Tuba is all about the basslines. But that doesn’t mean you want to sit around doing drills and exercises all day long. Wouldn’t you love a bit of music to sink your teeth into?
Well, don’t worry, because even as a tubaist, there are more than a few songs you can pick up as a beginner.
And in this guide, we look at over a dozen easy tuba songs for beginners.
“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen
Song year: 1980
Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” as with several other tunes introduced here, effectively falls under the category of “songs every music student should study and learn.”
Now, the song can be about as complicated as you make it, and that’s true of just about any song. But learning the chorus melody should prove a walk in the park for just about anyone.
The disco-influenced “Another One Bites The Dust” is a great song to get warmed up with.
“Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd
Song year: 2020
The 80s retro-influenced “Save Your Tears” was written and produced by The Weeknd alongside the legendary Max Martin and Oscar Holter. The song made it big, propelling all the way to the top of the charts in 18 countries.
The song is dominated by layers of synthesizers. Some have called the melodies “ominous” but I’m not hearing it. I would call them stale. But that’s just me.
Most importantly, though, the melody is a relatively easy one to play on the tuba.
“Thank U, Next” by Ariana Grande
Song year: 2018
Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” was the surprise release of November 2018. Given her lyrical content, I’m not sure if anything coming from Grande can truly be considered a surprise. At best, it’s an “unannounced” release.
The song, fittingly, is a tribute to Grande’s failed relationships. Music critics ate it up.
The video above demonstrates how to play the melody to this song, which features sextuplets quite heavily. You’ll probably want to start slow with this one and gradually build up some speed.
“Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran
Song year: 2017
Ed Sheeran didn’t originally write “Shape Of You” for himself and rather intended it as a Rihanna / Rudimental duet. After the head of the record label convinced him to keep it as his own, Sheeran attempted to get Jay-Z to lend a verse, though he politely declined.
That might explain why “Shape Of You” is more pop and tropical house inspired than many of his other tunes.
The melody sits relatively “tightly” on the staff, which is perhaps why tuba players have found it to be an easy song to play. But the melody does move fast, so you’ll almost certainly want to start slow and build up from there.
“Believer” by Imagine Dragons
Song year: 2017
Imagine Dragons’ “Believer” sounds like a typical tune for the Las Vegas pop band. Lead vocalist Dan Reynolds said the song is about rising above his experiences with arthritis and as many other struggles he could conjure up.
The music video is especially fun, given that it shows a boxing match between Reynolds, as well as Swedish actor and martial artist Dolph Lundgren, known best as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.
In typical Imagine Dragon fashion, the melody features plenty of triplets and sextuplets.
“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
Song year: 2003
The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” features a simple, straightforward garage band arrangement. Given that the “band” was effectively a duo, it’s not surprising.
Though many people initially thought the song was, at best, ironic, it went on to be embraced as a sports arena pump-up.
The main riff is easy enough for any instrumentalist to learn, which is why “Seven Nation Army” is widely taught in music schools everywhere you go. Like it or hate it, it’s not a bad song to get under your command.
“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
Song year: 2014
The throwback 70s funk of “Uptown Funk” quickly caught on with audiences everywhere. It helped that British producer Mark Ronson knew to employ the helping hand of Bruno Mars to amp up the excitement for the tune.
The song rose to the top of the charts, and stayed at the top for consecutive weeks, making it the most successful tune for Ronson and Mars alike.
As you might have expected, the bassline is handled very nicely on the tuba. The above tutorial will also walk you through the melody.
“Careless Whisper” by George Michael
Song year: 1984
George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” is remembered well for that classic saxophone riff. But who says you can’t play it on the tuba?
The song is primarily about a guilty lover who betrays their significant other, and as a result, the song is emotional, both in terms of delivery and arrangement.
If you’re able to play the riff on tuba, you’ll probably see plenty of heads turning in recognition, even if the people listening can’t immediately place the riff.
“Hey Jude” by The Beatles
Song year: 1968
The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” is one of the most popular and well-known uplifting singalongs of all time. Rest assured it paved the way for plenty of anthem rock bands, including Journey.
It is a cliché, but it's also a truism that every student should endeavor to learn a bit of Beatles, as you just never know when it might be called upon at an open mic, jam, or performance.
“Hey Jude” is an excellent tune to tackle as a tuba player, especially as it will teach you many essential techniques for playing melodies.
“About Damn Time” by Lizzo
Song year: 2022
The post-disco of “About Damn Time” was a real doozy, picking up multiple MTV Video Music Awards as well as a Grammy Award. TikTok extended the song’s shelf life considerably, though in 2023 it seems to have fallen off a cliff into a deep hole.
But I’m not judging anyone who likes this tune, and I even think it has its moments.
I think you’d be quite brave to learn it on the tuba, though if you’re bored of playing simple melodies, you’ll probably get a kick out of “About Damn Time.”
“Easy on Me” by Adele
Song year: 2021
Adele’s “Easy on Me” was released as the lead single from her fourth studio album, 30. The minimal pop ballad is a tribute to Adele’s son who struggled with her divorce.
The song was received relatively well by critics, and commercially, it became the longest-running number-one tune on the US Billboard Hot 100 by a female artist in the 2020s (they’re not over yet!).
Thanks to the song’s slow tempo, learning its melody should not prove a Herculean task.
“Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple
Song year: 1973
Deep Purple’s immortal “Smoke on the Water” was revolutionary upon its release, and infinitely influential to this day. So much so that the song has effectively become a comedic relief meme for guitarists.
Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was always able to balance simplicity with inspiration, coming up with riffs like “Smoke on the Water” that would live on as the most important in rock history.
The main riff is simple but essential. And that makes it perfect for beginners.
“Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley
Song year: 1987
Beginner musicians never grow tired of rickrolling their friends. Of course, to be able to rickroll anyone, you must be able to play his infamous “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
Fun fact – the song wasn’t written by Astley, but rather by the English record-producing trio Stock Aitken Waterman. As well, the song was influenced by the 1985 Colonel Abrams hit, “Trapped” (the danceable groove, bassline, and drums certainly bear some resemblance).
The version seen in the video above is a little advanced, and it’s advisable to seek out a simplified version, at least until you get a hang of the song.
“Take On Me” by A-ha
Song year: 1984
Norwegian synth-pop band A-ha’s “Take On Me” may not have made a lot of sense lyrically, but it still went on to become a massive success thanks to its infectious synth riff and lead singer Morten Harket’s huge vocal range.
“Take On Me” is a great song for brass instruments, but why let the trumpet and trombone have all the fun? You can interpret the tune on the tuba and have it sound cool, too.
“Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry
Song year: 1976
Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” has got that funky bassline that every instrumentalist wants to learn. Fortunately, it’s repetitive and relatively easy to play.
The cover in the video above is a little way over the top, but it is masterful in its delivery of this 70s funk-rock classic.
“Beat It” by Michael Jackson
Song year: 1982
Now, while Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” should be a part of every musician’s lexicon, on the tuba, it can sound more like “high school band class” than “I’m a bad one, you don’t want to mess with me.” Oh well, you’ve got to take what you can get.
“Beat It” is still a rocking hard rock tune, with two illustrious guitarists captured on the original – Steve Lukather, and the late and great Eddie Van Halen.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
Song year: 1975
If you’re looking for a bit of a project to work on, then undoubtedly one of your best selections is going to be Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Out of a joke emerged a stunning operatic headbanging prog rock classic with a near six-minute runtime. We’re not sure the band knew what a success it would become as they were working on it, but reportedly, they did enjoy every minute of the writing and recording process.
There may not be a single part that’s particularly hard to play in isolation, but as you might expect, it is a long song, so learning it in its entirety is going to require sticktoitiveness on your part.
Easiest Tuba Songs, Final Thoughts
In closing, remember to practice lots. Just because a song is “easy” doesn’t necessarily mean it does not require any technical proficiency. You will need to be patient, especially in the early going. Best of luck!