Being a musical newbie can be tough, but there are lots of easy songs for beginners to play on piano. Nothing feels better than nailing your first song; it feels like real progress.
Learning theory, scales, and practicing technique is essential, although it gets boring on its own, and music should be fun.
So, we’ve picked out some tunes that are easy to learn, put basic theory to use, and most of all, they are fun.
It’s time to impress your friends and family, so let’s get started.
These are the best piano songs for beginners:
- Happy Birthday
- Jingle Bells
- Drunken Sailor (sea shanty)
- Stand by Me – Ben E. King
- Bury a Friend – Billie Eilish
- Heart and Soul – Hoagy Carmichael
- Clocks – Coldplay
- Lean on Me – Bill Withers
- All of Me – John Legend
- Imagine – John Lennon
- The Simpsons Theme – Danny Elfman
- Gymnopédie No.1 – Erik Satie
Everyone knows “Happy Birthday”; we have all sang it out of tune at some time or another. Learning it will make you the popular one at parties, and it might help keep people in tune!
Perhaps the main thing that makes “Happy Birthday” an easy song for beginners is that it’s so familiar, making it a very easy to learn song. It has a very simple repetitive melody over one octave with no tricky timing or accents.
The melody is so well-known that it doesn’t need to be jazzed up any; instead, you should focus on harmony.
The best way to start with your left hand is to play single notes, using the root, third, fourth, and fifth notes of the major scale. Your left hand doesn’t need to change position at all, and that makes it easier to concentrate on timing.
Once you get used to playing both hands together, “Happy Birthday” is a great tune to re-harmonize.
You can start by turning those single notes into chords. Now that you are playing chords, when it comes to the third degree of the scale, you can make a minor chord rather than an inversion of the root chord.
It makes it a little jazzier, and “Happy Birthday” is a tune that will continue to develop with your playing level.
“Jingle Bells” is another crowd please that fits the easy piano songs for beginners description. It’s the perfect way to show off your skills and bring the family together.
“Jingle Bells” has one of the best-known hooks ever, and that makes it easier to understand. Even the verses of “Jingle Bells” are extremely catchy: Dashing through the snow, etc.
The great thing about it is that the verse and hook sound different, but they actually keep the same rhythm underneath.
Harmonically, “Jingle Bells” is about as easy as it gets. There are three chords: the root, fourth, and fifth, the most common progression in popular music.
To start, you can hold single notes for the bass. When you feel ready to move on, you can add rhythm by repeating the bass notes rather than holding them. Finally, you could alternate between the bass note and the note one fifth above it.
Above all else, “Jingle Bells” will make you feel good!
Drunken Sailor (sea shanty)
If you don’t know “Drunken Sailor” yet, we apologize in advance. It’s about to become that annoying tune that won’t get out of your head.
“Drunken Sailor” is an old sea shanty sung by fishermen to make their perilous work pass faster. Sea shanties were also a way to keep morale high amongst fishermen who were away from their families for extended periods.
There are a few things that make this song great for beginners. For a start, it’s a very catchy melody and has only three chords. The melody spreads just over an octave, so it gives you some practice in changing hand position without being too strenuous.
Drunken Sailor’s melody focuses on rhythm quite a bit, and it’s a good introduction to triplets. Triplets are three notes played in the space of two notes. In this case, with 8th note triplets, just think of it as three notes spread evenly over one beat.
Triplets might be tricky on heavy piano keys for kids, but this is one of the best easy songs to play on keyboard.
With your left hand, you can do almost anything. You can hold root notes, octaves, or root triads because the melody is busy enough on its own.
As you get comfortable, you can add movement to your bass. You can do this by playing perfect fifths melodically and turn that into octaves in fifths to add more drama/dynamics.
If you get really confident, you can make an ostinato (repetitive) bassline in eighth-notes from the root, third, and fifth of each chord.
Stand by Me – Ben E. King
“Stand by Me” is one of those songs that you never hear anyone say a bad word about. It’s so universally loved by so many people. If you’re looking for easy songs to play on piano, this is a great place to start.
It’s another case of keeping things simple is for the best. Technically, “Stand by Me” is such a straightforward song in every aspect. The heart of the song is the bass line that you are probably playing over in your head now.
It’s that bass line that makes it a good choice for beginners. It isn’t difficult to play technically; the tricky bit is putting both hands together.
The good thing is that the melody doesn’t change too much, so once you get one part, you’ll get the rest easily. It will help you get used to playing a bass line with your left hand independently of the melody.
The other good thing is that it will give you a good idea of how bass lines are formed. So, in the future, you can start to create your own bass lines for other songs.
There isn’t too much more to say about “Stand by Me”, other than playing it will make people happy.
Bury a Friend – Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish is an absolute phenomenon. It’s also refreshing to say that she’s a very talented musician along with being a wildly popular singer.
As a beginner, you probably want to play some songs that are on trend. Not much in the music industry is more on trend than a Billie Eilish song. So, if you are a young learner, it will be right up your street. If you are older, you can impress your kids with your hip knowledge of music.
“Bury a Friend” is more about feeling and atmosphere more than anything else; technically, it’s a basic song. That means the melody and harmony are very simple, so it’s technically easy to play.
It doesn’t mean that it comes without any challenge, though.
Some people say playing fast is easy; playing slow is harder. What that means is that when you play lots of notes quickly, you can hide behind them; with very few notes and a slow tempo, there’s nowhere to hide.
The challenge with this song is creating enough emotion and playing expressively with nowhere to hide. Learning that there is more to music than just playing the right notes is an invaluable lesson for any beginner.
Heart and Soul – Hoagy Carmichael
“Heart and Soul” is a wonderful tune, probably made most famous by an iconic scene from the movie “Big”.
The great thing about this tune is the bass line. You might not realize it when you play it, but it’s actually teaching you a very useful technique. The bass line is played in half-notes, which means you hold each note for two beats. That creates a comfortable rhythm to maintain while playing the melody, too.
The bass line notes are the root, the sixth, the second, and the fifth. That combination is a 1-6-2-5 progression or turnaround and is often used in jazz or pop music.
The bass part can develop into an ostinato pattern of root notes and chords. You can play this by yourself, but it’s also a very popular duet where someone plays bass, and someone plays the melody.
The melody is very simple; you rarely have to move more than one semitone at a time. Either on your own or as a duet, it’s definitely on the list of easy to play songs.
Clocks – Coldplay
Love them or hate them. Coldplay has produced some of the biggest chart hits in recent years. Many of which are piano-driven, none more so than “Clocks”.
The best thing about learning to play “Clocks” as a beginner is that it sounds more complicated than it is. The intro to “Clocks” is the most famous part, and it’s built on simple arpeggios.
Arpeggios are playing notes in a repetitive sequence rather than all together as a chord. It might take a little practice, but once you get used to the arpeggios, it becomes muscle memory.
You have a few options for the left hand; you can play single notes to keep it simple. But, if you want it to sound fuller, you can play fourths or fifths in the bass. That will add a bit more harmonic quality and beef up the sound.
If you aren’t quite ready for that, try playing octaves; sometimes, it’s easier when you aren’t thinking about two different notes.
There are only a few chords involved, and when you get to the melody, you can simply hold chords in the left hand. The notes of the melody are very close together, too.
“Clocks” is a feel-good song that will impress beyond your beginner status.
Lean on Me – Bill Withers
“Lean on Me” is an absolute classic from the legendary Bill Withers. It’s a heartwarming tune and one of the easiest songs to learn on piano.
The verses have a beautiful diatonic melody that moves up and down the scale, landing on target notes. Diatonic means that it moves from one note to another, playing the notes of the scale that are in between the two.
When these diatonic runs come up, they are often mirrored by the left hand. So, “Lean on Me” is a fantastic way to practice playing both hands in sync.
There are times when the left hand plays diatonic runs, but the melody doesn’t. That means you have to get used to going between playing both hands in sync and independently.
It’s a song that provides an awesome practice routine without feeling like practice. If you get past the simple arrangement, you can play chords in the right hand for the verses instead of simple notes. Just make sure you keep the melody note at the top of the chord.
All of Me – John Legend
When you think of modern piano-playing popstars, John Legend is right up there. His smash hit “All of Me” is one of the most covered songs on YouTube and easier than it sounds.
Now, before you panic, you don’t need to play it exactly as John Legend does. He is a very accomplished pianist. The song uses simple chords, so you can play an easier arrangement than he does.
The first benefit of learning “All of Me” is that it’s so often covered, you won’t be short of people who want to sing along. It will make you the cool guy or girl anywhere there is a piano.
The second benefit is that you’ll learn to comp over simple chords. Comping means improvising an accompaniment using chords; it’s harmony and rhythm, not soloing.
After you know the song, you can look at how it’s arranged and do that with other chords, and singers will love you.
The melody itself is straightforward, as the best melodies often are. For the most part, you can play fifths, sixths, or octaves in the left hand.
Think of this song as less of a technical challenge and more of a preparation for composition/songwriting.
Imagine – John Lennon
John Lennon’s “Imagine” is one of the most iconic songs of all time. As far as simple piano songs go, there might be none better.
“Imagine” is typically played in C major, and it covers more chords than most beginner songs. The good thing is that playing in C major means white notes only (for the most part).
“Imagine” has a very well-known piano part that involves single notes on the bass and broken chords in the right hand. Broken chords are when you take a chord and break it up into chunks played melodically to make a pattern.
Once you learn the basic pattern that is used for almost the entire song, you won’t even think about chords. You’ll be playing major and minor 7th chords without even realizing.
As you progress, you’ll be able to apply those chords to other tunes or even write your own.
The melody is pretty straightforward, too. It’s more common to sing the melody and use both hands for the accompaniment. But, if you’re like me and can’t sing, you can play the melody in your right hand.
To make this work, you need to play a combination of bass notes and broken chords in your left hand.
The Simpsons Theme – Danny Elfman
If you haven’t heard “The Simpsons Theme” tune, we’d be incredibly surprised. It’s one of the most popular TV shows ever, and Danny Elfman’s theme is instantly recognizable.
Admittedly, this one will take more practice than most on our list, it’s not the easiest song to play on piano, but the rewards are greater. Some rhythms in this tune are more complex than a beginner would usually tackle. However, if you take it slowly and strip it back to the basics, it’s not that hard.
The main melody is pretty simple and leans heavily on the augmented 4th interval. It comes from the Lydian mode, which is almost like the major scale, except the fourth note is sharpened.
The Augmented 4th is why we think it’s an excellent song for beginners to learn. Both hands use the sharpened 4th interval. Once you manage to put both hands together, you will understand the Lydian mode more and get used to its distinctive sound.
It’s a sound that is widely used by TV and film composers, and getting an early introduction to it as a beginner will do you no harm.
Gymnopédie No.1 – Erik Satie
If you are looking at this and thinking it sounds more like classical music and less like a beginner song, you’d be partly right. It’s actually the ideal introduction to classical music for any beginner.
“Gymnopédie No.1” has been in so many movies you probably know it even if you think you don’t.
It’s a beautiful tune, and its beauty comes from its simplicity. Most of the piece will see you playing a single note melody line that isn’t too tricky at all. The left hand mostly plays simple chords/triads and sometimes octaves.
Technically, there is nothing complicated going on, although it will take some practice to get the right feel with both hands together. The chords are simple, but the melody uses target notes well, so when the chords and melody meet, you have some beautiful harmony.
The upside of learning this tune is that it’s easy but sounds complicated and professional. Because it sounds professional, you will get a massive confidence boost from playing it!
Some songs are more comfortable to learn than others; you’ll find that out as you move through our list.
The important thing is that any song you learn helps you progress and get better. That doesn’t mean it always has to challenge you technically; sometimes, the enjoyment of playing a song is enough to help you improve.
We have put together a list of songs that offer a bit of everything; fun, technique, and theory. So, get learning and have fun!