10 easy piano songs any beginner can learn

18.02.2022 Ben Maloney Piano

Being new to the piano doesn’t mean that your repertoire should be restricted to scales, arpeggios and mind-numbing exercises. As helpful as those can be, there’s nothing like playing a fully fledged piece of music.

So if you’re starting out and looking for something more inspiring to play, you’ll find some new music here that will keep your practice fresh and exciting - ten pieces of easy piano sheet music that you can find among nkoda’s music for piano. Each one is as easy to play as it is rewarding to learn. 

Some of these piano pieces are harder to learn than others, but each one is suitable for a beginner. Many works frequently found on lists similar to this one, favourites though they are, aren’t really suitable for starters. 'Clair de Lune', for instance, has somehow managed to acquire the reputation of an easy piece. 

This article also steers clear of go-to pieces for beginners that are simplified piano arrangements of larger works, such as Tchaikovsky's popular 'Swan Lake Theme'.

Think of this guide as ten short piano lessons. A list which includes a range of styles and genres. You’ll find background information plus notes about the technical challenges each piece presents.
 

Easy piano pieces for beginners to learn
 

  1. Minuet in D, KV 94 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  2. ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong
  3. Prelude in A, Op. 26 No. 7 by Frédéric Chopin
  4. Sonatine No. 1 by Germaine Tailleferre
  5. Bourrée from BWV 820 by Johann Sebastian Bach
  6. ‘Elite Syncopations’ by Scott Joplin
  7. ‘Avril 14th’ by Aphex Twin
  8. ‘Eliza Aria’ by Elena Kats-Chernin
  9. ‘The Eleven That Went to Heaven’ by Robert Walker
  10. Prelude in D minor, Op. 16 No. 3 by Clara Schumann

1. Minuet in D, KV 94 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Despite his awesome reputation as a musical prodigy, a lot of Mozart’s works for piano are very accessible. Many of his works falling into that category can be found in this Bärenreiter collection of easy piano works, including the Minuet in D, KV 94.

Minuets are perfect for beginners. Originally designed to accompany dancers, they are characterised by clear and simple rhythms, and this one is no exception. Many of its phrases comprise slurred and staccato gestures - paying careful attention to these will help you to develop your articulation skills.

This edition contains detailed fingering instructions, so you should be able to master this piece with a flawless technique. Just watch out for a few awkwardly large gaps between notes in the right hand. 

2. ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong made his name as an innovative jazz trumpeter in the 1920s, but he’s just as renowned for his unmistakable singing voice. And no song of his is more iconic than the life-affirming classic, ‘What a Wonderful World’.

If you see yourself as the kind of pianist that has a few pop songs at their disposal, this is a great one to get to know. This piano arrangement of George Weiss’ original music features leisurely triplets throughout, and its colourful harmonies will expand your chordal repertoire. 

This Faber edition also includes lyrics, allowing you to sing that famous tune while you play. Accompanying is an art in itself and learning arrangements like this one – where the piano is intended to play a supporting role – can help you hone that ability even when you’re playing alone.

3. Prelude in A, Op. 26 No. 7 by Frédéric Chopin

 

Chopin is another composer whose piano works can instil fear in aspiring players. But a lot of his works tone down the difficulty without sacrificing their elegance. This title by PWM Edition, Poland’s national publishing house, compiles a selection of these easier compositions.

Take the Prelude in A for example, compact and straightforward. It consists of a repeating rhythmic gesture, oscillating harmonically between A major and E major, with the addition of some chromatic colour – like any good Romantic piece.

Most challenging are the pedal markings. Each phrase has to be carefully shaped by the pressing and lifting of the sustain pedal, so the piece will make for good practice in this area. Soon you’ll be doing it instinctively.

4. Sonatine No. 1 by Germaine Tailleferre

French composer Germaine Tailleferre enjoyed a long and colourful musical career in Paris, one of the great musical capitals of Europe. While there she composed some of the most intriguing French music of the twentieth century.  

In the 1970s - when she was in her eighties - she composed three sonatinas, and the first of them is perfect for beginners. An elegant piece comprising three short movements, the material is melodically and rhythmically straightforward, but there’s still plenty to keep you engaged.

Throughout, the sonatina manages to walk that fine line between simplicity and interest thanks to its use of unusual intervals, occasional chromaticism, and off-colour harmonic relationships. All in all it’s a particularly satisfying piece to learn.

5. Bourrée from BWV 820 by Johann Sebastian Bach

No list of piano music would be complete without some Bach - we’ll put to one side the fact that this composition was actually written for the harpsichord. Like the minuet, the bourrée is a dance, so keeping a steady beat is key in this piece.

There’s a lot of counterpoint in the Bourrée from BWV 820, meaning that ideas in both hands move with a certain amount of freedom from one another, while still harmonising. This can be tough to execute smoothly, but it’ll tune your rhythmic precision and improve your hands’ independence from one another.

Barring a passing shift to the key of C major in the middle section and the inclusion of a few B-naturals, the piece stays more or less grounded in F major. This should help you to more easily keep track of that contrapuntal motion.

6. ‘Elite Syncopations’ by Scott Joplin

 

Scott Joplin is one of the biggest names in the story of sheet music. At the turn of the twentieth century, his ragtime works for piano took America by storm. You’ll probably have heard his iconic piece ‘The Entertainer’, but ‘Elite Syncopations’ is another popular work of his that’s a bit easier to play.

As the title suggests, the piece is all about syncopated rhythms, but don’t worry about the ‘elite’ part. Syncopation is when a note is played off the pulse, emphasising the gap between two beats. In fact, learning to syncopate is really important, and this is the piece to help you tear through it.

Look out for the dynamic markings in this Faber title as well. Ragtime is a genre of music that’s all about energy and soul, and managing those crescendos will really breathe life into the piece.

7. ‘Avril 14th’ by Aphex Twin

 

On his 2001 album Drukqs, a collection of pulsating dance tunes, Aphex Twin included a delicate miniature for solo piano. For many, ‘Avril 14th’ is the artist’s finest track, and thanks to its simple melody it’s a favourite of many pianists.

It isn’t the easiest piece to play on this list, but it’s worth taking the time to master. While the phrases in the left hand are widely spaced, their recurrence will help you to commit them to your muscle memory. Its parallel octaves can also present a challenge, so make sure you play at a tempo that you’re comfortable with.

One advantage of this piece for early learners is its total diatonicism - the entire piece comprises the notes of one key. In this case it’s A-flat major, so, as with the Bach bourrée, you can just focus on the seven notes in the key. 

8. ‘Eliza Aria’ by Elena Kats-Chernin

‘Eliza Aria’ is from Elena Kats-Chernin’s ballet Wild Swans. The composer herself arranged a concert suite from the ballet, from which Boosey & Hawkes took ‘Eliza Aria’ and transcribed it for solo piano. 

There’s a clear sense of right-hand melody and left-hand accompaniment in this lyrical texture, so ensure that your right hand is slightly more prominent. Watch out for the dotted lines above the top stave with an ‘8’ at the beginning - the music underneath them needs to be played an octave higher. 

Perhaps the most challenging technical aspects of the piece are the wide leaps between many notes, and the pedalling. Get both right and you’ll no doubt find that you’re playing it with the gracefulness that it demands.

9. ‘The Eleven That Went to Heaven’ by Robert Walker

 

Robert Walker composed Twelve O in the 1970s, a collection of pieces for piano students. Each one adopts a compositional perspective designed to explore a different technical dimension of piano-playing. 

Drawn from that collection, ‘The Eleven That Went to Heaven’ is an imaginative response to the challenge of educational composing, marked by dynamic extremes and significant shifts in metre. 

It’s a piece that encourages the pianist to really concentrate on timbre. With this work and its rainbow-like palette of tone colour, you should devote just as much focus to the sound that the instrument is making as you do to parameters like pitch and rhythm. 

10. Prelude in D minor, Op. 16 No. 3 by Clara Schumann

 

Clara Schumann might have been one of the finest virtuoso pianists of the nineteenth century, but she had a knack for composing simple works for the piano, like this Prelude in D minor.

It’s marked ‘andante’, so you can take the tempo as steadily as you like. And as the material itself moves relatively slowly, it shouldn’t cause you too much technical trouble. There are a lot of suspended notes, which help to create a smoother texture - be mindful to hold these for their full duration. 

Schumann’s piece starts firmly in the key of D minor and resolves in the key of A major, but there’s a lot of chromaticism in the middle section that you ought to be wary of. Don’t forget that sharps and flats are cancelled out when you reach a new bar line.

Your next steps for piano music


You can access all of these works right now through the nkoda app. nkoda’s digital library actually contains several versions of some of these works, so have a look to see which you prefer.

Each of these pieces will help you to develop your piano-playing, hone particular tricks, and begin to populate your personal repertoire of piano works.

Now you’ve familiarised yourself with these compositions, you might be interested in creating your own as well. If you’re ready, take some time to learn how to write piano sheet music

You might also like this guide to the hardest piano pieces, which is quite a contrast to what we’ve explored here. One day you’ll be taking them on.

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