Piano books make great gifts during the holiday season. A teacher may help by letting you know which level is most appropriate or which publications have the best edition of pieces, but you may also feel free to explore and purchase books on your own. One thing to keep in mind for beginners is that books that are labeled as “easy piano” may not be as easy as you think. If you are searching for music for a complete beginner, look out for books that are labeled “early elementary” or “5 finger piano” - those tend to be the easiest. When looking for a specific level book - keep in mind that level numbers are not based on a universal system of grading. A “level 3” of a given book may be slightly different or more difficult than a “level 3” of another book. It all depends on the publisher and how they organize and determine the materials that go into each level.
The most commonly used order of difficulty in piano books is as follows:
5 finger piano
One of the easiest ways to ensure getting the correct level is to look at the publication of your current lesson book and stay within that brand of books. If a student is using Piano Adventures Lesson Level 2A, it would be safe to get a Piano Adventures Christmas Level 2A or Piano Adventures Pop Level 2A etc.
If you see or would like to find a book that interests you but is in a different brand, it doesn't hurt to get it at the same or slightly lower level in order to play just for fun or a slightly higher level for a challenge. If the book comes only in "easy" or "advanced" - keep in mind that "easy" usually covers all levels leading up to advanced. A good teacher will know how to work with any book you may find or advise you on which books would be best.
Jodi Russell, B.M.,M.M.,NCTM