Famous Black Musicians From Then Til Now [Interactive Timeline]

Black History Month is an excellent time to highlight the many famous black musicians who made their mark in American history. The music of these talented composers and performers transcended cultural borders and inspired many to follow in their footsteps.

Some of these musicians overcame obstacles throughout their careers to raise awareness of black music. Others used their skills to fight social injustice and make a positive impact on society. Although they came from different backgrounds and musical styles, each of the artists below contributed to the music we know and love today.

*Click the “Play” button next to each artist to hear a sample of their music!*

Famous black musicians

Inspiring, World Famous Black Musicians From Different Eras

James Reese Europe (1910s)

famous black musicians - James Reese Europe

James Reese Europe is referred to as the “Martin Luther King of music” because of his contributions during the early days of ragtime. Europe, who was born in Alabama in 1880, became the first black bandleader to perform at Carnegie Hall. He later led his band to France, where they performed for Allied armies during World War I.

Europe’s bands were full, symphonic ensembles – a contrast from the smaller groups of New Orleans that became the face of early jazz. Instead, Europe brought ragtime together with the military band tradition of John Philip Sousa and other composers. This hybrid style led to Europe’s appeal with multiracial audiences in a segregated society.

Historians now refer to Europe’s style as “proto-jazz” or “hot ragtime.” His work introducing white audiences to the skill and creativity of black composers and performers helped create an environment where jazz could thrive.

William Grant Still (1930s)

famous black musicians - william grant still

William Grant Still created the first symphonic work by a black composer that was performed by a major orchestra. Still was born in 1895 in Mississippi, and he grew up surrounded by music. His stepfather took him to symphony performances and Still learned to play both the cello and clarinet.

After serving in World War I, Still became an arranger for some of the most famous jazz acts of the 1920s. But his true passion remained symphonic work. His first symphony was written in 1930 and premiered the following year by the Rochester Philharmonic. Although the piece is for a traditional orchestra, it includes blues idioms and music from Still’s childhood.

There were many famous black musicians by the 1930s in jazz music, but Still inspired other black composers to focus on symphonic music. He demonstrated that traditional black music was as powerful with a symphony as with a jazz band.

Berry Gordy Jr. (1950s)

famous black musicians - berry gordy jr

Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown, was born in Detroit in 1929. Gordy’s leadership of Motown Records led to the success of many famous black musicians including Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.

Gordy got his start as a songwriter who specialized in crossover hits. In the 1950s, Gordy wrote songs for Jackie Wilson and Etta James that reached the top 10 on both the R&B and pop charts. This convinced Gordy that black musicians needed their own national record label to produce and promote their work to a larger audience.

Over the course of the 60s and 70s, Motown would become a major force in the recording industry, exposing the country to black musical groups and helping launch the careers of many famous artists. Gordy’s ability to find, develop, and promote musical talent led to Motown being among the most successful African-American owned businesses of the 20th century.

Nina Simone (1960s)

famous black musicians - nina simone

As a child, Nina Simone dreamed of being a classical concert pianist. She began playing piano at the age of three and with the help of her family, she enrolled at Juilliard for a summer to prepare for classical piano program auditions. Her family moved to Philadelphia to help support her, but she was not accepted to the prestigious piano program at the Curtis Institute.

Instead, she began performing jazz at cocktail bars to make money and during this time she also began singing. Simone performed songs based on her African-American heritage as well as her classical background. During the 1960s, she became known for her protest music, releasing original songs that specifically addressed the civil rights movements.

Simone began to speak and perform at civil rights rallies and events, including the Selma to Montgomery marches. Her music directly addressed social injustice while combining jazz, classical, and spiritual influences. In 2018, Simone will be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Afrika Bambaataa (1980s)

famous black musicians - afrika bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa not only transformed hip hop culture, but he used music to turn a street gang into a positive community force. Born Lance Taylor in the Bronx in 1957, Bambaataa grew up in the projects and eventually became a warlord of the Black Spades gang. However, a trip to Africa led him to change his name, and his worldview.

Upon his return he began transforming the Black Spades into a group focused on positive community impact. Bambaataa saw hip hop music as the vehicle that his new group could use to create socially aware communities like the ones he saw in Africa. In 1982, Bambaataa took his hip hop group on a national tour to begin spreading his approach outside of New York.

Bambaataa’s music combines early forms of rap, sampling from disco and funk, and advanced turntable techniques. Bambaataa focused on social messages in his music, referencing American leaders from Thomas Paine to Malcolm X. Without Bambaataa’s work, hip hop would not have the international appeal it has today.

Get Inspired

Each of these famous black musicians overcame obstacles to create music with a lasting impact. Let us know which musicians you find the most inspiring in the comments section below. If these stories inspired you to grow your own musical skills and talents, check out the free music classes at TakeLessons Live today!

Guest Post Author: Ryan Sargent is the Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators. He is also Social Media Manager at SmartMusic, where he shares music education tips with teachers across the country. 

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Taking Video Guitar Lessons

Video guitar lessons

A quick search for “video guitar lessons” will reveal thousands of results on how to play the guitar. For many students it can be overwhelming to sort through countless video lessons to find the one with the information they’re looking for. As a beginner, it can also be difficult to determine when you are or aren’t getting accurate information.

Although there certainly isn’t a shortage of video guitar lessons out there, you shouldn’t rely on pre-recorded lessons alone to learn how to play the instrument. In this article, we’ll explain five ways that learning from pre-recorded video guitar lessons can hinder your progress.  

5 Things to Know About Video Guitar Lessons

They’re a One-Way Conversation

Beginners to the guitar need feedback and constructive criticism, but video guitar lessons are a one-way conversation. You can’t stop mid-lesson if you have a pressing question to ask, or need clarification.

Perhaps the most important aspect of in-person lessons with a guitar teacher is that you have an informed pair of eyes watching you play. When something isn’t going the way it needs to, you have an outside observer who can point it out to you. With a teacher’s guidance, you’ll begin to learn to correct mistakes on your own.

Lessons Aren’t Tailored to Your Individual Needs

Pre-recorded video guitar lessons are specifically made to be applicable to thousands of students with different learning styles. But the most effective guitar lessons aren’t one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter plans taken one after another. Each student has different ambitions and will need different “stepping stones” to achieve them. 

What one student finds impossible to overcome, another student might breeze through with little thought. Without a good teacher to help plan a course of action, students frequently jump between pieces that are either too easy or too difficult. They have trouble gradually building their skills. A teacher will notice where a student’s struggles lie and recommend music to practice that will build those skills.

You Might Pick up Bad Habits

When learning a new chord or song, beginners tend to play however it feels “right” to them. If playing with a certain fingering feels correct, a student has no reason to think they should be playing it differently. Even if they notice something is off, on their own, they rarely know what to replace the incorrect habit with.

This is another reason why it can be dangerous to learn the guitar without any feedback from a live instructor. A teacher is often the sole voice of clarity for students who naturally revert back to motions that their hands are familiar with.

If you’re learning from video guitar lessons alone, it can be easy to fall into the habit of playing something the wrong way, just because it “feels easier.” When working with a private teacher, you’ll learn new ways to to master tricky concepts more efficiently.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things to Look for in a Guitar Teacher

You Might Become Discouraged

When attempting to learn the guitar from videos alone, self-taught students are more prone to choosing a song that is too difficult for their skill level. These students often get frustrated and discouraged when their playing doesn’t sound as good as they want it to right off the bat.

In the rare case that a student begins with something easy, they frequently move on too soon and jump to something much harder right away. Ninety percent of the time when you speak to people who have given up the guitar, it’s because they tried to teach themselves. 

Don’t Miss Out on Music Theory!

Music theory is a necessity when learning how to play the guitar. Most video guitar lessons either focus on a specific technique, or exclusively on theory. But to really understand music theory, it has to be tied into the music!

Students understand theory best if it’s a part of their musical language and expression from the beginning. If as a beginner, you focus on watching YouTube tutorials for all your favorite songs, you are bound to miss out on a deeper understanding of the music itself.

Learning music theory is like learning a foreign language. Because music theory can be difficult to understand, it’s best to learn in an interactive environment where you have the ability to ask questions. Try taking online music theory classes from a live instructor and you’ll find yourself learning much quicker than with pre-recorded lessons.

In Conclusion

With the help of a guitar teacher, you have a much greater shot as musical success. Video guitar lessons are best when used as a supplemental tool in between private lessons. Your teacher can help protect you from bad advice, which is abounding online (some of which can even cause injury).

Don’t keep trying to press forward on your own when excellent, reliable help is so readily available! Find a trusted and qualified guitar teacher near you and start your guitar learning journey on the right foot.

Kirk RPost Author: Kirk R.
Kirk is a classical and acoustic guitar instructor in Athens, GA. He holds a Bachelors and Masters of music in Guitar Performance, and has been teaching guitar since 2011 to students of all ages. Learn more about Kirk here!

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Singing Affirmations and Quotes To Remember When You're Struggling

9 Confidence-Boosting Singing Quotes & Affirmations

Quotes about singing are an excellent way to motivate yourself and encourage others to keep at it.

No matter how much you love singing, it isn’t always easy to perform in front of an audience. Instead of doubting your talents or fearing failure, learn from the inspiring artists and thinkers who came before you!

Check out the following singing quotes to keep your vocal goals in focus and your musical passion flowing.

Top 9 Singing Quotes & Affirmations

“If I cannot fly, let me sing.” – Stephen Sondheim

"if i cannot fly let me sing" singing quote

If you’re nervous about a performance or frustrated by slow progress, remember that singing should be freeing. Embrace the sensation of flying with your voice.

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

"Without music, life would be a mistake." singing quote

Great philosophers understood that music is essential to human happiness. If singing is your passion, pursue that happiness without hesitation!

“Imagination creates reality.” – Richard Wagner

"Imagination creates reality" Singing Quote

Even world-class compositions started as dreams and ideas. If you can imagine yourself hitting every note, that’s the first step toward actually doing it.

SEE ALSO: How to Sing Better Almost Instantly

“Keep your face to the sunshine, and you can’t see the shadows. That’s what the sunflowers do.” – Helen Keller

"Keep your face to the sunshine, and you can't see the shadows. That's what the sunflowers do" Singing quote

Some of these sayings aren’t necessarily quotes about singing, but they still apply to performers: Never give into your doubts and fears, because nothing good can blossom from wallowing in negativity.

“The only thing better than singing is more singing.” – Ella Fitzgerald

"The only thing better than singing is more singing" Quote

This is one of our favorite singing quotes from Ella Fitzgerald. It’s a good reminder to enjoy every second of your performance!

“The greatest respect an artist can pay to music is to give it life.” – Pablo Casals

"the greatest respect an artist can pay to music is to give it life" singing quote

Think of your performance as a tribute to music itself. Remember: gifts don’t have to be perfect.

“Without ambition, one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it." Singing quote

Practice is the only way to achieve your singing goals. Use these quotes about singing when you’re stuck in a slump!

RELATED: Get Better at Singing High Notes

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

"it's never too late to be what you might have been" singing quote

Every audition, practice session, and performance is another opportunity to achieve your greatest goals.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. – Pablo Picasso

"learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist" singing quote

Fully commit to your vocal training, so that eventually you’ll know your instrument well enough to lose the rules.

Performing and auditioning are nerve-wracking for almost everyone. But if you stay focused on fine-tuning your instrument and learning from your mistakes, you can combat that anxiety with the knowledge that you already have what it takes.

We hope you enjoyed this encouraging collection of singing quotes. Now you’re ready to start singing along to your favorite songs!

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Photo by Allison Janzen

The 7 Types of Learners & How to Find the Best Teacher For YOU

No matter how far your education has taken you, you’ve likely had a lot of teachers over the course of your life.

Elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, high school teachers and beyond; each year brought one (or more) teachers and mentors into your life. Maybe you even had Little League coaches or camp counselors along the way.

When it comes to private lessons, though — whether you want to learn music, languages, fitness, or something else — it’s a whole new ballgame.

You select the teacher, tutor, or coach you want to learn from. And that can be a little overwhelming!

Fortunately, finding a good teacher for music lessons or otherwise — the perfect person to help you or your child — doesn’t have to be hard. But it does take some reflection and research.

Finding a Great Tutor or Teacher with TakeLessons

To begin, let’s pinpoint who you are, what you want, and what you need. Out of the options below, which do you identify with? Start your search at TakeLessons with the lesson type and your zip code, and we’ll help you find a tutor or teacher who’s the perfect fit.

Want to find your teacher faster? Call our team at 800-536-6206 and we can help!


The “Schedule-Challenged” Student


We get it: life can get busy! Whether you’re working around a 9-to-5 office job, or you’re a parent juggling your child’s extracurriculars, we know some students need a specific timeslot — no exceptions. On the flipside, if your schedule is constantly in flux, you may want a teacher who can offer you more flexibility.

Our search filters make it easy to find instructors with the availability you need. And if you have unique scheduling needs, remember that you have the option to ask instructors questions before booking — simply click the Ask a Question button to the right of a teacher’s profile picture to send them a message.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on the “Availability” dropdown at the top. Select the day(s) you’re looking for, and then pull up individual profiles to see available timeslots. You can see this within the box to the right of the teacher’s information.
  • Consider our “Schedule As You Go” plan if you need flexibility.
  • Have a unique scheduling situation? Use the Ask a Question tool to message teachers before booking, or contact us for assistance.

The Location-Bound Student


What’s that, you say? You don’t want to spend two hours commuting to and from your lesson? We get it.

We’re lucky to work with instructors from all across the U.S. — you’ll find teachers from Seattle to St. Louis, and everywhere in between. You may even find teachers who will travel to your home for lessons.

Even if there’s not a teacher directly nearby, online lessons make it easy and convenient to connect with our top teachers on a regular basis. Not tech-savvy? We’ve created the TakeLessons Classroom just for you. It’s a video chat-based virtual classroom that requires no downloads, and you can get to it right from your Student Account.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • Looking for a teacher close by? After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on Sort by: Distance to see your closest options.
  • Want an instructor who will come to you? Pull up an individual profile, and look at the “Select a location” prompt in the right-hand box. If a bubble for “Your Home” shows, the teacher may be able to travel to you — click the blue prompt to enter your address and make sure you’re within his or her travel radius. (Or, contact us via phone or email for a quicker search!)
  • Prefer online lessons? After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on the “Location” dropdown, and select “Online.”

The Budget-Conscious Student


Private lessons can be expensive. But as many students can attest to, the personalized attention you get from them is priceless! Fortunately, if you’re operating on a budget, there are ways to make it work.

TakeLessons teachers set their own prices, which are shown prominently within search results. This is usually based on their specific location, their experience level, and how long they’ve been teaching.

Also, consider taking online lessons! Often these are a bit cheaper than in-person or in-home lessons, and you’ll be saving money (and time!) by not having to commute anywhere.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on Sort By: Lowest Price to sort your options. Note that prices may be marked at 30-minute, 45-minute, or 60-minute lesson durations.
  • Consider online lessons to save money. After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on the “Location” dropdown, and select “Online”.

The Goal-Oriented Student


Are you an aspiring singer dreaming of being the next Adele? Are you learning French for an upcoming vacation, or so you can interact with clients at work?

If you have specific goals, it’s more important than ever to find the right teacher. So first, write down those goals: where do you want to be in one year? Five years? Ten years? Next, get to work: dedicate some time to browsing profiles, and look for instructors who have experience teaching the specific genres, techniques, or skills you want to learn. Look for the Student Favorite badge for our top teachers, and read the reviews from current and past students.

Still struggling? Use the Ask a Question tool to message teachers before booking, or give us a call for extra assistance in finding the right match.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • Dedicate some time browsing profiles to find someone who has the experience you need.
  • Use the Ask a Question tool for specific inquiries before booking.
  • Look for the Student Favorite badge (a red heart icon) in search results for our top teachers.
  • Read other students’ feedback! After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on Sort By: Reviews to see teachers with the most reviews.

The Picky Parents


OK, maybe you’re not picky. Moms and Dads, we know you just want the best for your child!

And for kids, the “right” teacher isn’t always the most qualified — often it’s the person your child feels the most comfortable with. You’ll want to find a tutor or teacher who is patient, encouraging, and friendly, with (successful) experience with other children.

If safety is important to you, you may want to start your search by marking the option for “Background Check Verified” — this indicates the instructor has opted in and passed a thorough background check.

From there, filter your results by clicking on “Student Age” and selecting from the dropdown. Many teachers will also list their experience and what age groups they enjoy working with in the “Overview” section of their profile. Feel free to use the Ask a Question tool to send a message to the teacher, too.

Beyond that, sometimes it just comes down to a personality match. And the best way to test that is to just try out a lesson — if for any reason it’s not working out, our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee protects you.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, check the box for Background Check Verified.
  • Click on the “Student Age” dropdown, and indicate child or teen.
  • Pull up individual profiles and look at the ages taught in the “About” section.
  • Browse through profiles to get a feel for the teacher’s personality.
  • Use the Ask a Question tool to message teachers before booking.
  • Call us for extra assistance to find that perfect teacher for your child!

The Hobbyist (or, the “Bucketlister”)


If you’re a casual learner who just wants to have fun — or to check off your bucket list — you’re in luck! Most of our teachers are well-equipped to help you with the basics. As you search for your teacher, spend some time browsing profiles and see who catches your eye. Most teachers will speak to their experience, interests, and teaching style in the “Overview” section of their profile. Feel free to give us a call and we can help you sort through your options.

And for older adults, it’s never too late to start learning! Many of our instructors enjoy teaching retirees and above, and will cater your lessons to your learning style and interests. Filter search results by clicking on the “Student Age” dropdown, and use the Ask a Question tool to message teachers if you have a specific inquiry.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • Dedicate some time browsing profiles.
  • Look for the Student Favorite badge (a red heart icon) in search results for our top teachers.
  • Read other students’ feedback! After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on Sort By: Reviews to see teachers with the most reviews.
  • Seniors: Find instructors who teach older adults by using the “Student Age” dropdown.

The Worrywart (and Everybody Else)


With our search tools, you can filter your results to find a music teacher, tutor, or coach based on what matters to you, whether that’s price, location, availability, or ages taught. If you’re still not sure, use the Ask a Question tool to message any teachers you’re curious about.

But all said and done, we know that an online profile will only take you so far. So if you’re still not sure, give us a call at 800-536-6206! Our staff includes Student Counselors who regularly talk to our teachers across the U.S., and have experience matching students and families with the best teachers.

Beyond that, there’s no need to worry. You always have the option of booking a smaller lesson package to try things out. Not quite what you expected? Our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee protects you. (Read more here.)

So what are you waiting for? When you’re ready to take that first step toward your goals, we’ll be here.

Special shout-out to music teacher Rosita R., featured in the photo! Learn more about Rosita here.

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Free TakeLessons Resource

Am I Too Old To Learn Piano? 5 Answers from Expert Piano Teachers

Am I too old to learn piano

People of many different ages find themselves asking the question: am I too old to learn piano? No matter your age, playing the piano is a wonderful skill to have for a variety of reasons.

Studies have shown that playing music reduces stress and improves the memory. Playing an instrument in a group also leads to lifelong friendships, while refining communication and social skills.

If you’re wondering whether or not your age will stand in between you and all the benefits of playing the piano, keep reading. We asked five piano experts for their thoughts on adult students, from different age groups, learning to play the instrument.

“Am I Too Old to Learn Piano?” Get Answers Here. 

Is 20-30 Too Old to Learn Piano?

Liz T. – Piano Teacher in Brooklyn, NY

“Learning to play, or picking back up, the piano or keyboard in your 20s is a wonderful idea! Many students from a variety of fields enjoy exploring their creative side in addition to their professions. Diving into the piano is also a nice release from your busy work day.

If a student had attempted to play piano when they were much younger, but didn’t have the focus or patience, oftentimes this focus is much more narrowed as an adult, and the concepts are easier to comprehend when you’re between 20-30.”

What is Your Advice to Students in This Age Group?

“My advice for adults learning to play piano is to take a fun song you know, and start from the basics. Learn the melody with the left hand, then the right hand, and put them together. Practice a little bit each day, even if it’s for 15 minutes in the morning when you wake up, and 15 minutes before you go to bed at night.”

Is 30-40 Too Old to Learn Piano?

Rebecca K. – Piano Teacher in Vallejo, CA

“The 30-40 age is such a unique and frankly, exhausting time to live. I know- I’m there myself! Many of us have young kids, a job, and enough worries to fill a bank account (even when it feels like nothing else can). That’s why I argue that this age is the PERFECT time to start learning piano! Self-care is something we must practice, especially in finding something that brings you joy.”

What is Your Advice to Students in This Age Group?

“All piano takes is dedication, an instrument, and a little bit of time. You’re never too old to start learning piano; you may, however, get to a point where you regret not starting sooner!”

Is 40-50 Too Old to Learn Piano?

James F. – Piano Teacher in Charlotte, NC

“There is no age that is really ‘too old’ to learn to play the piano. However, there are lifestyle factors that typically get in the way of progress once somebody enters the workforce full-time.

Many of my adult students have struggled with balancing a professional career, a family, and their progress as a piano player. There are ways, however, for the disciplined student to overcome this.”

What is Your Advice to Students in This Age Group?

“I recommend practicing in 10-25 minute sets, two to four times a day. Three times a day or more is really ideal, as in – wake up a little bit earlier to practice, do another session as soon as you get home, and another one right before bed. With this routine, you will see progress.”

Is 50-60 Too Old to Learn Piano?

William P. – Piano Teacher in Waterbury, Connecticut

“Learning piano has no age limit. In fact, activities like learning piano can stimulate the brain, increasing the ability to recall information. There are physical benefits to learning piano as well.

By practicing fine motor skills in your fingers, piano students are keeping the muscles in their hands flexible. Having flexibility in your hands can combat arthritis and improve circulation in your fingers.”

What is Your Advice to Students in This Age Group?

“There are three things to keep in mind. The first is that music is like a language, and it requires time and patience to achieve steady growth. Secondly, physical problems such as arthritis or joint stiffness are only minor obstacles that can easily be overcome.

Lastly, learning an instrument should be seen as a simple pleasure in life and not a chore. Approach it as a time to explore your musical side!”

Is 70+ Too Old to Learn Piano?

Marie France M. – Piano Teacher in Waldwick, NJ

“There are certain advantages the 70+ student brings to the table. They are self-motivated which means no one has to push them to practice and they know what they want to learn, which gives the teacher a clear focus.”

What is Your Advice to Students in This Age Group?

“Elder students do have a higher percentage of physical challenges than their younger counterparts, particularly with eyesight and arthritis. I recommend having good direct lighting, and a magnifying glass in reach. Large print music is also a real plus.

Work in five-minute increments with a moment in between to massage the fingers and do a quick posture and relaxation check before going on.”

Next Steps for Learning Piano as an Adult…

When it comes to learning the piano, age is just a number! Now that you no longer have to wonder “Am I too old to learn piano?”, here are a few steps you can take to get started.

  • Find a piano teacher who has experience working with older students.
  • Not ready for private lessons yet? Try free online piano classes.
  • Commit to practicing everyday and take baby steps.
  • Remember to enjoy yourself! Piano lessons and practice should be fun.
  • Stay motivated by keeping the reasons you want to learn piano top of mind.

Whether playing the piano is an escape from the stresses of life, a goal you’ve wanted to pursue for years, or an exercise to help with the effects of aging, you won’t regret starting your piano-learning journey today.

Are you an older piano student with advice to share? Leave a comment below and share your tips!

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easy classical piano songs

15 Easy Classical Piano Songs for Beginners [Videos]

easy classical piano songs for beginners

Looking for some easy classical piano songs to add to your repertoire? You’ve come to the right place!

While mastering the works of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven might sound intimidating, there are a number of easy classical piano songs that you can learn.

If you’re interested in learning the classical piano style, start by practicing this list of easy piano songs. Learning these beginner piano songs will give you a solid foundation that you can build upon as you advance in your lessons.

15 Easy Classical Piano Songs for Beginners

1. Bach’s “Prelude to the Well Tempered Clavichord”

This easy classical song uses two simple piano notes in the left hand, with arpeggios in the right hand. It’s not too long of a song, and it’s great to play around with dynamics too.

2. Mozart’s “A Little Night Music” 1st Movement


This orchestral piece can be easily transferred to solo piano. Check out this helpful tutorial, which breaks it down at a much slower pace and don’t forget to use a metronome while you practice!

3. Chopin’s “Prelude in E min, Opus 28, No 4”


This melancholy minor classical piece has a simple melody in the right hand, with basic chords on the left hand.

4. Edward MacDowell’s “To a Wild Rose”


This easy classical piano song is a very light, simplistic classical piece. It sounds easy and refreshing, with simple fingering.

See Also: 15 Simple Piano Solos that Sound Complicated

5. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”

This is often the first classical piano song that students try when learning how to play the piano. That’s because the song has a very simple rhythm, melody, and fingering.

6. Debussy’s “Claire du Lune”


Meaning “moonlight,” this classical piano song for beginners is pretty straightforward. You can find many simple arrangements to this piece on YouTube.

7. Strauss’ “The Blue Danube”


This fun waltz might sound tricky, but it is actually not hard to play at all. Check out the slowed-down version above.

See Also: 15 Pop Piano Songs to Practice

8. Offenbach’s “Can-Can”


If you want a small challenge, this uptempo song is perfect. Try listening to the original orchestral version for some extra inspiration.

9. Schubert’s “Ave Maria”


“Ave Maria” is a must for beginners learning how to play classical music. This beautiful beginner piano song is appropriate to play at many events, such as weddings and funerals.

10. Pachelbell’s “Cannon in D”


Originally performed with strings, this classical piano song can sound very full when played on the piano with chords.

See Also: 10 Tips for Perfect Piano Practice

11. Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”


One of the most memorable melodies on the piano, beginners can easily pick up this piece in the right hand, and use simplified bass root notes in the left.

12. Bach’s “Minuet in G”


Another easy piece that sounds difficult, this minuet is a joy to play for all ages. Because it’s quite popular, it’s easy to find different arrangements of it online.

13. Tchaikovsky’s Theme from “Swan Lake”


Everyone knows this romantic anthem, often played to accompany dancers. The legato piece has a strong melody and a very easy rhythm.

See Also: 100 Easy Piano Songs to Play in All Genres and Styles

14. Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plumb Fairy”


This iconic song from “The Nutcracker” is very fun to learn on the piano. You can take it as fast or as slow as you want. It’s also a great song for practicing stacattos.

15. Lizt and Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”


This is another one of those easy classical piano songs that’s sure to please. There are many great themes from this work to which you can learn the melody and rhythm.

Related: 5 Easy Pop Songs to Play

Now go ahead and give it a try! Don’t feel intimated or overwhelmed by classical music – just start with these easy classical piano songs for beginners.

If you’re feeling stuck, you can find simplified arrangements to all of these songs in piano books, such as Hal Leonard and Alfred’s course books. Or you can ask a local piano teacher for help.

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LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

Photo by Carlos Gracia

Roadmap of the Notes on a Guitar

notes on a guitar by stringWhether you want to learn how to improvise rock solos, play perfect classical etudes, or anything in between, knowing the guitar notes on the fingerboard will be a huge help in your journey.

In this article, we’ll show you how to memorize the notes on a guitar. We’ll also teach you a few shapes to help you play scales and chords in any major key you want!

Guitar Notes for Standard Tuning

A great place to start getting to know the notes on a guitar is by memorizing the notes of each string played open. “Play open” means without holding down any of the frets.

If your guitar is tuned to standard tuning, these notes should be E-A-D-G-B-E, starting from the lowest pitched string and moving up to the highest.

Memorize the sentence “Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears.” This will help you remember the order of the open strings in standard tuning.

The guitar, like the piano, is based on a chromatic scale. In chromatic music, there are 12 notes in an octave, each a half step apart. Each fret on the fingerboard of the guitar raises the pitch of the string by one half step. If you were to hold down all strings on the 12th fret, the notes are the same as the strings played open, just an octave higher.

Guitar Notes on the E and A Strings

For many beginners, the notes on the E and A strings will be the most important notes to memorize. This is because these notes are the root notes for the most common movable chord shapes.

One way to think about finding the notes on a guitar is to think about each open string as the base note of a scale. Take a look at the guitar tab below to see what a scale looks like on the low E string:

notes on guitar e string scale

(If you need help reading charts like the one above, check out this article on how to read guitar tabs).

Following this tab, you will play the notes E, F, G, A, B, C, D, ending with E an octave higher.  These are called “natural” notes. If  you were playing the piano, these notes would be the white keys. Sharp and flat notes occur between the natural notes; on the piano, those would be the black keys.

Most natural notes on the guitar are two frets apart. The exception is the single fret intervals between E and F (open string and the first fret) and between B and C (seventh and eighth frets).

For another example, take a look at the natural notes in an octave on the A string:

notes on a guitar a string

As you follow this tab, you will play the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and A. Notice again that there is just one fret between B and C (the second and third frets) and between E and F (the seventh and eighth frets).

To memorize the guitar notes on the E and A strings, practice playing just the natural notes going up and down the strings. Say the name of each note as you play it. Repeat this a few times at the beginning of your guitar practice each day until you feel comfortable.

The Notes on a Guitar Fretboard

You can continue learning the natural notes on the guitar one string at a time following along with the diagram below. Note that this diagram shows sharp notes (ie. F#) but not flat notes (ie. Gb).

guitar notes on the fretboard

A sharp note is a half step higher than the natural note. A flat note is a half step lower. Depending on what key you are playing in, the same note may be referred to as F# or Gb.

Here’s the same diagram, this time showing flat notes instead of sharps:

flat notes on a guitar

Practice Guitar Notes with Movable Scales & Chords

Simply memorizing each note on the guitar won’t improve your playing very much. You also have to understand how the notes relate to each other! The layout of notes on a guitar may seem random, but these simple scale and chord shapes will help you to remember them.

Try this guitar tab for a scale in G major:

movable guitar scale 6th string root

Notice that the scale starts on G, on the third fret of the low E string. For your left hand fingering, we recommend using your index finger for all notes on the second fret, your middle finger for all notes on the third fret, your ring finger on the fourth fret, and your pinkie on the fifth.

Now, try starting on the 4th fret and play this scale pattern again, moving each note up by one fret. Congratulations!  You just played a scale in G# major. Even if you weren’t able to name all the notes you just played, knowing the correct intervals ensures you’re playing notes within the correct key.

Using the same fingering, you can play a scale starting with any note on the fretboard. The first note of this scale is the root note and determines the key of the scale. Practice this scale by moving it up and down the fretboard, one fret at a time.

Here’s another movable scale pattern for you to practice, this time starting on the A string. This scale is shown in D major, but it can also be moved all over the fretboard.

movable guitar scale 5th string root

You can also learn chord shapes that can be moved around the fretboard. The simplest of these shapes are called “power chords.”

To play a power chord in F with the root note on the low E string, place your index finger on the first fret of the E string. Next, use your ring finger to hold down the A string at the third fret and use your pinkie to hold the D string at the third fret. Strum just the three strings you are holding down.

Maintaining the same shape with your left hand, move each finger up one fret. Strum only the strings you have fretted. Now you’re playing a power chord in F#.

Practicing Guitar Notes with Power Chords

Now move each finger down one string, so that you are holding the second fret on the A string with your index finger and the fourth fret on the D and G strings with your ring and pinkie fingers respectively. Strum these three strings. You are now playing a power chord in B.

You can move this power chord shape up and down the fretboard as long as your root note starts on the low E or A strings. Remember, the root note is the note your index finger is fretting. This note will determine the key of the chord.

Now that you’re more familiar with guitar notes, it’ll be easier to learn chords and scales. You’re one step closer to mastering your favorite songs! Remember to keep practicing, and good luck on your musical journey!

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women in music

Happy Mother’s Day! Shout Out to 5 Amazing Rock and Roll Mamas

Where did you get your love of music? Was your mom musical? Maybe she played an instrument, sang in church or in a band, or splurged (or currently splurges) so that you could take guitar lessons?

Regardless, this Mother’s Day, we can’t help but think about rockin’ women in music who are also moms.

1. Madonna

“Material girl”? More like “Mom-terial girl”! Did you know that Madonna is a mother of four? Her oldest daughter, Lourdes, will be turning 22 this year. Can you imagine having Madonna as a mom? It must be at least a little trippy; one minute she’s singing, “Gimme All Your Love”, and then the next minute, she’s asking you to clean your room.

But no matter what generation you were born in, you’re probably familiar with at least one of Madonna’s songs (“Lucky Star”, anyone?) and that kind of staying power is a dead give away that Madonna rocks, and all while being a mom.

2. Patty Smyth

In the early 80s, Patty Smyth sang the poppy “Goodbye To You” and later, the lady power anthem, “The Warrior”, and young women everywhere were inspired by the pep and fire in the songs. Cut to 2014, to a true story. I had just performed at Joe’s Pub in N.Y.C., when a woman came over to me and said, “I really loved your set.” I tried to play it cool, and I had to try hard, because it was none other than Patty Smyth!

We wandered outside into the cool night air, and she told me, “You remind me of my daughter.” And then I remembered, oh yeah! This lady has seen and done it all, from rockin’ the world’s stages to motherhood. Which daughter? I thought to myself, because she has three. She didn’t elaborate, but wow, it must be pretty cool to have the rockin’ Patty Smyth for a mom!

3. Gwen Stefani

Though Kingston, Zuma and and Apollo might remind you of a town in Jamaica, a dance class and a space mission, they are also the names of Gwen’s offspring. When Gwen sang “Don’t Speak”, the world connected with the song on a serious level. But if you are one of her children, the word’s might take a different meaning…

The powerful lyrics from her song, “I’m Just A Girl” make it hard to imagine Gwen all grown up and disciplining a gaggle of human duckings. However, it’s easy to see that she is a mom who totally rocks.

4. Kim Gordon

This mom surely did things that most moms do—she changed dirty diapers, sang lullabys and celebrated little achievements with her daughter, Coco. But she did something else that most mom’s don’t—she helped define a generation and a genre by creating Sonic Youth with Thurston Moore during a time in music history when no-wave was all the rage.

Unlike many moms, in addition to her musical output she also found time to write a book. (Where does one find the time?!) In Girl In A Band, she elaborates on her life and what it’s like to be as a mom who rocks. Hats off to Kim on this mother’s day!

5. Beyonce

Beyonce’s daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, was in the spotlight from the time she was born. And last year, the world waited for her twins to arrive like a kid waits for gifts on Christmas. But aside from being a rockstar and a mom, Beyonce still finds time to volunteer with the Make A Wish Foundation and from most accounts, appears to be a kind and humble person. And those are totally qualities that make any mom rock!

How does your mom rock? Tell us about her in the comments below!

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Want to Learn Something New? Try These 10 Desirable Skills.

Learn something new

It’s always a great idea to engage the mind and learn something new. Forming a new habit keeps your brain sharp, healthy, and active.

Whether you’re a college student, parent, or have recently entered retirement, you can benefit from checking out the list of activities below. Here are 10 highly desirable skills so you can learn something new starting today.

10 Ways to Learn Something New This Year

1. Meditation

Just like the body needs a workout to stay in shape, so does your mind! The awesome thing about meditation is that you can do it anytime and anywhere, making it accessible to anyone. People that regularly meditate often report feeling calmer and more emotionally stable throughout their day.

Learn something new

2. Public Speaking

Believe it or not, even the most seasoned public speakers get a little jittery when speaking in front of a large crowd! If you want to feel more confident and comfortable in your own skin when speaking in front of others, seek opportunities to practice your public speaking skills. For starters, look for a Toastmasters club near you.

3. Foreign Languages

Studies have shown that the brains of people who are fluent in more than one language function differently than others. Not only does learning a second language improve overall cognitive function, but it also makes navigating a foreign country much easier if you enjoy traveling. Not sure what language you’d like to learn? Try out several languages for free at TakeLessons Live.

4. Time Management

If you want to learn something new, time management is an excellent skill to have. Waiting until the last minute to complete a task causes unnecessary stress, and recent studies have shown that constant procrastination can lead to cardiovascular disease. Purchase a daily planner and get into the habit of writing down your deadlines and goals. Use a productivity journal and reward yourself for tasks completed in a timely manner.

5. Budgeting

Creating an organized and detailed outline of your financial situation makes paying the bills feel easier and helps you take control of your finances. If you have a financial goal you’d like to hit this year, use a helpful budgeting tool such as an app, or make a DIY spreadsheet using Excel to keep track of where you’re spending.

Learn something new

6. Networking

In many lines of work, networking skills are the key to success. As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” If you want to improve your networking skills you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone to attend social and business events. Practice your communication skills, be authentic, and you’ll find yourself naturally making more connections.

7. Musical Instruments

Playing music has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve overall cognitive function, and boost concentration skills. It also opens the door to a variety of possibilities from entertaining to performing. Whether you prefer the sound of the ukulele, piano, or guitar, it’s never been easier to start taking online or in-person music lessons.

SEE ALSO: Which Instrument Should I Learn? [Quiz]

Learn something new

8. Dancing

Do you get bored easily with routine hobbies? Try dancing if you want to learn something new and fun. With ballet, hip hop, swing, tap, salsa, and even more genres available, the possibilities are endless! Dancing is not only fun, but it has loads of health benefits. Trying to lose weight? Dancing can burn hundreds of calories in just a half hour. Dance lessons are also a great confidence-booster.

9. Singing Lessons

It’s never too late to start improving your singing voice. Whether you’re a seasoned soprano or you strictly reserve singing for the car, your voice is the most accessible musical instrument and arguably, the easiest to practice! Learning how to sing is great for reducing stress and raising self confidence. Try taking free online singing classes to get started.

10. Yoga

Yoga is one of the most popular (and relaxing) methods of exercise. Don’t be discouraged from joining a class if you struggle to touch your toes! Most gyms offer classes that are beginner-friendly. Yoga is a great way to unwind before or after a long day while getting a quick, low-impact workout.

Learn something new

Now that you have this helpful list of new hobbies and activities to incorporate into your routine, it’s time to get started! Keep in mind that it takes about 21 days for a new habit to stick – so it’s important to hold yourself accountable for at least the first three weeks.

How do you plan to learn something new this year? Let us know in the comments section below!

Guest Post Author: Emily Schario is a blogger for StudentUniverse – the world’s leading travel booking service for students and youth. StudentUniverse offers special rates on flights, hotels, and tours, allowing students to travel more and spend less.