Tools

What piano should I buy? What books should I buy? What audio or video gear do you use?
Here are all the tools I use to learn, inspire, and educate people through playing piano.

Disclaimer: Some of these are affiliate links at no extra cost to you, so feel free to support me 🙂 

  • PIANOS
  • AUDIO GEAR
  • PIANO BOOKS

88 Key Digital Keyboard under $400
Alesis Recital

I bought this keyboard’s younger brother, the Alesis Q88 (no speakers).

This version has 5 different piano sounds, with built in speakers and a music stand. If you don’t want to spend $1,000 on a keyboard and want the benefit of Amazon’s 30 day return, I suggest buying this keyboard. 

The keyboard is full size, with 88 semi-weighted keys, pedals, and a bench. You want weighted keys in your keyboards to learn how to play with dynamics – louds and softs (among many beginner lessons to learn).

Best Beginner Keyboard under $1,000
Roland FP30 (or FP10)

I’ve tested this over the Yamaha P45.
As much as I like Yamaha because of my Yamaha U3, this Roland FP30 is by far the best feeling and sounding quality keyboard with 88 weighted keys.

If you can’t afford the $700 price tag, see if you can find one used.
Personally, I’d rather invest in something of value, and sell it if it doesn’t fit.

The resell value on this Roland is higher than the cheaper Alesis keyboard.

My Acoustic Upright Piano
Yamaha U3

This piano packs the punch of a Yamaha Grand Piano in a compact size.

I was fortunate to have immigrant parents that saved every penny to invest in my education. A full size Yamaha U3 is $15,000. 

We got ours secondhand for about $5,000.
See if you can find pre-owned pianos at your local music store.

Audio Recorder + Interface (6 XLR ports)
Zoom H6

If I could only have an all-in-1 solution to record audio – it’s the Zoom H6.

This is the best bang for buck, buy-once-cry-once solution.
Battery powered, 2 different microphone attachments. 

  • This is an audio recorder – you can record audio to an SD card remotely.
  • This is also an audio interface – you can connect to USB and use the built in microphone, or any of the 4 XLR ports.

I believe It also comes with free software. A cheaper alternative is the Zoom H4n, if you don’t wish to plug XLR microphones into your PC.

Audio Interface for Studios (2 XLR ports)
Steinberg UR22MKII

This is for if you record at home, or in a studio
This audio interface is plugged into the wall.

This audio interface comes with 2 XLR ports (for 2 microphones).

It also comes with a free DAW (digital audio workstation) software called Cubase LE. Some versions comes with Cubase AI as well.

Another good one is the Scarlett 2i2, but I didn’t buy that one.
The forums will tell you why for some marginal benefit.
I just like Cubase better.

XLR Microphone under $100
Marantz Professional MPM1000

I have 4 of these condenser microphones.
At $79, they are the best bang for buck XLR microphones.
They feature XLR ports and a stand.

They’re light and come with a foam pop filter.
You can attach them to mic stand arms.

You’ll need an audio interface like the Steinberg UR22MKII or the Zoom H6

Professional Shotgun Microphone
Rode NTG3

This is the most expensive microphone I own.
You probably don’t need it. You’ll need an XLR to for this.
I use it for interviews, or specific recordings that require a focused point of audio to record.

How To Make Overhead Piano Videos?

SMALLRIG Cool Ballhead Arm

You can mount almost any camera, phone, or microphone to anything. 
I have 5 of these, and they’re only about $20 each.

I use this to mount my cameras and microphones to make overhead piano videos. The Arm allows you to tighten and clamp around poles, tables, or rails.

At the other end is a 1/4″ threaded screw to mount your camera, phone, or even microphone.

They’re very useful for travel or use outside to mount cameras, microphones, or mobile phones to cars, railings, especially if you don’t have a tripod.

For Early Beginners
Faber & Faber: Piano Adventures

This is the easiest, piano book for beginners – and it’s only $7!

  • You don’t need to know how to read music.
  • You get started playing right away on the black keys.
  • You can learn up to Old MacDonald had a Farm on the 1st day.
  • Best beginner book for children, colorful illustrations
  • I have used the Faber & Faber piano series since 2008 to teach private piano lessons.
  • You are introduced to the notes on the grand staff by page 30

Highly recommended for early beginners, and people who wish to start playing the piano right away, and gradually ease into reading notes on the grand staff.

For Adult Beginners
Bastien Piano Basics - Level 1

This is a piano beginner book that’s also less than $10.
You don’t need to know how to read music.
There is minimal instruction that distracts you.

  • Large collection of short tunes to play
  • Gradual progression in difficulty
  • Bastien also uses the pre-reading approach (play right away)
  • The book is easy to read, in black and white. 
  • After pre-reading you will be introduced to the grand staff.

I use the Bastien Piano Basics series for teens to adults in private piano lessons. Highly recommended for adults who wish to start playing the piano right away.

For Experienced Beginners
Leila Fletcher Piano Course

This is a classic, tried and true piano beginner book at $15.
This is for beginners who are ready to read sheet music.
If you master this book, you can play most easy sheet music you can find online. 

  • This is a more advanced beginner book
  • You start learning on the grand staff right away
  • Large collection of popular traditional and folk tunes
  • The book is easy to read, in black and white. 

After using the Faber and Bastien series, I graduate beginners to the Leila Fletcher Piano Course to learn more piano pieces. Learning to read music is like learning to read English – the more books you read, the faster you get. 

Highly recommended to piano students of all ages who wish to graduate from beginner status to intermediate piano repertoire.

Book List

The resources I use with my private students.
Use these to improve your technique, sight reading, ear training, and ability to learn new music faster.