to hear in a church). I'm not religious, but I'm not opposed to good classical religion-inspired pieces; these are not that. Level 1 ends with a simple arrangement of "Amazing Grace" as its anticlimactic grand finale. It's hard to remain motivated when, no matter what you do, you don't like the sounds that are coming out of the instrument.

Another problem is the hand positioning it teaches you. The book picks a few very rigid positions and sticks with them. Your hands will be in C, G, or middle C positions (with both thumbs on middle C). That's it. The first level doesn't encourage moving your hands around, except as optional supplementary bits on a couple exercises where it encourages you to move up an octave or two (still staying in C, G, or middle C). The second isn't much better. By the time you need to move your hands, you're too firmly set in the way you've been taught which inevitably results in a frustrating stall.

A similar problem exists for the left hand. The book will teach you a chord. You then play that chord in the next several exercises, even when it sounds ugly (these are ugly arrangements of boring songs). Then it adds another chord, and then you play the two chords in the next several exercises. You're not given much more to work with on the left hand until much later on, and then, again, it's too late. Stall, crash, burn.

One issue that only really became apparent after I switched away from it is that this series doesn't teach you much about music. It teaches you how to play a keyboard. It doesn't teach you why you're playing what you're playing. It doesn't give you any background information on the style of music, the piece, the composer. All how, no why. Again, this hurts motivation, and it does nothing to encourage improvisation or composition.

Generally speaking, the book is slow. Exercises progress sluggishly, with considerable repetition (and with the musical selection, little to no reward for that repetition). There are few pieces that are even a little long, and it often felt like I was just memorizing a song rather than learning any useful techniques.

Finally, the very worst thing about the entire series are the CDs that come with it. I can't say enough bad things about these. You get a terrible sounding "recording" that sounds as though it was recorded using the built-in Windows MIDI synthesizer, with a piano on one channel and an awful "band" accompaniment on the other. It's about the same quality as you get from an $80 keyboard's auto-accompaniment feature, and it's utterly wretched.

After this experience, I decided to try my luck with something else. Based on other Amazon reviews, I picked up The Piano Handbook (A Complete Guide for Mastering Piano, Book With CD) (also, with more reviews and a Kindle version but a higher hardcover price, at The Piano Handbook: A Complete Guide for Mastering Piano (wth CD); as far as I can tell, same product), as well as Piano Workbook: A Complete Course in Technique and Performance both by Carl Humphries. They're terrific, but considerably more difficult than the Alfred series; they can't be worked through at anywhere near the same pace as the Alfred books, and they can occasionally get frustrating. The payoff is much greater though. The two books complement one another, each progressing the same way but providing different exercises. These books do everything the Alfred series didn't. They have terrific music, even right off the bat, starting with great classical pieces that don't get grating after only the second time through. The books provide background on the piano itself, on the musical styles you're looking at, the songs and composers. They have basic advice on improvisation. They *focus* on one area of music at once, gradually progressing in a very natural way. In opposition to the Alfred series, Humphries' books have you moving your hands early on, and doing all sorts of things with the left hand. The sustain pedal, rather than being thrown at you before you even have the loosest of grasps on the keyboard, is added when it makes sense. And the CD is terrific, with actual piano recordings from an actual human playing with actual emotion.

The Humphries books just highlighted for me exactly what was wrong with the Alfred series. Piano books don't need to be boring and demotivating!
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on August 2, 2007
I love this series for teaching piano. It is very methodical and logical. And I love that it incorporates the Hanon exercises. I see students grow leaps and bounds using those!

If you use the correlated 'Greatest Hits' book, you've got a teaching/learning package that can't be beat.

By the way, the series is labeled 'Adult' but I would recommend it for any student who is past the age of brightly colored pictures and kiddie lyrics. I guess I'd recommend it for anyone over the age of 13.
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on February 18, 2012
Several of the less complimentary reviews complain that the book is boring or slow... it's a beginner book. One states that there are other books that are using classical music and not some of the simplistic music, one calling 'When the Saints Go Marching In' a children's song. Really? If you've ever been to New Orleans you will note that every drunk in town plays it.... but I digress.

This is a beginner's book. I'm taking lessons and my instructor had no other adult students at the time and the only material was either very advanced, or kiddie books featuring 'London Bridge', 'Mr. Froggie' and other embarrassments for adults to play. Now, I should mention that I'm over 60 and have never taken any musical lessons of any kind. Before starting lessons five months ago I could not even read music. This book has been a tremendous learning tool for me, but again, I have no musical education whatsoever. Those who have played piano or have taken other lessons where they have learned to read music and possibly have learned theory will undoubtedly find this book too elementary.

I have read that there is too much playing in the key of 'C' and that's a bad thing. Well, for a beginner, it's a good thing as it allows you to start playing some simple songs fairly quickly and that's really the way to keep beginners interested and motivated isn't it?

As with all educational pursuits, first you need to define you goals. If you goal is to become a serious player, you definitely won't be there at the completion of this book (can't comment on successive books as I don't have them yet). If your goal is like mine, to just be able to play to amuse myself, I think this book will put you on the right path. Some of the things I like about the Alfred's courses are the supplemental books; you can pick up books with a lot of additional songs that correspond to the lesson books; my teacher has asked me to choose some songs to play and it isn't that easy to pour through books looking for songs that I can play at my beginning skill level.

As for music theory; you won't pick up a ton of it in this book as it's just too advanced for people needing a book this basic. However, I have found the 'Idiots Guide to Music Theory' to be a great book to help me get more up-to-speed on theory, and I use my teacher to help me with the parts that I don't understand.

There are a lot of good beginning books out there, but frankly, you really can't compare them to working with an actual teacher, and I guess I supplement my teacher with this book.... or is it the other way around?
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