This list of best piano sheet music editions come from my personal experience of using these scores, and from research of what professional musicians say about these scores.
If you have purchased sheet music and it has not come from one of these editors, chances are, you have purchased a bad edition to your music. If you are going to spend money on sheet music, you need to do it right!
Editions are ranked from most recommended on top to least recommended on bottom.
Bärenreiter urtext was founded in 1927 by Karl Vötterle in Kassel, Germany.
This edition is best for composers Faure, Schütz, Johanne Sebastion Bach, Handel, Telemann, Gluck, Mozart, Schubert and Berlioz, as they have their complete compositions published.
Using the latest methods of musicology research and modern printing, Barenreiter promises the most qualified and authoritative editions.
In the UK, ABRSM is one of the largest music publishers and the largest music education body. It provides quality exams for musical students all over the world. In its signature series, ABRSM provides high quality editions to classical composer’s works. It is now considered to be one of the best editions for any classical music score.
In 1972, Wiener Urtext Edition was founded. This edition attempts to follow the composer’s original writing as close as possible. Inside of the sheet music score, there are “Preface,” “Critical notes,” and “Notes on Interpretation” sections. These sections give certain insights into the music, such as information on the history of the piece, what sources the editors used for the music, and how to play in the stylistic period.
This edition’s cover for its sheet music is in a deep, luscious orange.
You can never go wrong with the Henle Verlag Urtext. This edition, in its lovely and simple blue covering, is trusted and recommended by all professional pianist and teachers.
Founded by Gunter Henle in 1948, this great sheet music edition company focuses on printing urtext edition of the best classical composers.
Being an accomplished pianist, Henle came to notice that there were not any accurate editions of a composer’s musical work. Many of the editions that existed were filled with numerous errors and fallacious commentary that was added by previous editors and arrangers.
As of now, the Henle Verlag catalogue contains more than 1000 titles.
In the publishing house located in Munich, Germany, twenty-employees work for the Henle Verlag editions. These employees include musicologist with PhD’s and experienced music dealers.
In 1869, Auguste Durand, a composer and organist who studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Cesar Franck and Camille Saint-Saëns, founded the Edition Durand Salabert Eschig.
This edition is known for its high quality of producing sheet music from French composers, notably Debussy and Ravel. Composers who had their music composed in their lifetimes with Durand Editions include Louis Aubert, Andre Caplet, Claude Debussy, Paul Dukas, Gabriel Faure, Vincent d’Indy, Maurice Ravel, Albert Roussel, Camille Saint-Saens, and Florent Schmitt.
A notably editor for this edition is Alfred Cortot. Look especially for his edition of Chopin’s music.
Edition Peters has been publishing sheet music for over 200 years. In 1800, its founders, Franz Anton Hoffmeister and Ambrosius Kühnel, established the company in Leipzig.
It successfully published the music of the greatest contemporary composers of the time, such as Haydn and Beethoven.
The company’s name was “Neuer Verlag des Bureau de Musique” at the time. After the death of Kuhnel in 1814, the company was passed down to Carl Friedrich Peters, a Leipzig bookseller. This edition strives to produce cheap, yet critically accurate publications of sheet music.
Edition Peters is known for its yellow and light green cover page.
Dover Music Publications offers the cheapest and most inexpensive editions to your favorite music scores. Dover offers the widest variety of sheet music as well, in comparison to other music publishing companies. The covers to each of their sheet music is beautifully decorated and aesthetically pleasing to look at.
While their edition is the most affordable, they are known for having a few typos in their scores. If you are a amateur pianist who is not looking to spend too much for their sheet music, then Dover is the way to go. Their sheet music is an excellent first copy to any composer’s work to have.
In 1941, Haywood Cirker founded the Dover publishing company. This company focuses on publishing out-of-print titles of classical scores. For example, Their edition of the Bach Prelude and Fugues is a reproduction of the expired Bach-Gesellschaft edition.
While this edition is not known for its quality, it is known for having the best editions for rather obscure pieces, such as the Scriabin Piano concerto.
If you are looking for this edition, look for the black and gold text on the cover page.
Take special care of the sheet music for this edition, as the cover page is rather thin and does not protect the score too well.
Also, this edition is known for having quite a few typos.
Other Good Sheet Music Editions
Other editions that are very good, but did not make it to the list include: Paderewski, Budapest, Schirmer, Boosey and Hawkes, and Chappell/Intersong edition.
These editions did not make it because they specialize only with a specific composer. The Paderewski edition specializes with Chopin, and the Budapest specializes with Liszt.
The Schirmer and Chappell/Intersong editions, although are popular, did not make the list because they are known for containing errors and misprints. (Schirmer is actually good with Scarlatti and other Baroque composers)
Boosey and Hawkes does not provide meaningful insights into their editions.
While being the leading website with sheet music, musicnotes.com does not actually have the best editions to the music on their website.
Musicnotes.com is good that is provides a free sample of each piece, and allows the performer to get a gist of the piece they want to purchase. It also allows a customer the comfort of printing sheet music from their own homes. However, if you are going to spend money on buying sheet music, you deserve to have the most superior and authentic version/arrangement of your piece.
When reading this page, you will learn that the music you receive is actually inferior, and that there are better versions located either on this website, bestsheetmusiceditions.com, or elsewhere on the internet.
Let’s take a look at a classical piece for an example. For the classical piece, we will use Beethoven’s 23rd piano sonata in F minor, Op. 57, The Appassionata. Let’s first look an example from Musicnotes.com:
And let’s look at the Dover Edition for the Appassionata:
Some major advantages we can see with using the Dover Edition are the larger print, details, and fingering suggestions. For a difficult piece such as the Appassionata, having such markings is necessary.
The fingering suggestions for the first movement are of great importance. With the diminished arpeggio of death on measures 13-14, having a good fingering that optimizes movement is crucial.
Heinrich Schenker, the editor for the Dover edition of Beethoven Sonatas, provides good fingering suggestions for this arduous passage. Reading this fingering suggestion will provide a higher chance of success when executing this passage, as it offers insights on what fingering will be able to comfortably play this. Heinrich Schenker was known for having small hands (I cannot find a source for this, but this was told to me by one of my piano teachers), so it is possible that this will not be the best fingering for every pianist. Even if you choose to not use the exact fingering, having at least a suggestion for fingering will aid you in finding a fingering that is ideal for own your hands.
Click here to read what Murray Perahia, a world class concert pianist, says about using Schenker’s fingering suggestions. He admits that while they are uncomfortable for his hands, the suggestions are very musical.
To read more about Schenker’s decision of musical fingering, you can read this article.
When performing this piece, whether for a school audition or performance, any knowledgeable person in the audience will listen carefully to this passage. Successfully playing it will give a great impression to the audience.
For a musician studying this piece using the musicnotes.com edition, they will struggle tremendously! They may invent fingering that makes playing the piece more difficult than it already is, and not pay attention to details in the piece as they are not covered.
There are many spots throughout this sonata that can be covered to show the problems of using musicnotes.com, but this should suffice.
If you are going to spend music on sheet music, you should buy a score that will facilitate learning, not hinder it.
You can purchase the Dover Edition for Beethoven Piano Sonatas Here:
Or you can purchase what is currently considered the best edition for the Appassionata here:
For more information on Beethoven piano sonatas, and the best editions for any of Beethoven’s piano music, please click on this link:
In this video, some problems with the sheet music that one can purchase on Musicnotes.com can be seen.
Using Brian McKnights’ Never Felt This Way, we can see how issues with arrangements can apply even to popular songs.
My story for using this piece begins with being asked to play this song at a wedding. Being a good sight-reader with piano music, I wanted to learn a version of this song that was written, as I would be able to learn it faster in comparison to learning the song by ear. I went to Musicnotes.com to buy the music, and was very disappointed with the arrangement I received.
This arrangement has missing chords, strange notes, and does not contain the second verse. For a musician that is dependent on sheet music and cannot read chords or use their ears well, this would be extremely problematic.
To learn Brian McKnight Never Felt This Way most accurately, I recommend watching these YouTube Tutorial Videos:
And of course, listening to the real recording and figuring things out on your own is recommended as well.
As of now, I have failed to find a website that provides quality sheet music arrangements for popular sheet music. Please comment below and share if you know of a good website for popular sheet music!
With the advent of gamification, or educational gaming, there are many more methods of learning the piano other than the traditional method of standard piano lessons.
Playing games makes learning fun and enjoyable! For both young and older students, learning the piano through games helps to retain focus while learning, provides a different medium for learning, and provides a stimulating way to actively learn for long periods of time.
With guitar hero, a video game that emulated actual guitar playing, an article was written showing how this game can actually help with learning the real guitar. Here is an article showing this:
Similarly, these piano games will surely help those who want to learn the actual piano. Concepts from these games can be transferred to actual piano playing.
This page will offer insights on the leading piano games, and show how these games are helpful in learning the piano.
Synthesia is like Guitar Hero, but for the Piano. (It was originally going to be called Piano Hero, but Activision didn’t like this and threatened to sue them.)
Using a keyboard with MIDI capabilities, you can learn your favorite songs in a unique way. Colored dots that represent different keys fall down from the screen, and you attempt to play the notes accurately once they reach the keyboard. Many users enjoy this game and say that it greatly helped them with learning piano.
Here is a video of Synthesia in action:
Synthesia also has a learning pack that has many features such as reading music with notation and other practice features. These features are very suitable for those that which to improve their sight reading and have different ways of practicing.
You can see the best sight reading app here with this video:
Piano Maestro by JoyTunes
This amazing app by JoyTunes allows you to use an actual piano to play the songs on the app! No cables or bluetooth connection is required! You can also use the built in keyboard as well.
Because you can play this on any piano, this app can become a regular part of practicing the piano.
This best piano teacher app contains over one thousand songs, and you can choose from the most popular songs and classical pieces as well.
This best piano learning app helps with sight-reading, playing at a consistent tempo, rhythm, and visualizing the keyboard.
You can also play games where you have to play the note names.
This app is the most recommended app for piano games. This will motivate any student of any age to practice the piano diligently.
This best piano app iphone and best piano app ipad can be easily played on the go with these mobile devices.
Piano Tiles 2 by Cheetah Mobile
Piano Tiles 2 is one of the most popular apps that you can get! With over 4 million downloads, high ratings, and good reviews, you can be assured that you will have a great user experience!
In this mobile app that can be used for Iphone, Samsung, IPad, and other mobile and tablet devices, you will possess an interactive piano learning device in the palm of your hand.
With this app, you play with four tiles that simulate piano keys that are being played. Choosing a song of your choice, you can use the four tiles to imitate playing the actual song.
While there are 88 keys on the piano, and this app only has four, there are still many things that can be applied to actual piano playing. Concepts that can be taught include rhythm, sight-reading, playing multiple notes, and sustaining notes.
An advantage that this app has over other piano apps is that you have to hold down the notes that are being sustained. This actually teaches you to hold down the notes that you want to have sustained, instead of simply letting go of the notes as soon as you play them.
It is important to note that this game cannot substitute actual piano lessons. However, if you wish to create an interest in the piano for a young child, starting them off with this game will definitely help!
Magic Piano by Smule
This creative app by Smule allows you to use up to four fingers to play popular and classical songs.
This size of this game is less than 50mb, so you can easily store it on your mobile device or electronic tablet.
The notes are positioned in a way that emulates actual piano playing. For example, as the pitch rises, you will play notes that go towards the right side of the screen, which is similar to playing the high notes on a piano.
You are challenged with this game to play notes accurately, in time, and together with the chords. With these challenges, you will actually develop your rhythmic ability, ability to play notes simultaneously, and association of notes and pitch.
This game is known for developing a desire to play the actual piano. If you have a young student or child that is struggling to practice the piano, playing this game will motivate them to continue practicing.
Piano App by Yokee
This piano app, which can be used on mobile devices, is a fun and exciting way to play and learn the piano! While it does not feature an actual keyboard while playing, it can teach you about relative distance and spacing between intervals, playing multiple notes simultaneously, and rhythm.
Listen carefully to the contour, or the shape, of the melody while watching the notes being presented in the video. As the melody rises, the notes go farther right, emulating the rise of pitch as if you were playing on a real piano. As the melody falls, the notes go towards the left end of the mobile device, simulating playing low notes on the piano.
While this may not seem like much, for a student of the piano, they will learn how to associate the rising and falling of pitch. As the pitch rises, you will play more towards the right end of the piano. And as the pitch lowers, you will play more towards the left end of the piano.
In addition, playing with proper rhythm is important, as playing a note with the incorrect rhythm will cause you to lose points. Teaching rhythm is extremely difficult and is not something that can be learned easily even in traditional lessons. The best way to learn rhythm is to experience it! Rhythm can be experienced through dancing, bobbing your head to music as you are listening to it, or playing a fun game such as this.
Playing games like this will also encourage the gamer to actually learn the song on a real piano. Being familiar with the contour of the melody will actually give you a head start with learning the actual song.
Similarly to Piano Tiles 2, this game cannot teach the piano like an actual piano teacher can. It can, however, create an incentive or a desire to want to learn how to play piano, and provides a head start for learning the piano as well.
This game is like Guitar Hero, but for the piano. You play the game using a mini keyboard with four white keys, which connects to your mobile or tablet device.
The game features 40 pieces by famous classical composers such as Beethoven, Bach, and Chopin. You will have to install “TinyBand” and buy AAA batteries for the keyboard device.
You are tested on your ability to play the notes on the screen accurately and with good timing. The more precise you are with playing the notes, the higher your score will be.
Some complaints with this game include the price and the size of the app on your device. The app takes up more than 800 mb.
While the notes on the keyboard are smaller than an actual piano, and you will not be playing the actual notes on the simulated keyboard (F,G,A,and B), this game does provide a fun platform for playing piano classics.
Whether you are deciding to teach yourself the piano, or you want to teach beginning piano students, there are several considerations that need to be made. In this blog, you will see that choosing the best method book is key to successful teaching and learning.
The best method books present their information in a systemic and simple way. The use of visual aids, fun exercises, and activities will ensure that you will have fun as you are teaching or learning the piano.
These stickers are an excellent visual aid that helps young piano students with learning the piano. You can easily place the stickers on the keys of the piano, and remove them when the young piano student is ready to move on in their playing. Your student will surely remember the note names and notation of the notes on the piano by using these.
You can purchase these stickers by clicking on the image below:
Here is a list of the most recommended beginning piano method books. Books are arranged in order of most recommended on the top, and least recommended on the bottom.
Alfred’s Basic Piano Library
The Alfred’s Basic Piano Library books were last published in 2002. These books have been used by many piano teachers for years. It uses three different books, a recital book that includes performance pieces, a theory book that teaches theory concepts away from the piano, and a Technic book which contains reading and rhythm exercises.
It begins with introducing the student to the names of the white keys of the piano. It then moves on to black keys, simple rhythms, and simple intervals. The songs that are introduced in this book accompany the concepts that are being learned. This book series requires the use of an experienced piano teacher. There are six different levels in this series.
This book contains instructions on how to play the piano, and also contains songs that the student can learn and perform.
This book introduces intervals of 6, 7, and 8. Students begin to learn scales, triads, and primary chords I, IV, and V. Dotted rhythms, such as dotted quarter notes and dotted half notes are brought up. Students beginning to move their hands away from the home position.
This book series for beginning piano lessons is excellent for very young children, ages 4-7. Children who are as young as four years old will be able to effectively learn from this series with the guide of an experienced piano teacher. The John Thompson’s piano books introduce concepts at a rate which is very good for young piano students. The songs in the book also contain piano accompaniment parts, so that the teacher can play music along with the student.
This book series is meant to be a predecessor to the red book collection of John Thompson’s modern course for the piano. After finishing this series, it is recommended to purchases the red books of John Thompson.
This book encourages the young pianist to begin playing with both hands. The students will learn new notes, and will have to come out of the comfort zone of the “home position” of piano. They will learn new hand positions for playing the new notes.
As a teacher, it is important to be very patient when the young student is learning new notes and new finger positions, as this can be very frustrating for a new pianist. Give the student a lot of encouragement, and do not the rush the process of them learning new pianistic concepts.
Terminology such as crescendo, decrescendo, repeat signs, and dynamic markings are taught. Students will learn notes from a low G (more than an octave below middle C) to a high G. Students will learn about phrasing, major scales, and articulations. Students will learn up to three flats and three sharps with the major keys (C, F, B flat, E flat, G, D, and A major)
New key signatures of E major, B major, A flat, D flat, and G flat are introduced. Students begin reading ledger lines below the treble clef and about the bass clef. Syncopation and broken chords are taught as well.
This book series is a best seller for beginning piano books. Before beginning this series, the John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course series or a similar book series should be completed first. This book starts off quickly with piano, and students are expected to already be comfortable with playing with both hands. This book is recommended for students ages 8 and over.
This book has the students remain in the five-finger positions. Students will play with both hands, and will gradually build more confidence and comfort with playing with both hands on the piano.
This book introduces the young piano student to great classical composers such as Mozart, Chopin, and Beethoven and to many famous excerpts from classical repertoire. Students will learn about contrary and parallel motion, Dominant Seventh chords, chord inversions, arpeggios, triplets, trills, and ledger lines. Students will learn pieces in multiple key signatures, such as A major and E flat major.
Students will learn about cross hand playing, interpretation, different styles and forms of music such as a March, sarabande, tarantella, prelude, sonatina, and ballad. Grace notes and accents are introduced as well.
For the young student, it is important to try and learn as many songs as they can from this book. This will aid the student in their ability to sight read, and they will become comfortable with the many forms of music a pianist is expected to perform.
Students will begin learning more advanced concepts on the piano. Students will play with the melody in the left hand, playing 5/4 rhythms, and playing polyphonic music. They will play arrangements of many famous classical pieces such as the second movement of Beethoven’s fifth symphony.
This book is for students that will enter the advanced stage of piano lessons. Many classical pieces, such as the second movement of the Pathetique Sonata of Beethoven and Rondo alla Turca by Mozart, are in this book. Students will begin building repertoire that can be performed. After this book, students will no longer need the aid of a “beginning” piano book.
This book series by James Bastien systematically teaching piano concepts to the beginning piano student. It features small pieces, pieces with accompaniment that the teacher can play, chord progression exercises, finger exercises, and performance pieces for the student to learn. This series was last published in 1997. James Bastien passed away in 2006 at the age of 71.
This series contain a Method, Theory, Technic, Solo, and supplementary books.
Students will learn piano basics such as note names, basic notation, rhythm, and how to play with both hands. Students will remain in the “home position” of piano playing for this level.
Note: It is recommended to buy all four books, as a young student needs to learn not only how to play the notes of the piano, but music theory and technique as well.
In this book, students will learn the notes from a low G (an octave below middle C) to a high F (an octave above middle C). The students five finger position, or home position, will be the left hand playing C,D,E,F,G and the right hand playing C,D,E,F, and G. Students will learn how to play in F and G major, and know the primary chord progression for these key signatures. Students will learn terminology such as time signatures, dynamic markings, staccato, tie, and slur.
There are two editions for this series. The well known 1976 edition and the new 1997 edition.
Important to note: While the favorite classic melodies can be used for any book series, the level of the favorite classic melodies books do not reflect the piano lessons book of the same level.
Contains favorite classical pieces such as Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. Focuses on using I, IV, and V chords in the keys of C, G, and F.
The new key signatures taught in this book focuses on major flat keys. Students will learn E flat, A flat, and D flat and their primary chord progressions (It leaves out B flat for some reason). Students will also learn the chromatic scale and learn how minor scales are formed. They will learn about the 3 different minor scales, natural, harmonic, and melodic.
Contains favorites such as Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto 1 and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony arranged for pianists at this level. Focuses on the keys of C, G, D, and E flat major, and a minor.
Alfred’s Adult All-In-One Course
This series is great for older people (16 and older) who wish to begin learning the piano. This All in One Course features lessons, which teach you songs to play, theory, and technique.
In these three books, you will be able to pick up the essential basics of piano playing, which includes learning scales, chords, reading music, and playing intermediate level piano music.
This book chooses the most popular and well known piano tunes, so that you will not be bored with learning beginning music. The technical exercises are well thought out, and should be practice daily. The theory works hand in hand with the pieces that are being learned, which provides a relevancy for each theory assignment.
It is recommended to work on this book series with the aid of a teacher.
There are various good editions for the music you are working on. WIth so many options, you must ask yourself, which edition should I purchase?
While this website offers its opinions on what the best editions are, what this website recommends the most may not actually be the best edition that you are looking for.
For example, the Barenreiter Urtext, a leading edition for composers such as Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart, does not include fingering suggestions. This is very suitable for the polyphonic music of Bach, in which there are multiple ways to find a suitable fingering for yourself. However, with a work such as a Beethoven Concerto, it may be extremely helpful to have fingering suggestions.
With Chopin, the current leading edition is the Polish National Edition. However, you may find that the Durand Edition edited by Alfred Cortot to be a more suitable edition for Chopin. The reason being is that Cortot wrote many exercises and practices to go with the Chopin works. These exercises give certain insights on how to properly perform a difficult passage.
Here you can purchase the leading National Edition for Chopin Etudes:
If you purchase a score of classical music, and the publishing company for that edition is not listed anywhere on this website, chances are, you have spent your money buying a bad edition to your music.
This edition is an example of a score you do not want to buy:
This edition of Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto by Classical Music Collection is quite bad. There is no information inside of this book about the publishing date. Also, there is not an introductory note or comments mentioning about the sources for making this edition. While this edition was very inexpensive, it is better to use IMSLP than to spend money and use an edition such as this.
As seen from this picture, the print is this edition is extremely tiny! You will have to squint your eyes in order to see the notes on this page. You do not want to have to spend extra time learning a piece of music simply because you cannot see the notes that well. This will only cause frustration and anger.
Safe yourself from such an inconvenience and buy the best edition for your music. If you are going to spend money, then you should do it right!
Buy Best Edition Beethoven
The most recommended edition for Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto on this website is the Barenreiter Urtext.