Are you learning to play the organ? Respect!
The organ shares plenty in common with the piano, meaning anything you can learn on the piano can easily transfer over to the organ and vice versa. Sure, there are some nuances to playing the organ that differ from the piano, but isn’t it nice to know that the two instruments have so much in common?
Well, if you’re ready to get excited about learning the organ, the best way to speed up your learning is by picking up your favorite songs. And in this guide, we look at over a dozen easy organ songs for beginners.
“Light My Fire” by The Doors
Song year: 1967
One of the rock bands that became iconic for their use of the organ in the 60s was The Doors, and one of their most recognizable tunes is surely “Light My Fire.”
Now, I’m certainly not going to suggest it’s the easiest song in the world to play, but it’s mostly white keys (except for that recurring F#) and it’s well worth learning. The video above even shows you how to play it at a slower tempo than the original.
“Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan
Song year: 1965
It’s hard to imagine a world where the legendary songwriter Bob Dylan stopped making music in the mid-60s. But that’s what would have happened if he hadn’t written “Like a Rolling Stone,” a song that made Dylan proud to be Dylan.
Before the song even had a title, Dylan ended up filling 10 to 20 pages with hatred- and revenge-charged lyrics. The many pages of words were eventually boiled down to four verses and a chorus, and “Like a Rolling Stone” was born.
The song is iconic for its inclusion of organ, which just so happens to be very straightforward, and very beginner friendly, with mostly single notes and double stops.
“Gimme Some Lovin’” by Spencer Davis Group
Song year: 1966
Rolling Stone put Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’” on its 500 Greatest Songs list, and I heartily agree. This blue-eyed soul / R&B classic has an upbeat, danceable groove, and a memorable melody.
The organ playing on “Gimme Some Lovin’” very much complements the feel of the song, and the main riff is a thing of legend.
While I’m not promising an easy ride with this tune, it’s a project well worth tackling for beginner organists.
“Yesterday” by The Beatles
Song year: 1965
Whatever you can play on the piano, you can basically play on the organ as well, and that goes for The Beatles’ “Yesterday” too.
The video above demonstrates how you can play the song with mostly two fingers at a time.
Of course, you can embellish to your heart’s content once you become a better organist, but it’s a good idea to start simple and build from there.
“96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians
Song year: 1966
This 60s garage rock hit features an essential organ riff that every beginner should aspire to learn.
The song was written by Question Mark in 1962, and the song found success on a local level. It was then brought to radio director Bob Dell, and the song quickly became the most requested, finding an audience in Canada as well.
This song has been credited with getting the punk rock movement up and going, but its psych-rock inclinations are far more evident.
“A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum
Song year: 1967
Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” became one of the most successful singles ever to be released, and it has been covered well over 1,000 times.
The organ playing on “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is essential learning for every organist, as there are many worthwhile concepts you can apply to your playing.
As a beginner, you’ll want to take your time with the right-hand and left-hand parts, practicing separately until you feel more comfortable with them.
“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
Song year: 2003
The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” could have ended as little more than a groan-worthy passing trend. Even record executives felt songwriter Jack White could do better.
The song endured, however, becoming a bit of an enduring modern classic and a sports arena clap-along. Step into a music school, and you will probably hear someone trying to pound out the notes to “Seven Nation Army.”
This song serves as a good tutorial for simplistic rock riffs.
“Believer” by Imagine Dragons
Song year: 2017
The main thing Imagine Dragons figured out was how to blend minor melodies, huge-sounding percussion tracks, droning synths, and repetitive guitar riffs to carve out their niche in pop. “Believer” does nothing to build on this formula, but at least it’s consistent.
Whether played on the piano or the organ, “Believer” is relatively straightforward.
“Viva la Vida” by Coldplay
Song year: 2008
This 2008 Baroque pop tune took the world by storm, winning two Grammy Awards in the process.
With all its layers, you might assume Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” to be a complicated song. But strip away the production elements, and you are left with a simple, recognizable melody and a handful of chords.
If you’re a Coldplay fan, you should certainly consider working your way through this tune.