When you are getting started out on the piano, repeating the melody to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and tapping out “Chopsticks,” you may wish you could speed things up a little. Surely, you want to get your practice time in and learn things the right way. But why can’t you have a little fun while you’re doing it?
Well, fortunately you can. Great songs don’t always require a lot of advanced skills to learn or play. And that means there are at least a handful of tunes you can begin working on as soon as you get your fingers on the keyboard. If you find you really would rather learn to play through songs that you know and love, you can even take an online piano course that uses popular songs to teach the fundamentals of piano.
So read on to learn a few songs that you’ll be able to nail with just a little bit of practice. Not only will these sound great, but they will also help you start learning your way around the piano and understanding how popular songwriters use the piano in their compositions.
Stand by me
Ben E. King’s legendary R&B classic “Stand by Me” has practically come to represent 50’s pop music. In fact, the chord progression used in this song was absolutely everywhere in 1950’s music, but because of this song’s significant cultural influence, that progression has come to be known as the “Stand by Me” changes.
Ultimately, learning to play “Stand by Me” teaches you the foundation of a whole range of songs, and you will be amazed at how often you see the progression come up as you learn new music. Plus, if you hammer out these chords in any get-together with family and friends, you are sure to hear people begin to sing the well-known melody.
The chords are G – Em – C – D.
If you feel you need a foundation for understanding and playing piano chords before you take this on, you can take an online course that will teach you to play piano by learning to use chords.
Let it Be
A standout song even for one of pop music’s most influential bands, The Beatle’s “Let it Be” is a masterpiece of introspection and resolve. And it is only fitting to the song’s tone and theme that the music is simple, straightforward, and fairly easy to play.
But one of the really great things about “Let it Be” is that it is also intuitive. The way you move your fingers as you play through the progression feels natural, and you may even start to throw in an embellishment here or there once you get going.
Listen to the song and start playing along with just the chords. Then as you get comfortable with the basics, listen for the leading tones that come between each chord and try to add those in.
C – G – Am – F – C – G – F – C
Another one by the Beatles, “Come Together” has a lot going for it as a beginner’s piano song. First, it’s heavily blues-influenced rhythm and progression will give you a feel for how to add a little motion and color to the chords you play. Second, it’s incredibly infectious chorus will show you how a few well chosen chords can sound stunning when used in the right combination. And finally, it’s very recognizable intro melody (recorded on the guitar) is one that you can learn and play without much effort.
You will want to look up basic sheet music for the rhythms and melodies, but here are the main chords for “Come Together”:
Verse: D (4 bars) – A (2 bars) – G (2 bars)
Chorus: Bm (1 bar) – G (½ bar)- A (½ bar)
If you have thought about writing your own songs, “Come Together” is the type of tune that might inspire you to go after that goal. It shows you that classic music can come from very simple elements in just the right patterns. If you would like to get ahead with your compositional skills, consider a beginning course in songwriting to get you started.
12 bar blues
On the topic of simplicity, it’s possible that no single chord progession has gotten more mileage than that of the 12-bar blues. While not specifically associated with one particular tune, you will hear lots of well known numbers within these four chords. It is the quintessential blues song that you and your friends can play for hours without getting bored. Here is how it’s formed:
A (four bars) – D (two bars) – A (two bars) – E (one bar) – D (One bar) – A (one bar) – E7 (one bar)
When you repeat this framework and add improvised melodies over top of it, you have the basic formula for the blues. And the great thing about it is that when you get together with your musician friends, everyone will know how to play this song together right away, without any sheet music or pre-planning.
If you would like to start learning how to play blues, you can take a blues piano course designed for brand new piano players. You can be ready to jam within just a few weeks.
There is no reason not to start having some fun right away when you start to play the piano. There are some great songs that do not take a lot of skill to start playing without a lot of sophisticated knowledge or techniques. If you enroll in a few courses to help you refine the fundamentals while you start jamming on some of your favorite pop hits, you should be feeling pretty good about the piano in a very short time.