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The best songs to learn the piano

When learning a new instrument it can lead to having a lot of different questions. Beginning pianists will often ask themselves what the best songs on the piano are, where do I find sheet music, should I start learning my favorite songs? These types of questions are totally natural and even though there are no best piano songs to start with, this list will point you in a perfect direction no matter what level of piano player you are. The music world is full of all sorts of skill levels, and whether you’re working on basic chords or trying to learn how to sound impressive, this is the best place to start.  

Top Skoove piano song lessons

More popular songs to play on the piano

 

When looking for the best piano songs to learn on piano you should make sure that it satisfies as many requirements as you might want. Yes, a beginning pianist might want to jump right in and play popular songs by Alicia Keys, Bruno Mars, or maybe famous songs by classical musicians, such as Moonlight Sonata or a movie soundtrack. These are all great choices, and they’re all beautiful songs, but great piano beginner songs are something that: 

  • Can be understood easily by a beginning pianist 
  • Played in a simple key with simple rhythm
  • Is a great song to listen to

Commonly students will try to find great music by measuring songs by Billboard charts. Often times this isn’t useful because charts don’t factor in music from other cultures, historical music, or all genres. 

A great musician will be able to find inspiration in music from Aretha Franklin to the most basic pop music. 

Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart. – Pablo Casals

Any beautiful song will have something to teach you regardless of difficulty, but you might want to make sure that it accurately matches your skill level. Skoove has done a great job of organizing even the most complicated songs, whether it be a jazz track or Beethoven or rock, and you can use it to learn to play it regardless of how difficult it sounds. The app has organized even the most difficult music by Claude Debussy into easily digestible lessons, which can be separated into single hands and then played with the included piano lessons metronome. 

What are the best songs to learn on the piano?

The songs that inspired you to learn in the first place!
  • These songs communicate something you connect to and something meaningful for you to say.
  • These songs are the greatest source of motivation as you work hard at developing the skills needed to play them.
  • These songs are important to you and so are the most natural place for you to learn to express yourself beyond words.
Collectively, these songs offer meaning, motivation and an opportunity to develop your expression and communication on the piano. These are great criteria to select repertoire by. What songs inspired you to learn?
An all time favourite is ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonhard Cohen from 1984. Skoove has arranged this song to make it accessible to piano beginners. Why not have a play now? The Skoove app shows you the exact fingering and waits patiently until you have played the right key.

Did you notice how quickly the sense of pulse (timing) became intuitive and you could focus on listening and expressing the music? This is the point all pianists aim to arrive at. By playing this song regularly you will develop your fluency, freedom and expression at the piano. You will also feel a sense of achievement when you begin to play the piece in fuller arrangements in the future. An arrangement of this song has even been used as an exam piece for advanced foundation level.

The easiest piano songs

In order to find the easy piano songs for beginners, you need to understand how songs are broken down into genre. A genre is a style of music, sometimes it can be defined by the time period it takes place in, like Norwegian folk music, or, sometimes it is defined by the type of musicians in this group, like a pop vocal group. Easy popular songs to play on piano are written by all different kinds of musicians, you just have to find the right genre. Musicians use these types of category words in order to define easily the types of things that they want to play. Easy piano songs for adult beginners are important to your learning, because if they can excite your musical sensibilities, you will want to practice and play them more often. 

I know that the most joy in my life has come from music. – Albert Einstein

Starting at the lowest end of the skill level, here are some examples of easy songs to play on piano. A key element in finding interesting music to play on piano that is in your skill level will be finding simple, easy arrangements.

An arrangement is:

  • When we take music that might be written for a more complex group of instruments, or performed by multiple people or singers and we take the same notes, and apply them to piano. 

This allows pianists to play interesting music from any genre or time period, and is one of the key benefits of using Skoove’s piano app

Best beginner songs on piano

Songs for piano beginners are typically written with simple piano sheet music like Piano Man by Billy Joel, and something that does not use complex chord progressions or time signatures like Moonlight Sonata. 

The greatest thing about learning simple beginner songs is that you can make arrangements of complex songs into piano songs for beginners. With the right sheet music, even piano pieces for beginners will be interesting and fun to play. These will have simple melodies and for the most part simple rhythms in music

Bill Withers – Lean On Me

The tremendous musician and singer Bill Withers wrote some of the most deceptively beautiful pop music to listen to and learn to play. These songs were a hit when they came out and are considered so even now, and were inspired by his combination of rock, soul, funk and gospel knowledge. His unique use of melody was inspired by a lifetime of playing back what he heard, how he lived, and creating respectful melody that you can sing. Playing Bill Withers is a joy for pianists of all skill level. His left hand groove and bass motion is an inspiration to all musicians.

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Bach – Musette

Bach wrote in the Baroque era but his music sounds just as alive, fun, and recognizable as a hit from today. Though a different part of every day life when it was written, keyboard music at this time valued structure, orderly compositional techniques, basic harmonies and beautiful tone. In learning this music you open a door into a different time. Playing popular piano songs from a different time period is an important part of learning to grow as a musician, and even Bach’s music is accessible to beginning pianists. Be careful about the left hand when playing this song, as it can be deceptively simple. Unlike other songs on this list, it has very few piano chords.

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Pink Floyd – The Wall

An amazing part of learning how to play sheet music and pop songs from other generations is realizing that as a pianist, with the right sheet music you can play music that was not written for the piano. This was incredibly common by musicians such as Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Scott Joplin, or Billy Joel. Musicians can easily learn to take guitar parts and arrange them to be played by pianists. A great place to start for this is to play a rock song like this, where the melody has been put into the right hand, and the other musicians in the band are being played by the left hand of the piano. This makes even the most complex rock music when put into piano music, a simple task for anyone, even at the beginning of piano lessons. 

 

 

 

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The Beatles – Hey Jude

The Beatles and Paul McCartney were responsible for some of the most inspired music of the 1960s and 1970s. Their music can be played with easy piano, or with altered pop piano chords. The sheet music written here takes what we know about common piano songs and adds in the complex harmony that steps outside of the traditional key signature, but allows this song to be played beautifully by any pianist, with easy to read sheet music. 

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Simon and Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence

This song is another great example of piano songs being adapted from simple guitar chords and vocals, to sheet music involving piano chords. You can find covers of this song performed by many musicians with the song using the same name, but the original version uses fingerpicked arpeggios, which, while being a difficult skill on the guitar, can be arranged for easy piano playing. Chris Martin of Coldplay has done a lot of this arpeggio arrangement for his own songs, arranging piano chords into small single note groups like a guitarist would. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clair De Lune – Claude Debussy

Much can be said about how lucky we are to live in the wonderful world of Debussy’s music. Clair De Lune is one of the most famous piano pieces ever written, that includes some of the most complex relations of harmony, melody, and rhythm most pianists ever see. When considered in the pantheon of piano songs, Clair De Lune will always be one of the most instantly recognizable and beautiful.

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Für Elise – Beethoven

Another one of the most immediately recognizable and beautiful piano songs is Beethoven’s Für Elise. Here we recognize a piano song for the sum of its parts: the difficult jumping left hand, the key signature, and the melody with very large leaps to play with the right hand. This piece has been the focus of many advanced musicians, and though complex, can be a great achievement with dedication. 

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Best piano songs by genre

It’s important as a musician to learn to recognize what type of musical genre you like to play in. Some artists like John Legend will operate in many different styles or genres at the same time, or fuse them together like welding different pieces of metal together. Often times also some songs will have a funk verse and an easy piano disco chorus, or a country western style ending, or a the bridge will switch into waltz time. 

Genres can be mixed and mashed together as seamlessly as different key signatures on the piano, but learning how to recognize and master the stylistic parts of each popular genre you enjoy will lead to the you achieving more success than ever before on piano! A perfect genre for pianists to start exploring, directly between classical and new music is Neo-classical! 

Neo-classical

Sony artist Florian Christl is a composer, pianist, arranger, and rising star in the contemporary classical world. Florian’s single, Fly, takes his classical-inspired songwriting to new, romantic heights. And now, you can learn how to play it in a new lesson created with Florian himself!

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Skoove also sat down with him to discuss his musical journey so far, read the full interview here.

Romantic

It is time for another musical journey. This time, to 1875, you are going to play the finale from the Ballet, Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky. In this Ballet, there are actually alternative endings, romantic and tragic. Can you play the piece in two different ways to match either a romantic or tragic ending? This is a creative way to explore expression. The Skoove app will listen and wait for you as you experiment.


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To deepen learning, watch this video of the Finale form Swan Lake Finale. As you watch the dancers allow your playing to be influenced by the co-ordination and freedom of their movements. 

Ragtime

The jaunty style of ragtime came from black American musicians in the 1890s. Exploring this style will imbue your playing with rhythm, chord knowledge and syncopation (a displaced regular beat).

Ragtime is lively and makes a great addition to your repertoire. You can start now with The Entertainer. The Skoove app will listen to your playing and give you instant feedback as you master the syncopations.

  

This uplifting and charming recording was done by Scott Joplin himself on Pianola Roll. It is a rare opportunity to enjoy his raw, authentic style. For budding pianists it offers a chance to expand aural sensitivity as well as to share in the joy of this music.

Discovering new styles of music is a great way to keep learning and deepen your musicianship.

Piano music conclusions

Ultimately, the best songs to play on the piano are the songs that will be the more enjoyable for you to play, even if they are easy piano. Simple piano songs are fun to play just like difficult songs, and just because something has a lot of complex patterns or high level of difficulty, the song will not be more or less good for you to learn how to play. The best songs on piano will be the ones that you like the most, and the ones that you feel the most connected to when you play it. However, developing the skill to recognize which are the best songs to learn on the piano involve identifying the skills that you have as a musician, and how you can capitalize on that skill by choosing something that is inside your skill level. As that skill level grows, your idea of what is best will also grow. Skoove offers many different difficulty levels and lots of topics to choose from. It is a great app for you to begin with, and continue using as your skill level improves over time.

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Author of this blog post:

 

Alvin Shipp is a Multi-Instrumentalist Composer, Performer, Producer, and Educator from Portland, Oregon currently based in Berlin, Germany. He’s worked extensively in the USA and Germany, has released Over 15 Albums. He has been teaching upper-level students for over 15 years, and currently lives as a Freelance Composer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer and Teacher.