My Favorite Grade 3 Piano Books (RCM/ABRSM)

In today’s video, I’m going to show you a selection of some of my favorite Grade 3 piano books.

Most of the books we’re going to look at span a variety of grades – there might be a few grade 3-level pieces, but also pieces that are easier, and pieces that are more challenging.

Let’s get into it!

Grade 3 piano books: Categories

I’ll show you a couple collections to check out, and then go through some individually-composed books. We’ll go through all the main categories of pieces, including:

List A (Baroque)
List B (Classical)
List C (Romantic and Modern)

This list is fairly abbreviated, with only 10 books. I wanted to keep the list curated to the essentials, as opposed to showing you every single book possibility. No two teachers will have the same list – this is merely my opinion. However, many of the collections I’m going to show you are considered standard repertoire, and I think most teachers would recommend them.

Don’t think that you need to go out and buy 10 books, though. I encourage my students to choose a book from each level – a Baroque book, a Classical book, and at least one modern book (sometimes more than one, since the choices are more diverse). Feel free to get more if you’re a collector, but three books is more than sufficient.

Grade 3 piano books: Collections

RCM Grade 3 piano books: Repertoire and Etudes

Of course, a good all-in-one choice for pieces at a grade 3 level would be the official RCM books (repertoire and etudes). If you really don’t care about having a music book collection, this is the way to go, since it’s the simplest.

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Celebration Series: Piano Repertoire 3
2015 Edition. Composed by The Royal Conservatory. This edition: 2015 edition. Celebration Series. Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th century and 21st century. Method book & online audio. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.C5R03).

All of the pieces in these books can be used for exams, and there’s a selection from all the various categories – list A, B, C, and etudes.

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Celebration Series: Piano Etudes 3
2015 Edition. Composed by The Royal Conservatory. This edition: 2015 edition. Celebration Series. Method book & online audio. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.C5S03).

I personally prefer having a collection of individual composer’s books, but that isn’t right for everybody. These books definitely have their place.

Also check out the ABRSM grade 3 books – they’re similar in concept, but used for ABRSM exams.

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Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018 ABRSM Grade 3
Book only. Published by ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) (PE.9781848498754).

And even if you’re not doing exams, it’s still nice to have a collection of pieces all at one level to work through.

Essential keyboard repertoire, volume 1

By Lynn Freeman Olson

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Essential Keyboard Repertoire, Volume 1 – Book Only
100 Early Intermediate Selections in Their Original Form – Baroque to Modern. Edited by Lynn Freeman Olson. Graded Standard Repertoire; Masterworks; Piano Collection. Keyboard (Essential Keyboard Repertoire). Baroque, Classical Period and 20th Century. Collection. With introductory text (does not include words to the songs). 144 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.501C).

In the grade 1 and grade 2 versions of this video, I’ve pulled out this book – for good reason. It spans a wide range of genres (From Baroque to early 20th Century) and early levels (mainly spanning grade 1 to 4). It’s a huge collection, and can serve you well for many years of study.

Some of the grade 3 selections include the ones from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. We’ve also got some Bartok, Burgmuller’s very famous Arabesque, some Kabalevsky, and Schumann.

If you’re not interested in building up a collection of individual books by these composers, than I suggest this all-in-one approach. Otherwise I would go for the individual volumes (like Notebook for Anna Magdalena, Schumann’s Album for the Young, and so on).

Grade 3 piano books: Baroque

JS Bach: Selections from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach

Edited by Christos Tsitsaros

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Selections from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach
Edited by Christos Tsitsaros. Schirmer Performance Editions. Softcover Audio Online. 32 pages. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.296589).

Bach’s Notebook for Anna Magdalena is essential repertoire for any piano student – it’s a classic collection that spans from an intermediate level to early advanced (from grade 3 to about 7).

It’s also a very large collection, which is why I like this abbreviated version – it takes some of the most well-known pieces from the collection into one, non-overwhelming volume.

There’s also a long bit at the beginning talking about each piece, and the trills and details inside it. This is super helpful when you’re learning older musical styles like Baroque, where the music isn’t marked extensively like more modern music is.

In this book, there are four pieces at an RCM grade 3 level which are on the official syllabus, so you could learn any of these for an exam. Since it’s a Baroque-era book, it would be categorized as list A.

List B/Classical

Clementi’s Six Sonatinas, op. 36

We’ve been talking about Clementi a lot on this channel, and for good reason. Clementi is the gateway to difficult sonatinas and sonatas, and his sonatinas, aside from being good studies, are also fun.

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Clementi — Six Sonatinas, Op. 36
By Kim O’Reilly. By Muzio Clementi (1752-1832). Edited by Willard A. Palmer. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork CD Edition. Form: Sonatina. Classical; Masterwork; Romantic. Book & CD. 64 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.22525).

Sonatina no. 1, op. 36, is standard Grade 3 repertoire, and I push it on most every student I teach. It’s fast, it’s got scale patterns, and develops finger technique.

The other sonatinas get progressively more challenging, and are also worth learning in sequence. A must-have book!

List C/Romantic/Modern

Christopher Norton Connections 3

We’ve gotta talk about Norton! He’s a staple in my studio because the pieces are so fun and loveable – I haven’t met a student of mine who didn’t enjoy playing them.

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Christopher Norton Connections for Piano: Repertoire 3
Composed by Christopher Norton. Edited by Andrew Hisey. Christopher Norton Connections! for Piano. Jazz, Rock, Blues, Latin, Swing, Country, Funk, Reggae. Book. 40 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.CNR03).

Norton’s music encompasses a wide variety of modern styles, from Jazz to Latin to lyrical pieces, and everything in-between. There’s something for everything in these books.

What I like about Norton’s books is how they’re leveled – everything in the Connections 3 book corresponds to RCM grade 3, and so on. Even if you don’t follow the RCM, which many of you don’t, it’s really nice to have a book of pieces that are all at the same level to work through.

Bartok, For Children 1 and 2

There really is nothing like Bartok. His style of music is completely distinct, if not a little odd to our modern ears. But Bartok is essential at all stages – from beginners to advanced players.

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Bartok – For Children, Volume 1
Volume 1. Composed by Bela Bartok (1881-1945) and B. Edited by Peter Bart. BH Piano. 48 pages. Boosey & Hawkes #M060112300. Published by Boosey & Hawkes (HL.48012051).
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For Children – Volume 2
Based on Slovakian Folk tunes. Composed by Bela Bartok (1881-1945). BH Piano. 20th Century and Hungarian. Collection. With standard notation, fingerings and introductory text (does not include words to the songs). 44 pages. Boosey & Hawkes #M060112317. Published by Boosey & Hawkes (HL.48012052).

For Children 1 and 2 isn’t just for children (I’ve been perfectly happy to play through them as an adult, and some of the pieces are quite challenging), so please don’t be put off by the name.

There are tons of RCM graded pieces from this book, from grade 2 to 8. There are three specifically grade 3-level pieces, but 2 dozen+ more pieces at other grades. This is a great book for any piano music collection!

Kabalevsky’s 24 Pieces for Children, op. 39

I’m pretty sure I’ve pulled out this book in the previous videos as well – it’s got a range of pieces from a preparatory level to grade 5 and beyond. It’s a small collection, but a solid one. Plus, the grade 3-level piece in this collection, Clowns, is super-creepy, well-known, and fun to play.

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24 Pieces for Children, Op. 39
Piano Solo. Composed by Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987). Library of Russian-Soviet Music. 20th Century and Russian. Collection. With standard notation and fingerings (does not include words to the songs). 20 pages. G. Schirmer #ED2461. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.50330040).

I know I was proclaiming Bartok to be very unique and individual-sounding, but I usually lump Bartok and Kabalevsky together, since they were both composers in the early 20th Century. And they both wrote music for all stages of a student’s learning cycle – beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Anne Crosby – In My Dreams

I love these little themed collection books – they’re like CDs or albums, but you have to play them yourself. In My Dreams is a great collection of pieces with four at a grade 3 level. Titles include “The Stormy Sea” (very fun to play), “In My Dreams” (very lovely), and “Funny Puppy” (super cute).

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In My Dreams
Early Intermediate Piano Solos. Composed by Anne Crosby. Composer Library Series. Contemporary. Book. 20 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.HPA25).

I would encourage young and old alike to check out this collection – as an adult, I can say I actually enjoy this book. Like actually. It’s not just for children! The pieces sound fresh, modern and exciting.

Yokinao Nakada – Japanese Festival

I’m not even sure if this collection is even still in print, but I have to bring it up because I love it! This is the book that contains “The Song of Twilight”, which is a pretty popular grade 3 repertoire piece – and if you haven’t heard it, it’s beautiful.

This is a large-ish collection spanning a huge variety of levels and sounds – it can go from tender in one piece, to bizarre and abstract in the next. I also don’t feel like Asian composers are featured as much as they should be in Western music, and this brings a much-needed diversity of sound.

Schumann – Album for the Young, op. 68

Though there’s only one grade 3-level piece in here (on the official syllabus; there are a few others that are comparable difficulty), this is a book I’ll eventually be recommending in future videos, so I figured I’d start with this one.

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Schumann — Album for the Young, Op. 68
By Kim O’Reilly. By Robert Schumann. Edited by Willard A. Palmer. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork CD Edition. Masterwork; play along. Book & 2 CDs. 84 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.22527).

Schumann is one of the few Romantic-era composers who actually wrote pieces for earlier-level students. Other Romantic guys like Liszt and Schumann wrote the bulk of their music for advanced players, so it’s nice to see more accessible Romantic music at a grade 3 level.

Album for the Young covers the intermediate ground (grade 3 to 8), and a lot of the pieces don’t sound too “Classical” – they have character, such as The Wild Horseman, A Little Romance, and so on.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this tour through my favorite Grade 3 piano books! Let me know if there are other good ones I might have missed.

xo,
Allysia

Allysia has been teaching piano in Canada for nearly a decade, and has her Grade 10 RCM certificate. She especially enjoys nerding out to music history and theory. When she’s not making videos or teaching, she’s reading, writing, and jamming in a rock band.