10 Great Songs To Learn On The Piano
‘What song should I learn next?’ is a common question pianist often find themselves asking.
The importance of learning new songs
Though it’s good to play songs you’re familiar with, learning new songs is crucial for a pianist’s development.
Learn new skills– Different songs feature different piano techniques, which will expand your abilities and make you a more versatile musician.
Keep things fresh– If you play the same music repeatedly, you will get bored incredibly quickly. Not only that, you won’t grow as a pianist. Albert Einstein once said, ‘the definition of intensity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.’ Keep things fresh. Learn some new songs on the piano.
Exploring different genres– One of the best things about music is the wide variety of genres which exist. Rock, blues, jazz, indie, classical, gospel, alternative and Britpop, are just a few of the musical genres out there. With so many genres available, learning new piano songs is the perfect reason to get out your comfort zone and explore some different genres.
For example, many pianists don’t think they’ll ever like classical music. However, after learning a few classical pieces for exams find they’ve changed their mind and become devoted classical fans.
Why can it be difficult to choose a song to learn on the piano?
According to a company called Gracenote, there were over 79 million songs in existence as of 2011. That’s a lot of songs.
With so many great tunes out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by choice and end up spending too long considering what to learn next.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of great songs to learn on the piano. We hope you enjoy our recommendations and enjoy learning some of these piano classics.
Without further ado, here are 10 great songs to learn on the piano.
Songwriters: Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Chris Martin, Will Champion
This tune is undoubtedly one of the most well-known piano riffs in the history of music. Not only will the riff teach you the importance of playing in time, learning it will also make you arpeggios more controlled and pronounced.
A classic for piano players everywhere, the opening piano arpeggios have been widely sampled across a range of other popular songs. Clocks is a fantastic piano song to learn.
The song achieved widespread critical acclaim and attracted much attention, being ranked 490th on Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ in 2010.’
The track is an alternative rock song, with elements of psychedelic rock. Its main piano melody holds the track together to create an atmospheric soundscape throughout the recording.
2. Someone Like You
Songwriters: Adele Adkins, Dan Wilson
Arguably one of the biggest hits of the 21st century so far, Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ features an instantly recognisable piano melody. Throughout the track, a dreamy and beautiful piano arpeggio provides the perfect support for Adele’s voice.
Adele and the producers were so impressed with the piano sound, they decided to leave the track a haunting duet between her solo voice and the melodic impression of the piano.
Following a well-received performance of the song at the 2011 Brit Awards, “Someone Like You” became Adele’s first number-one single in the UK and stayed on the top of the chart for five weeks.
In a list voted for by the public in conjunction with the Official Charts Company’s 60th anniversary, “Someone Like You” was voted the third-most favourite number-one single of the last 60 years in the UK. A legacy to this simple, haunting, and powerful tune. Arguably, one of the best piano songs for a pianist to learn.
3. Don’t Stop Believin’
Songwriters: Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon
Fans of Glee will be all too familiar with this iconic 80’s rock song. which was made famous in its very first pilot episode with an impressive Acapella version of the famous piano hook at the start of the track.
This piece is fantastic for developing coordination between the left and right hand due to the contrasting rhythms played by each.
The punching right-hand rhythm of the song is glued together by a rolling bass line, chugging along like a train in motion. The tune is immediately recognisable after the first few notes. If you have someone who can sing over your performance, this piece becomes incredibly fun to play.
Mike DeGagne of AllMusic has described “Don’t Stop Believin’'” as a “perfect rock song” and an “anthem”, featuring “one of the best opening keyboard riffs in rock.” It is the best-selling digital track from the 20th century with over 7 million copies sold in the United States.
4. Life on Mars
Artist: David Bowie
Songwriter: David Bowie
‘It’s a god-awful small affair, to the girl with the mousey hair.’ We’ve all heard these lyrics and wondered, ‘what on earth does that mean?’
David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ is perhaps the very definition of glam rock. Featuring an intricate and intimate piano accompaniment, the track serves as a testament to how powerful the piano can be in rock songs.
Though the piece might be challenging to learn, it will teach any pianist the importance of rhythm and accompanying a vocalist because the two parts work together in perfect harmony.
There’s a lot one can learn from this enduring song. A direction of progression, bass movement, a leading melody line, intricate flourishes, and so on. It’s a delightful song to play and will make you feel like a true pianist.
In 2015 Neil McCormick, chief rock music critic of The Daily Telegraph, ranked the song as number one in his “100 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. In 2016, Pitchfork (an online music magazine) named it the best song of the 1970s
5. Your Song
Artist: Elton John
Songwriters: Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Covered most recently by English singer and songwriter Ellie Goulding, ‘Your Song’ by Elton John, is an incredibly well-known piano song. Starting off with a flawless piano melody backed up with resonant chords, the piano then starts an iconic piano line to back up the well-known words.
Ideal for pianists to develop a sense of timing, style, and to sustain a technique, ‘Your Song’ is an ideal song for a pianist’s repertoire.
The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 and was placed at 137 on Rolling Stone’s list of the ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time.’
6. Piano Man
Artist: Billy Joel
Songwriter: Billy Joel
By the title, this is obviously a song heavy with the piano. Billy Joel’s first single in 1973, Piano Man quickly captured the essence of his trademark piano style which beautifully accompanied his voice.
Featuring a few flowery flourishes, a descending bass line, a piano solo and plenty of chords, ‘Piano Man’ is a great song for pianists to add to their repertoire.
The song peaked at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1974, it has become his signature song and well-known amongst pianists everywhere. The song is a fictionalized retelling of Joel’s own experience as a piano-lounge singer for six months in 1972–73 at the now defunct Executive Room bar in the Wilshire district of Los Angeles.
7. Hey Jude
Artist: The Beatles
Songwriters: Paul McCartney, John Lennon
Just one of The Beatles 17 number 1 singles, ‘Hey Jude’ is a classic amongst piano players.
Thanks to the song’s reliance on chords and its simplistic structure, the song is easy enough for even beginner piano players to learn which makes it perhaps the easiest song to learn on this list.
‘Hey Jude’ is a song all about the vocal line, so pianists learning this track will learn the importance of accompaniment. Ideal for parties or social gatherings with friends and family, ‘Hey Jude’ is a sing-along favourite amongst audiences.
Coming in at 7 minutes and 11 seconds, this is a very long song to play with nearly half the song being taken up by the well-known ‘Na, na, na’ refrain at the end of the track. Once you’ve learnt the tune, you don’t have to play it for 7 minutes at a time!
The single has sold approximately eight million copies and is frequently included on professional critics’ lists of the greatest songs of all time. In 2013, Billboard named it the 10th “biggest” song of all time.
8. All of Me
Artist: John Legend
Songwriter: John Stephens (John Legend), Toby Gad
“All of Me” is a song by American singer John Legend from his fourth studio album Love in the Future (2013). It is dedicated to Legend’s wife Chrissy Teigen.
The song is an emotional piano ballad which explores the heights and depths of love. The piano part is fundamental to the song, with the pianist needing to play light and controlled throughout. Arpeggios, chords, lead lines, and appropriate use of the pedal are all required.
Due to the variety of techniques and the prominence of the piano in the song, it’s one of the best songs to learn on the piano for any pianist.
In the United Kingdom, “All of Me” peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart, and it became the third best-selling song of 2014 in the UK. As of February 2016, the song has sold 1.18 million copies in the UK.
9. Mad World
Artist: Gary Jules
Released: Originally in 1982 by Tears for Fears, Gary Jules version in 2003
Songwriter: Roland Orzabal
Originally written and released by 80’s new wave band Tears for Fears, the Gary Jules version has become a reputable song for modern pianists to learn and play. The opening piano segment is instantly recognisable, providing the perfect opening for the song.
Though simple in its structure and sombre in its lyrics, the reflective nature of the song is held together by the rhythmic piano part played throughout. Learn this for a vocalist to sing over or play the chords in the left hand and the melody in the right hand.
It’s a simple yet incredibly powerful piano part. A fantastic song to learn for any pianist.
10. I Don’t Like Mondays
Artist: Boomtown Rats
Songwriter: Bob Geldof
Despite the song’s gloomy lyrics about a real-life school shooting, ‘I don’t like Mondays’ features a fantastic piano part.
Complete with piano intro and flourishes, the instrument is the backbone of the song and adds an almost comic and jolly vibe to the sombre lyrics.
There are plenty of tutorials available on the internet or there’s sheet music available. However, don’t feel pressured to get this song note for note perfect. It’s a song which depends on feeling and interpretation, so you can afford to jazz it up or slow it down when you feel like it. Make it your own rendition.
The song was a number one single in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks during the summer of 1979 and ranks as the sixth biggest hit of the UK in 1979. Written by Bob Geldof, it was the band’s second number one single.