When starting out on the piano, playing boring sounding classical pieces may not be what you had in mind.
But it's important to learn some songs that sound and feel impressive to play. Knowing that you can pull off some music that will delight others can help keep you motivated to practice and learn.
Take a listen through a few of the following and see if you can find a classical piece that piques your interest. I learned several of these songs as I was starting on the keys and they are all common beginner piano songs.
Some songs are complex, but have good simplified versions available, and others are just beautiful, simple songs. Let's get into it.
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Erik Satie – Gympnopedie, No 1
This was always one of my favorite songs to play, just because it is so recognizable. This piece has been featured in many commercials and movies. It’s beautiful, and it’s relatively short and easy.
The chord structure is repetitive and simple, with the left hand repeating the same pattern for much of the song.
The melody is captivating, moving in steady quarters through most of the piece.
As the song progresses, there are a few interesting chord changes, and the accidentals increase slightly, making the end of the piece perhaps the most challenging part.
Nonetheless, it’s achievable and sounds wonderful. At around 3:30, the song can be learned to completion, which feels great as a beginning piano player.
J.S Bach (Christian Petzold) – Minuet In G
This is a classic beginner piano song that most young piano players will learn.
It’s a 32-bar piece in G Major that is found in the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach – this notebook belonged to J.S. Bach’s wife, who copied out pieces from 17th and 18th century composers.
For many years, this piece was attributed to J.S. Bach but it is now widely attributed to Christian Petzold.
The melody sounds complex and has quite a few baroque sounding trills, but once you get your head around the repetitive melody, it’s a simple song to master.
The left hand does not have a whole lot going on, which makes the song a good beginner piece.
There is a companion piece; Minuet in G Minor, which is worth looking at as well.
Ludwig van Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata
Ah, the beginner pianist’s favorite.
This famous Beethoven piece is beautiful and perfect for beginners. Not only is it the most famous part of the Sonata, it is also the most straightforward to play.
The right hand arpeggiates throughout the song, with the melody lying in the bottom note of the arpeggio.
Interest and color is brought to the piece by the left hand, which mostly plods away at octaves (again making it a good piece for beginners) and occasionally hitting some spread out chords.
Piano sonatas are usually written in three or four movements. This is the first movement of Beethoven’s 14th Sonata.
Beethoven wrote 32 piano sonatas in total. Several of them, including this one, are now cornerstones of the solo piano repertoire. Anyone studying Romantic Era piano will learn this sonata.
Robert Schumann – Einsame Blumen
This piece comes from a set of nine short piano solo pieces composed by Robert Schumann.
Schumann was married to another fine and famous composer of the era; Clara Schumann. The two of them wrote some of the best music of the Romantic Era.
This is the most approachable of the Schumann pieces. It has a beautiful and memorable melody that resolves often and breaks the piece into small sections.
It’s a good piece to tackle slowly, one section at a time. The piece can be played somewhat rubato, meaning you can slow down and speed up as the piece moves along, but nonetheless, start slow and work your way up to performance tempo.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake Theme
This is another famous piano piece that has embedded itself in popular culture. Part of what makes it a good beginner piece is how recognizable it is.
The left had plays broken triads for almost the entire song and outlines the chord structure. This is a good place to start – learning the left hand and memorizing the chord structure.
As you learn the left hand, begin learning the melody in the right hand. The right hand can play the melody one note at a time, which makes it simple to play hands together.
There isn’t a whole lot of syncopation between hands.
Franz Schubert – Ave Maria
“Ave Maria” is one of the most famous and beautiful pieces of music ever created. You’ve heard it at weddings, funerals, church services and you’ve probably heard it sung or played in a subway or two besides.
There are many arrangements of this song, with varying difficulty. There is a lot of repetition in the piece, so if you learn a chunk, it’s likely that chunk will show up again in the piece later.
There are few accidentals or unusual chord changes throughout the piece.
All of this makes the piece tonal and easy to remember. The harmonies seem to play themselves, as they all work together.
The thing that sets this song apart is some of the tuplets and triplets. These rhythms can be difficult for a beginning pianist to understand – you are essentially playing a “3” rhythm over top of a “4” rhythm in the left hand, which can feel strange at first.
Claude Debussy – Clair de Lune
“Claire de Lune” is a song that almost every beginning classical pianist will learn.
It sounds simple and beautiful, but I will warn that it is slightly harder than it looks.
It starts off with melody that is played in thirds with your right hand. As the song moves along, more decorative chords are added, and some faster sixteenth note passages are added, which can be tough to get under your fingers.
An intermediate student should be able to play this piece well, with a little bit of work.
For true beginners who want to take a stab at it, I would recommend looking for a simplified arrangement of the song. Because the song is so popular, it is not hard to find alternate versions.
Robert Schumann – Kinderszenen – Movement 1
This is a great piece – it has a playful melody that is supposed to invoke childhood memories. It’s a short song, only a little under two minutes long, and it’s mostly in G major with a quick shift to E minor for the B section.
The song is broken up into passages of eight measures. It’s easy to digest the song, learn it bit by bit, put it all together and memorize it.
Something that some students have trouble with is the B section, where the melody moves from the right hand to the left hand. It’s a good exercise in hand independence and can be mastered.
There is also a funny triplet rhythm that spans across both hands.
Johann Pachelbel – Canon In D
Ah yes, the wedding song.
This piece has been arranged many times in many ways, which means there are some great beginner versions out there to learn.
Part of what makes it a good beginner song is the fact that you’ve heard it many times throughout your life, whether you know it or not.
A beginner’s version will have simplified left hand movements, and will stick to just quarter notes and eighth notes in the right hand.
The right hand mostly sticks to intervals of thirds and is easy to get your fingers around.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Kyrie Eleison
This is a popular beginner piano song. I learned it in piano class.
The song is a nod to Gregorian chants and to fugues – it is reminiscent of Bach, as it has lots of movement in both hands.
It’s not an easy song per se, as both hands are put to work at a fast pace.
But there are only a couple accidentals to worry about, and everything moves along at the same pace. There are no weird rhythms and the harmony is easy to get your head around.
It’s a fun song to tear through once you’ve got it under your fingers!
Gioachino Rossini/Franz Liszt – William Tell Overture
Composed by Rossini and transcribed by Liszt, this song is the overture from the opera, William Tell.
It’s a popular song and a crowd pleaser.
That said, it's a long song. The piece is divided into four sections, which are meant to be played back-to-back without pause. Still, most students only learn one section.
The first section is probably the most common to learn, as it’s a slow passage in E minor, with some cool trilling sections.
After the first section, things get tricky. Be warned!
Liszt is a fascinating musical figure and this song was a staple of his live performance repertoire for many years – put it in yours!
Edvard Grieg – Morning Mood From Peer Gynt Op. 13
You will recognize this song. It’s a common lullaby and it was also featured in a certain Bugs Bunny cartoon.
It has a relaxed melody that is mostly made up of single notes with a simple rhythm. The left-hand rolls C major and A minor chords.
You should look for an easy piano arrangement of the song. Most easy versions will be in C, which makes it easier to play.
Most people just learn the first part of the piece, which comes in at around a minute long. It’s a great one to memorize and play for an audience, as so many people are familiar with it!
Ludwig van Beethoven – Fur Elise
This is one of the most popular piano pieces ever.
It has an instantly recognizable intro on the E and D# that ends in a beautiful A minor cadence.
The original version of this piece is quite challenging. It requires significant finger dexterity and a solid pulse to play.
If you are a beginner or even an intermediate player, you’ll likely play a simplified version of this song. The simpler versions usually have abridged and simplified left-hand parts.
A First Book Of Beethoven has many of these famous Beethoven pieces simplified and arranged for beginning piano students.
Also note that most people just play the first movement, which is the most famous.
Ludwig van Beethoven – Ode To Joy
“Ode to Joy” is often taught to young pianists, as it can be simplified to single note sections in both the left and right hands.
The left hand can follow the simple I – IV – I – V – I pattern for the length of the song, and eventually joins the right hand on the melody part.
The right hand moves in quarter notes that fall on every beat of the 4/4 bar. There are a couple rhythms that include dotted quarter notes and eighth notes, but nothing too complicated.
Frédéric Chopin – Prelude In E Minor, Op. 28 No. 4
Chopin compositions are typically challenging, but this piece is a good place to start.
It is famous for appearing in The Notebook – you’ll probably recognize it.
A few things make this piece a good beginner choice. The melody is entirely in the right hand, while the left hand merely plays minor triads.
There are a few funky chromatic shifts in the left hand, and a few chords that are a little strange to play – they are somewhat dissonant and unusual. Nonetheless, they are not terribly difficult with a little practice.
It’s another easy one to break down into little sections and memorize.
Jacques Offenbach – Can-Can
This is a fun, up-tempo orchestral piece that can easily be arranged for piano.
It’s not a terribly easy song, simply because it’s meant to be played at a quick tempo.
It’s tonal and easy to memorize but it’s a bit of a finger twister!
Johann Strauss II – Blue Danube
This is a famous waltz that sounds harder than it is. You’ll recognize it instantly.
It’s a fun one to play, as the melody is easy to memorize and the bouncing right hand waltz feel moves the song along.
Start off slow and then gradually pick it up to performance tempo.
Frédéric Chopin – Etude In E
This piece is a nice one to play. Sure to impress parents and grandparents; it’s said that this is one of Chopin’s favorite original compositions.
The first section features low, arpeggiated chords. The melody is simple and nostalgic. So long as you are familiar with the E major scale, you should not have a problem with this one.
The song was titled “Tristesse” after Chopin’s death.
Carl Phillipp Emanuel Bach – Solfeggietto
The Bach family groomed many famous musicians and composers, with Johann Sebastian being the most famous. Carl Philipp Emanuel was a son of J.S. Bach's.
I learned this piece when I was taking lessons – it’s an impressive song to play, because once you get it under your fingers, you can play it quickly, and there are a lot of notes.
It’s easier than it looks – the hands don’t play at the same time, it’s the same patterns the whole time, and it’s in C Minor.
As long as you’re familiar with C minor, and break the piece up into chunks, you shouldn’t have a problem with this one.
Franz Schubert – Impromptu Op. 90 No. 2
This is another one that sounds harder than it is.
The right-hand part is challenging, but it can be broken down into major and minor scales with a few little chromatic passages in between.
If you memorize the song one bit at a time, you can eventually tackle the whole thing.
J.S. Bach – Prelude In C
This is from Bach’s famous Well Tempered Clavier – it’s one of his most famous preludes.
There are a lot of notes in this piece and they go by at quite a clip.
But except for the end, the notes are only being played one at a time, and the rhythm is the same through the whole piece.
Learn this one chord by chord instead of note by note. Each measure is a different chord. If you play close attention to which chords follow each other, a pattern emerges.
Michael Nyman – The Heart Asks Pleasure First
This is more of a classical sounding piece than anything – it was written for the movie The Piano.
It sounds impressive but it’s just repeated six-note ostinatos in each hand.
There are only a few shapes to get your left hand around, and the whole song is in A minor and C major, meaning there are no black keys.
Practice it hands separately, and then put them together!
Edward MacDowell – To A Wild Rose
This is another modern classical piece.
This song basically plays itself. It’s a refreshing piece to play and it's fun to perform for an audience!
Robert Schumann – Arabesque
This song is based on the same rhythmic motif for most of the song. Once you have a grasp of that little bit of timing, you can break the song down into bits and memorize it.
Anton Diabelli – Bagatelle In G
This is a beautiful piece for beginning pianists. I learned it after a year or two of playing.
The left hand starts with quarter notes and stays simple. The right plays a simple melody made up of root position chords.
Easy Classical Piano Songs For Beginner Pianists Conclusion
So there you have it, some easy classical piano songs you can learn right away.
Will have you tried and how did it go?
Let us know in the comments below.