I’m not going to beat around the bush. The best xylophone songs for beginners are children’s songs like “Hot Cross Buns,” Christmas songs like “Jingle Bells,” and familiar classical numbers like “Ode to Joy.”
That said, you can play just about any riff or melody you want on the xylophone, so I’ve picked out some pop, dance, rock, punk rock, and grunge songs with simple riffs and melodies you can attempt on your instrument as well.
This should be a lot of fun! Let’s dive in.
“Hey Jude” by The Beatles
Song year: 1968
All pop roads lead back to The Beatles, and their influence is virtually unsurpassed. Any xylophone player interested in venturing outside of classical and traditional music should certainly try their hands at some Beatles, and “Hey Jude” is a great place to start.
Depending on the arrangement, it is probably one of the easiest of any songs to play, which is why we’ve put it at the top of the list.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not a great song. I love the melody as well as the singalong at the end myself.
“Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis Presley
Song year: 1961
This number seems to come up again and again when we’re talking about easy songs for beginners (with just about any instrument), but there is a good reason for that. It has a simple melody that can be played on just about any instrument.
Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” is classic, romantic, and beautiful. It’s also very recognizable, and a great foundation for any instrumentalist to build on.
If you want to learn rock and roll, then you’d better learn a thing or two from the “King.”
“Perfect” by Ed Sheeran
Song year: 2017
When you play Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” on the xylophone, one thing becomes clear. “Hey, isn’t the melody a variation on ‘Amazing Grace?’” Now, I’m not saying that’s what Sheeran himself was inspired by. But there are “Amazing Grace” and “Perfect” mashups out there, so that should tell you something.
Overall, its melody is simple. It should not take you long to master.
While I would love to make some comments about the song being a little too sappy, I have probably written more sentimental songs than this myself, so I will keep my comments to myself.
“Saving All My Love For You” by Whitney Houston
Song year: 1985
While Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You” may not be the easiest of all melodies to play on the xylophone, you’re only required to play one note at a time, so it’s very doable with a bit of persistence. Plus, the song is a ballad, so it has a slower tempo, which is usually more manageable for beginners.
For those who want a bit of a challenge – but not too much of a challenge – “Saving All My Love For You” is worth the effort.
“All Of Me” by John Legend
Song year: 2013
John Legend’s “All Of Me” is a popular modern piano ballad. It may sound kind of complicated upon the first brush. At its core, however, it’s a very simple song. There’s only one sharp, and for the most part, there aren’t any big intervallic jumps in it either.
The melody is very representative of emotionally evocative pop music, so it’s well worth learning and adding to your repertoire. Remember – everything technique, melody, and riff you learn can be applied elsewhere. Always look for opportunities to implement what you’ve learned.
“Don’t Speak” by No Doubt
Song year: 1995
The minor key “Don’t Speak” is the mid-90s No Doubt classic. The song has a very recognizable melody that’s fun to play and not too hard to learn. There are some slightly faster flourishes in it, but if you take it slowly, one note at a time, you should be able to pick it up without too much trouble.
Once you feel more comfortable with the songs mentioned in this guide, you might want to try other, more Ska-oriented No Doubt tunes as well. They’re way more fun!
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
Song year: 1991
Name a grunge song more iconic than Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It’s impossible. That’s because this song flew that banner higher than any other grunge band emerging out of Seattle around the same time.
I bet you didn’t think you’d be able to play it on the xylophone though!
It is in a bit of an odd key, but its melody is so memorable and recognizable that using your intuition could help you find your footing with this song faster than you might assume.
“The Pretender” by Foo Fighters
Song year: 2007
“The Pretender” is a bit of a different song for the Foo Fighters. You may not think of it that way, but vocalist Dave Grohl himself said the song did not originally fit into the established template of the band, and he had to figure out a way to “make it more Foo Fighters.”
While I’m not a huge Foo Fighters fan, “The Pretender” is one of my favorite songs of theirs.
The song is effectively in A minor, so there are very few sharps or flats to play. When it comes right down to it, the melody is very repetitive too. But some sections can be a little harder to master, depending on the version you select, so fair warning.
“Clocks” by Coldplay
Song year: 2002
With a fantastical- and adventurous-sounding intro and melody (probably the coolest part about the song), Coldplay’s “Clocks” captivated many a listener, especially upon its initial release in 2002.
These are the qualities that make the song especially fun to play on the xylophone as well, and fortunately, it’s not that hard to master either.
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones
Song year: 1965
From the main riff to the melody, The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is a very straightforward tune. That might explain why it caught on the way it did! It’s almost in the same league as The Beatles’ “Day Tripper” in terms of its overall importance.
There are some intervallic jumps in the verses, though, so you will need to use your right and left hands well to make this one sound awesome. Working on your coordination is a key part of learning the xylophone, mind you.
“Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple
Song year: 1972
By now, I’m sure you’re starting to get the picture. Yes, you can play rock songs on the xylophone, and they can sound cool too!
Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” is one of those enduring classics. Its riff is iconic, to the point of being a meme and even a self-caricature. But somehow, it still rocks! Even if the main riff is trite, the solos sure aren’t.
You can capture the essence of smoke on the water and fire in the sky very easily on a xylophone. This might even be one of the best songs to start with.
“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen
Song year: 2012
For those looking for a bit of silly bubble gum pop fun, there’s always Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” The verse section is quite repetitive, so no issues there. The chorus is where the fun begins. And I don’t mean it’s super hard to play. I mean it’s a lot of fun because it’s a great melody!
“Call Me Maybe” works very nicely on the xylophone. You can tell that there’s a real song in there.
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurhythmics
Song year: 1983
I probably don’t even need to tell you – the Eurhythmics “Sweet Dreams” features a classic minor key 80s riff and melody. They hit the sweet spot with this one, because the song can still be heard on the radio today, and there was that extra ominous Marilyn Manson version from 1995 too.
It’s no mystery to me as to why, mind you. The first time I heard the song on the radio, I said to myself, “I need to look this one up later.”
This is a fun one, so do give it a go!
“Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” by Green Day
Song year: 2004
Not that Green Day didn’t always have pop appeal, but they certainly turned the punk rock dial way down and the pop rock dial way up with “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams.” And this isn’t the last time they would do that, either.
The melody features a good amount of movement, but it’s not too hard to play. It’s also very recognizable. These factors make it perfect for the xylophone, which can capture the feel of that melancholy melody in spades.
“Wannabe” by Spice Girls
Song year: 1996
Although I’m sure some would disagree, I think the Spice Girls were everything right with pop music and girl groups in the late 90s and early 2000s (although they have since reunited multiple times), and “Wannabe” is their signature song. It plays quite nicely on the xylophone, and it’s not too hard either.
“Imagine” by John Lennon
Song year: 1971
John Lennon’s piano ballad “Imagine” lives on as one of the most important songs ever written. Not necessarily for its quirky and idealistic message (some can surely relate to it), but mostly for its musicality and influence.
Not surprisingly, its simplicity and starkness translate nicely over to the xylophone as well.
“We Are The Champions” by Queen
Song year: 1977
Queen’s expertly written “We Are The Champions” became a sports arena epic. But we all know what Freddie was singing about, and the song is so much more than that.
Anyway, from a compositional standpoint, this song is well worth studying. Its gradually ascending melody is a thing of brilliance, and it’s something you appreciate even more playing it on the xylophone.
It’s not the easiest song to learn, but it’s certainly not the hardest. “We Are The Champions” is recommended to all beginners who’ve managed to master a couple of simpler songs beforehand.
“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
Song year: 2003
Jack and Meg White created a bit of a monster with “Seven Nation Army” in the early 2000s. It received its share of criticism, sure, but when the dust settled, it ended up being recognized as a bit of a modern garage rock classic.
From the guitar to the drums, the song is very simple. And because the band primarily operated as a duo, there were no layers to add complexity to “Seven Nation Army” either.
Try it on the xylophone. You’ll discover for yourself just how easy it is to play.
“The Final Countdown” by Europe
Song year: 1986
Swedish rock band Europe proved again and again that they were more than just another glam metal band. And “Final Countdown” showcases every aspect of the band’s greatest strengths – Joey Tempest’s smooth vocals, John Norum’s blistering lead guitar, and of course Mic Michaeli’s unforgettable synth riff.
Fun fact – that synth riff was originally written by Tempest and not Michaeli! Developed as the ultimate concert opener, with “The Final Countdown,” the band truly found its rocket boosters and took off into the stratosphere.
Oh yeah, it’s cool on the xylophone too.
“Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
Song year: 2017
Some people don’t see it. But I believe The Chainsmokers and Coldplay hit on something truly transcendent with “Something Just Like This.” And I’m not that big of a fan of either, so that should tell you something!
This song features real, raw, soul and emotion. The melodies, themes, and textures are all simple but inspired. They layer very nicely onto each other, and this song has that rare quality, where it feels as though no matter how many layers you added on top, it would still sound exceptional.
The melody is very strong, and that makes it a great song for the xylophone too. It’s not the easiest, but it’s also not the hardest song to learn.
“Come As You Are” by Nirvana
Song year: 1991
The brilliance of the main riff to Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” is that it’s almost like a beginner guitar exercise (which could be the case – you just never know where song ideas might come from).
Yet, the musicality is there, and its ominous quality lends itself to the subject matter of the song (which, admittedly, remains somewhat of a mystery).
You can play this riff, as well as the entirety of the song’s melody on the xylophone, and it’s a good song for beginners with a little bit of experience behind them too.
Best Xylophone Songs For Beginners, Final Thoughts
If you get stuck with any of these songs, don’t hesitate to do a bit of your research. You can probably find multiple versions of the same songs – different video tutorials, different sheet music arrangements, and more. Some versions will be easier to play than others.
As with any other instrument, learning the xylophone can take time and effort. But once muscle memory starts to kick in, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable with it, so hang in there!