I recently had a chance to review two new installments in the "For Kids" series of books from the world's largest print music publisher, Hal Leonard Corporation: Piano for Kids and Drums for Kids.
Honestly, it surprises me that these are the newest ones (they already have three books for guitar, two for ukulele, and a bass and harmonica version) - I would've expected piano and drums to be more popular than guitar. However, there are some definitely positives to this series. They help scale down complicated concepts to be understandable even for a student working alone, they have clear instructions, they include recently written melodies or popular kid-friendly classics, and they include online accompaniment tracks. One unique aspect of the accompaniment tracks is that they are on a PLAYBACK+ audio player that can change tempo, key, and looping. That makes it even easier than using a CD or static recording that forces a kid to keep up with its speed. The audio player is particularly nice for the drum version, which is less fun to listen to without the music in the background.
Although it's "for Kids," I wouldn't recommend using these for very young children. The pacing is too fast for young beginners, hand positions change nearly every song in the piano version, and the drum version throws students into complex trap set rhythms very quickly. As a music teacher, I know that younger students would likely find that frustrating, even if they did have a teacher support. However, for older students, this method would be awesome, as it would allow them to quickly progress to playing "real" songs that they and their friends know. It would even be appropriate for an adult beginner who has no previous experience but wants to try learning an instrument. The suggested age range is 6-10, but I probably wouldn't use it for beginners younger than 8 (although I'd go although up through adult, as it's not as childish looking as the "for Kids" would imply).
Piano for Kids and Drums for Kids are available from fine music and bookstores everywhere or by visiting www.halleonard.com.
Take a "Closer Look" at Piano for Kids HERE.
Take a "Closer Look" at Drums for Kids HERE.
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