Songs to play on the piano

ahh musicWhat songs do you like ?`

If you are going to pursue piano playing as a hobby, you need to start by asking yourself “What songs do I like?”. Some people have never stopped to think about the answer to that question. When you think back on those days when you used to do piano lessons, it is likely that you remember practicing many scales and broken chords. It addition you might have done some sight reading, in which your tutor showed you a music sheet that you were seeing for the first time and asked you to play the music. You probably got some songs to play, and after being instructed on the timing and the correct notes you went home and practiced in preparation for the next class.

Music lessons  teach you the techniques , first simple steps right up to the advanced stages. You learn how to:

  • Read from the music sheet
  • Relate the notes on the staff to the  notes on the keyboard
  • Identify the count of each note and play at the right time
  • Coordinate left and right hand
  • Learn fingering, where you use your ten fingers to carry you across the whole piano, up to 88 notes.


Now you are ready to take up piano playing again.  You might not be preparing for music exams as you did at your school age, and your reason to playing is likely to be different. You want to learn to play and practice the type of songs you like.

Where do you start?

Good question. The answer  depends on how far advanced you did lessons and how much of those skills you still possess. You could have been an advanced piano student, but after several years of no interaction with the instrument you wonder where to pick up. starting over

As an adult  you might want to revise the chords, practice the following simple scales reminding yourself of the key signatures  such as

Key                                              Accidentals

C major                                            ——

G major                                             F sharp

D major                                             F sharp and C sharp

A major                                             F , C and G sharps

F major                                             B flat

…………and so on

You would then revise the related chords, where you play the first, third and fifth simultaneously. Later you could learn about chords that have more than the basic three notes.

Is this enough to play all the songs you like ?

Not likely……or should I say it depends on which songs you like and how you want to express them:

  •  If you want to play the whole song including the melody, as in a piano solo , you will be playing the melody and the accompaniment or
  • If you wish to play the chords and sing the melody, which is an easier option because you would not have to learn to play the melody.

Name some easy songs

I could never claim to know what are your our favorites, but let us look at a variety of well known songs :

Good old  HAPPY BIRTHDAY counting with three beats in an bar. Everyone  needs to learn to play this song . This has, basically, 3 chords, which means you can strike the chord of F major and your whole family can sing Happy Birthday while you strike the chords on the first count of each bar.

Lively up yourself by Bob Marley has only two chords D and G

Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles has two chords C and Em

House of the Rising Sun has Am, C, D , F and E

Leaving on a Jet Plane by Peter, Paul and Mary, can be played with G, C and D

Three little birds by Marley uses A, E and D

Stay with me by Sam Smith can be played using Am, F and C

Amazing Grace a gospel hymn can be played in the key of G using G, C, D as the main chords

…………and many others

A few chords for the whole song ?

Yes. Some of your favourite songs are played with as little as two chords.This means that the main things you would need to learn are:

  • what are the notes in each chord
  • which of the chords you would play at a given place in the song
  • where, exactly would each chord be played
  • how do you move from one chord to the next

Are the songs you love, easy to play?

The only answer to this would be to write down a list of songs that would make you pleased with yourself if you could playthem. You can then do some research to find out how many changes are needed throughout the song. If you intend to revive your piano skills and make it a hobby, it would be best to start with a song with very few chords and work your way up to the more advanced.

Look at the short list above. Do you identify any of them that you would love to play?

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  1. Aaron Skudder


    Thank you for providing this blog.  I learned classical piano from an early age and took it to grade 7 in the Trinity school of music.  Learning classical deprived me of the ability to improvise and ‘play by ear’.  I wish I had the advice provided by your article when I was learning piano.

    1. Joy (Post author)

      Aaron, just like you,I did classical piano to grade 7 with Royal Schools. Later I wanted to learn chords and to play by ear and I did just that. Your ability to cover scales and chords will be a big plus when you begin to improvise. It is just a different method of interpreting and expressing the music. One is getting the music from on a sheet (outside) and the other is learning to play from your inside. Hope you give it a try. It’s not too late. Thanks for your comments.

  2. Alex G

    What a cool website! I’ve always wanted to learn piano and this a really nice breakdown of how to do that 🙂 I know a little music theory as I have studied and played guitar for nearly a decade but I’m more of a “learn through tabs” player these days.

    I would love to learn the piano and see the beautiful language of music theory translate across both instruments! That sounds like it would be great fun 🙂


    1. Joy (Post author)

      Yes Alex, it is never too late to learn to play. If you have worked with the guitar, you are ahead on the journey. Why not give it a try ? Thanks for your comments

  3. Todd Matthews

    At one time I was really good with the majors, minors, and augmented chords, plus a few others that I can’t quite remember the names to. My goal would to eventually play into the epic/symphonic metal sounds, but if you’ve ever heard music or have even seen sheet music from bands like Nightwish, it’s no simple task. I did get pretty good at playing Alpenglow from their album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, which came out in 2015. I wasn’t bad at Storytime either, from their 2011 album Imaginaerum. 

    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Todd, if you took the time to learn those that you mentioned, it means that you really love music. Maybe it is time to look into taking it up again. Time to bring out your inner musicians. Best wishes !

  4. Randi

    I’ve always loved the piano. This article struck that interest again and made it look so easy as well! With 3 chords you can play an entire song. My experience with piano was a bit of a struggle, reading music was the hardest for me. Perhaps after reading this post, I will pick it up again. Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Randi. Being able tp play is such a fulfilling experience. I agree. You should give it another try. Thanks for your comments


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