For years, I have been looking for good books to teach from, but have always had a hard time finding any that I liked. After spending some time today at Barnes and Noble, I decided that from now on I am going to start teaching out of Dummies books.
Here are some of the reasons.
1. They are readily available - Anywhere you go you can find a dummies book.
2. They are so readily available that most of my students already tried using one to get started - It might not have worked for them but with a teacher to guide them through the book they will succeed and feel like they haven't wasted any money.
3. Dummies books have a lot of information packed in them - They might not be college level material, but there is so much info, I could probably teach for a year off of a single dummies book.
4. The "All-in-One" books have even more information packed in them - There is a 6 books in one for guitar and piano, and an 8 books in one for guitar, and they only cost around $35 brand new. So there is more information than most people will ever aspire to learn.
5. They are affordable. Yes, compared to a $8 starter book for kids, maybe they are more expensive, but most kids will fly through the $8-10 book in a few months, and as a teacher, I'm not getting a cut so why do I want to go through the hassle of changing up books all the time? Yes, theoretically it does provide kids with a sense of accomplishment as they finish each book, but you can make them have that same sense as they finish a section in the Dummies books, too.
6. They are written at a 5th grade level - Dummies books are for well, you guessed it dummies, but what's great about that is most kids who want to learn an instrument are pretty smart, so little kids are already slightly a head of their grade level (and a lesson could be broken up to make it easier for them). So little kids can use the Dummies books. And adults who always wanted to learn, but never had a teacher before can use the Dummies books, because they are marketed at adults anyway. And teenagers can use the book because it is fine with their age level. Everyone wins.
7. I love the cartoons!
8. Most of the Dummies music books cover a wide range of styles - take the mandolin book (yes, I will still be using my own mandolin books, as well) it has a lot of good information on all sorts of styles, not just bluegrass and country.
9. Supplemental material is available - the Dummies books also often have supplemental material, like the Singing for Dummies not only has a CD with the book, but there is another book Singing for Dummies Exercises that you can purchase as well.
10. Other Dummies type books are great and available as well. I also like the Idiots Guide books and the Everything books. All are great books for beginners, and might be a book my students already have, so I'm going to be using them as well.
Aside from the Dummies books, I also use my own Mandolin Dead Man's Tuning series for Mandolin, and I also use my own Piano book for piano. I also have available for my students workbooks for both piano and stringed instruments. And I highly recommend Earl Scrugg and the 5 stringed Banjo book for banjo, as well as the Banjo Songbook by Janet Davis. I also recommend the awesome book Fretboard logic for guitar, as well as How to play like Eric Clapton. Very great books for understanding how to play blues and rock.