Selecting Your Piano Repertoire: 15 Great Pieces to Consider

PianoWith so much piano music out there, have you ever wondered how your piano teacher selects the best material for you to work on? Depending on your level, interests and goals, there are so many great songs to inspire and excite you. Here, Albuquerque piano teacher Steve O. lists out 15 fantastic options to explore…


When selling real estate, the mantra is “Location, Location, and Location!” For piano teachers, it’s your careful choice of materials and piano repertoire that can act as a sure incentive for keeping piano students and watching them eagerly progress. Keeping a library which includes the following works will allow you to show your students how to explore and find the pieces that excite them.

First, the classics. One cannot overestimate the value of a recognizable composer or tune. Most students will be happy to play popular arrangements, such as Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy.”  This, plus the first section of “Für Elise” after a couple of years are goals that thrill most children and parents.  Now, for the less obvious Beethoven winners:  The “Russian Folk Song” in A minor (once the student’s hands are big enough) can drive a student from listless to purposeful. With all selections, I recommend spending valuable student time solely on works in their original form, once the late-beginner stage is reached.  The Keith Snell Piano Repertoire books are excellent in this regard.

Alternately, say that your student responds to passionate or dramatic music.  They will likely love music in the minor mode. As the student reaches early intermediate level,  try adding the awesome “Music For A Dark And Stormy Night” collection by Faber and Faber.   Such favorites as Heller’s “Avalanche” and Gurlitt’s “Storm and Stress” are included, complete with poetic word-pictures for the teacher to read with the student.   I have seen student imaginations “turn on” to this repertoire, advancing their reading, rhythmic and phrasing skills.   Next stop?  How about Mendelssohn’s “Venetian Boat Song” in G minor, or even Beethoven’s First Sonata.

What about Mozart and Bach?  Upon reaching late-intermediate stage, I have found that tweens will go the extra mile to learn all of “Rondo alla Turca” or “Toccata” (but maybe not the Fugue) in Dm.  Of the simpler Bach works, the “Musette in D” is often more appealing than the (Pezold) “Minuet in G.”  If the sight of sixteenths doesn’t spook your students, Prelude #1 from “The Well-Tempered Clavichord” is pretty easy.  So are many arrangements of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”

As you peruse the many fine collections available, don’t neglect excellent works that have become common because of their great appeal.  Burgmüller’s “Arabesque” and “Angel Harmonies” fall into this category, as does the bright opening movement to Clementi’s Op. 36,#1 Sonatina.

Of course, I have just scratched the surface here.  From these recommendations, a teacher can make a list of great piano repertoire, considering level. And students, don’t be afraid to speak up if you want to add one of these pieces to your repertoire!


Albuquerque piano teacher Steve O.Steve teaches music performance, music theory and piano lessons to students of all ages in Albuquerque, NM. With Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Composition and Theory, Steve’s specialties include classical, jazz and popular styles. Find out more about Steve, or visit TakeLessons to search for a teacher near you!


Photo by fundraisingnetz.


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