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.”