Learning new songs on the piano can be a difficult and intimidating task as a beginner. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to make learning new piano songs much easier.
Whether you find sheet music in an easier key or learn a modified version of a song, you shouldn’t have to practice boring, repetitious music just because you are a beginner.
In fact, finding and learning music you truly connect with is one of the best ways to make fast progress as a beginning pianist. Read on to learn the best strategies for learning new songs on the piano as a beginning student.
Keep a list
The first step to learning new songs as a beginner is to compile a list of the songs that you would like to learn. This way, you will always have a collection of material to return to. If you ever get bored or start to lose concentration on the piano you will always have a backup stash of resources to keep you motivated and inspired.
Keep yourself on track
Additionally, keeping a list of songs you would like to learn is an effective way to gauge your progress on the piano. The more new songs you learn, the faster you will master basic piano chords and finger patterns.
Each new piano song you learn will make the following song all that much easier because you will begin to recognize that many songs on the piano follow the same basic patterns.
Find a suitable version for your skills
The world of piano sheet music is a vast and sometimes bewildering place. For many popular songs, there can be literally hundreds of different versions scattered across the internet.
This is one reason why it is beneficial to practice with a piano app like Skoove. The songs on Skoove naturally progress as your skills increase, which makes your development smooth and easy.
If you are searching around on the internet for suitable sheet music, here are a few tips that will help guide your way:
Simpler key signature
- For your favorite new piano songs, look for sheet music that is in an easy key. Some of your favorite songs might be in a more complicated key signature and therefore will be more difficult to play as a beginner. Look for sheet music in simple key signatures like C major, G major, A minor, or E minor.
Lead sheet style
- See if you can find sheet music that is notated in lead sheet style. This means that you will have a melody notated in treble clef with piano chord symbols notated above. This is a simple and effective way to learn new piano songs as a beginner.
- If possible, see if you can find sheet music with simplified rhythms. Sometimes songs that we truly enjoy listening to and would like to learn on the piano sound rhythmically simple. But, when we look at the notation, we find long strings of tied 16th notes and feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the sheer volume of notes. Your best strategy for success here will be to find sheet music that is notated appropriately for your skill and knowledge level.
Break the music down
Once you have found suitable sheet music for your level, the next step is to break the song down into individual hands. Learning small chunks of songs is an effective and simple strategy for learning how to play the piano.
First the right hand
Begin by learning just the first two or four measures with your right hand. This will most commonly be notated in treble clef. Make sure you have a simplified rhythm and key signature.
If you get stuck, check yourself against the original recording. But be careful! If you have found sheet music in a different key signature, your version on the piano will sound at a different pitch than the original recording. Make sure you keep that in mind as you practice.
Then the left hand
Once you can comfortably play the right hand part, move on to the left hand. Employ the same strategy of breaking down the music into simple chunks. Learn the first two or four measures with your left hand. Practice it until you feel comfortable, then add another two or four measures. With practice, you will soon be able to play the entire piece with your left hand.
Bring the hands together
Once you feel at home with both hands separately, start to practice both hands together. Once again, use the same strategy. Try just two or four measures with both hands at first so that you can get the feel for it. Practice extremely slowly at first so that your hands are moving in sync.
Slow down, you move too fast
By practicing at a slower tempo, we can examine the physical aspect of playing new piano songs with both hands on a more microscopic level. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the most certain path to being a shredding fast pianist is to practice as slow as you possibly can. This ensures that your coordination is impeccable and the metaphoric wheels do not fly off when you start to crank up the tempo!
Patience is a virtue
Be patient with yourself at this step, especially if it is the first or second time you have attempted to play a song with both hands. Like learning any new coordinated skill, playing the piano with two hands can be a bit tricky at first. But, if you practice slowly as advised here and choose some easy songs to play on the piano, you should be grooving along quite quickly!
Do not get hung up
Once you have figured out how to play both hands of your new piano song reasonably well, give yourself a little celebration! Great work! It is quite an accomplishment to be able to play both hands of a new piano song that you chose for yourself. Not everyone is able to do that, so be happy for yourself!
And then keep going! Return to your list of the best piano songs you would like to learn and go for the next one that piques your interest. Follow all the same basic steps:
- Find music that is appropriate for your skill and knowledge level
- Break the music into smaller bits
- Learn the right hand measure by measure
- Learn the left hand measure by measure
- Check yourself with the recording
- Put both hands together
If you follow these basic steps, you will be able to learn new piano songs faster and faster each time. You will soon build up a large repertoire of music that you enjoy to play and you will be able to perform for your friends and family if you so desire. You will be able to play more challenging music and be able to start identifying some of the basic patterns that occur in all piano music.
And always remember, Skoove is here to help you at all points of your piano journey. Whether you need a little structured practice to help guide your way, or are interested in trying out some new songs or concepts you might not have approached, Skoove is available with a 7 day free trial. Check it out today!
Author of this blog post
Eddie Bond is a multi-instrumentalist performer, composer, and music instructor currently based in Seattle, Washington USA. He has performed extensively in the US, Canada, Argentina, and China, released over 40 albums, and has over a decade experience working with music students of all ages and ability levels.