Playing the piano is a skill that takes years of practice, dedication, and desire. Our students study various types of music during their piano lessons that include songs in classical music, jazz, and pop music genres.
If you are just getting started with your piano lessons and are looking for some instant gratification, you need to be fully aware that it takes time, patience, and a lot of practice to master. That being said, please note that the piano is a great beginner instrument to learn on, and you can still learn to play some pretty great songs right as you start.
With all of our NYC piano lessons, we aim to focus on small achievable goals, starting with basic terminology and the easiest songs to play on the piano. Other students that are enlisted in online lessons, might have a different set of goals, depending on the lesson schedule. Rock music is a favorite genre with students, and even with the guitar being the lead instrument used for many of these bands, you can learn them in the piano song version too.
A lot of people may try to just work with music videos and tutorials to help them learn piano. But if you want to be good, it is crucial that you work with a piano teacher who can begin with some great piano training exercises to help you aim to get used to using both hands.
Good piano technique takes a lot of practice to get it right. But soon you can be working on full songs, and with the right music, it can help you to learn how to play a little bit easier when it is music that you enjoy.
To get you started, here are some of the best rock songs and top classic rock hits with chords and arrangements that you can learn to play on the piano that are well-known and will impress everyone.
Just be sure you don’t confuse “rock” with “fast” because many of these songs are slower in nature. Now, if you’re a fan of Boomtown Rats or Kate Bush, their songs may not play as well in big crowds – so maybe these aren’t the songs for you (like a Rolling Stones rock out might be), but they can still be great beginner songs to get you to the level of playing you desire.
Some people may not consider the Beatles to be rock, but they created such a stir with their music and the frenzies that ensued, it is impossible not to consider this breakthrough group rock stars. And everyone knows this simple and beautiful ballad.
The idea for this song actually came to Sir Paul McCartney in a dream, and with his pal John Lennon this song was born. This track has four simple chords for you to play in a CM, GM, Am, FM progression for the verses, and then it changes up a little bit at the end of other parts of verses. The chorus part is played Am, GM, FM, CM, followed by CM, GM, FM, CM. Another great rock song you can learn to play on the piano by the Beatles is “Hey Jude”, and that progression goes: F, Bb, A, G, F, E, C, F. And the second part of that song with the “Na, Na, Na, Na…..”
This is sure to impress at the next occasion you have a chance to play it, and it’s popular enough to have everyone singing along. This is an easy piano ditty by its simple chord progression of EM, BM, C#m, AM. It can be a bit tricky when playing, since the left-hand does almost as much work as the right hand, so it will take some practice to get the steps down and learn the right way to position your hands as you go, but it is well worth it to learn. The width of your hands is tested somewhat in playing this – you have to really stretch them out for some of those chords.
Another great love song you could learn that’s fairly easy on the piano by Journey is “Open Arms”, especially if you want to pair it with those heartfelt lyrics and impress that someone special in your life!
This one, like “Let it Be”, may seem like less of an actual rock song, but again, it is definitely one of those tried and true favorite songs that will be fun to learn. And, even though this is Billy Joel’s least favorite song, it’s one that has been and most likely will be around for years to come. The sheet music chord progression goes like this: CM, GM, FM, CM, FM, CM, DM7, GM for almost the entire song. The interlude part is more difficult to learn and will take some practice, and that goes Am, DM7, Am, DM7, GM, FM, CM, GM7.
This three-chord progression starting anthem would be great if you’re ever in Alabama, too. To make things easier you can keep the same hand position when you move from the V chord to the IV chord in the first measure. And as soon as you’re a master at playing this you can move onto “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon, which uses almost the exact same melody with a few minor changes to the harmony and instrumentation. Just be sure you don’t have any Neil Young fans around that might be offended.
Keep things hopping with another hit by this iconic rock group, and probably one of their best songs, since it is by far one of the most requested. This song can be a jam-session type song since it goes on in length and you can extend it in collaboration with other music partners. The progression G, D, Em, F, C, D, and when you get to the lyric for “And this bird you cannot change” over and over, you keep with the F, C, D chords.
This tune has a more complex structure, but can be broken down and divided into parts that will make it more simple. Or, if you choose, you can just play a part of the song that you nail down so you don’t actually have to learn the whole thing. For Freddie Mercury, this song was an anthem, and producers and sound designers begged him to chop it up into different pieces because it felt so disjointed with all the changes in tempo and dynamics, but he refused. As an artist, he stayed true to his work and turned out what has been known as one of the greatest songs of all time.
You can even go a step further with Queen’s works and learn “We Are the Champions” next! As a more popular song than Rhapsody, this is a crowd-pleaser since it gets everyone waving and singing along.
A little fun fact about this song is that Axl Rose actually came up with it to pay tribute to a story he read called “Without You” by Del James. If you are an early 90’s rock fan, this song may seem complicated but is actually fairly simple to play. It only utilized mostly the main four chords until the tempo/key change, which are F, Am, Dm, and C.
The series can be broken up into two parts with you just learning this first part, which is more of the heart of the song, because the second part of the song when it breaks into that iconic guitar riff is more of true prog-rock beauty, and since you (obviously) won’t be playing the guitar, you can probably skip it. Or – if you’re interested in finding a partner – there’s always a possibility you can work alongside a guitar player to do the whole song too!
There is no doubt that there is pure music genius from Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The difficult part that comes with learning this song is really nailing down the rhythm, so when you practice you should hum or count the notes so that you have an easier time mastering it.
As sad as it sounds, this is a great song that can be played after the loss of a friend or loved one. Eyes will be full of tears anyway and paying tribute to a lovely soul that has passed, this is a wonderful song to know that will let people reminisce and remember all of the wonderful times. Written about a son that he lost himself, Eric Clapton wrote this in his memory.
The chord progressions for this song play out: [Intro] A E/G# F#m A/E D/F# E7sus4 E7 A [Chorus] A E F#m A/E. A little bit of complexity here. Another great Eric Clapton song to learn would be the infamous “Wonderful Tonight” which stands to be one of the greatest love songs.
This is a fun, easy spirit tune that has a pretty simple format you can follow: G#, F#, C#, G# | G#, C#, D# | C#, G#, Fm, C# | G#, D#, G# – and that pretty much repeats the entire way through the song.
For many of these songs, the battle with learning how to excel at the piano like idol Bruce Hornsby just by playing, a lot. If you want to play and sing and become the next Joni Mitchell, then do both (play and sing) – and do them a lot. It all goes back to practice, discipline, and sheer will of wanting it enough and you can become an expert.
There are so many other songs you can try your hand at within this genre like “Dream On” by Aerosmith, “Shook Me All Night Long” by Kiss, or “More than a Feeling” by Boston.
Just don’t jump into the more complex songs right off the bat, which includes “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner, “Gimme Some Lovin'” by The Spencer Davis Group,” “Ordinary People” by John Legend, “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson, or anything by Alicia Keys (let’s face it, she knows her piano) without a lot of practice first. There will be plenty of time for you to work your way up to those upbeat explosive rock jams after you’ve mastered some of the piano techniques that are required to tackle bigger songs.
Whether you’re in the New York City, United States area, or ready to learn by your computer, be sure to contact us to see how we can get you started with the piano.