Having the skill to play the piano is something to be proud of. We don’t mean to compare, but someone who knows his or her way around the piano belongs to a distinct class of people. It exudes a certain degree of prestige, which is hard to put into words. Romanticism aside, not everyone has access to a piano, much less know how to play it.
As someone who’s just starting to learn the piano, many beginners aspire to be able to play a piece such as the Fur Elise or Mozart’s Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, pieces that are supposed to be beginner-friendly. However, once they do come face-to-face with the piece, they realize that it’s way too complex! Beginner pianists find themselves discouraged and decide to give up playing the piano altogether.
It does not have to be this way! Sure, there are times when our expectations betray us when confronted with reality, but playing the piano, just like any other skill, takes time. It is a process and one cannot become a piano virtuoso overnight.
The journey of being a pianist lies with the time spent studying the underlying patterns of various compositions and understanding the hidden message underneath. You need to focus on learning the basics and from there strive to improve the technique. You can supplement the journey by learning other genres with classical music patterns as their foundation.
Whether you’ve been playing the piano for quite some time or are just beginning, here are 8 of the most popular piano songs you can learn:
Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”
Beethoven, though deaf, is regarded as one of the best music composers of all time. No famous piano songs list would be complete without mentioning his classic – the Moonlight Sonata, famous for its emotionally expressive nature.
The composition has three movements, the first of which, often described as melancholy, ghostly, and reminiscent of a moonlit landscape, is the most recognizable and popular. It is played pianissimo, which means very quietly, with a smooth moving triplet rhythm.
Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”
Another Beethoven classic that repeatedly made cameos in our lives without even noticing is – Fur Elise or more formally known as Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor.
Fur Elise did not see the light of day in Beethoven’s lifetime. Elise, presumably the song’s inspiration, has not been identified either. Regardless, the song continues to inspire millions of aspiring pianists.
It begins with its iconic Poco moto, known as “little movement,” which is known for its smooth melody and is popular with beginner pianists.
Pachelbel’s Canon in D
This song has gained popularity in modern times due to its adaptation to pop culture. You can often hear this piece being played at weddings, debuts, and other similar events.
Canon in D was originally composed for strings but has been transcribed for piano. The piece features eight chords that repeat in the left hand, while the right hand starts with a simple, pleasing melody and increases in complexity as the piece progresses.
Beginners often find themselves struggling to play with their hands together in a passage. The technique is to remember that the left hand is still based on those first eight notes, and you can play just those individual notes while you are building confidence in playing with both hands together.
Each time the melody begins again in the right hand, compare it to the first time the right hand began playing to see the similarities and differences. This will help make it easier to process the fast passages that appear later in the piece.
Debussy’s Clair du Lune
Another piece with a smooth melody that you can learn is Debussy’s Clair du Lune. It can be recognized in several movies, making it a popular choice among beginners willing to learn an easy classical piano piece. The original piece is for advanced pianists, but the beginning theme can be adapted to be beginner-friendly.
The piece has an ethereal quality – reminiscent of times spent lying down on a field of flowers without a care about what’s happening around you. The piece is played very softly, or pianissimo.
Johann Strauss II – “The Blue Danube”
If you’re looking for another beginner-friendly piece, then look no further than Johann Strauss’ “The Blue Danube.” The Austrian composer wrote this classical piano piece inspired by a poem in 1866. The piece has a refreshing melody brought about by its upbeat waltz. It is a delight to hear and even more enjoyable to perform. When learning this song, don’t be afraid to start slow. You will eventually speed up as you grasp the intricacies of this piano style.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – “Rondo Alla Turca”
Rondo Alla Turca is, again, one of those ubiquitous songs we hear around but do not exactly know its title. There’s no need to dwell on the composer as everybody knows the name Mozart and recognizes him as one of the greatest composers and pianists in all of music history.
Rondo Alla Turca or Rondo in the Turkish style has beautifully combined certain elements in the third movement of “Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K. 331.” This piece is ideal if you’re looking for a song that’s fast, energetic, playful, and rhythmic.
Frederic Chopin – “March Funèbre”
The Funeral March, referring to the second movement of Chopin’s “Piano Sonata No. 2,” is a famous song played whenever movies and television shows need music that instantly makes people think of morbid settings.
This recognizable melody is indeed slow and heavy, we dare say, melancholic. It mimics the feeling of marching slowly through a street while carrying a casket. However, the morbid connotations aside, “Marche Funèbre” is certainly one of the best choices for a classical piano song to express a dark and oppressive feeling.
Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1
We want to end the list on a high note with Eric Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1. Like most pieces on this list, it can also be recognized in films and TV shows. It is often played over flashbacks or when the protagonist goes through some introspection.
Gymnopédie No. 1 is one of the perfect pieces for beginners to learn because it’s relatively short and it is a repeating left-hand chord pattern.
Start learning the right-hand melody. When you are ready to learn the left-hand, first practice the low notes in the first beat of each measure to help you see the pattern. Then proceed to learn the chords that fall on the second beat of each measure. When you are ready to practice with your hands together, you can start by playing only the first beat of the left hand while playing the right-hand melody.
Learning the piano can be intimidating, whether you’re a beginner or have been practicing for some time, but don’t fret! With proper guidance and determination, you’re certainly bound to learn this skill sooner or later. It also helps if you have the right equipment to help your learning process. Using the proper equipment, such as a piano bench, for example, will not only make you comfortable but can help you stay in practice for long periods due to lessened strain. Check out one of the world’s premier manufacturers of piano benches, the Hidrau Piano Benches here.