Schubert, Bach, Debussy, and Mozart are just a few of the musicians who have contributed to making the piano one of the most famous instruments in all of history.

Many children start practising songs to play on piano at a young age. They also learn how to play scales, hold their hands in the proper way and perform simple, yet beautiful songs.

Being able to learn piano from such a young illustrates that you don’t need to be a Chopin or Beethoven to play piano music!  

Over time as music has evolved, all types of musicians have made an impact on all types of piano genres. From classical and jazz to modern pop, blues and rock, there are generally piano music styles to suit everyone.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that to play piano music you need to stick to classical repertoires. While these make excellent foundations for expanding your knowledge of piano genres down the line, it’s worth remembering that even R&B piano songs are available for those who want to branch out in that direction.

In fact, there are many other musical styles available for the piano, more than any other instrument in the world.

Are you wondering why?

The first and most obvious reason is that playing the piano appeals to more people than any other instrument.  

Children benefit greatly from a musical education.
Learning the piano is quite beneficial for children.

You can probably think of a friend, relative, or colleague who is a music theory expert and can play anything from jazz piano to R&B piano songs by just reading the score. These people however are far and few between, most people who learn to play piano music starting with classical to establish good foundations and later branch out into piano genres that are more personally appealing to them.  

So why are there so many piano genres?

Part of the reason is that the instrument’s history is steeped in social class, where knowing how to play piano music was common amongst the nobility of yesteryear.

First of all, the history of the piano is one of social class. The piano used to be seen as an object of nobility, signifying both cultural status, education, and intelligence.

Fortunately, times have changed.

Of course, it is still an instrument enjoyed by the elite, but these days, especially with the availability of so many piano genres, it is a popular instrument for people from all walks of life.

Today, it is very common for parents to enroll their children in piano lessons as a way to awaken their child’s awareness to the sounds and theory of music. Not only that, learning an instrument from a young age is beneficial to brain development.

Not only is it good for fine-tuning a child’s motor skills and general coordination, but learning songs to play on piano is an excellent way for a child to develop a musical ear.

As an instrument that is so foundational to the learning of other instruments, playing the piano at an early age will help musicians who later want to branch out to playing the guitar, flute, violin, or drums. This is because when you play piano music you develop a sense of rhythm, general musical awareness, and good posture that is essential for all musicians.

Furthermore, some therapists will even encourage people to learn songs to play on piano as a way to recuperate the senses and provide relief from certain mental and physical medical conditions.

The great thing about this wonderfully versatile instrument is that anyone can learn to play, and with so many piano genres available today, you could choose to learn anything from jazz piano to R&B piano songs and everything in between.

Whether you are only a beginner on the piano, or a skilled virtuoso, one of the great things about playing the piano is that it is impossible to play out of tune. As long as your instrument has been tuned, simply pressing a key will result in the right note. This is simpler than trying to perfect your fingering on a guitar.

But unless you can boast perfect pitch, you will still need practice, motivation, and knowledge of music theory to achieve those melodic chords.

Something else to keep in mind is that many of today’s most popular and famous musicians play piano music to help them write some of their greatest hits. Two well-known examples of this are Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.

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An Instrument for Every Type of Musician

If you are considering learning songs to play on piano, but are not sure if it’s your style of instrument, be assured that the piano is the best place to begin any musical training. One of the reasons is that with the availability of so many piano genres, it is an instrument that can set you up for a musical career in jazz, rock, pop, blues, and even rap. If you want to focus on jazz piano, that could take you a lifetime and if you want to branch out and play R&B piano songs, it’ll be your classical piano training that will stand you in good stead.

As a beginner piano player, good advice to follow is to try and avoid limiting your piano genres while you are still learning. Once your classical foundations in place, by broadening your scope you will notice enormous progress.

There’s no doubt if you are looking for an instrument that is versatile and offers freedom in terms of style, it is probably the one with the ivory key and many piano genres that will be the answer to your question.

In addition, piano music can include many voices or polyphony. It’s also an instrument that performs well in accompanying other instruments

Adding to the general accessibility of being able to play piano music is the fact that there are many affordable versions available today

Synthesizers in particular are useful for teaching young children songs to play on piano, however, there are also sophisticated options for advanced and professional players to suit all piano genres. Having said this, synthesizers are well suited to rock and pop music as the sound can be manipulated in a variety of ways.

Of course prices across all piano types are varied too, however, whatever your need, it is possible to find a piano to suit you.

Learning Piano Genres to Suit Your Style

So you have found your dream piano and are even making good progress with a private piano tutor near you, all that’s left is to make adjustments to achieve your own style.

Your first step is to consider the sound, if you have an acoustic piano, the sound will be quite standard even when engaging the damper pedal. If, however, you are opting for a synthesizer, make sure you choose the correct sound for your goals.

Did you know that a synthesizer can offer many options? For instance, you could add vibrato or try and recreate the sound of an organ.

The second aspect for consideration is the notion of rhythm which will serve as the basis for every piece of music you choose to play. For example, the rhythm for jazz piano is going to be different from what is needed to play R&B piano songs.  

The tone is of equal importance as this is what distinguishes piano styles from each other. For instance, you may choose to play in minor or major keys. But what, you may ask, is the difference?

When you choose songs to play on the piano that is in a major key, they will sound joyful and light. Minor keys on the other hand lend a sad, melancholic feeling to your music.   

Any musical style can be played on the piano.
The piano is an essential instrument for any style.

Piano History is Linked to all Music Genres

It may seem like the piano has been around forever, however it was actually invented during the 18th century by Italian, Bartolomeo Cristofori.

During the 19th century, the piano was commonly found amongst bourgeois families. It has since become a much more commonplace instrument and has evolved to suit many different musical styles.

Classical Piano

Of all piano genres, it is, without doubt, classical music that is the most linked to the piano. A common mistake is that the term ‘classical’ actually refers to a historical period and not a music style.

Pianists such as Ravel, Debussy, and others are icons of classical music, while today’s students are learning pieces like Prelude by Bach.

Jazz and Blues Piano

There was a period following the 1850s’where the piano’s popularity grew significantly.

As a result of the instrument becoming easier to transport from one place to another, the merging of the jazz piano sound with blues which originated in gospel music, appeared as a natural progression.

Soon after, the cool jazz and blues songs to play on piano emerged into ragtime with its harmonic base and romantic roots.

Rhythm, Blue, and Rock

A bit later during the the1950’s, R&B piano songs came onto the scene with pianists like Ray Charles, followed by the rock ‘n roll icons of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Reggae Piano

Not many people know the history of Reggae which first appeared in Jamaica during the latter 19th century.

Interestingly, after World War II, American soldiers brought jazz (and jazz piano) to Jamaica. Jazz piano then changed into R&B piano songs and it wasn’t long before the idea of offbeat Ska music, and then reggae took off.

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The History of the Piano Instrument

The origination of the great grandfather of the piano as it is known today took place during the 18th century. Originally from Italy, the piano was reinvented many times in Germany, before being commercialised in the United States. At first, this version of the piano was reserved for the wealthy and the elite, it only became more mainstream in the second half of the 20th century.

Around 1770, the pianoforte originated as the flagship instrument of the classical period used by composers like Bach (1685-1750), ​​Mozart (1756-1791), and Schubert (1797-1828).

It was only much later around 1880-1890, in fact, a whole century later, that the piano as we know it today was built. During that time there were over a dozen companies producing the modern version of the piano. Brands from this era include Stein, Broadwood, Pleyel, and Blüthner.

In an effort to further develop their position in a growing and competitive market, companies would seek to sponsor great pianists of the day to endorse their brands. It is incredible to think that names like Beethoven, Chopin, and Schubert were behind the marketing of the first piano brands. It is because of them that the excellence and quality of these brands are still available and flourishing today.

Fortunately, the current digital age has not dulled the life and personality of this noble instrument. Today, electronic versions of the piano offer the same sounds as a straight piano but are lightweight, mobile, and compact. There is no doubt that the development of the electronic piano broadened the availability and use of the piano to all people.

Piano Scores for Every Musical Style

To help you start playing piano music in various styles, here is a shortlist of tunes you can practise to your heart's content.

Jazz piano rhythms are straightforward.
Jazz pianists use simple and direct rhythms.

Classical

Moonlight Sonata, by Beethoven, is a very well-known piece though few people actually know its name. You have probably heard it in The Pianist or Interview with a Vampire.

Rock

An example of rock piano is the song, Let It Be, by Paul McCartney, released in 1970, is a well-known Beatles classic. In fact, according to Rolling Stone magazine, it is one of the top 500 greatest songs in history.

Pop

There are many Pop piano examples, however, one particularly famous one is Vanessa Carlton’s radio hit A Thousand Miles which was released in 2001. In the music video, Carlton travels around the world playing her piano.

Blues

One of the best examples of piano blues must be Summertime by Gershwin which was composed for Porgy and Bess, an opera that debuted in 1935.

Reggae

When you think of songs to play on piano, Roots Rock Reggae by Marley may not be the first one that comes to mind. Having said this, there are many online tutorials that could teach you how to play Bob Marley’s greatest hits on the piano.

The Percussive Sound of the Piano is Good for Learners

Despite the high number of keys, in its simplest form, the piano is black and white. Notes go up as you go along the keyboard towards the right and all that is needed to trigger a sound is to tap the key or hold multiple ones together to play more melodic, rich sounds.

This is one of the reasons why the piano is so well suited to beginner musicians.

Having said this, there is widespread debate over whether the piano is indeed a string or percussive instrument.

The site orsymphony.org states:

"People disagree about whether the piano is a percussion or a string instrument. You play it by hitting its 88 black and white keys with your fingers, which suggests it belongs in the percussion family. However, the keys lift hammers inside the piano that strike strings (indeed, the piano has more strings than any other string instrument), which produce its distinctive sound. Which family do you think it belongs to? Wherever it fits in, there's no disputing the fact that the piano has the largest range of any instrument in the orchestra. It is a tuned instrument, and you can play many notes at once using both your hands. Within the orchestra, the piano usually supports the harmony, but it has another role as a solo instrument (an instrument that plays by itself), playing both melody and harmony."

Furthermore, the piano requires a great deal of intellect, instinct, and intuition and is not like your usual percussion instruments.

Why it Makes Great Players Stand Out 

Because of how it responds to the behaviour of the person playing it, it is easier to recognise the experience and talent of the musician through the personal sound that they create.

Would you know your favourite vocalist if you heard them on the radio? The answer is undoubtedly yes. Well, the same can be said for identifying certain piano players from only hearing them play a few keys.

Below are some distinctive melodies to originate from the piano.

  1. Ludwig van Beethoven – “Moonlight Sonata”

This popular piano Sonata by Beethoven was completed in 1801 and later dedicated to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, one of his pupils. It was one of the pianists most loved compositions of the day and is still as popular as ever. Beethoven was in his early 30’s when he wrote the famous Sonata.

  1. Claude Debussy – “Clair de Lune”
  2. Frederic Chopin – “March Funèbre”
  3. Ludwig van Beethoven – “Für Elise”

"Beethoven wrote his Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor, better known as ‘Für Elise’, in 1810, but it wasn't published until 1867, 40 years after his death. It's one of the first pieces learner pianists play on the piano; open a little music box, and there's a good chance you'll hear its charming melody. But although it seems like quite a simple piece, it turns out that ‘Für Elise’ is actually a really sophisticated piece of music: well, it was written by Beethoven after all." - Classic FM

  1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – “Rondo alla Turca”

Your first step towards learning how to recreate one of these magnificent pieces or to create your own beautiful symphony is to take private lessons with a piano tutor or to try to endeavour to teach yourself by using the many resources available on and offline today.

 

R&B icon, Ray Charles, at the piano.
Ray Charles, master of rhythm and blues.

Use the Internet to Teach Yourself Piano 

These days almost anything is achievable online, to a degree, and while nothing can replace the advantages of having a piano tutor personally correct your mistakes, you can make progress online.

If you are unable to afford a piano tutor, or if you would like to supplement your tutorials with free online resources, finding piano lessons online is an excellent way to get ahead.

The world wide web offers excellent possibilities to learn from others, particularly when you use sites like Dailymotion or Youtube.

By watching piano tutorials, you could easily master songs to play on piano and it may be a solution for avoiding having to pay for tuition. Having said this, be careful of following tutors who are less than qualified and who could even teach you incorrect techniques. Always ask for recommendations, check Google reviews, and opt for well-known websites. Remember that just because someone is a good musician, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a good teacher.

Watching a piano tutorial online has several advantages:

  • It's a worthy way to obtain free sheet music.
  • You can watch the fingers of the internet tutor on the piano's keyboard while you listen to the music, connect then actions and then copy them.
  • You will become familiar with the sound variations of the instrument.
  • Arrangements are usually simplified for beginners.

While free, online tutorials are a good idea for progressing your piano education, it is highly recommended to only watch them when you have already acquired a certain level of confidence in playing the piano.

Whether online or in-person, it is advisable to first opt for traditional piano lessons that are tailored to your ability. Consider finding a reputable tutor on Superprof where you have the advantage of several benefits.

Firstly, the credentials of all Superprof tutors are verified. In addition, many of them have reviews on their profile pages too. Secondly, there are Superprof teachers located in just about every corner of the country so it is possible to find one near to you. Alternatively, if you have access to the internet and a webcam you could take piano lessons online with a tutor from just about anywhere in the world. Finally, most Superprof tutors offer their first lesson for free which is incredibly helpful in ascertaining whether they are right for you, or not before you commit!

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Niki

Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.