One hand alone music for beginning piano students is pretty hard to find. See the letters below for some suggestions.
I'm teaching a six-year-old piano, and she only has a left hand. I've scoured the internet for beginner books for left hand only, but I can't find any.
I'm currently just writing out little songs for her, but she is extremely musical and it would really help to have a proper book. Do you know of any such beginner children's books?
Thanks so much for your help,
I have been there. And I do not know of any actual METHOD book for a child with only one hand.
The strange thing is that many composers have actually written rather DIFFICULT music for one hand (almost always the left hand, that I have seen), even classical composers. Visit this page on www.imslip.org and you will see a long list of piano works by classical composers just for the left hand.
The problem is that these are not beginner-level pieces! I am afraid you are going to have to make do with existing method books and adapt them for your student's use. What you are doing for her now, already, is surely the best thing for her.
Some skills will come sooner
Since she is able to focus on just one hand, your student will probably be able to learn some piano skills a lot sooner than a two-handed child. I'm speaking in particular of finger substitution (changing from finger 5 to finger 4, for example), and of crossing under and over, as for a full scale or a chromatic scale.
"On the Other Hand" by John Robert Poe (shown below, teeny-tiny graphic) really does have songs playable by just one hand. And they look intriguing; if you go to this page, you can scroll down to "John Robert Poe" and click the preview buttons to see the music sheets for one hand.
The music looks pretty fun! Much of it students could learn by rote.
Some of the featured pieces and books here are for one-handed playing. And a nice feature of the Sheetmusicplus website is that if you look at a particular book or piece, just like Amazon, they will show you similar items that were purchased by other visitors to that product.
What IS Five Finger Piano Music?
I have found that "Five Finger Piano music" doesn't necessarily mean any such thing - what it really seems to mean is five fingers times two = ten!
But there is also "music for one hand", and if the fingering is changed, it could be for either hand. I suggest that you hunt for lead sheets and check the suitability of each song; I have a page which links to all my lead sheets.
Think DUETS for your one-handed student
Duets are obviously going to be a big part of her music. There's a chance she will play chords very early and love them.
Have you looked at the Secondo part of my Greensleeves arrangement? It is an easy way to introduce broken chords, and could hardly be easier (except for the beautiful black note in the middle of the E major chord).
And PEDALLING for beautiful sonorities
Is she using pedal yet? Probably she can't even reach the darn thing - but it will make her one-hand-alone melodies and chords feel full and satisfying when she occasionally makes use of it, even if she has to stand up.
Start your search with these books
Check out some of the books and sheets at Sheetmusicplus that I have linked to on this page. Most of them are for beginning Elementary to Intermediate.
If you investigate "Left Hand Solos - Classical Themes", you may wonder a bit at the names of all these classical pieces you have never heard of before! But despite their funny names, the songs are indeed classical. For example, "Plus & Minus" is by Schumann; "Out of the Past" is by Czerny, and "Memories of You" by Gurlitt.
Here are the featured songs in the John Thompson book "For Left Hand Alone", three of which you can look at in preview:
The Beautiful Blue Danube by Johann Strauss (This looks very nice, and not too terribly hard)
On Parade (looks very fun to play!)
Midnight Boogie by Jack Foy
Echoes From Schubert (based on the Erlkonig - it looks like a very full-sounding arrangement of that piece using scales and chord fragments)
The Ballet Dancer
On The Banjo
Farewell To The Piano by Ludwig Van Beethoven
In The Hall Of The Mountain King by Edvard Grieg
List of one-hand piano series in chronological order:
10 Nocturnes for one hand alone (2016) - 5 for the right hand, 5 for the left hand
Album for One Hand Alone No. 3 (2016) - 16 short piano pieces (8 for the left hand, 8 for the right hand)
Album for One Hand Alone No. 2 (2016) - 20 relatively easy piano pieces (10 for the left hand, 10 for the right hand)
Gymnnopédies - 5 Elegies for one hand alone in G Minor (2016) - Satie-inspired pieces for the right hand or left hand alone
10 Nocturnes-Etudes for one hand alone (2016) - 5 for the right hand, 5 for the left hand
Album for One Hand Alone No. 1 (2016) - 18 relatively easy piano pieces (9 for the left hand, 9 for the right hand)
Amygdala Nocturnes in A / A Flat / A Sharp Minor (2015) - challenging Nocturnes for left / right hand alone and for 2 hands
6 Elegies for one hand alone in B Minor (2015) - 3 for the right hand, 3 for the left hand
6 Nocturnes-Etudes for one hand alone in C Minor (2015) - 3 for the right hand, 3 for the left hand
24 Valses melancoliques for one hand alone (2014) - in all 12 minor tonalities for left hand alone / right hand alone
18 Preludes for one hand alone (2012/2013) - as pianistic challenge or for pianists with only one arm/hand
Printed Booklets available on Amazon for: all above mentioned series
Pianist Recordings available on Spotify, iTunes / Apple Music and many other platforms for: 24 Valses melancoliques
Other places to look
Another idea is to hunt in violin books, or the method books of other one-note-at-a-time instruments, for catchy melodies, and use them for the beauty of the melody or for improving notereading. Of course, you would have to write it out.
Even regular method books can be adapted... and have you looked at The Perfect Start for Notereading? Melodies are shared between the hands on most songs, but many could be played with one hand alone.
Take a look at the intermediate-level blues piece, Midnight Blues by Carol Matz: it looks like a lot of fun!
So what is possible for a one-handed pianist?
Watch the video of Nicholas McCarthy, below, a one-handed pianist who graduated from the Royal College of Music. An article from The Telegraph tells his story... He shows what is possible for a musician who plays one hand alone, if the desire is there.
A special one-hand-alone student such as yours challenges the imagination and your determination as a teacher... I hope these ideas are helpful.
All the first-year material I give my beginner students.
Piano keyboard sheets, scales, chords, note-reading exercises, and over 256 pages of music!
This beautiful song book for piano & voice "Esther, For Such a Time as This", available as a digital download, tells the riveting story of the time when Jews in ancient Persia faced a foe named Haman, and how a brave young queen risked her life to save her people.
A good choice for a singing story-teller, an operatic group, a short theater production, or a class of children!
This book is also available from Amazon as a paperback.
This book is available as a digital download from this site. Visit this page to see some free examples from the book.
It is also available from Amazon as a paperback!
This is the perfect easy start for little pianists.
And when they start reading white-key notes on the staff, this is a fun easy resource to say each week, "Choose a new black-key song at home this week and figure it out to show me next lesson!" They will be spending more time at the piano.
A perfect read aloud storybook
for little boys or girls.
The Adventures of Tonsta highlight the travels of a very young boy with a good heart, who goes about helping folk in trouble.
With a red cap on his head and a sack of tools slung over his shoulder, Tonsta seems to meet people in distress wherever he goes.
Lots of trolls in this book - including one who gives him a Christmas gift!
Please note that all comments are moderated, and will not appear until I have approved them. Also, IF YOU ARE ASKING FOR MUSIC THAT IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, YOUR REQUEST WILL BE IGNORED. That's pretty much any music written in the last 75 years...
Hi, I'm Dana! (Say that like "Anna".) I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.
Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.
You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.