The piano is a fantastic musical instrument which allows creative freedom to musicians who play the instrument. Even for students who learn the piano, it can be very motivating to know that you will be learning how to play your favourite songs. Simple piano songs for beginners such as mary had a little lamb, in lesson 1 are easy to understand. They won’t inspire the student as much as teaching piano in a new way, with pop songs, Coldplay or even traditional classics such as Chopin, Beethoven and Mozart right from the start.

Whether you like blues piano, rock, pop, electronic, jazz, classical or even reggae music. Playing the piano allows you to express yourself in any style. While the more traditional techniques will have sheet music to accompany them other less conventional forms of music won’t. In which case you will need to learn to improvise and learn to play by ear, you can also use online piano lessons to help you with popular songs. Often musicians will create their own video lessons or sheet music from popular songs to allow you to learn to play the songs faster.

What Do You Need To Learn To Play Different Piano Styles?

The primary way to raise your proficiency in the Piano is to practice. With the piano, there is so much to learn and a wide variety of ways to learn it. On your journey to being a professional pianist, the key to your success will be your dedication to your instrument.

As all instruments have a different way to be played, each music style has its own rhythmic characteristics. As a beginner, playing the piano will require dedication and an understanding of music theory. While you can begin to learn to play the piano with your favourite song it is also important to remember that you should also be building a foundation in piano basics too. But once these basics are acquired, the most important thing to do will be to practice, practice, practice.

Regular piano practice is incredibly important whether it's on a keyboard (like a Yamaha keyboard or other electronic keyboard), a grand piano (like a Steinway) or an upright piano / Acoustic piano. To learn to play many styles on the piano, you need to understand how to adapt to any style. This means understanding the instrument and understanding the music that you want to modify.

singing or performing many of their songs
Songs played on the piano are a mix of technique. Photo Source: Unsplash

Different Styles Of Music That You Can Learn To Play On The Piano

During your piano study, you will hopefully have a teacher that supports your learning with many piano styles. This will give you an introduction to the kind of music that you might want to play on the piano. But it will also support your learning about music and not just the piano. Having a good knowledge of the many different styles will help to prepare you to play any song well.

What Are Some Traditional Piano Styles?

Classical Music Style

The most well known and traditional piano style is that of classical music. As the oldest of all the musical styles (6th century AD), typically composed of instruments that can be found in an orchestra such as a piano, harp, flute. Classical music is often used as the musical foundation for most instruments and musical learning. Although this may be the most popular piano style It is also one of the most varied styles. Classical music is notoriously difficult to master and requires intense training. Not just to learn to play the notes but to learn how to communicate the emotive undercurrent that the music is so well known for. Some famous classical music composers are:

  • Beethoven was a German pianist and composer well known for Piano Concerto Number four in G Major.
  • Chopin was a Polish composer and pianist well known for Etude in E major.
  • Rossini was an Italian composer best known for his operas which contained many of his piano pieces. Chopin is said to compose his pieces like a genius.
  • Lizst was a Hungarian composer and pianist well known for his work Sonata. Hungarian Rhapsody No 6 among others.
  • Britten was an English pianist and composer known for Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Nocturne and Les Illuminations.
R&B connected with the grand piano
RnB is a very popular form of music. Photo Source: Unsplash

What Are Some Modern Piano Styles?

Jazz Music style

Jazz is a fairly modern style started around the 1920s, the piano was and remains an essential part of the music. Started in the USA, Jazz when played on the piano is a mix of technique and improvisation. While Piano notes are played with a steady melody with one hand the other hand Improvises a different tune altogether. Both hands do not work together traditionally in Jazz. Which makes this style challenging but also creatively exciting it is classical piano mixed with expressive rhythmic notes.  Right from the start, you would be unable to miss the uniqueness of the Jazz style. However, you may find it more challenging to learn to play than it may initially appear. Jazz is said to fuse Expression, classic technique, improvisation and memorization. Some famous Jazz music composers are:

  • Art Tatum considered to be the father of all Jazz piano musicians because of his exceptional technique and creativity (Wikipedia) Well known for his song get happy.
  • Miles Davis is said to be one of the most influential jazz musicians in the history of jazz (Wikipedia) while he is best known for the trumpet he also composed with other instruments including the piano and guitar. He is well known for his work Kind of blue.
  • Thelonius Monk stood out for his unique and distinctive style of improvisation and fingering of the keys. He is well known for his work Monks dream.
  • Bill Evans started out with Miles Davis and went on to win many awards in his own right. He is well known for his work Blue and Green.
  • Nat King Cole was a famous actor, jazz pianist and vocalist. He is very well known for his work in movies like afraid of the dark. As well as his piano music with songs such as unforgettable and the Christmas song which became a self-fulfilling prophecy as quite unforgettable since they are still played today.
Just play and enjoy the journey
Pick a song and go off and learn it. Photo Source: Unsplash

What Are Some Unusual Piano Styles?

Rhythm and blues or R&B as most of us know it today is based on jazz, blues and gospel styles fusion. The focus is on the rhythm of the song as the name describes, RnB is a very popular form of music but not very often do you see R&B connected with the grand piano. However, Legends like Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and John Legend and Sir Elton John have all played the piano while singing or performing many of their songs.

Some Famous Rnb Music Composers Are:

  • Stevie Wonder is a multi-award winning multi-instrumentalist (Among many instruments he was a piano player) singer who is well known for his happy birthday song along with many others. He is said to be one of the most critically and commercially successful musical performers of the late 20th century. (Wikipedia)
  • Alicia Keys is a classically trained pianist who rose to fame with her album Songs in A Minor.
  • John Legend Like Stevie Wonder he was a child prodigy playing the piano and music by age 5. Best known for his hit songs all of me and tonight.
  • Sir Elton John is an English singer and pianist who has sold more than 300 million records to date with his Candle in the Wind being the most popular of his songs.
  • Ray Charles pioneered soul music, which was heavily inspired by RnB. He was often called the genius in musical circles due to his pioneering compositions. He is well known for the song Georgia on my mind along with many other songs.

If you are learning how to play the piano, this list may be overwhelming but also exciting. Now you know that you have so many styles open to you, No matter what music you like or musical style that you would like to practice as a pianist you have people to guide you on the journey with acclaimed songs, albums and sheet music all readily available for you online.

If you are open to fusing your piano lessons with free piano lessons using youtube or other largest video repositories. You will be able to try a wide range of styles by following the piano tutorials on the free videos.  Also, you can request that your piano tutor incorporate famous musical compositions along with your music theory and classical lessons.

The essential skills that you need to be able to play all styles of music on the piano is an excellent foundational knowledge in the piano. This includes an understanding of piano chords (including chord progression and triads), piano scales, reading music (Including notes like Clefs and quarter notes), piano notes, piano keys  (including the black keys) and other piano basics. If you have taken piano lessons for beginners already, then you will have covered the most critical topics in your piano practice. Mastering these things will open up your ability to diversify your musical style on the piano.

Pick a song and go off and learn it, one note at a time, Just play and enjoy the journey!

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