My piano student just finished their first books. What would be a good recital song?

Question by Jerica, Blackfoot, ID

This is one of the MOST ASKED questions. Picking music outside of a student’s method books can seem overwhelming. With 5 years experience working at a retail music store, I CAN HELP!


PICK A BOOK with a small collection of solos instead of just a piece of sheet music. It’s a lot more cost effective and will give the students more options to choose from.

2. When shopping online or at a music store look for the level PRIMER or EARLY ELEMENTARY.

3. If overwhelmed, look for books by the SAME PUBLISHER as your favorite method book.

4. TEST DRIVE THE MUSIC (Go to the music store or search on youtube).

5. Error on the EASIER side.

{{{{{{{{  Look below for my top solo book picks   }}}}}}}}



  • A piano solo book with 7-10 songs is about the same price as a student’s performance book. A single piece of sheet music costs about half that.
  • I like to purchase the book and put a piano studio label on it. I lend it out each year to a different student.
  • You can also have the student purchase the book and learn all the songs in the book throughout the year.

2. Look for PRIMER or EARLY ELEMENTARY level music.

  • Every publisher labels their music a little differently so look for these words in the description but also make sure you look at the music.
  • As you look through or play the music search for symbols or notes that your student has not been introduced to. Ask yourself: How many lessons would it take to teach this?

3. Look for books by the SAME PUBLISHER as your favorite method book.

  • Most publisher offer solo books that go right along with their method books. Sometimes you don’t have to look very far. Google the name of your method book, the level (ie early elementary), and piano solos. The endless possibilities will appear.
  • Look on the cover of the book or google it when looking for the publisher. (Piano Adventures would be Hal Leonard Publishing, Alfred Basic Piano Course would be Alfred Publishing, Bastien Piano Basics would be Kjos Music)
  • Publishers LOVE to make things easier for piano teachers! YAY! Most of them have promotional packages you can order that have several books for a discounted price.

Check publisher websites: CLICK HERE to see how easy FJH Music Publishing made things for you.

4. TEST DRIVE THE MUSIC (Go to the music store or search on youtube)

  • Take time to try out the music. Most music stores have an available piano and a sales person specifically trained to help you.
  • Youtube is a great place to hear lots of options. (Parents love to post their child’s recital performance)
  • Several websites offer an audio clip example, as well as, an image preview.

Just like food, there is a lot of music to choose from. People have different “tastes” of sound, tempo, and style. That’s what music is ALL about! So make sure you give your student two or three options and don’t be disappointed if they don’t choose your favorite. Ha ha!

5. Error on the EASIER side.

  • It’s always better on a student’s first recital experience to choose an easier song. Remember playing for people can me intimidating and being confident is important!
  • Learning a recital piece will go a lot smoother if it visually look familiar to a student.
  • For a student’s first recital, I like to choose a song very close to their level that is maybe a little longer or has options of playing an octave higher or an octave lower.


Click on the picture for more information about the book.

Contest Winners, Book 1

FJH Solo Standouts, Book 1

Grand Solos for Piano, Book 1

The Best of Martha Mier, Book 1

Belwin Contest Winners, Book 1


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *