Learning music should always be fun, it is important to undertake the work required to achieve musical competency, however, as teachers and students, we should always strive to keep the fun aspect of playing an instrument alive and well. A good piano teacher will always manage to find a way, to make even the most mundane of musical tasks, engaging and joyful.
One of the best ways to keep piano student’s enthused and relishing the learning process, is by regularly teaching easy pop songs.
A well rounded piano program should also include; scales and exercises, aural training, sight reading and general knowledge. Lessons that exclusively comprise of learning songs, can be a dead end street with overall progress slowing or stalling altogether, due to insufficient foundational work in all the important areas of musicianship. Having said that, students need to see practical reasons why the teacher is asking work of them. Teaching pop songs and catchy tunes really helps the students to understand the direct and immediate benefits of having good technique and reading skills.
Listed below are ten easy and relatively current, piano pop songs.
- Happy – Pharrell Williams – From Despicable Me 2
- All Star – Smash Mouth – From Shrek
- Clocks – Coldplay
- Grenade – Bruno Mars
- Let it go – R Lopez – From Frozen
- I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
- Mad World – Gary Jules/Tears For Fears
- Ordinary People – John Legend
- Drops of Jupiter – Train
- How to Save a Life – The Fray
This list is not in any particular order or the only good current songs to learn, there are literally thousands of great songs to learn. The most important thing is to choose a song that the student genuinely likes, it is important that the student has a strong familiarity with how the song sounds, good aural to physical execution pathways, greatly increase the rate of learning.
There are many good, easy piano arrangements available for a huge range of popular songs. Never in history have we had such immediate access to so much learning material, as music teachers and students, we are very lucky to live in this day and age.
We have deliberately kept this list to mostly recent songs, (due to the large number of younger aged students at our school) there are many other great songs from every era.
More classically inclined students who have no interest in pop music (and that is fine) should learn a wide variety of free choice classical repertoire, from a range of composers, styles and eras. Very young students may prefer learning traditional children songs, everyone has some favourite songs, and almost every song ever written can be arranged for easy piano.
A good teaching strategy can be to always leave the free choice pop song, until the last part of each week’s lesson, (we employ this tactic in our guitar and other instrumental lessons) most students will happily work on their scales and reading if they know they have something really fun to look forward to. Eat your vegetables and you can have dessert!
Albert Einstein gave the following advice to his son regarding his piano lessons: “Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”
It is vitally important that one’s lessons and practice sessions are varied and covering a broad range of fundamental musical skills. Optimal overall progress is more readily achieved if all the important areas of musicianship are developed concurrently. We recommend preparing for a yearly piano exam and learning additional free choice material all the way through. We have found that students who learn free choice pop songs, perform better on exams than students who do not. Anything that helps to encourage a student to practice is very worthwhile. All the skills that we learn when playing music from varying sources are invaluable and a very important part of the musical journey.
Regularly learning new repertoire may take your playing in directions that you may never have thought of. Choose a song from our list or one of your own and start having fun!
Tips from Brendan Hains F.Dip.A