I'd like to get my wife something as a birthday present that would help her with her piano playing as she is a bit bogged down and feeling fed up with it at the moment.
Background: she is probably somewhere around Gr 5 level. I think she was probably a bit better than that once when she was playing more consistently, but that would have been quite a while ago, say about 15 years. Then the usual things like pressure of work got in the way - she didn't completely stop playing but it was all very unstructured and just stuff she knew. About 6 years ago she decided that she would get back to playing more seriously and started having lessons again. That didn't work out very well: the teacher she found was very keen that she should work through the grades. He decided that she should start with Gr 5 (hence my assumption) as that would be a sort of revision and then Gr 6 would be starting to move forward. However, she just got fed up playing stuff she didn't actually like - the usual story of finding something she liked in one of the lists, something she was ok with in another, and only stuff she hated in the third. In the end she dropped out of the lessons. Then we moved and the piano didn't; she played an electric keyboard but didn't like that much and didn't practise a great deal. About 18 months ago we finally got around to buying a piano and she is enjoying playing but floundering a bit in terms of selecting material and making progress.
She generally likes playing baroque and classical (her very favourite is Bach, obviously not noted for simplicity). She has LOTS of sheet music, I don't think there could be anything useful that she hasn't got. In my genuinely humble opinion, I think she needs one or two things that could be used to make measurable progress, so she feels she's getting somewhere.
I play recorder and have enjoyed working through the Schott Baroque and Renaissance Anthology series. You don't have to like all the pieces, and don't have to reach perfection with every single one of them - with the ones you don't enjoy so much, do them and move on. There is a Baroque Keyboard Anthology but only a Vol 1 as far as I can see, which it says is suitable for players with 2-3 years of experience, so I'm not sure if that would be too simple or might be fun to work through. It's not particularly expensive so I might get it anyway. There are 4 vols in the classical anthology series - can anyone suggest which would make the best starting point? Probably vol 2 or 3.
Are there any good books of technical exercises that can be worked through? The sort of thing where the exercises present a bit of a challenge but you can do them and move on to the next one and, again, make some sort of measurable progress? For some instruments there are sort of "gold standard" books of exercises, I don't know if there's anything like that for piano.
Any suggestions gratefully received! However, she doesn't want to take formal lessons (which are not really possible anyway) so it has to be something she can work through on her own.