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Intro to Classical Piano Music

Intro to Classical Piano Music Styles [Infographic]

Intro to Classical Piano Music

Curious about the history of classical piano music? Take a journey through history and learn about the four distinct musical periods in this lesson from Brooklyn, NY music teacher Julie P...

 

Musical styles are always shifting and developing. Throughout history, as musicians and famous piano composers experimented with sounds and instrument design, the music world expanded and more possibilities became evident.

Early musicians started with simple melodies, sung in unison. But slowly, composers started adding other parts, the instruments we know today were developed, and people around the world shared their ideas with each other.

Within the classical piano music genre, there are four main time periods we refer to in order to categorize musical development throughout history. Those four time periods are:

  • Baroque
  • Classical
  • Romantic 
  • Modern

The transitions between these eras are not clear-cut, and often composers at the end of one era were already writing music with characteristics of the next era. Likewise, some composers were slow to accept change and wrote pieces at the beginning of one era that sound like music from the previous time period.

While it can be difficult to classify some composers and pieces into a single time period, the four time periods are very helpful to know. They show the trends in music over time and help us understand the thought process of musicians as they were developing new ideas.

In this article (and infographic!), you’ll get an introduction to piano music in the four musical time periods. There is, of course, much more to be said about classical piano music than can fit below, but the key information will give you an idea of each time period. Take a listen to the pieces highlighted to hear how piano music changed throughout history.

Baroque — 1600-1750

Baroque Composers to Know

  • Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Georg Philipp Telemann
  • George Frideric Handel
  • Domenico Scarlatti
  • Francois Couperin

Popular Baroque Pieces to Check Out

  • J.S. Bach – The Well Tempered Clavier

  • G.F. Handel – Fugue No. 1 in G Minor

Editor’s Note: Did you know Bach was the father to 20 children? Learn more interesting facts about Bach in this post from the Take Note Blog!

Classical — 1750-1825

Classical Composers to Know

  • Joseph Haydn
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Franz Schubert
  • Muzio Clementi

Popular Classical Piano Songs to Check Out

  • Clementi – Sonata in C Major, Op. 36 No. 1

  • Beethoven – Appasionata Sonata

Romantic — 1825-1900

Romantic Composers to Know

  • Johannes Brahms
  • Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky
  • Frederic Chopin
  • Robert Schumann
  • Claude Debussy

Romantic Piano Pieces to Check Out

  • Chopin – Nocturn Op. 9 No. 2

  • Brahms – Rhapsody Op. 79 No. 2

Modern — 1900-present

Modern Composers to Know

  • Arnold Schoenberg
  • Igor Stravinsky
  • Charles Ives
  • Aaron Copland
  • Sergei Prokofiev

Modern Piano Music to Know

  • Copland – The Young Pioneers

  • Stravinsky Piano Sonata

Got it? Here’s a helpful infographic, if you’re more of a visual learner!

Intro to Classical Piano Music - Baroque, Romantic

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Source: http://www.ipl.org/div/mushist/#baro

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

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10 More Easy Piano Songs For Kids

10 MORE Easy Piano Songs for Kids [Video Tutorials]

10 More Easy Piano Songs For Kids

We’ve already shown you easy piano songs for your child to learn, but why stop there? Piano teacher Liz T. adds to the excitement with her recommendations for 10 more of the best piano songs for kids…

 

The keyboard or piano is perhaps the easiest instrument for kids to learn how to play. Within a few weeks of practice, most kids are already playing the melodies to some of their favorite tunes! Between the ages of four through 10 is ideal for students to start learning how to play the piano.

Your child will most likely already be familiar with some of these traditional songs, therefore making it fun and easy for your child to pick them up on the piano. Here are some of the best piano songs for kids to learn.

1. “The Wheels on the Bus”

The wheels on the bus go round and round
C F F F F A C A F
Round and round, round and round
G E C C A F
The wheels on the bus go round and round
C F F F F A C A F
All through the town
G C F

2. “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream
C C C D E E D E F G
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
C C C G G G E E E C C C
Life is but a dream
G F E D C

3. “Pop Goes the Weasel”

All around the mulberry bush
C C D D E G E C
The monkey chased the weasel
G C C D D E C
The monkey thought twas all in fun
G C C D E G E C
Pop goes the weasel
A D F E D

4. “Ode to Joy”

E E F G G F E D C C D E E D D
E E F G G F E D C C D E D C C
D D E C D F E C D F E D C D G
E E F G G F E D C C D E D C C

5.”You Are My Sunshine”

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
G C D E E E D# E C C
You make me happy when skies are grey
C D E F A A G F E
You’ll never know, Dear, how much I love you
C D E F A A G F E C
So please don’t take my sunshine away
C D E F D D E C

6. “Yankee Doodle”

Yankee Doodle went to town, riding on a pony
C C D E C E D C C D E C B
Stuck a feather in his hat and called it Macaroni
C C D E F E D C B G A B C C
Yankee Doodle went to town, Yankee Doodle dandy
A B A G A B C G A G F E G
Mind the music and the step and with the girls be handy
A B A G A B C A G C B D C C

7. Barney’s “I Love You” Song

I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family
G E G G E G A G F E D E F
With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you
E F G C C C C C D E F G
Won’t you say you love me too
G D D F E D C

8. “When the Saints Go Marching In”

Oh when the saints
C E F G
Oh when the saints
C E F G
Oh when the saints go marching in
C E F G E C E D
Oh how I want to be in that number
E E D C C E G G G F
When the saints go marching in
E F G E D E C

9. “Amazing Grace”

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
D G B G B, A G E D
That saved a wretch like me
D G B G B A D
I once was lost, but now am found
B D B D B G D E G G E D
Twas blind but now I see
D G B G B A G

10. “Jingle Bells”

Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh
G E D C G G G G E D C A
Over the fields we go, laughing all the way
A A F E D B G G F D E
Bells on bobtail ring, making spirits bright
G E D C G G E D C A
What fun it is to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight
A A F E D G G G G A G F D C G
Jingle bells, jingle bells
E E E E E E
Jingle all the way
E G C D E
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, hey
F F F F F E E E E D D E D G
Jingle bells, jingle bells
E E E E E E
Jingle all the way
E G C D E
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, hey
F F F F F E E E E G G F D C C

Following along with these video tutorials can be helpful, but I also recommend checking out this guide to piano notes, so your child can learn more about the relationships between the keys.

I also encourage you and your child to sing along while you play these songs! This is a great way for children to become familiar with these classic and traditional songs, while improving their reading and aural skills.

Finally, if you or your child needs some guidance working on these songs, I highly recommend working with a piano instructor! A private piano teacher can show your child the proper fingering placement on the piano, the appropriate speed and pace for the song, and the joy of playing these fun songs. Happy playing!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz 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/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

Photo by C.K. Koay

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A 10-Minute Piano Practice Challenge for Busy Students

The 10 Minute Music Practice Challenge for the Busy Student

We’ve discussed how to practice the piano before… but what if you don’t have 30 minutes or an hour to commit to practicing every day? Answer: Condense it into a 10-minute quick-practice! Read on as Austin, TX piano teacher Aimee B. shows how to make this piano exercise work for you…

 

No doubt you are busy. On top of a full day, you have an inkling to learn the piano.  But how do you fit it into your day? You know the importance of regular practice, but if you find the idea of sitting and studying for 30 minutes entirely too daunting, you’re not alone.

In fact, many adults use being busy as an excuse to put off taking piano lessons. But the truth is, even if you don’t have 30 minutes to commit to practicing every single day, you can still make some progress. There is a powerful and productive way to think about practice in small, incremental steps. Visiting the piano for as little as 10 minutes a day can reinforce new material and create a ritual that becomes an integral part of your life.

Before I break it down, I’d like to offer two important piano practice tips:

1) Create a Unique Practice Space

Choose and prepare a specific, music-friendly practice space in your home. Whether it’s a certain corner in the living room or an entire music room, see that the area is clean and free of distraction. Make it your creative space and decorate it as such by hanging a picture of your music idol to inspire your practice or lighting candles to encourage calmness.

Leave your practice space ready with your books and metronome, and keep your keyboard lid open! Do not let the articles of your everyday life, like papers, backpacks, or groceries intrude on this space. Maintaining a clean and ready piano practice space invites you to sit and make music.

2) Practice With a Side Salad… Or Set an Alert

The key to practice is first designating a set time. Instead of leaving your piano practice time floating ambiguously in the ether of “later,” try coupling it next to an activity you already do daily, like eating or brushing your teeth. Ten minutes directly before or after dinner is an easy target practice zone.

Also, use your calendar and alert systems on your computer and smartphone to their full capacity. Set an alert to remind you. Let technology support your practice. With time, you’ll develop your practice habit as a daily ritual instead of a chore that gets pushed to tomorrow.

Now, on to the piano exercise!

10-Minute Piano Practice Challenge – Overview

10-Minute Piano Practice Exercise

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10-Minute Piano Practice Challenge – A Closer Look

1 min: Breathing and Visualization

Before you begin this piano exercise, approach the keys with a calm and positive mind. Take a minute to breathe deeply and visualize yourself actualizing your musical goal. Feel your feet touching the ground and your body lengthening from the bench. Place your hands in a middle C position and, if possible, visualize their movement while reviewing your music with your eyes. Try to maintain a “can-do” attitude and dismiss any harsh criticism of yourself. Remember, learning how to play the piano is a process!

2 min: Review Notes

Take a moment to recall your last lesson. Read any notes from your piano teacher and identify the specific points you need to focus on for this practice, like counting and dynamics. Limit your focus to one or two items to improve upon. Don’t try to tackle everything at once.

5 min: Work on Targeted Assignment

With these one or two items in mind, approach your current assignment. Write down any questions that arise during your practice to ask your teacher at the next lesson.

2 min: Review Previously Completed Song/Exercise

Reward your focus by reviewing a previously completed assignment that you feel confident in. Have fun playing and realize you are slowly building a repertoire.

NOTE: You can also practice your piano theory away from the keyboard. Try downloading a popular tablet or smartphone app like Music Tutor and visiting notation exercises away from your instrument, while standing in line, waiting at an appointment, or on a lunch break. Apps are also good attention diversions if you need a challenge or feel like your practices are getting mundane.

[Editor’s Note: Here are some other piano apps we love!]

How to Really Improve Your Piano Skills

Decide that you are willing to give this method an earnest try for one week, running through the piano exercise each day. Remember, it’s only 10 minutes! Reward yourself at the end of that week for meeting your goal. Then, reflect on your experience. Is your daily practice coupled with the appropriate daily event or do you need to move it to a different event? Did 10 minutes feel too short, too long, or just right? How did you feel before, during, and after your practice? Do you feel more or less inspired? Look at your experience and evaluate.

By the end of one week you will have achieved 70 minutes of intentional and structured practice. Any music teacher will be thrilled by your report and excited by your commitment to steady progress. Of course, if a burst of inspiration hits you and 10 minutes turns into 20, then great, go with it. The 10-minute piano challenge is a starting point. Good luck!

Aimee B.Post Author: Aimee B.
Aimee B. teaches piano, guitar and music theory in Austin, TX. She earned her B.A. in philosophy and art from St. Edward’s University, has worked as a professional musician for over ten years, and has taught over 100 students as a private music instructor. Learn more about Aimee here!

Photo by Tuan Hoang Nguyen

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How to Read Piano Music Faster: Intro to the Keys

Visual Intro to the Keyboard

When you’re new to playing piano, you might feel overwhelmed by all the keys! But here’s a secret: those 88 keys can be reduced to just seven piano notes, and a few essential patterns. Easy, right? Here, teacher Nadia B. shares a super-easy visual introduction…

 

Did you know the keyboard of a piano is full of tricks and secrets? Music is full of different patterns, and as you become more familiar with them, you’ll learn how to read piano music faster, while playing confidently and correctly. If you want to learn how to read piano notes quickly (and improve your sight-reading skills), knowledge of these basics is essential. Following along with a YouTube piano tutorial might be fun, but it’s not going to help you progress as a pianist.

So where do you start? Some of the main building blocks of music that come in handy with piano are half steps and whole steps, the chromatic scale, enharmonics, and flats (noted as ‘b‘) and sharps (notated as ‘#’). Here’s what you need to know…

Half Steps

Just like the structures of chromosomes make up the whole of a DNA strand, half steps make up the whole of the keyboard. A half step on the keyboard is going from one key to the next one directly above or below it, without skipping any keys. A half step could go from a white key to a black key (for example, G to G#), a black key to a white key (e.g. G# to A), or a white key to a white key (e.g. E to F). See the image below for an illustration of these examples.

Half Steps

You will find half steps in both major and minor scales. For example, in the C major scale, E to F and B to C are both half steps.

C Major Scale Half Steps

Familiarizing yourself with half steps and being able to rapidly recognize them will allow you to decode music more easily, as you’ll be able to see the same patterns of half steps in written music.

Whole Steps

Whole steps are the big sibling to half steps. Two half steps make a whole step, and whole steps are what make up major and minor scales, in addition to half steps. An example of a whole step is from F to G on the keyboard; in between F and G we have two half steps — F to F# and F# to G.

Whole Steps

An example of a whole step in a major scale is from F to G in the F major scale. Similarly to half steps, recognizing whole steps and understanding their function allows you to read piano music faster and also learn how to create major and minor scales using a set pattern of whole and half steps.

Chromatic Scale

Now that we’ve covered the building blocks of any piano scale, we can cover a scale that relates directly to half steps: the chromatic scale. Composed entirely of consecutive half steps (that is, not skipping any keys from the beginning to the end of the scale), the chromatic scale is most often practiced by starting on any note, reaching the same note one octave higher, and then descending back to the original note. For example, we can start from F in one octave, play up to F in the next octave, and return back to the original F.

F Chromatic Scale

A sequence of notes may start on one note and end on a different note — it’s the pattern of consecutive half steps that distinguishes it as chromatic.

Enharmonics

Another fundamental concept of the keyboard is that one key can have multiple names. This can cause a great deal of confusion, but once you understand how it works, you’ll find it pretty simple. ‘Enharmonic’ is the name for this concept. For example, F sharp, which we find by identifying F on the keyboard and then moving up a half step, can also be called G flat, which we find by identifying G on the keyboard and then moving down a half step. We arrive at the same note, F sharp/G flat (F#/Gb).

Enharmonic Notes

It’s good to recognize the dual names of enharmonics because you will sometimes see both names within one piece as the key modulates. Enharmonics allow us to travel to different keys seamlessly and logically.

Sharps and Flats on the Piano

Going right along with harmonics is an understanding of how sharps and flats work. Sharps always indicate a movement up in pitch and direction on the keyboard (i.e. to the right), while flats always indicate a movement down in pitch and direction on the keyboard (i.e. to the left). It’s important to understand them because you will see flats and sharps in the key signature and as accidentals throughout the music, and you’ll need to apply them correctly throughout the music.

The key to applying sharps and flats correctly is knowing that you are always moving in half steps. A flat indicates a half step down, while a sharp indicates a half step up. Knowing this, you can also apply double flats and double sharps properly. If you see a double flat, that means you should move downward two half steps from the original note, while a double sharp indicates that you should move upward two half steps from the original note. An example of this would be D double flat: by moving from D to D flat and then again from D flat to C, we arrive at D double flat (which is the same key as C).

Double Flat

Using half steps as a means of applying flats and sharps is an infallible method, and you’ll be moving around the keyboard easily once you learn this method.

To recap, here are the four building blocks on one handy infographic:

How to Read Piano Music Faster - Visual Intro the Piano

How to Read Music Faster & Improve Your Sight Reading

Understanding these basic structures at the piano will help you to read piano music faster, especially when you’re sight reading. Viewing a phrase, you will no longer see each note as a separate entity — rather, you’ll see the relationships between them (whole steps, half steps and larger intervals), as well as patterns that make up scales like the chromatic scale or the major scale. Knowing how sharps, flats, and enharmonics work means that you won’t be stymied by an unusual flat, like C flat. Instead, you’ll easily translate it to B natural in your mind. With these tips, you should be sight reading more fluently and accurately than ever before.

Now that you understand the patterns of the keyboard, don’t hesitate to try to find examples of these in your piano music! You will discover a unique language that is logical, organized, and creative all at once, and decoding it will result in many hours of delight making music at the piano.

Next up? Check out my other visual tour, and learn how to read piano sheet music!

Need some extra help? A private piano teacher can lead the way! Search for a teacher near you here.

Nadia BPost Author: Nadia B.
Nadia B. teaches flute and piano in New York, NY, as well as through online lessons. She acted as principal flutist of the orchestra and wind ensemble at California State University, Sacramento, and then went on to receive her degree in Music Performance from New York University. Learn more about Nadia here!

Photo by mararie

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How to Practice Piano: Tips for Exercises OFF the Keys! [Infographic]

Off the Keys

We all know how important practicing is for aspiring piano players! But sometimes it can be a challenge to fit into your schedule. Luckily, there are ways to practice your technique while you’re at work, in the car, or practically anywhere else! Continue reading this guest post by Spring Lake, MI piano teacher Val L. to find out how…

 

As you practice piano, taking the time to think about rhythm and technique is a huge challenge! You should always include scales and exercises in your piano practice routine because they are the tools that will provide the muscle development and coordination needed to improve. But what should you do if you’re pressed for time? If you have a tight schedule, you’ll want to use every precious minute you have at the piano to work on your songs. Fortunately, there are also ways you can practice your piano technique… even when you’re not in front of your instrument!

Off the Keys — Piano Practice Tips for Adults

Listening – This one is obvious but easily overlooked. Find a professional recording of each piano song you are learning and make a playlist you can listen to in the car, around the house, or at work. You will reinforce tricky rhythms, changing tempos, dynamics, pedaling, and so on each time you hear it played accurately.

Hand Shape – You should already know the importance of playing with a rounded hand shape, free from tension. If you have a squishy ball on your desk at work, pick it up right now and look at your hand shape. You should be able to see all three knuckles. Each knuckle has an important part to play in good hand shape, but the knuckle closest to your fingernail is the most important. As a rule, that knuckle should never wiggle or collapse. Here are some ways to reinforce hand shape while away from the keys:

  • After observing your hand shape while holding the ball, put the ball down but keep the same hand shape. You should be able to touch the desktop with all four fingertips and the side tip of your thumb. Be sure your wrist is lifted.
  • With that good hand shape, leave your fingers touching the desk and use a little pressure to push into the desk. Release without lifting away from the desk and push in again without letting any of the knuckles wiggle or collapse. Do this without allowing tension to build up in your hands by allowing the pressure to transfer to the fingertips.
  • Now try tapping fingers individually without letting the knuckles wiggle or collapse.
  • For a greater challenge, widen your span so that the thumb and pinky are fully extended, as if playing an octave. Slide the three long fingers toward your palm until only the flat ends of the fingers are touching the desk. Tap those three long fingers on the desk without letting the knuckle wiggle or collapse, together and individually.

Eliminate Tension – If you typically feel like your muscles are all knotted up after you finish a practice session, you are probably allowing tension to build up without even knowing it. Being aware of how tension feels and where you feel it, as well as when you feel it the most, are the first steps toward eliminating it. Wherever you are right now, take a moment to evaluate the tension in your own body.

  • Spine – Start here and think about your posture. Are you hunched over or leaning to one side? With your feet resting flat on the floor, center yourself by straightening your spine from the bottom up. If you are near a wall, stand and let the back of your head rest on the wall. This will establish the feeling of good posture. Go back to your seat and sit quietly for 10 seconds with this corrected posture. With consistent reminders, your posture will improve!
  • Shoulders – Breathe in deeply and exhale. Did your shoulders drop? Do they feel more relaxed now?
  • Elbows – Are they suspended away from your body, causing your arms to ache and fingers to stiffen? Drop those elbows and let them rest at your side.
  • Wrists – You should be able to lift your wrists up and down with a beautiful fluid motion. Rest your forearms on the arms of your office chair and let your hands hang from the wrists. Slowly raise your forearms, bending at the elbows and keeping your hands relaxed, letting them dangle from the wrists. You can practice this while on the phone, reading emails, or during lunch!

When you do return to the keys, incorporate these important piano practice tips into your routine. Eventually your body will form natural, healthy habits that will greatly enhance your musicianship! (See also: The Healthy (& Happy) Pianist: A Guide to Stress & Injury Prevention)

Here’s a visual to recap these tips…

How to Practice Piano... Off the Keys - Adults

 

Off the Keys — Piano Practice Tips for Kids

Kids can be even more resistant to piano technique exercises — but the more fun the exercises are, the better kids typically respond! Here are some of my methods…

Rhythm – Keep rhythm instruments handy (claves, djembe, bongos) and try to change it up from week to week. Move away from the piano and sit at the table, couch, or even outside, and play rhythm patterns together.

Parents can be involved with rhythm practice at home. Lots of household items make good percussion instruments. Try taking two plastic bottle caps with some “Sticky Tack” inside. Little fingers can develop fine motor skills by tapping the bottle caps together. Buy a set of rhythm flashcards and tap two to three rhythm patterns each day. Or let them create their own rhythm pattern, record it, and then try writing it. At their next lesson, their piano teacher can listen and give feedback on how accurately they wrote the rhythm.

Eliminate Tension – Young students will understand the meaning of tension by using a squish ball/animal. Kids can use them to practice a relaxed, rounded hand shape. The rubber animal face expands and contorts when they squeeze, which makes them giggle and helps them understand how much our muscles dislike tension! When they relax, the animal face returns to normal and the student remembers the feeling of the relaxed hand shape versus the tense hand shape.

Additionally, here are some ways for children to become aware of tension in other areas of their body:

  • Spine – Student should stand near a wall, letting the back of their head rest on the wall. This will establish the feeling of good posture. Have them return to the bench, facing away from the keys and sit quietly for 10 seconds with this corrected posture. Be sure their feet are resting flat on the floor or on a stool of proper height. It helps to show them 10 seconds on a timer before they begin so they know how short this resting time will be!
  • Shoulders – Student should breathe in deeply and exhale. Did their shoulders drop? Do they feel more relaxed now? Have them pretend their tummy is a balloon and after they inflate the balloon, they let out all of the air. It’s fun to actually blow up a balloon while they breathe in and let it deflate when they exhale. But some children will be more distracted by the balloon and may not focus on the breathing exercise. If time is available, demonstrate with the balloon first and then put it away.
  • Elbows – Student should lay their fingertips on the closed lid of the piano or a table of about the same height and check to see if their elbows are suspended away from their body or if they are lowered and relaxed at their side. Many students love to imagine a monkey swinging on their elbow. Let the monkey swing two or three times and come to a resting position.
  • Wrists – Students often struggle with the concept of bending their wrists, but this should be developed during the early years of learning piano. Try having your students use their three long fingers to “paint” a group of three black keys. (They may even want to choose a color.) Have them “paint” those three keys with a smooth, slow stroke – curling the fingers as they slide from the back to the front of the keys. Encourage them to lift their wrists up and down with a beautiful fluid motion. Demonstrate first!

You can also try this fun “zombie” exercise…

Have students face away from the keys and do a “zombie pose” (arms straight out in front, hands dangling from wrists).

Do a “zombie wave” (flop hands up and down).

Now have them lower their arms and bend at the elbows, continuing to do the “zombie wave.”

Next, have them drop their hands like dead weight, and then let their wrists lift their arms back up while hands continue to dangle.

Have students focus on their wrists at all times. It’s important that they don’t get so caught up in the zombie fun that they miss the point of the exercise!

Pedaling – Student should turn away from the keys and read through their music doing only the pedaling. They could also listen to a recording of their music while practicing just their pedaling. This can be done from any chair — or for an element of fun, lying on their back with their foot on the wall! Beginners can simply practice keeping their heel on the floor while lifting their toes up and down. Isolating and practicing these simple movements is the first step toward developing their musicianship!

To recap…

How to Practice Piano... Off the Keys - Kids

Val LPost Author: Val L.
Val L. teaches piano lessons in Spring Lake, MI. She earned her Associate of Arts degree from William Tyndale College and has been teaching piano for over 10 years. Learn more about Val here!

Photo by rhodesj

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YouTube piano tutorial

Learn 8 Easy Piano Songs With These YouTube Tutorials

YouTube piano tutorial

No matter what kind of music you’re interested in — be it rock, pop, jazz, heavy metal, or anything else — there are certain famous songs and melodies out there that you will instantly recognize. Even if you can’t immediately name the composer, those first few notes will catch your ear.

You may have heard it at a wedding, in a plot-twisting movie scene, in a commercial on TV, or you may even hear hints of it hidden within contemporary songs (including Dave Matthews and Weezer songs!). As a new piano player, you may be interested in learning these famous piano songs. After all, with these popular piano pieces memorized, you can sit down at any set of keys and instantly impress everyone around you. If it’s not the limelight you’re after, it’s still a super-satisfying feeling to know how to play the songs you’ve grown to love ever since you saw Disney’s Fantasia as a child.

So what’s a piano player to do? You could sit down and try to figure out the song by ear… or find the sheet music online. But if you want to learn the piece quickly, YouTube piano tutorials can be a great resource!

While not all of the songs below are the best options for beginners, the best video tutorials will break down the piece into easily-digestible sections, helping intermediate players learn it faster. Without further ado, here are best piano tutorials on YouTube for eight popular songs — enjoy!

How to Play “Ode to Joy”

This is a fantastic piano tutorial from YouTuber Bruce Siegel from DoctorKeys.com. After playing the piece in entirety, Bruce then demonstrates how to play each hand, slowly, along with a visual representation of which keys are being played. Watch and follow along a few times, and you’ll be ready to show off this easy piano song!

How to Play “Clair de lune”

This tune plays in one of the best scenes in the movie Ocean’s Eleven. While “Clair de lune” isn’t the easiest song to play on the piano, this video tutorial below from JJ Bartley Music breaks it down super slowly to make it much less scary. This three-part tutorial will take some time to get through, but the end result is worth it!

How to Play “March Funèbre”

While you may not recognize the name of this piece, you’ll definitely recognize the tune! This somber piece is demonstrated by YouTuber John Nelson on a keyboard with the note names clearly shown, which can help if you haven’t yet learned how to read piano music. (Tip: John has a TON of other YouTube piano tutorials on his channel, including top-40 songs from Taylor Swift and Sam Smith!)

How to Play “Moonlight Sonata”

This 8-part video series by YouTuber Claude Aylestock— though not the full version of the piece — is a great introduction to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. If you already know your way around the piano a bit, but just need some practice reading along with sheet music, this tutorial is a great option because it shows both the sheet music AND the host’s hands.

How to Play “Ave Maria”

Here’s an easy piano tutorial for “Ave Maria” from YouCanPlayIt.com. As you follow along, you’ll be introduced to the left and right hand parts separately and slowly. Put it all together, take the tempo up a notch, and you’ve got it!

How to Play “The Entertainer”

This piece, performed by Dr. Cory Hall at BachScholar™ in the video below, is more for intermediate to advanced piano players — it’s a tough one! You’ll need to have your sheet music up in front of you for this, as the video is less a piano tutorial, but more an interpretation and explanation of the style and feel of the piece.

How to “Love Song” (Sara Bareilles)

This easy-to-follow YouTube piano tutorial by HDPiano slowly demonstrates the right and left hands, showing you how to play the intro and the verses of this popular piano song. Only the first part of the tutorial is free, but it’s a great way to get started!

(Want more pop tutorials? Check out our extended list of easy pop songs for piano!)

Finally, if you want to be the life of the party, look for lists of the most-requested dueling piano bar songs. These songs are guaranteed to get everyone singing along and having a blast. Speaking of which…

How to Play “Don’t Stop Believin'” (Journey)

Another fantastic YouTube piano tutorial from HDPiano! In this one, you’ll learn the intro and verse for Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”. The syncopation is a little tricky — but the more you practice, the easier it’ll get. And trust us… the minute you start playing this one, everyone around you will pay attention!

So there you have it: eight awesome tutorials for playing the best and most popular piano songs! Of course, these videos should be considered just a starting point — YouTube can be fantastic for learning specific songs and the basics, but there’s a lot more to learn if you want to master the piano.

So what’s next? Working with a piano teacher to learn how to read sheet music, understand tempo and dynamic markings, and more! Not sure you’re ready for that yet? Don’t worry. Start by downloading our FREE piano video series, hosted by one of our awesome piano teachers! You’ll get a taste of what lessons are like, and learn the basics. And when you are ready, we’re here to help you find a piano teacher near you!

 

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