There are probably hundreds of thousands of piano music books available and this number is enough to overwhelm anyone! Fortunately, most of them are organized in various categories to make their selections fairly easy. The following describes some of those categories while disregarding for a moment the cost, language, or locality of where they may be used.
Finding piano music books by composer is always an option and finding music in this category will strengthen your appreciation of the artist behind the music. There are hundreds to choose from and they range from the most popular to the virtually unknown. The following is a list of the more popular composers:
Johan Sebastian Bach
George Frideric Handel
Franz Joseph Haydn
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Ludwig van Beethoven
Johann Strauss II
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
By convention, piano music books are also categorized by skill:
Beginner – appropriate for the pianist who is learning about basic music notation, scales, tempo, basic rhythms, scores, and simple melodies for example.
Intermediate – appropriate for the pianist who is learning about chords, dynamics, articulation, cadence, and music variation for example.
Advanced – appropriate for the pianist who is learning about playing solo or as part of a duet, in addition to other complicated aspects of piano composition.
Piano music books categorized by genre really shed insight into why classical piano music was written and what external forces in history influenced the way that it was composed. The major genres that we have are the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Baroque Era, the Classical Era, the Romantic Era, and the Twentieth Century. One of the problems in appreciating classical music (as well as any other form of art) is failing to appreciate the time in which it was created and the societal pressures that influenced its development. Yet it’s really amazing to see how that appreciation transforms into a deep respect the moment that its history is understood.
Since each one of us plays the piano for different reasons, we can select our materials according to our own motives. Whether the motives are technical, historical, or out of sheer admiration, we now have an ample supply of materials that can help shape our experience with playing the piano into one that is uniquely our own. In the absence of such choice, we are left alone to dictation and a situation that breeds conformity instead of creativity.