When you’re first starting out on your journey to learn to play piano, you’re going to have to commit some time to learn piano sheet music and music notation.

How long does it take to learn piano songs?

This all depends on how much effort you put in, and whether or not you work with a piano tutor online or in person.

How hard is it to learn piano songs?

Again, this will depend on where you’re at and whether or not you work with a piano teacher.

While this might not be the most exciting way to spend your time, a sound knowledge of musical theory will stand you in good stead when it comes time to try out new songs.

If you’re able to break down the structure of any song you come across, down to the individual notes played and the key signature they’re played in, then you’ll have a much easier time reaching a level of musical mastery.

Once you’ve learned how to play piano notes and you’ve learned what piano scales are, then you’ll probably want to start playing some songs.

sheet song
Piano songs are fun to learn, and if you learn sheet music they should be relatively easy to get to grips with. Unsplash
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Why Should you Learn with Songs?

After a while of brushing up on sheet music, you’re going to want to take a break and just play.

That’s where learning through songs comes in.

While you’re only going to be able to play the most basic of songs in the beginning, even from the first week it’s worth at least working towards a specific song.

Why?

Well, for a start, because songs can act as milestones indicating how much progress you’ve made.

Musical Milestones

As an aspiring pianist, you can think of songs as musical milestones.

They mark your progress on your journey to piano proficiency, providing you key information on what you might be struggling with and what you do well with.

Songs can be a metric you use to see just how far you’ve come, and you can work closely with your piano teacher to figure out what songs require the technical skills that you’ve been learning.

As well as milestones to measure progress, songs are also milestones in that once you play your first song you’ll always remember it.

While the feeling won’t be as strong, this will apply to your second, third, fourth, and even fifth songs. Each time you add a new song to your repertoire it will be like an extra string to your bow, demonstrating that you’re on your way to mastering the instrument.

Make Learning Fun

When you mention the fact that you’re learning to play the piano to those around you, a common response you’ll encounter is something to the effect of ‘that’s so cool! I took piano classes once, but I gave up after a while’.

So many of us have a story of a failure to make progress with an instrument.

This is in part because we might have been pushed into it as a child and simply not enjoyed the instrument at the time, but it could also be because the classes we took just weren’t enjoyable.

When most people think of playing an instrument, they don’t think about the frustration of trying to nail piano scales for the hundredth time or struggling to get your left hand up to speed with your right hand.

Learning an instrument is tough.

As such, any way to make the process more enjoyable is a good thing.

Learning the instrument through songs is one way to ensure that you stay committed and have fun at every step of the way.

How can you Learn with Songs?

illuminated piano
Learning to play songs on the piano will give you a great deal of confidence in your abilities. Unsplash

One of the best ways to learn the piano with the aid of songs is to hire a competent piano teacher.

A piano tutor can help you speed up your progress, and if you’re interested in finding one, you can search from a deep pool of online piano teachers on the Superprof website. With Superprof, you can either work with a local tutor in person or take classes online, so you can work on mastering a few songs with an experienced pianist to guide you along the way. Try entering ‘piano teacher Bristol’ followed by ‘Superprof’ to find classes in the area, or if you’re based elsewhere, ‘piano lessons near me’ followed by ‘Superprof’.

The main benefit of working with a tutor is that you’ll have access to their years of experience with the instrument. You can ask them any question that comes to mind as you’re playing and receive an instant response. This is what helps you to grow in confidence and develop your skills at a faster rate than you likely could if you were learning by yourself.

The other benefit of having a tutor is that their mind is like a library of songs, waiting to be tapped into. If you have an interest in a certain genre of music, you can ask the tutor for recommendations, and they might just be able to teach you a song on the spot. Even if not, you can find a song yourself online, show it to them, and they’ll be able to help you nail it.

Key Elements to Master

music notes
Music notation can be a struggle at first to understand, but it's worth the effort. Unsplash

In Piano, there are several key elements (pun intended) you’ll want to be familiar with before you take on songs.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things you’ll need to know to play piano songs well:

Music Notation

First things first, if you haven’t sat down to decipher all of the music notes you might see on a piano sheet then this should be your number one priority.

Learning to read music is vital for most instruments, but perhaps none more so than the classical piano.

It’s the first step you need to take if you want to have any hope of translating a music sheet into a song you can play on the piano.

As far as what this entails, there’s the staff which is the canvas upon which you’ll find all the other notes, the two clefs that determine the register you’ll play in, and the notes themselves which will be played with various durations and pitches.

Key Signatures 

If you haven’t heard of key signatures before, maybe the words ‘sharps’ and ‘flats’ will be familiar to you.

The key signature in piano terms tells you which type of black key you’ll need to hit.

The keys are further divided up into major and minor keys, so you can have for example a G sharp in the major key and an F flat in the minor key.

While this might sound like gibberish to those who haven’t come across it before, it will soon make sense once you start lessons.

Piano Scales

Piano scales are very important for pianists, and they can help you get to grips with the aforementioned key signatures.

So what are they?

A piano scale is simply a group of notes that you play sequentially starting with the keynote.

Learning piano scales will give you a good idea of how to navigate the keys on the piano, as it gives you information on what the various collections are that sound good together.

Most scales will be made up of seven notes.

Songs for Each Level

To save you some of the efforts of tracking down the best songs to play at every level of piano-playing experience, we’d like to present you with a song that’s appropriate for each level.

Beginner

Adele - Hello

We’ve all heard the blockbuster track that is ‘Hello’ from Adele, so why not make it the first song you learn on the piano?

It’s a song that’s sure to impress your friends (especially if there’s a singer among them) and it simply requires a couple of piano chords including Em, G, D, and C.

Lower Intermediate

Camila Cabello - Havana

At the lower intermediate level, one of the best songs you can work towards is the equally popular ‘Havana’ by Camila Cabello.

It’s slightly more challenging than ‘Hello’ but it won’t take you an awfully long time to add to your repertoire.

Plus, it can help you improve your left-hand technique as during the chorus your left hand will be most active.

Higher Intermediate

Ludwig Van Beethoven - Sonatina in G, Anh. 5, No. 1

Sooner or later, you’ll be playing classical music on the piano as it’s the genre of music that’s most commonly associated with the instrument.

This song is from Ludwig Van Beethoven and is challenging enough to prove that you’ve made the step up from beginner level. There are plenty of twists and turns throughout the songs, and you can work on your arpeggiated chords with your left hand.

Advanced

Claude Debussy - Clair de Lune

If you’re disciplined enough to make it to the advanced level with the piano, then we recommend that you give ‘Clair de Lune’ by Claude Debussy a go.

This song has a complex rhythm and all the hallmarks of a difficult piano track to play.

The best book to learn piano songs may well be ‘Piano Book’ by Lang Lang, so if you’re interested in reading about songs before you learn them it’s a good place to start.

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Jess