If you want to find easy piano songs that are relatively simple to play, you need to look somewhere other than classical tunes. But not to worry – there are plenty of other options out there. Let’s dive into the process of finding, learning, and enjoying easy piano songs.
Simple Chords, How Many Songs?
Here’s a cool fact: In theory, you could learn just four chords and use them to play hundreds of songs (2). Here are just a few easy piano songs that all use the exact same chords (which are made of the exact same notes):
- “Let It Be,” The Beatles
- “No Woman, No Cry,” Bob Marley
- “Take On Me,” A-ha
- “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” Elton John
- “I Hope You Dance,” Lee Ann Womack
- “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” Five for Fighting
- “Whenever, Wherever,” Shakira
- “Where Is the Love?” The Black Eyed Peas
- “She Will Be Loved,” Maroon 5
- “No One,” Alicia Keys
I could go on, but you get the picture. For whatever reason, a crazy amount of modern music is based on four simple chords. Just a few chords, and suddenly you can play a multitude of songs. This works even for beginners. And if you get the hang of playing more chords, your song options will increase exponentially.
Step 1: Finding Songs You Like and Are Easy to Play
Okay, we’re on the hunt for piano songs that are reasonably easy to play. Simple, but also hopefully songs that you actually like, right? We need to figure out what the best songs are for playing piano without a lot of fuss and bother.
What are the Best Songs to Play on Piano?
The best songs to play on piano aren’t just from one genre or in just one particular key. They don’t only have to be kiddie songs, or slow ballads.
I have a theory. Based on my own experience and the experiences of my students, learning to play songs you actually like can be great motivation. Practicing popular songs you already are familiar with makes the process a lot more simple.
So if you ask me what the “best” easy piano songs are, I’ll say there are thousands!
Easy Popular Songs to Play on Piano
Popular songs? That’s a broad term. And that’s just the way I like it. Why limit yourself to one genre or the Top 40 charts? My students’ musical tastes vary widely. Some are big country buffs; others are into classic rock and roll. Many prefer pop, rhythm and blues, or gospel. Still others say they don’t make music like they used to, so they stick to the golden oldies (1).
That’s a pretty wide range of music, and yet my approach to playing piano can accommodate songs from all these genres. I’ll go so far as to say that in most cases, they’re pretty easy. That’s because if you know some simple chord-based techniques and have some piano basics down, you can learn to play endless pop songs and much more.
How to Find Printable Chords for Easy Piano Songs
Of course, for any song you want to play, you need some kind of notation to work off of. If you’re thinking of traditional piano music, you’re picturing sheet music right now. Bass and treble clefs, staffs, notes – it’s a lot to take in. And while you can find printable chords for easy piano songs on free sites these days, that doesn’t make it any easier to read.
I teach chord-based playing, so I use chord notation. Not only is it much easier to find on online sites, it’s a lot simpler than sheet music. In fact, the same kind of basic chord notation guitarists use works great for piano purposes. So how to find printable chords?
Here’s How You Can Find Chords Online
It’s simple to find chords online:
- Think of a relatively modern song you’d like to play on piano.
- Pull up Google search on a web browser.
- Search for the song name + “chords” and choose the top result.
Now you have the chord notation you need, and you can print it out if you want to.
One thing to note: There are many sites with crowd-sourced chord notation. My favorite is ultimate-guitar.com. But please don’t feel the need to sign up for any paid chord subscription service. I’ve been using free sites for years and that works fine.
Step 2: Learning How to Play Piano Songs
As you’ve probably realized, there’s a difference between knowing what piano songs you want to play and how to play them. Even easy piano songs require some basic knowledge. For starters, you do need to have some understanding of the notes you’re playing. From there, you need to be able to read sheet music, play by ear, or understand chord notation. Some people actually just memorize individual songs off YouTube!
Learning Songs Via YouTube Videos
Learning songs through YouTube videos typically will mean pulling up some kind of piano tutorial and mimicking it. Do you ever wonder why some piano videos have so many views? It’s probably because some people are playing them over and over again, trying to memorize the songs.
I don’t recommend using YouTube as your main source of learning how to play piano. On the one hand, there’s a lot of great information out there. One the other hand, it’s sandwiched between lower quality resources, confusing content, and even downright misinformation. If you’re a beginner, how are you supposed to sort all that out on your own?
Learning Songs Via Sheet Music
A more common way to learn piano is to take traditional lessons and study sight-reading. That’s probably what you pictured first when you thought about pianos, right? And for some people, traditional lessons are ideal. That includes:
- Serious students hoping to become professional pianists
- Budding composers
- Anyone who wants to focus on classical music
If you fit into one of those categories, then the structure, theory and rigorous exercises are your friend. You will need to put in a lot of practice time, and you will need supervision and instruction from a teacher who understands your goals. In other words, learning piano online probably isn’t for you.
Learning Songs By Ear
Another more traditional approach, although less common, is learning to play songs by ear. There are a lot of misconceptions about what this means, so bear with me here.
First and foremost, most people aren’t tone deaf. The vast majority of people can and do hear differences between musical tones, so in theory they are capable of learning to play by ear. There are certain types of exercises you can do and videos you can watch to help you learn this. But that doesn’t mean playing by ear works well for everyone.
The reality is that you probably will struggle to learn songs by ear unless you already have some basic piano training. Sheet music could be helpful for complicated pieces, but you won’t be able to use sheet music unless you’ve learned to sight-read. Songs that would be simple to play with chord notation can seem much more challenging if you are limiting yourself to playing by ear alone.
Here’s what I recommend if you’re interested in playing by ear: Wait until after you have memorized the notes on your piano, then either learn chord-based playing (simple) or sight-reading (advanced). From there, learning to differentiate between different tones and picking out notes by ear will be much, much easier.
Learning To Play With a Chord-Based Approach to Songs
Now we come to my favorite method of learning piano: chord-based playing. Once upon a time, I struggled to play piano and I couldn’t play a single song I actually liked (not even easy piano songs). But chord-based playing changed all that. Suddenly a world of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of songs, was opened up to me.
Not only that, I no longer had to use sheet music at all. With guitar chord notation that was easy to find online, I could easily learn to play songs whenever I wanted to. Sound good?
My approach makes chord-based playing simple. All you need to do is memorize 12 notes plus a few different chord formulas. You don’t need to learn all the individual chords, and you don’t need to do a lot of drills or practice scales for hours in order to start applying these basic techniques.
Because of how much simpler my approach is, this is well-suited to learning easy piano songs. It also works great even if you don’t take lessons in-person. Online learning (3) makes chord-based playing accessible to just about everyone.
Step 3: Spicing Things Up
With the basics under your belt, you will be able to play plenty of simple songs, pop songs, and much more. But the fact is that all of these tunes are still going to sound pretty… basic. That’s because you will be sticking to the most simple and foundational parts of the song. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t stop there!
When you feel confident with what you’ve learned so far, the next step is to spice things up – to add nuance, emotion, and personality as you play. Does that sound intimidating? I promise, it’s not that hard!
Easy Piano Songs That Sound Complicated
There are several relatively simple ways to make easy piano songs sound complicated. It’s easier to show than tell, so check out this video:
As you can see, with some simple tweaks or a few extra notes, it’s easy to add interest and emotion to your playing. Like I mentioned in the video and also explain here, all of these little changes add up to a more unique sound. And since they’re all variations of simple, chord-based playing, it doesn’t take long to learn these techniques.
How Beginners Can Play With More Nuance
Spicing things up with improvisation is my favorite part of playing piano. Even just a simple octave change – playing the same notes or chords, just in a different location – makes a huge difference.
So if you’re a beginner, don’t let the concept of improv scare you. It’s really just a matter of developing a toolkit of simple techniques. Once you know them, they’re easy to apply. And suddenly, the world of easy piano songs becomes a world of nuanced songs that can sound happy, sad, intense, light-hearted – you name it, you can play it!
Are You Having Fun Yet?
Music is the backdrop to so much of life (4), and I have rarely anyone who doesn’t enjoy it in some way. So the question is, what does it take to enjoy making music? You have to:
- Find some easy piano songs to work on
- Choose a learning method that makes sense for you
- Learn how to spice up simple songs
I’m all about helping people go through this process as quickly and easily as possible. So if you’ve been trying to figure out how to actually have fun on the piano, I hope you’ll check out the other resources here on my site. There’s no time like the present to start enjoying piano for yourself!
- Greg Milner, They Really Don’t Make Music Like They Used To
- Wikipedia, List of songs containing the I–V–vi–IV progression
- Alison Coleman, How The Face-To-Face World Of Piano Tuition Has Gone Virtual
- Peter Rubin, How Does Music Affect Your Brain? Every Imaginable Way