21 Easy Keyboard Songs For Beginners

Easy Keyboard Songs For Beginners

The piano is a great instrument for anyone to gain a solid foundation in music. The keyboard is like a piano, except electrified. Broadly speaking, it encompasses all types of electric piano-like instruments, including electric pianos, synthesizers, MIDI controllers, and more.

Thanks to their design, keyboards are versatile instruments capable of producing a variety of sounds – some more than others. But there’s no denying they’re a ton of fun to play.

Here we’ll look at several easy keyboard songs for beginners.

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“Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode

Song year: 1981

Early Depeche Mode is the perfect starting point for most keyboard players because we’re not even sure the band knew what they were doing upon their debut. They still managed to crank out some catchy synth riffs, mind you, so that means you can too!

As you would expect from a beginner-oriented tune, the main riff largely consists of white keys, and mostly single notes too. The timing might take a bit of work, but it shouldn’t be too bad.

Every beginner should give “Just Can’t Get Enough” a try. It’s fun!

“Jump” by Van Halen

Song year: 1984

Okay, so Eddie Van Halen was more than your average keyboardist, but would you expect any less from one of the best guitar players of all time? Nah. To be able to play the guitar like a god but not be able to express oneself on the keyboard would be mighty frustrating.

Eddie was known to write classic riffs, whether on the guitar or the keyboard and because he favored triads, some of his riffs like the main riff to “Jump,” came out sounding very catchy.

The intro riff to “Jump” is something every beginner keyboardist can, and should, learn. The solo might be an entirely different matter, mind you, but if you’re up for the challenge, you can give it a go.

“In The End” by Linkin Park

Song year: 2000

Okay, so I admit there is one thing that’s a little challenging about Linkin Park’s “In The End,” which is that it largely requires black keys. Even still, it’s easier than playing a mix of white and black keys, so it’s worth a mention, especially if you like this “hybrid theory” emo song.

Hey, I’m not judging – I still think the tune is fire.

“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson

Song year: 1982

“Billie Jean” is one of Michael Jackson’s signature minor key tunes. While it might prove a challenge to play all synth and keyboard parts in this song simultaneously (kind of like in the video tutorial), played in isolation, each of them is quite straightforward.

Riffs like these are well worth learning, especially if you plan to write your music someday.

“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics

Song year: 1983

The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” is an enduring radio hit, even to this day. That obviously has something to do with its signature single-note synth riff. It’s just so impossibly catchy! Even the synth solo in this song isn’t all that hard.

Again, this tune is well-worth learning, especially if you like the song. Don’t try to do it all at once like in the video tutorial, though. Work on one hand at a time.

“1999” by Prince

Song year: 1982

Released in 1982, Prince’s “1999” might sound like false advertising. The song is about the coming nuclear apocalypse, though, so rest assured it’s quite appropriately titled, especially considering the media freakout over Y2K.

It’s a groovy song with a combination of superb elements, but at its core, it is quite repetitive and straightforward. The song takes advantage of 7 chords, which adds another finger to your standard triad shapes, but if you divvy it up between your right and left hands, you should not struggle with this one at all.

“The Final Countdown” by Europe

Song year: 1986

This 80s Europe epic is probably as cheesy as it is classic (at least in my mind), but there’s no denying its legendary synthesizer riff and overall popularity.

It just so happens that the main single-note riff to “The Final Countdown” is quite easy, aside from the fact that it uses a few black keys. If that doesn’t scare you, then it’s well worth tackling.

“Take On Me” by a-ha

Song year: 1985

a-ha’s “Take On Me” is one of many songs that came to epitomize the 80s synthpop and new wave landscape. The awkward wording of the lyrics is forgivable when you understand that a-ha is a Norwegian band.

They certainly knew what they were doing when it came to catchy, upbeat synthesizer tunes, though, and “Take On Me” has got the x-factor in spades. The main riff is something every keyboardist should aspire to learn, and fortunately, it should not give you too much trouble.

“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” by Journey

Song year: 1983

The melodramatic “Separate Ways (Word Apart)” captured the imagination of an 80s listening audience. And it’s one of many songs that cemented Journey as one of the most influential arena rock bands of the time and beyond.

The opening synth riff is very straightforward, not to mention a true classic. A great riff for all keyboard players to tackle.

“Hold On” by Wilson Phillips

Song year: 1990

Featuring Brian Wilson’s daughters Carnie and Wendy Wilson, as well as the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips (of the Mamas & Papas fame), the point could certainly be made that Wilson Phillips very much followed in the footsteps of their parents.

This pop trio has always been about the three-part harmonies more than anything else. The backing tracks blend into the background to support the vocal prowess of the threesome.

“Hold On” is a great inspirational song for practicing your chord shapes. The song is in the key of F, so there’s only one flat (black key). Well, they can’t all be single-note riffs, right?

“Take The Long Way Home” by Supertramp

Song year: 1979

Supertramp’s “Take The Long Way Home” is a sad song when you realize it’s about a failing marriage. The narrator wants to escape the situation and doesn’t want to face up to it.

The late 70s classic continues to endure on classic rock radio, and it features some keyboard parts that are well worth learning. I am not promising that all parts are the easiest to master. The song isn’t exactly the most forgiving of key signatures either.

That said that bouncy, bluesy feel is something every keyboardist needs to learn at some point. You may as well start working on it “on the way home.”

Popular 80s synthesizer riffs

“Axel F” by Harold Faltermeyer

Song year: 1984

You may not recognize the name, but there’s a very good chance you’ll recognize the tune. Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F” served as the theme song for the 1984 film Beverly Hills Cop. If you’re looking for riffs that epitomize the 80s, this is one of them.

Another reason you’ll recognize this tune is that the riff is so catchy there ended up being a Crazy Frog version in 2005 as well.

You can find both simple and complicated versions of this song, but at its core, it’s a relatively straightforward riff that will teach you the ins and outs of playing with octaves. For that reason, it’s highly recommended!

“Frankenstein” by The Edgar Winter Group

Song year: 1972

Edgar Winter was one of the first to experiment with synthesizers / keytars in blues and rock contexts, and “Frankenstein” opens with an unforgettable “Smoke on the Water” style riff all beginners should take a stab at.

It becomes clear, relatively quickly, though, that Edgar Winter (he even plays the synth like the guitar in certain parts of “Frankenstein”) is no ordinary composer, and the song is littered with riff after riff, solo after solo of inspired genius.

So, if you’re thinking about learning the whole thing, user beware – it’s not all easy. As I’ve said many times before, you can learn anything one note at a time, but there is a lot to this tune. Start with the main riff and go from there.

“Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65

Song year: 1998

Now, I’m not sure whether to call this Europop or Euro-junk. For me, it’s kind of the latter, but hey, it’s a novelty song. I’m not sure if it was ever meant to be a whole lot more than that, and I’m certainly not judging anyone who likes this minor-key dance number.

In all honestly, the keyboard riff to “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” is well worth learning no matter what level of playing you ultimately aspire to. It will teach you plenty of important concepts, including the power of simple riffs to captivate audiences.

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division

Song year: 1980

Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is an excellent representation of what made the early 80s an exciting time to be in music. The somber vocals and subject matter contrast with the upbeat instrumentation, featuring some simple but very effective synth riffs.

If you’re looking for a simple song you can pick up fast, you’ve found one!

“Runaway” by Bon Jovi

Song year: 1984

Bon Jovi certainly knows what they’re doing when it comes to instrumentation. Layering simple parts on top of simple parts creates beauty and complexity. Whether this is something they knew intuitively or had help uncovering, “Runaway” is another slice of unforgettable 80s melodrama.

What I find interesting is that this is Bon Jovi before they sounded like Bon Jovi as we know them today, probably owing more to the new wave of British heavy metal than anything else. We’ve all got to start somewhere, though, right?

One thing’s for sure, though – the song would not be what it is without the staccato-style synth riff, which can be handled with a single hand. Give it a try!

“Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Song year: 1983

Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax,” which has remained a staple in the Hollywood lexicon, mostly consists of layers of simple synthesizer parts. Taken on their own, most are very simple to play. It’s a very catchy song, and you should recognize it!

“Relax” is a great song for learning riffs, chords, and other flourishes that work together to make one of the most memorable songs of all time.

“West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys

Song year: 1986

The backing track to Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls” is largely made up of sustained chords, most lasting two bars each, creating a very atmospheric feel to the song.

That should give you plenty of time to switch between them. Switching between different chords is probably one of the more time-consuming aspects of progressing beyond the beginner level as a keyboard player.

Either way, though, this is another great tune to check out, especially if you’re interested in working on your chording.

“Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League

Song year: 1981

The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” is yet another song that features an essential 80s synth riff every beginner should take on to better their playing. And, as you might expect, it’s very simple to play too.

The song also stands as an excellent example of how to layer different synth sounds to create texture and color. Oh yeah, and the chorus is a total banger too.

“Tainted Love” by Soft Cell

Song year: 1981

Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” gives a whole new meaning to single-note riffs, with some synth parts only playing one note over and over throughout different parts of the song. Think you might be able to manage that?

Although completely unrelated, in retrospect, doesn’t Marianas Trench singer Josh Ramsay bear some resemblance to Soft Cell singer Marc Almond? Do you see it?

“Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue

Song year: 1985

Most Motley Crue songs were and are based around very simple concepts, and their essential power ballad, “Home Sweet Home,” is no exception. But therein lies its genius.

The great thing about this song is that it will teach you different ways of playing “inside a chord” with arpeggiation and double stops. Learn this trick and you will be adding flare and variety to your playing in no time at all!

If you want to learn the whole thing, you will need to learn some quick fills. Just so you know. Although the tutorial shows how to play both hands together, I suggest starting with just the right-hand part. That goes for most songs, though, to be honest.

Best Keyboard Songs For Beginners, Final Thoughts

Start simply. Trying to learn all the chords or playing both hands can be quite intimidating. The best place to start as a beginner keyboardist is with single notes on the right hand. This offers a bit of instant gratification, and it strengthens your ability to play melodies and riffs too.

Once you’re ready to progress, begin practicing both hands separately before putting them together. By the time you’ve learned the right-hand parts for all these songs, you’ll be ready to work on the left-hand parts. That should make it easier for you to put both parts together later.

Have fun!

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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