Whether you’re a little intimidated to try classical pieces right now, or you’re a beginner looking to hone your technique, learning easy, popular songs is a great way to grow your skills as a marimba player.
In this guide, we’ll look at several easy marimba songs for beginners.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
Song year: 1975
Queen’s rock opera / progressive rock of “Bohemian Rhapsody” paved the way for many artists and songs to come. The song was even selected as one of “the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” by Rolling Stone.
The song was developed as a joke, which might explain why it played well in comedy films like Wayne’s World.
As the video above demonstrates, you may require four players to cover all the parts in the song. But you can learn one part at a time, even if you’re the only one playing it. It’s a long song, but it’s a worthwhile one.
“Hey Jude” by The Beatles
Song year: 1968
As the story goes, after John Lennon and his wife Cynthia separated, Paul McCartney began work on “Hey Jules,” and later “Hey Jude” to comfort their son Julian.
The original was a seven-minute epic and although many of us associate longer tunes with the 60s and 70s, the success of “Hey Jude” was revolutionary and ahead of the curve.
Every player should aspire to be able to add some Beatles to their repertoire, and “Hey Jude” is easy enough for a beginner to pick up.
“Oye Como Va” by Tito Puente
Song year: 1962
Santana was the one to bring “Oye Como Va” to the masses, but it was originally written and recorded by Tito Puente.
No matter which version you favor, the song is now a semi-permanent fixture in popular culture.
Thanks to its emphasis on rhythm, it makes for a great piece to learn on percussion instruments in general, including, of course, the marimba.
“We Will Rock You” by Queen
Song year: 1977
Revolving around the “stomp-stomp-clap-rest” rhythmic motif and a cappella vocals, Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is one of the greatest songs of all time. On the radio in the late 70s, “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You” were often played back-to-back, a phenomenon still observable today.
As the video demonstrates, there are some opportunities to get creative with the performance of “We Will Rock You” as a marimbaist. And most importantly, it’s more than reasonable for a beginner to navigate.
“Yesterday” by The Beatles
Song year: 1965
As one of the most covered songs in music history, The Beatles’ “Yesterday” holds a special place in the minds of the listening public, as well as artists and musicians, alike.
The video above features a relatively unique arrangement, and probably not one a beginner will want to tackle off the bat. As with most things, though, learning the melody should not prove an uphill battle.
Plus, the warm tone of a marimba is perfectly complementary to this classic.
“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
Song year: 2003
The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” became somewhat of a modern garage band classic. It’s not a hard song on guitar, and it just so happens that what is easy to play on one instrument is often easy to play on another.
The “less is more” approach demonstrated in the song didn’t exactly scream mainstream success, even before its release. But today it has been widely accepted as a sports arena anthem.
Have fun! Songs aren’t always as easy as this one.
“Theme from Mission: Impossible” by Lalo Schifrin
Song year: 1967
“Theme from Mission: Impossible” is likely the most recognizable spy song of all time. After originally appearing in the Mission: Impossible TV series, the song continues to penetrate media in every dimension, including TV, film, and video games.
It’s a little unusual for a song to be written in the 5/4 time signature and “Theme from Mission: Impossible” should be considered one of the top songs in the category.
There is much one can pick up from this song in terms of melody, harmony, and rhythm, and it’s well worth the effort because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that hard to play.
“Bad Habits” by Ed Sheeran
Song year: 2021
Critics panned Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits” for sounding a little too much like The Weeknd and Bronski Beat. Funny, I guess they never heard “Shape Of You,” because I feel like “Bad Habits” might be coming from that vantage point.
Despite criticism, the song did quite all right. It was released in place of slower, sadder acoustic songs as Sheeran didn’t feel that’s what the world needed upon the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in England in early 2021.
The dance-pop of “Bad Habits” isn’t too hard to master on the marimba. The only thing to watch out for is the rapid-fire melody, especially in the chorus.
“James Bond Theme” by Monty Norman
Song year: 1962
Speaking of famous spy themes, you certainly can’t ignore Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme.” The composition borrows heavily from jazz, big band, and even surf music, and as with most spy music, it uses plenty of chromatics to convey a sense of suspense.
The song demonstrates plenty of sophistication harmonically, but most of the parts, taken in isolation, are easy to play.
“James Bond Theme” should prove a ton of fun to pick and play.
“Peaches” by Justin Bieber ft. Daniel Caesar, Giveon
Song year: 2021
The concept for “Peaches” came together when Justin Bieber was hanging out with Shawn Mendes and Andrew Watt, at Watt’s house. Having jammed out a beat and some chords, the song was further refined and developed by a team of people.
The laid-back hit is mostly about Bieber, Caesar, and Giveon’s successful relationships.
The song is about as simplistic as it sounds, and it’s a good one for beginners to groove on.