Everyone who plays a musical instrument encounters stumbling blocks or hurdles from time to time. From beginners who have spent the last few months perfecting scales and the simple melodies in nursery rhymes all the way to professional musicians who are performing concertos in packed concert halls throughout the country, every piano player experience setbacks at some point.
Boredom from practicing the same style of music over and over is especially common – the trick is to catch that feeling before you completely lose your drive to play! So if you’re feeling worn out from the same style of music, why not consider trying out a different genre? Some of the best songs to learn on piano are some of the more contemporary tunes. Maybe a catchy song that you hear on the radio will sound even better when you transfer it to piano – especially when it’s you that’s playing the tune! It’s always fun to hear a song from the original recording and then be able to play it yourself.
Of course, the songs don’t need to be brand new Top 40 hits, either. The ’70s and ’80s classic rock era is full of great piano songs to play. You’ll typically find with these songs you’re covering the parts for multiple instruments, so at times you might be playing a bassline with your left hand that is quite different than the melody with your right. Sometimes the person who transcribed the song will make it simpler to play, which can make learning the song easier, but it may not have quite the same sound as the original recording.
Finding Popular Songs
Any song can be transcribed for piano, but sometimes it’s hard to find the sheet music. Your local music store should have a decent selection of piano books for popular rock and pop music, and you can also do an internet search for piano sheet music for a particular song. We suggest talking to your piano teacher before doing any searching on your own, because he or she might already have access to the sheet music, or be able to teach you by just listening to the song!
Your private instructor might also have a few ideas for some popular songs that are fun to play, easy to learn, and sound great on piano. It’s important to have a few songs that you can learn quickly – that way when if you’re getting frustrated with a particularly hard passage in your latest musical endeavor, you can blow off some steam by playing one of your old standards!
Some Ideas to Get You Started
While everyone has different opinions on what the best songs to learn on piano in the pop/rock genre are, the following songs are some of the most popular:
Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” is a true crowd-pleaser, and is a song many people will assume you know as soon as you tell them you play piano! It’s not a very difficult song to master, the sheet music is readily available, and the tune is admittedly quite catchy. The left hand plays an ostinato broken chord bass line, and whether you choose to sing along with the piano will determine the right hand’s notes. Either way, it’s a very recognizable song to add to your repertoire that your audience will love.
Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” is another song that has a simple melody and bass line. You and your piano teacher will have to determine the easiest way to play the song, as the original version has you playing octaves with your left hand the entire time. Unless your hands can handle stretching the entire octave for the entire length of the song, it might be better to play with a single note in the bass line to avoid straining your hand.
The final song suggestion we have is Coldplay’s “Clocks”. Even though this song is over 10 years old, it’s still one of the best songs to learn on piano! You will be playing block chords with your left hand and broken chords in your right, which harmonize to create the full piano part played by the band. Just like in “Piano Man”, you might find that unless there is a singer, the song doesn’t sound quite the same as the original recording.
Good luck with finding other tunes that you’ll consider to be the best songs to learn on piano. As always, make sure to ask your private instructor before you start playing anything new, as he or she might have some suggestions for you!
Photo by Steph W