Online Piano Lessons. There is no better way to get started on a path like playing the piano than to find a guide, and I would love to be a part of your journey! My teaching philosophy revolves around practicing joy when we practice and play the piano and sharing that joy with others when we perform. Check out the lessons page for more information on what you can learn, my rates and policies, and how to get started.
Josh Wright’s ProPractice Technique Series on Teachable. Josh is one of my favorite teachers on the internet; his attention to detail and ability to convey specific, technical information through video is impressive. This series helped me improve my technique and get rid of tendinitis. He covers everything from beginning all the way through advanced technique. You can view free samples of the ProPractice Technique Series on his Youtube channel here. Included in the course is entrance into a Facebook group of everyone in the “lifetime access” group, which is a great resource for feedback and discussion on all things piano. That’s been my favorite part of joining this course.
PianoTV’s Technique Series on Youtube. Allysia is an energetic and fun teacher whose Youtube channel is a great resource, especially for those who are just getting into piano. She covers everything from technique, to theory, and even a little history in a way that makes it feel more like a game than sitting down and studying. She also discusses ABRSM and RCM and how to prepare for those exams.
Cedarville Music on Youtube. Steinway artist, Dr. John Mortensen runs this Youtube channel on all things piano. He doesn’t have any intro courses, but he does cover a lot of fundamental-to-advanced techniques and does an excellent job explaining each of these. He’s got a fun but professional personality, and I would honestly love to have had him as an instructor in university. Dr. Mortensen also covers a variety of styles and topics I haven’t seen much elsewhere, like Irish music and Classical improvisation. Definitely check out his channel!
The Selection: How to Pick Piano Repertoire to Increase Momentum and Avoid Frustration. This post covers the basics of picking the right amount of repertoire to learn at once and at the right level. It shows you how to determine what level pianist you are and how to find repertoire (both public domain and pop) for your level.
The Practice Joy Music Practice Journal. This free pdf guide will help you set repertoire goals and organize your practice sessions in a way that inspires joy. Crafting positive experiences in our practice sessions makes us want to practice even more.
In addition to traditional journal pages and the “practice joy” pages, you also get a guide to practicing joy, inspired from the post 7 Steps to Practice Joy While Practicing an Instrument.
IMSLP’s Piano Pieces by Level Page.You probably already know that IMSLP boasts the largest, free, public domain sheet music library, but they also have this handy list of piano repertoire sorted into 11 different levels. There’s a search function and an easy drop down, so you can find a lot of free, historical music to sightread or perform. I encourage you to find some non-white, non-male composers!
Henle’s Levels of Difficulty. If you’re trying to decide if a piece is above your level, search for it on Henle’s website. They use a number system to rank pieces by difficulty. Many times they also note what ABRSM and RCM grades they are as well, so this is an excellent resource to help you pick repertoire.
Sheet Music Plus’s Levels of Difficulty. Sheet Music Plus is home to sheet music for any style and any instrument. Composers and arrangers have the option of publishing their works on the platform, which gives you access to a wider variety of sheet music than most other websites. Additionally, they rate their music by difficulty, so you can browse for your favorite tunes, knowing you’ll find something you’ll be able to play!
Musictheory.net. This site is completely interactive. It has both lessons and exercises for learning to read sheet music; identifying scales, intervals, and chords; harmonic analysis; and ear training. They also have an iOS app called Tenuto, which is convenient for apple users (sorry android folks; I’m suffering with you)! I send all my new piano students here with custom exercises on note reading that I’ve set up for them. It’s worth exploring if you’d like to get into music theory at all!
Open Music Theory. This website is completely free and interactive. It functions more like a traditional theory textbook but online. It goes a little deeper than musictheory.net and covers just about everything you could expect to learn in an undergraduate core theory course and more. What I really love about this site is that they cover more than just 18th century traditional theory. They have discussions on form in pop and rock music as well as poetry in music!
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music Theory. Perfect introduction to music theory. This was actually my first book on music theory, and it got me through pretty much everything I learned in my high school music theory class. This book covers learning to read sheet music and everything through an introduction to chord substitutions, arranging, and performing your own music.
It also includes a chart on intervals found in popular melodies in the chapter, “Transcribing What You Hear,” and it’s something I’ve used all the way through undergrad. For example, the theme to Jaws is a minor second, so if you want to hear that interval in your head, just think Jaws.
You can purchase it in good, used condition for under $5 at Thriftbooks, and if you do, I’d really appreciate you using my affiliate link!
The Musician’s Guide to Fundamentals. There are a ton of books out there that can get you started in music theory, but this might be my favorite. I’d definitely choose to teach out of it. Like the others, it covers the fundamentals of note-reading, scales, rhythm, and meter, but more than others it includes musical examples from more than just the classical era. There are folk tunes and pop tunes. But my favorite part is that this book has you learn by writing your own music and gives you all the tools to do so. Composing is one of the best ways to learn music theory (like why we learn to write our own sentences when we’re learning grammar), so this is definitely one of my favorites. It also has a lot of online resources (workbook, ebook, quizzes), so once you buy it, definitely check those out!
The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis. By the same author as the fundamentals book above, this theory and analysis text will take you pretty much through a typical undergraduate core music theory course (usually around 2 years of study). Like the other book, it includes musical examples from outside the typical Western Classical Music canon, so I find it more approachable. It includes a brief summary of the fundamentals covered in the previous book, so if you’ve had any experience with reading music, you can probably just skip to this book. It covers everything from tonal harmonic analysis, to counterpoint, to the 20th century, and beyond. This book also has a lot of the same online resources, so once you buy it, you’ll have access to those!
Tonal Harmony by Kostka and Payne. This textbook is used at the college level for most undergraduate introduction to music theory classes. It covers the same fundamentals as musictheory.net and 12tone’s youtube channel, but it also goes more into depth regarding harmonic function, modulations, and even goes into 19th and 20th-century harmonic function and introduces post-tonal theory (basic atonal and 12-tone serialism). It’s loaded with exercises with answers at the back.
You can purchase an older edition for less than $5 at Thriftbooks, which is perfectly fine because most of the editions only differ in a couple words or exercises here and there. The only thing you’ll be missing with the older editions is the audio examples (free on the publisher’s site for the most recent edition), but it’s easily remedied by cds for purchase, or you could find a pianist friend (or you could play the examples if you’re a pianist, which is what I’ve done).
12Tone’s Building Blocks playlist on Youtube. This channel covers basics of music theory along with analysis videos of specific popular songs in a hand-drawn style, which I find fun to watch. The Building Blocks series introduces music theory by answering the question “What is a note?” and moves into how to read sheet music and turn it into audible music all the way through functional harmony and chord substitutions. It’s great for those who don’t want to slough through a textbook and enjoy just watching videos.
Music Theory Online. Is the free online journal by the Society for Music Theory. This resource is for those of you who want to see actual analyses of pieces. Access is free, which is huge for academia, so this is an excellent resource for anyone who may be interested in delving deeper into theory and seeing if it’s something you’d like to pursue at a higher academic level.
Music Cognition is the field that covers everything having to do with how we think about. It includes studies such as neuroscience, philosophy, ethnomusicology, music therapy, and music theory.
The Routledge Companion to Music Cognition. This is one of the best resources out there right now on Music Cognition, especially since it’s such a new field. You can dig into the subject as deeply as you’d like, as each section begins with a general idea of the topic, provides further readings for ideas you may not be familiar with, and then dives profoundly into each topic. The editor is also one of my professors, and he is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about everything in the field (which is vast), and his words exude that passion. I highly recommend this as an introduction to the field, if you’re interested.
The Oxford Handbook of Music and Emotion. If you’re at all interested in how music interacts with our emotions, definitely check this one out. The book is arranged topically: multi-disciplinary perspectives (including psychology, philosophy, sociology, and more), how we measure emotion and music, emotion and music making, emotion and music listening, personality and development, and applications. If you’re new to reading scientific studies, it’s also a great introduction to understanding the benefits and detriments to different experimental methods.
Adam Neely’s Youtube Channel. Adam Neely is a bassist with degrees in Jazz Composition from Berklee (BM) and the Manhattan School of Music (MM). While his channel includes discussions on music theory, bass lessons, and music history, my favorite videos are the ones focused on the way our brains process music. Each video is a well-researched essay but in a less formal and more fun environment. I binge-watched his channel when I discovered it; he’s that entertaining, and I’ve gotten a lot more resources via his research as a musician. He also includes Q&A’s that cover everything about music in general.