Posts

5 Easy Piano Songs for Kids + Video Tutorials

Easy Piano Songs for Kids with LettersWhether you have a grand piano or a small, electronic keyboard, you can teach your child many easy piano songs for kids. It doesn’t matter how much your child knows about music either; they’re sure to enjoy learning with the fun songs on this list.

Before you get started, you’ll need to learn the location of the notes on the piano. Start by finding C – it’s the white key directly to the left of the group of two black keys.

Using only the white keys, the notes continue in alphabetical order up to G, and then they restart at A. So you can label them (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) if you’d like with stickers or different colors to make it easier for your child.

5 Easy Piano Songs for Kids

Mary Had a Little Lamb

This is often one of the first piano songs for kids that instructors will teach new students. The song has additional verses about the adventures Mary and her lamb have, to keep the fun going while you sing and play together. Check out the verses and the notes below them.

Mary had a little lamb
E D C D E E E
Little lamb, little lamb
D D D E G G
Mary had a little lamb
E D C D E E E
Its fleece was white as snow
E D D E D C

Here’s an excellent video tutorial, showing all the notes labeled:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Any beginner will love playing this children’s classic on the piano. One of the great things about this song is that almost every note is played twice in a row, meaning there are fewer notes for your child to locate.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
C C G G A A G
How I wonder what you are
F F E E D D C
Up above the world so high
G G F F E E D
Like a diamond in the sky
G G F F E E D
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
C C G G A A G
How I wonder what you are
F F E E D D C

Here’s a helpful video tutorial from Mahalo.com for more practice:

If You’re Happy and You Know It

This is one of the most fun piano songs for kids. The song gives your little musician the chance to clap and dance while playing. The only tricky part of this song is the inclusion of B flat.

This note is the small black key located directly between the A and B keys. If you are using a toy piano or xylophone, you may not have this key and can leave it out.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
C C F F F F F F E F G
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
C C G G G G G G F G A
If you’re happy and you know it
A A Bb Bb Bb Bb D D
Then your face will surely show it
Bb Bb A A A G F F
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
A A G G G F E E D E F

Here’s another helpful tutorial:

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Children love singing this song and it’s pretty simple to play, too. One fun idea is for you to play the song while your child does the motions, then switch roles.

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout
G C C C D E E E D C D E C
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
E E F G G F E F G E
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
C C D E E D C D E C
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again
G G C C C D E E E D C D E C

Here’s a super slow tutorial that is easy to follow along with:

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

This is another classic children’s song that your son or daughter will love playing over and over again so they can sing about every animal on the farm.

Old MacDonald had a farm
G G G D E E D
E-i-e-i-o
B B A A G
And on that farm he had a cow
D G G G D E E D
E-i-e-i-o
B B A A G
With a moo moo here and a moo moo there
D D G G G D D G G G
Here a moo, there a moo
G G G G G G
Everywhere a moo moo
G G G G G G
Old MacDonald had a farm
G G G D E E D
E-i-e-i-o
B B A A G

Here’s a tutorial for this easy piano song:

Any of these easy piano songs for kids will help your child learn how to play the piano and have fun while doing it.

If your child enjoys playing these songs, consider signing him or her up for private piano lessons. This is a great way to improve their technique!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of prescreened teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by Eduardo Merille

piano sight reading

9 Piano Sight Reading Exercises for Beginners

piano sight reading

The ability to sight read well is a skill that every pianist should have. Below, piano teacher Ryan C. shares 9 piano sight reading exercises to help you master this important skill…

It’s the first day of rehearsals at your school’s choir. Everyone has been assigned new music that they haven’t seen or sung before. You can sing, but you definitely consider yourself more of a pianist.

Your teacher walks in and solemnly says: “Hi everyone, our pianist is sick today, so we’re going to have to work on voice parts one part at a time, because my sight-reading skills aren’t that great. Unless, of course, someone here can sight read all the parts?”

You waste no time in raising your hand and declaring “I can do it!”

What is Piano Sight Reading?

Sight reading is essentially what its’ name implies: the ability to look at a piece of music and play it with very little to no prior rehearsal time.

Sight reading is a skill in which every pianist needs to become familiar, even if it means that he or she is only able to sight read pieces that are at or below his or her level of repertoire-performance.

Sight reading not only involves reading notes, but also encompasses implied musicality. For instance, a pianist should be able to take musical queues and respond appropriately when paired with other instrumentalists or singers.

Overall phrase shape, texture, and mood should all be considered when sight reading a new piece. These concepts are often reinforced by the other people you’re playing with, who can help you interpret the way to play a new piece.

Why Piano Sight Reading is Important

As displayed in the introduction scenario, it’s easy to see why sight reading would be useful in a plethora of situations. For instance, a good sight reader will almost always have employment options available.

Options such as working as an accompanist, being a pianist for a choir, a studio musician, a church pianist, and multiple other options, are always in constant demand.

Additionally, a pianist who has strong piano sight reading abilities will often be able to learn music at a much faster rate than those who can’t read as well.

It’s essentially the difference between reading one letter at a time and reading one word at a time. Just imagine how long this article would take to read if you could only read one letter at a time.

It’s surprising to see how many new pianists unknowingly take the second, more difficult approach to reading.

With the 9 piano sight reading exercises below, I will give you some options to help speed up your reading and quickly get you to a higher level of piano sight reading ability.

But before we get into the piano sight reading exercises, take a quick look at this 5-minute video on the basics of sight reading from Pianist Magazine.

9 Piano Sight Reading Exercises for Beginners

Below are some helpful piano sight reading exercises. These will assume that you have at least a few minutes to look at a piece before you have to play it. Let’s get started!

1. Flashcards

Unfortunately, memorizing notes can seem really tedious at first; nonetheless, it’s an important step that everyone must take.

If you spend just 10 minutes a day working on it, you’ll have the majority of the notes that are within the lines (not on ledger lines) on both the Treble and Bass Clefs memorized within several weeks.

Using flashcards is a great way to memorize notes. Just throw them in your bag and review them whenever you have a few minutes; for example, while you’re on the bus or in between classes.

2. Always Think Musically

It’s very easy to get sucked into thinking that you have to play all of the notes perfectly and forget the innate musicality of what you’re playing.

Remember, this is music–it should be musical. When something becomes too “note-y” and ceases to sound musical, what’s the point of playing it?

Even in piano sight reading, therefore, think of the musicality that defines the piece and do your best to bring that out.

3. Think Contour, Not Note Name

After you have enough notes memorized to get the starting pitches on passagework, don’t try to read every note of a passage.

Rather, look at the contour (or direction) of the notes. Do they go up or down? By how much (whole-step or half-step)?

By taking this approach, you’ll be able to easily read passagework that would take significantly longer to read if you were trying to read every single note separately.

4. Remember Your Scales

In a particular passage, do you see a succession of notes that seem to be going way up or down the staff? Does it have any sharps or flats? What note does it start and end on? Does it skip any notes?

If you ask yourself questions like these throughout you’re playing, you’ll find that many of the scale-like passages within pieces use fingerings from scales that you probably already know.

5. Practice Easy Pieces Based on Closed Hand Positions

This is a great exercise for beginners to get their feet wet with piano sight-reading.

There are even some great piano sight-reading book series out there, specifically by Lin Ling-Ling and Boris Berlin, that utilize this idea.

In essence, students should practice pieces that use five-finger positions that don’t give them the note-names or finger numbers except for the ones at the beginning of a piece.

This forces students to look at the contour and internally distinguish what finger is playing each note.

Even if they don’t know the note names yet, this method of reading is highly effective and produces great results.

6. Read Ahead as Much as Possible

This is super, super important! When sight reading anything, you always need to be a few notes ahead of what you’re actually playing.

To paraphrase one of my faculty accompanist mentors at SDSU: “Read it, and move on!”

In essence, after you read something, you should already be reading notes ahead of what you’re playing.

7. Practice Reading Hands Separately

Practice reading each hand separately, but preparing the other hand for its section well before it actually needs to play.

This piano sight reading exercise is actually way more important than it sounds. While I don’t think that students should stay for a long time in the hands-separate world, I do think that the method of preparing the opposite hand early is extremely important.

I’ve noticed that the biggest obstacle my students often face in piano sight-reading is the lack of preparation of the opposing hand.

They are often reading one hand perfectly, then the other hand starts a melody and the student has neither prepared it or looked far enough ahead to know what the starting pitch/hand position should be.

8. Play Through the Piece Without Stopping

Piano sight-reading is as much about reading notes as it is about supporting the other people you’re playing with.

In many cases, a sight-reading pianist is often playing in combination with an ensemble of some type. Therefore, you cannot stop playing.

Even if you can’t read all the music, always keep counting and play what you can, when you can.

Play at a manageable speed in which you can read as much music as possible and continue to play and count even when you make mistakes, no matter how severe they are.

Try not to repeat pieces you’ve already played, because then it’s no longer sight-reading, it’s just practice.

As an important side note, don’t use this method when practicing repertoire – always try to avoid learning incorrect notes.

9. Familiarize Yourself with Note Combinations

Chords and triads are the building blocks of harmony. Make a goal to learn all the major and minor chords that can be played on white keys, (C, D, E, F, G, A, B Major & Minor).

Now memorize the letter combinations that make up each chord. For instance, E Major = E, G#, B ; E Minor = E, G, B ; etc. Eventually, move onto the black key combinations, inversions, and seventh chords.

This step is incredibly important for students who are more on the intermediate side of piano sight reading. There will come a point in your reading in which you’re seeing things more as chords, and less as individual notes.

By having a solid foundation in the notes that make up chords, you’re saving yourself tons of time down the line. It’s much like the difference described earlier – reading entire words at one time compared to reading individual letters.

Now You’re Ready!

The ability to sight read well is a skill that every pianist should aspire to do, as it opens up career opportunities for a pianist.

For a student, this skill set will enable you to learn music faster, more accurately, and spend less time working on trying to read every note.

I hope that some of these tips will be helpful and give you some new insight into the world of piano sight reading!

Photo by Frédéric BISSON

Post Author: Ryan C.
Ryan C. teaches piano, ear training, and music theory. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with a B.M. in piano performance. Learn more about Ryan here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

piano styles

Ultimate Guide to the 5 Most Popular Piano Styles

piano styles

Don’t know what piano style you want to learn? Below, piano teacher Liz T. shares the five most popular piano styles to give you a better idea of what suits you…

Having the ability to play a number of different piano styles will help you become a better overall piano player.

What’s more, knowing the important composers, performers, and pieces of each piano style will assist you in your musical studies.

Below, I’ve listed the five most important piano styles, which include classical, jazz, musical theater, pop/rock, and liturgical.

Read through the various piano styles to see which one jumps out at you most.

After browsing, if you’re still not sure what piano style fits you, take the quiz at the end of the article to help you determine.

1. Classical Piano

Throughout 1750-1820, classical piano was performed for royalty and the upper class in Europe. There were three main composers who paved the way for classical piano composition: Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.

As the years progressed and classical music transformed from renaissance to baroque and romantic, other great pianists emerged, including Haydn, Chopin, Handel, Wagner, Debussy, and Tchaikovsky.

Classical piano is often what students study first because it forces them to have a very strong technique and knowledge of music theory.

Without having an understanding of the classical piano technique, it’s very hard to learn and pick up other piano styles. That’s because most music has stemmed from the classical style.

Famous Classical Piano Composers

Just because classical music was popular many years ago, doesn’t mean it’s not thriving today.

There are many classical piano composers who are still performing music from the greats as well as creating their own classical compositions, such as the following:

Van Cliburn: Cliburn was one of the greatest American piano players of our century. Each year, thousands of piano players audition to compete in the “Annual Van Cliburn Piano Competition.”

Phillip Glass: Glass had an extensive career in writing, recording, and orchestrating classical music ranging from symphonic orchestras to the big screen.

Eric Whitacare: A regular chart-topper, Whitacare often writes for choirs, and has released several classical music albums that have won Grammys.

Classical Piano Books

Bach, Mozart and Beethoven are crucial composers to know as a classical pianist. I recommend having these books around when you to start learning this piano style:

      • Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics “First Lessons in Bach, Complete Books I and II for Piano”
      • Alfred Series “Mozart: 21 of His Most Popular Pieces for Piano”
      • Dover Music “A First Book of Beethoven: 24 Arrangements for the Beginning Pianist with Downloadable Mp3’s”

2. Jazz Piano

1918 marked the big start of American jazz. Pianists such as Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, and Fats Waller are piano players influential in building the jazz scene around New York, Chicago, and New Orleans.

At the time, jazz piano was a rebellious type of music, as it deviated from the classic rhythms, harmony, and technique.

Jazz music incorporates swing, improvisation, ragtime, boogie woogie, and bee bop to create captivating melodies and rhythmic patterns.

People turned to jazz music during “The Great Depression” as well as in times of celebration.

It also became an important mark in history where African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, and Europeans were able to come together to create music in America.

Famous Jazz Piano Players

While Joplin, Morton, and Waller paved the way for jazz piano, today’s contemporary jazz players are keeping it alive.

I suggest listening to some of today’s most well-known contemporary jazz players, including the following:

Herbie Hancock: Hancock is an innovative American pianist and keyboardist. Popular albums include “Head Hunters,” “Maiden Voyages,” and “Possibilities.”

Michel Camilo: Camilo is a Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer from the Dominican Republic who specializes in jazz, Latin, and classical work.

Kenny Barron: An American jazz piano player, Barron is one of the most influential mainstream jazz pianists of the bebop area, currently on faculty at Juilliard School.

Essential Jazz Piano Books:

If you want to learn more about jazz piano style, then I suggest you check out these helpful books:

      • “The Jazz Theory Book,” by Mark Levine (Comprehensive guide to jazz music theory)
      • “Aebersold Play-a-longs” (Volumes with popular jazz standards with lead sheet notation, and CD play alongs to practice with.)
      • “The Real Books,” Hal Leonard (Volumes with 100+ jazz lead sheets, perfect for any gig or jam)

3. Musical Theater Piano

Piano plays a big role in musical theater. In fact, piano players are crucial for the development and success of musical theater.

Musical theater accompanists must be very good sight readers and versatile, as every musical theater production is different.

Musical theater pianists can find work performing in the pit bands of shows, and can serve as accompanist alongside singers at auditions.

Listen to some of the old Broadway composers and lyricists for inspiration, such as Rodgers & Hammerstein, Rodgers & Hart, and Gershwin.

There are also many popular Broadway composers today–such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Steven Sondheim, and Steven Schwartz–who have used piano primarily in their writing for musical theater.

Well-known Musical Theater Piano Players

Below are some of my favorite pianists  who’ve made a strong impact writing and performing musical theater:

Jason Robert Brown: Known for his works “Songs for a New World” and “The Last 5 Years,”  Brown uses incredible chords and harmonies. He has a knack for knowing how to capture both piano and voice together.

Marvin Hamlish: This legendary pianist served as the composer of one of Broadway’s longest running musicals, “A Chorus Line.” Hamlish was very skilled at capturing dancers and the sound of the piano together.

Seth Rudetsky: An accompanist and radio talk show host, Rudetsky really knows how to work with singers whether it be for a cabaret performance, audition, or cruise ship!

Best Musical Theater Piano Books:

If you wish to be a part of the Broadway scene, take a look at these essential books:

      • “The Big Book of Broadway-4th Edition,” Hal Leonard
      • “The Singers Musical Theater Anthology Series,” Hal Leonard
      • “Kids Musical Theater Collection (Volumes 1, 2),” Hal Leonard

4. Pop/Rock Piano

Starting in the ’50s, the piano was incorporated in many popular pop and rock songs. In the ’70s, the keyboard was heavily introduced because of it’s cool electric sounds.

Being a contemporary rock/pop piano player and composer is no easy task, but is one of the most rewarding piano gigs around.

As a pop/rock piano player you will probably find the most paid work, ranging from cover bands, wedding gigs, session recordings, and touring performances.

With this piano style, you’re free to explore new sounds, as the charts are always changing. What’s more, having the ability to both sing and play the piano looks and sounds great in performance.

Famous Pop/Rock Piano Players

Here’s a sample of some of piano pop and rock players who’ve made a huge impact on the genre. Listen to these folks to get inspired and maybe pick up a few performance tricks.

Elton John and Billy Joel: Both of these music veterans hit the top of their careers in the ’70s and ’80s. However, they still continue to perform to sold out stadiums today.

Alicia Keys: At the tender age of 16, Keys was already signed and recording her own original music. Her piano chords and melodies are in sync with her original vocals and lyrics.

Carole King: One of the most powerful women in songwriting, King is a singer/pianist from New York who’s written and recorded some of the most influential pop music of our time.

Essential Pop/Rock Piano Books:

There are tons of really great piano pop/rock books available. Below are just a few helpful piano books that will guide you:

      • “Let it Go, Happy, and More Hot Pop Singles 2014,” by Hal Leonard
      • “Piano Styles of 23 Pop Masters,” by Mark Harrison
      • “The Piano Songbook: Contemporary Songs Book 2,” by Faber Music

5. Liturgical Piano

Liturgical music originated as a part of religious ceremonies ranging from Catholic to Protestant to Jewish.

Almost every religion has their own unique sounding liturgical music that plays an important and meaningful role in its culture.

Liturgical music has been passed on from generation to generation, and today musicians are still performing and composing new music for religious services, performances, and recordings.

The piano is able to serve in all the various types of religious music. Many pianists start out by playing religious services professionally to make their living as a musician.

Notable Liturgical Piano Players

The composers and pianists below are influential in the liturgical music genre.

David Haas: An influential pianist and composer of the modern day liturgies in the Christian community.

Hector Olivera: An internationally acclaimed organist, watch his technique and how he brings the organ to life.

Jason White: White is a leading musical director and performer. He plays primarily gospel music on the piano, keyboards, and organ.

Liturgical Piano Books for Beginners

If you want to learn how to play this piano style, then check out these helpful books for beginners:

      • “Big Book of Hymns,” Hal Leonard
      • “Gospel Keyboard Styles: A Complete Guide to Harmony, Rhythm and Melody,” Mark Harrison
      • “The Practical Organist: 50 Short Works for Church Services,” Dover Music

I hope this guide to the five most popular piano styles will help determine what style you want to learn. Talk with your piano teacher on ways you can practice whatever piano style you choose.

If you’re still unsure which piano style to choose, take this fun quiz to find out!

Photo by André P. Meyer-Vitali

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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

10 Classic Christmas Carols Meant for the Piano

Ready for the holidays? Here, Brooklyn, NY teacher Liz T. shares her top picks for Christmas songs for piano to perform for your friends and family…

 

The holidays are approaching fast, and there’s no better way to spread some holiday cheer than by playing some good ‘ol Christmas songs for piano! In fact, there are many Christmas carols out there that were written specifically for the piano. Playing these songs at the holidays will improve your sight reading and ear training. Some of these arrangements sound very nice with just piano alone, and don’t even need other instruments or lyrics to feel like the holidays! Here is a list of my 10 favorite holiday songs that are perfect for the piano, along with YouTube videos so you can listen:

1. Deck the Halls


This Welsh carol, dating back to 1887, is rich in full piano accompaniment, and because of its strong melody, it makes you eager to sing, dance, and play!

2. Silent Night


This peaceful ballad gives the pianist room to improvise within the melody and chords, and also sounds nice played an octave above, at different tempos (slow with simple accompaniment or fast with more arpeggios), and with full chords as demonstrated in this video.

3. O Come, All Ye Faithful


Also known as “Adeste Fideles”, this Christmas song was originally written as a church hymn, and is typically played at Catholic Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Even though it is a church hymn, the pianist in this video does a very nice job at making it sound very contemporary and adding her own style to it.

4. Carol of the Bells


This is a dramatic Christmas song for piano, great for showing emotion with different dynamics, with its fast-paced tempo and four-note ostinato motif. Based on a Ukrainian folk chant, it has been covered by many artists, including the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and it was also used in the movie “Home Alone”. The pianist above, David Hicken, does an amazing job at ringing out the melody in the right hand to sound like bells. It makes you want to listen to the piece over and over again.

5. Joy to the World


This bright classic can be performed in the styles of classical, jazz, and even gospel! There is also room for much improvisation in this piece, especially in the beginning of the piece, where he sets the mood and tone right away. The pianist above does a nice job at making you really feel “joy to the world.”

6. We Three Kings


This is a great jazz Christmas piece to practice those jazz harmonies and chords. The rhythm in this piece can be played straight, or even swung to change styles. The original melody in this song switches from being melancholy to hopeful, and sounds like a song from the Middle Ages, but many people today interpret this in a smooth jazzy style.

7. What Child is This?


A beautiful piece for piano to capture its English melody in the right hand, this song’s lyrics were set to the tune of “Greensleeves” in 1867. The pianist in this video does a nice job at performing the call-and-response melody this song is known for.

8. Frosty the Snowman


This is fun Christmas song for piano that both kids and adults will enjoy playing! With its bright, uptempo feel, the song instantly makes you feel warm and happy inside. This pianist does a nice job at not only bringing out the right hand, but having a very strong foundation in the left hand. This is a must-learn crowd-pleaser.

9. Auld Lang Syne


Known in many countries to play at midnight on the last night of the year, to bid the year farewell, this song is also performed at funerals, graduations, and farewell occasions. Even with its simple melody and chords, and repeating chorus, there are many different ways to arrange this piece and make it sound interesting, just as this young pianist has done.

10. Jingle Bells


“Jingle Bells” is the most common American Christmas carol! Even though it is associated with the Christmas season today, it was actually written by James Lord Pierpont in 1857 for Thanksgiving. This pianist in the video above does a fabulous job at playing this song in a jazz style. He plays with the rhythms and tempos, and does a lot of improvisation. Even though the composer likely never thought this song would be played in a jazz style, today it makes as a wonderful piece to improvise and practice your swing and re-harmonizing.

 

LizTLiz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal Performance and currently performs and teaches all styles of music, including musical theater, classical, jazz, rock, pop, R&B, and country. Learn more about Liz here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of prescreened teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by kevin dooley

easy pop songs to play on piano

5 Easy Pop Songs to Play On Piano

easy piano songs to play for beginners

Looking for some fun and easy pop songs to play on the piano? Take a look at these suggestions from Greeley, CO teacher Andy W.

Playing your favorite songs on the piano doesn’t have to be difficult. Start out with songs you enjoy and build from there. Here are five easy pop songs to play on piano for beginners! When you’re ready to advance, try taking private piano lessons.

“All About That Bass” – Meghan Trainor

This is a fun, chart-topping song. The chords to this are A – Bmin – E – A. Each of these chords is played for two bars and the entire progression is eight bars. The good news for you is that this progression is repeated nonstop throughout the whole song. Practice playing the bassline in the left hand first and then add the melody in the right hand. Listen for how the melody in the verse is different from the chorus. Later in the song, the chords are played with constant eighth notes. Check out the video below for a play-along tutorial:

“Someone Like You” – Adele

This hit from Adele’s album, 21, managed to top the charts in almost 10 countries. You can play most of this song, including the verse and chorus, by playing four repeated chords: A, E, F#min, D. While you play constant arepeggios in the left hand, add the melody in the right. Here is a play-along video to help you learn it:

For even more ideas check out these 3 easy hit songs!

“Clocks” – Coldplay

This is one of Coldplay’s biggest hits, dating back to 2002. Since it’s so recognizable, this makes it one of the most fun pop songs to play on the piano. It has a few different sections to learn, but let’s just look at the most famous part for now. The right hand plays the signature arpeggio pattern, while the left hand plays chords and rhythmically lines up with the arpeggios. The chords to the verse and chorus are Eb – Bbmin – Fmin. The Eb is played for one bar, Bmin for two, and the Fmin for one. Looking at the bridge, the chords are Gb – Db – Ab. The bridge chords are played with constant eighth notes. This video breaks the song down well:

“Stay With Me” – Sam Smith

Fortunately for you, Sam Smith decided to repeat only three chords with the same rhythm for this entire song. So, here are the chords: Amin, F, C. After you get the chords in the left hand down, add the melody in your right hand. The video below shows how to add some cool fills to make it interesting:

“Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson

Just for fun, let’s look at “Billie Jean” from the album Thriller, which dates back to 1982. We’ll focus on the synth parts in this song. In the right hand, play these three chords: F#min – G#min – A – G#min. For these chords, there is a four-note bassline for the left hand to play. When the chords change to Bbmin, there is a second bassline. Using these two basslines and two chord sections, you can play the verses and choruses. Play along with the video below:

I hope these easy and fun pop songs help you learn how to play the piano. Here are 15 pop more piano pop songs to try, and 15 piano solos that are easier than they seem. Keep practicing them and then make your own list of new pop songs to learn!

AndyWPost Author: Andy W.
Andy W. teaches guitar, singing, piano, and more in Greeley, CO. He specializes in jazz, and has played guitar for 12 years. Learn more about Andy here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of prescreened teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by Elena Gatti Photography

5 Famous Piano Songs You’ll Instantly Recognize

Classic Piano Songs The piano is a beautiful instrument capable of playing a wide array of sounds, from staccato to grandiose. The ability of a composer to create an array of emotions and ideas on the piano goes a long way in explaining why certain famous piano songs have stood the test of time.

This also explains why these famous piano songs are often used to accompany scenes in movies, commercials, and television shows. The five piano pieces below are just a few of the most beloved songs that everyone will recognize.

5 Famous Piano Songs

1. Ludwig van Beethoven – “Moonlight Sonata”

There is no classical composer whose music better exemplifies emotions than Beethoven. As one of the earliest Romantic Era musicians, Beethoven bore his emotions openly, and his music is expressive, brooding, and full of feeling.

As many know, his music is even more amazing upon realizing that he lost his hearing in early adulthood. Beethoven was completely deaf by the time he wrote many of his famous classical piano songs!

His expressive spirit is exemplified in the famous “Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, No. 2” (nicknamed the “Moonlight Sonata”).

The first movement, marked Adagio sostenuto, is the most recognizable, with its smoothly moving triplet motive in the right hand and the heavy, pedantic melody in the low bass line.

True to the adopted name of the piece, the tune offers a beautiful mental image of a melancholy moonlit night.

2. Claude Debussy – “Clair de Lune”

French composer Debussy is the epitome of the Impressionist style of music. His piano pieces are soft, light, and dreamy, suggesting seascapes and tranquil natural settings.

“Clair de lune” (which translates to “light of the moon”) is actually the third movement from his larger piano composition “Suite bergamasque.”

This is one of the most famous classical piano songs, as it has been used in countless movies and television shows to depict a soft and dreamlike state.

The pianist is able to use the higher end of the keyboard and use a certain lightness of the fingers to musically imitate twinkling and soft moonlight.

SEE ALSO: 8 Best Piano Apps

3. Frederic Chopin – “March Funèbre”

Whenever movies and television shows need music that instantly makes people think of morbid settings, they often turn to the second movement of Chopin’s “Piano Sonata No. 2,” aptly marked “Marche Funèbre” (“funeral march”).

This instantly recognizable melody is slow and heavy. It mimicks the feeling of marching slowly through a street while carrying a casket.

“Marche Funèbre” is certainly one of the best classical piano songs for creating a dark and oppressive feeling.

4. Ludwig van Beethoven – “Für Elise”

Beethoven’s piano music is so universally well-known and beloved that he deserves a second mention in this list! The full name of this piece is “Bagatelle in A Minor” but most people will recognize it under the name “Für Elise.”

This is one of the best classical piano songs because of its beautiful and lyrical melody. It’s also one of the standard piano pieces for beginning piano students to learn.

The right and left hands play constant eighth note lines that weave in and out of each other to create a smooth texture.

5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – “Rondo alla Turca”

Everybody knows the name Mozart and recognizes him as one of the greatest composers and pianists in all of music history.

However, not as many know that he was a child prodigy – composing music and touring all of Europe at the age of five! He lived during a time when Eastern influence, especially from Turkey, was incredibly trendy in Western Europe.

All of these elements combine beautifully in the third movement of his “Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K. 331,” marked Rondo all turca (“Rondo in the Turkish style”). The music is fast, energetic, playful, and rhythmic.

SEE ALSO: Intro to Reading Piano Notes

These five famous piano songs are just the beginning when it comes to the wonderfully expansive world of piano music that is out there.

The first step in learning how to play these beautiful piano pieces is to sign up for piano lessons or online classes. An experienced teacher can help guide you through the process of developing the skills you need to perform these famous piano songs with mastery. Good luck!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of prescreened teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by Daniel Kruczynski

Introduction to Reading Piano Notes in 5 Easy Steps

reading piano notes and sheet music for beginners

Want to learn how to read music? New to the piano? Reading piano notes is the first step for beginners to tackling a piece of music. To be able to play the piano successfully, you must start learning how to read sheet music right off the bat. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be reading piano notes in no time!

How to Read Sheet Music: An Intro to Reading Piano Notes

Step 1: Label white spaces with FACE and EGBDF for the treble clef

If you want to learn how to read music you should start by looking at the treble clef first. This is the staff that shows which notes to play with your right hand. If you are learning for the first time, you must familiarize yourself with the letter names of the lines and spaces. On your staff paper, label the white spaces with FACE starting with the first space at the bottom of the page and going up, then the lines EGBDF starting at the bottom line going to the top line. There are little tricks to help you remember the names of the lines and spaces – for example, just remember the phrase “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.” Work on memorizing this a little bit each day.

Treble clef

Step 2: Write the note letter names

Now take a piece of music you want to learn, and underneath the music notes of the right hand in the treble clef, write the letter names. (Use a pencil, that way you can erase it later!) This isn’t a great habit to get into in the long run, but it’s perfectly fine for just starting out. If there is one note you’re having a hard time remembering specifically, feel free to just write that one note letter name. Keep in mind you’re only focusing on the white notes on a piano for now. Don’t worry about the black keys, (your sharps and flats), just yet.

Step 3: Memorize letter names, and move onto bass clef

After you’ve memorized all of the letter names on the lines and spaces for your right hand (the treble clef), you can move on to reading piano notes on the bass clef, where the notes on the lines and spaces will be played with your left hand.

Step 4: Name your spaces ACEGB and GBDFA

Practice drawing the bass clef, which will start on the F line. Then with the spaces at the bottom of the page, name your spaces ACEGB (remember “All Cows Eat Grass,” and don’t forget to add your B at the top!). Next, name your lines starting at the bottom of the page GBDFA (“Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always”). Memorize these notations as well. Now transfer these letter names of the lines and spaces to your piano song from step #2, and name all the notes with your left hand in the bass clef.

Bass Clef

Step 5: Find a hand diagram and label each finger 1-5

There is another method with numbers that may be easier for you to read. Find a diagram of your hands and looking at the right hand starting with your thumb, label each finger with 1-5. Do the same with your left hand. There are many easy piano songs to begin with, such as “Three Blind Mice”, “Hot Cross Buns”, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, and “Jingle Bells” that only use notes C-G, or numbers 1-5. Starting on middle C of the piano, put both thumbs on the note, and align both your hands so that your right pinky ends on 5 (G) and your left pinky lands on 5 (F). You can write in the numbers next to letter names, if that helps you more. Remember to begin with only the white notes on a piano.

finger placement piano

Now, as you read through your song, play and sing the letter or numbers while playing, which will help you memorize the names of numbers of the notes on a piano. Once you’ve practiced this for a while, try erasing the letter names and testing yourself to see if you still remember the playing pattern and tune of the song.

With these steps, reading piano notes and music will start to become natural to you. For each piece you learn, write in the letter names or fingers, and then erase them when you get comfortable enough. Pretty soon you won’t even need to write them in!

A Different Way to Read Sheet Music: The Mental Flip Strategy

One of the most difficult things about learning how to read sheet music for the piano, as opposed to most other instruments, is that there is not just a single melody to be played. Piano music requires you to play more than one part at a time. Usually these parts are interconnected – they are part of a chord that you need to be able to accurately read.

A Little History Behind Reading Music Notes

Sheet music is read from left to right. The reasoning behind this is that music began as an exercise most focused on the progression of notes in a scale or mode in a horizontal fashion. When more than one voice was sounded together, they usually sang in unison and it was not till the 9th century that musicians became increasingly concerned with vertical harmony and polyphony.

Keyboard instruments, such as the organ, the harpsichord, and ultimately the piano were instruments developed to satisfy this changing aesthetic and the increased importance of vertical harmonies. They were adapted into a notation that had been developed to address primarily horizontal concerns (i.e. what note comes next). This is not to say that sheet music cannot be read for the piano, but rather that the beginning student of piano must learn to think about the music on the page differently than they might read words on a page.

The Mental Flip Strategy for Reading Music Notes

You must flip the orientation of the sheet music in front of you mentally, so you can read the vertical orientation of the notes.

In order to begin to think about and practice this mental flip, there is an extremely helpful strategy you can use. You can actually turn the sheet music so you are reading the notes down the page. Doing so allows you to more easily understand the spacing between the notes and more intuitively grasp where your fingers should be placed on the keys. This technique is also incredibly helpful for visualizing the grand staff as a whole and where the octaves on the keyboard are located.

In order to properly perform this strategy and learn how to read sheet music for piano, follow these three simple steps:

  1. Take your original sheet music and flip it clockwise. The line of music you’re working on playing should be read down the page, from top to bottom, instead of across the page.

  2. Begin to identify chord units and think about each measure in terms of chordal units. Most bars or measures of beginning piano music contain one or two chords. Sometimes these chords are arpeggiated, other times there is an alternation pattern of notes in the treble and bass in quick succession. Your success with this technique depends on your ability to identify which chord is being outlined. To do this, simply name the notes. In beginning sheet music you’ll most likely see either major or minor triads.

  3. Match the notes on the page to your fingers on the keyboard. Notice how, with the sheet music turned, the sheet music is actually a diagram of the intervals between each note and how this realization helps you visualize where to place your fingers.

Here’s how it looks on your sheet music:

Mental flip strategy for learning to read sheet music for piano

With music, there are many different strategies that can help you move quickly to a better understanding. Everyone approaches music differently. Some beginners intuitively grasp complex concepts, others need a little help along the way. Some may even find this strategy more confusing than the standard approach.

Whether or not this technique is right for you depends largely on whether or not it yields a type of “aha” moment, where you can better visualize the spacing of your fingers and their placement on the keys.

If you need further instruction on learning how to read piano notes, consider taking piano lessons. A professional piano teacher can walk you through these steps and ensure that you’re building your skills on a solid foundation of music theory.

LizTPost Author: Liz T. teaches online singing, acting, and music lessons. 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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of prescreened teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by Basheer Tome

How much are piano lessons

How Much Are Piano Lessons? You Might be Surprised…

How much are piano lessons

Are you ready to start learning piano and wondering “how much are piano lessons”? In this article, we’ll outline the factors that affect the cost of piano lesson prices, as well as how to save money on lessons!

The benefits of working with a private music teacher are clear: you get one-on-one guidance from a professional, a customized lesson plan, and someone to hold you accountable to your musical goals.

But for budget-conscious beginners, the cost of piano lessons can seem daunting. What supplies or expenses should you expect when taking piano lessons? Will you need to spend hundreds of dollars just to play a few songs?

Instead of letting the price of piano lessons hold you back, take these questions into consideration as you’re looking at your options.

How Much Are Piano Lessons?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors, which is why you’ll see a variety of prices as you start your search for piano teachers.

The average cost of piano lessons is between $15 and $40 for a 30-minute lesson. While this may be the average, keep in the mind that the price of piano lessons can vary depending on things like where you live and your teacher’s expertise.

Here’s a deeper look into the factors that can affect piano lesson prices…

Your Location

As with many other services, piano lesson prices will vary depending on where you live. If you live in a rural area, your choice of teachers may be limited, but you may find very low rates.

In a more urban area, prices may be slightly higher, but you may find more options for qualified teachers.

Here are some examples of how the cost of piano lessons varies based on location:

marjoriePiano Teacher: Marjorie K.
Location: New York, NY
Price: $60 for a 30-minute lesson
danaPiano Teacher: Dana S.
Location: Muncie, IN
Price: $25 for a 30-minute lesson

Lesson Location

Beyond the city you’re in, the price of piano lessons can also vary depending on where exactly you’re taking the lessons. You have three options for lesson location:

• You can travel to your teacher for lessons
• Your teacher can come to your home
• You can use video chat for live, online lessons

Traveling to your teacher’s studio is usually more affordable than having your teacher come to you. Some teachers may charge for travel time and/or mileage. Online lessons are typically priced on the lower end of the scale, but can vary depending on a teacher’s level of expertise.

Here are some examples of piano teacher pricing based on lesson location:

marjoriePiano Teacher: Lily A.
Location: Columbia, MD
Price: $45 for a 30-minute lesson at teacher’s studio
$50 for a 30-minute lesson in your home
$45 for a 30-minute online lesson

Lesson Length

For most new students, a 30-minute weekly lesson is a great starting point. As your playing progresses however, most students benefit from longer lessons, such as 45 minutes to an hour.

Your teacher will recommend a good length for you, and of course, as you increase your lesson length your price will increase.

Here is an example of piano lesson pricing based on lesson length:

brianPiano Teacher: Brian P.
Location: Culver City, CA
Price: $40 for a 30-minute lesson
$45 for a 45-minute lesson
$55 for a 60-minute lesson

Teacher Expertise

Another factor that can affect piano lesson rates is your teacher’s level of expertise or experience. Younger teachers or teachers who specialize in beginning students will often charge less.

As your playing level advances and you need a teacher with higher level experience, you can expect to pay more per lesson.

As you improve, you might also become interested in a specific area of study, such as classical music or jazz improvisation. Teachers who specialize in certain genres or techniques can charge a much higher price.

How Much Are Piano Lessons for Kids?

While the cost of piano lessons for kids is sometimes lower than lessons for adults or more advanced players, it’s important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t choose the least expensive option on principle.

The concepts learned might seem simple, but it takes a certain personality (and level of patience) to get through to kids, especially those who have trouble focusing.

To help you find the right teacher for a child, consider the following as you narrow down your options:

  • Have they had success with similarly aged children?
  • What is their experience like, and how long have they been teaching?
  • Do they use any particular method, such as the Suzuki Method, for working with beginners?
  • What level of involvement are you able to commit to your child’s lessons, and what do they expect from you?

You may also want to chat with your child’s teacher before the first lesson to get on the same page: discuss your expectations and what level of involvement you can commit to.

Finding the right teacher is particularly important for young learners, and will ensure you don’t waste time or money with a teacher that doesn’t mesh well with your child.

How to Save Money on Piano Lessons

Most teachers and studios will require payment in advance, often on a month-to-month basis. Some even offer discounts for lesson packages, if you’re able to commit for a longer time frame.

Students booking piano lessons through TakeLessons.com, for example, can sign up for Monthly, Quarterly, Semester, or Annual Plans. TakeLessons often runs promos and discounts for piano lessons if you sign up with your email address.

You can also look into taking online piano classes to save even more money on piano instruction. Group classes are a great way to get your feet wet with the piano, and try out a few different teachers before choosing the one you’d like to continue with individually.

Whether you’re working with a music studio or an individual private teacher, make sure you’re aware of the payment policies from the beginning so nothing comes as a surprise.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the rescheduling or cancellation policy. Some teachers require a 24-hour notice to be eligible for a reschedule, so knowing this beforehand will save you some money in the long run!

Another great way to save money when learning the piano is to invest in a quality keyboard. Keyboards are much more affordable than pianos and are just as efficient when starting out as a beginner.

What About Books & Other Materials?

As you progress through your lessons, keep in mind that you may come across incidental costs along the way. Piano books and materials are the obvious ones, since you’ll always need new music and workbooks.

Some teachers provide these for students or have copies available to borrow, but most will give you a list of certain books and ask you to purchase them on your own. There are also several websites for finding free sheet music online. Additional materials may include:

  • Journal or composition pad for taking notes
  • Pencil (this is a must!)
  • Metronome
  • Piano tuning services (recommended at least twice a year)

As you can see, there are several factors that can affect the price of piano lessons. Do your research and take some time to think about which options are best for you – and what will keep you motivated to learn!

With the right set-up and an amazing teacher by your side, you’ll be prepared for a great experience.

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of prescreened teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by ragingtornado

keyboard vs. piano

Keyboard vs. Piano: What Do New Students Need?

keyboard vs. piano
Piano lessons are a great investment, but what if you don’t own a piano? Is it really necessary, or will a smaller, more manageable keyboard do the trick? If you’re asking these questions, we’ve got your answers. Consider the following as you make your decision…

How committed are you?
The first question you’ll want to ask yourself is how committed you are with your lessons. Obviously, a full piano is a big investment – in terms of both money and space. While some teachers or music programs may highly recommend a piano, it might not be a reasonable option for you. If it’s not, a keyboard can be just as effective for a beginner – just make sure you’re purchasing a quality model.

What’s your price range?
For pianos, you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 (and even upward of $50,000 for some grand pianos!).  Keyboards are less expensive, but you can still expect to pay $200 and up for a quality instrument – and in some cases up to $1,000, depending on how many “extras” you want (USB drive, special effects, internal metronome, etc.).

Do you want to be able to practice quietly?
Most digital keyboards have headphone jacks, so you can practice without disturbing anyone else. This is great for families who have multiple children taking lessons, or if your opportunities to practice are limited to late nights or early mornings.

Are you moving soon?
Moving a piano can be a huge hassle, and requires professional (and often expensive) help. If you anticipate moving anytime soon, you’ll want to wait and just stick with a keyboard for now.

Are you prepared for the upkeep?
As a general rule of thumb, a piano should be tuned twice a year. Depending on the area you’re in and the condition of your piano, this may cost you around $100 each time. Keep this in mind and mark it on your calendar, as an in-tune piano can make a world of difference!

For keyboards: Are the keys weighted?
You’ll definitely want a keyboard with weighted keys, which means they offer the same level of resistance that a real piano would. The resistance is what allows you to play dynamics (i.e. louder and softer), and makes for an easier transition to playing on the piano. Another thing to consider is how many keys your keyboard has – a full piano has 88 keys, whereas some keyboards only offer a limited range. This can be an issue when you progress into more advanced pieces.

Do you want the “real thing”?
Even with all of the advantages of a keyboard, it simply will never replace a real piano. Even the best quality keyboard won’t have the same beautiful sound that a piano has, and the keys inevitably feel different. Often the keys are a bit smaller on keyboards, which can be frustrating to students switching back and forth when they try playing on a piano. Ultimately, your personal preferences will come into play here.

It’s a big step, but purchasing a piano is a great investment for the serious musician.  In the meantime, however, there’s nothing wrong with starting out on a quality keyboard or digital piano. Do your research, consider your lifestyle, find yourself a great piano teacher and play those 88 keys with confidence!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of prescreened teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by Wearn

Live Resources

piano solos

15 Easy Piano Solos That Sound Hard

 

Are you eager to show off your skills with some popular piano songs? The good news is there are tons of piano solos that seem complicated, but are actually pretty easy to play.

From pop piano songs to old classics, here are 15 of the best piano solos you can play to impress an audience.

15 Beautiful Piano Solos That are Easy To Learn

While these piano solos might not sound like beginner songs, they are fairly easy to master with some practice. Browse below and choose a few that grab your attention.

1. All I Ask of You: Phantom of the Opera

This gorgeous theme song from the musical “Phantom of the Opera” composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber is a classic love song that will surely wow your audience. This great piano solo can be performed with or without vocalists.

2. Piano Man: Billy Joel

If you’re a pianist and a singer, this is a great song to practice both your piano skills and your vocals. Your audience will be impressed with how you can channel your inner Billy Joel with this classic pop piano song.

3. Bohemian Rhapsody: Queen

Looking for a rock solo to add to your repertoire? This piano solo is great if you want to practice slow and fast tempos, and the use of dynamics. You can make this song as easy or as hard as you want.

4. Heart and Soul: Hoagy Carmichael

Whether you decide to play this song solo or as a duet, you’re sure to have a blast! It has a very fun, simple piano rhythm in the left hand, with a fun melody in the right hand.

5. Fur Elise: Beethoven

If you’re looking for a classical hit to wow your audience, try this piano solo. It’s great for practicing arpeggios and showing off your classical technique.

6. The Entertainer: Scott Joplin

A classic ragtime piece, Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” is a great piano solo that will show off your fancy finger work. There are many modified piano versions out there, so find one that fits your skill set.


[tl-live.class-carousel]Sign up now for a Free 30-day trial to TakeLessons Live, and take group piano classes online on your computer or phone.


 7. Cannon in D: Pachelbel

A beautiful classical piece, this piano solo is perfect for weddings or any other formal celebration. It’s also a great solo to practice easy chords, and a simple bass line.

8. Ave Maria: Schubert

This simple, but impressive ballad is great for practicing arpeggios and chords. Because the song pretty much keeps the same pattern throughout, you should be able to learn it in no time!

9. Prelude to the Well Tempered Clavichord: Bach

This is one of my personal favorites to play on the piano because it sounds difficult but is very easy to play. It’s also great for practicing dynamics.

10. All that Jazz: Chicago

This piano solo is a fun jazz piece that sounds fancy, but is easy to play. The bridge and ending will make your audience think that you can bring the house down.

11. Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Wizard of Oz

Audience members will surely shed a tear during your performance of this famous song. It’s the perfect piano solo to milk out long legato phrases, and sounds pretty in any key.

12. Tale as Old as Time: Beauty and the Beast

One of Disney’s most sensational piano pieces, this piano solo is an easy piece to embellish the melody, add trills, and chord inversions if you feel like making the song extra special.

13. My Heart Will Go On: Titanic

This Grammy award-winning song will captivate your audience’s heart. In this ballad, you can really capture emotion with just a few chords, and repeating melodic phrase.

14. New York, New York: Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra’s hit, New York, New York is a crowd favorite. You can really build up the chorus section, which the audience will go nuts over because they will want to sing along.

15. What a Wonderful World: Louis Armstrong

This piano solo will melt your audience to pieces. This is a great song if you want to work on conveying emotion through different peaks and climaxes, especially in the bridge section.

These are all great piano solos you can start practicing today. If you need more guidance on performing piano solos, look for a private piano teacher near you, or sign up for TakeLessons Live. It’s free for 30 days and you can learn to play even more piano solos there with other students like you.

Photo by Kevin Ohlin