Today we’re stepping into the shoes of someone in the early days of their piano career. With so much beautiful music out there, and as lots of it is rather tricky, we thought we’d streamline together a manageable list to get you started, so here's our list of 10 beginners classical piano pieces. Have a listen to them and hopefully a few will take your fancy!
1. Clair de Lune – Claude Debussy
An undisputed classic, and arguably one of the most popular piano works of all time, we simply had to include this piece on our list. It’s whimsical, it’s dreamlike, it explores colour and sound, and, in true Debussy style, it’s harmonically scandalous (well, for 1905, that is!). There are gloriously complex versions of this piece for the experts amongst us, but for someone still early in their piano career, it’s equally stunning when simplified.
To purchase this piece, click here!
2. Canon in D – Johann Pachelbel
This piece is so famous that you may even be able to impress your non-classical friends! It’s absolutely perfect for a beginner, since the melody is so instantly recognisable, but the accompaniment can be scaled-up or scaled-down, dependant on the level of the player. And there is so much to be learnt from this little song! With so much packed in, from the bass ostinato to the polyphonic texture, there’s plenty for a piano newbie to get their teeth into!
3. Together at Last – Alexis Ffrench
This song is quite simply very special. From the moment the piece begins with those open 5ths in the left hand, the listener (and player!) is captivated, and when the melody begins, a melody filled with melancholy and hope in equal measure, one cannot help but be swept away by its beauty! This piece has been featured in the RSL Classical Piano syllabus for these reasons and many more, so do make sure you check it out.
4. Orrin and Echo – Zenobia Powell Perry
From her Piano Potpourri collection, this piece by Perry is an absolute essential for the new classical pianist. “Orrin and Echo” is a little masterclass in the art of contrapuntal melodies and using both the right hand and left hand as thoughtfully as the other – an important lesson in early piano. Not to mention that the piano music for beginners has been dominated by men for centuries, so we have a responsibility to change that! There is so much fantastic music written by incredible female composers, and Perry is certainly one of them.Find her in the RSL Classical Piano Grade 1 today!
5. River Flows in You – Yiruma
It’s likely that you’ll have heard this mesmerising piece before, whether or not you keep up with the classical piano world. With a style that reflects new popular music styles, whilst also paying homage to the classical musicians that came before him, “River Flows in You” is the perfect addition for the classical beginner who wants something that feels that little bit more modern. It’s got a place within the RSL Classical Piano Grade 2 syllabus, so do check this one out for yourself.
6. Martian’s March – Pauline Hall
From the author of the legendary Piano Time book series, “Martian’s March” is the perfect lesson in staccato for any piano beginner. This set of books has been undeniably influential in piano pedagogy since the 90s, with students everywhere turning to them to learn the foundations of playing. For these reasons, it was essential for us to include Pauline Hall in the RSL Classical Piano syllabus, and you’ll find this little tune in the Debut grade.
7. Prelude in E Minor, Op. 28, No.4 – Frédérick Chopin
And for those of us who enjoy the more solemn, moody vibes, we’d recommend this stunner of a piece by Chopin. With some relatively simple chords in the left hand, and an equally straightforward right-hand melody, there is lots to love about this one. As a beginner, you’ll really feel accomplished in the completion of a song that, though simple, sounds extremely polished and rich.
8. Minuet in G, BWV Anh. 114 – Johann Sebastian Bach
It’s almost a classical sin to begin your piano journey without this man thrown in there somewhere! Bach is the king of counterpoint and helped shape the direction of classical piano music for generations after his own life. “Minuet in G” is a lovely baptism into Bach’s catalogue, and a perfect introduction to these techniques he so wonderfully mastered. Of course, Bach appears in the RSL Classical Piano syllabus a number of times throughout the grades, so do be sure to read our Classical in Conversation piece about him to find out more.
9. The Cheshire Cat – Nikki Iles
For the jazzy ones amongst us, Nikki has got you covered. On top of a prestigious list of commissions, Nikki has also composed many piano pieces specifically for the graded music realm. Due to her prolific work in education, she is able to perfectly pitch what the piano beginner needs, exactly the techniques they should get to know, and precisely how to sound great while you do it! For this reason, “The Cheshire Cat” has got to be on your beginners’ repertoire.To purchase this piece, just click here!
10. Moonlight Sonata, First Movement – Ludwig van Beethoven
And to round it off, we’ve chosen one of the most classic and well-known piano pieces in the world. It’s perhaps the most difficult piece on our list, but you’ve got to love a challenge, right?! The first movement from “Moonlight Sonata” is heavy and purposeful, and may look difficult at first, but remember to take it at your own pace. You’ll certainly feel its beauty regardless.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this little round up of pieces we’d recommend for beginners – ok, maybe intermediate in some cases (Beethoven we’re looking at you!). Let us know if you’ve played any of these, and which one is your fave, on our social media linked below!Facebook, Instagram, Twitter!