The Frederick Symphony Orchestra Blog

The Top 10 Classical Compositions For Piano Beginners

Posted by Illumine8 on Dec 13, 2017 9:00:00 AM


Classical music is known to decrease blood pressure, fight depression and stress, boost memory, and relieve physical pain. It’s also helpful in sparking creativity, inducing sleep, and improving overall productivity.

With so many physical and mental benefits, it’s no wonder why more and more people are interested in learning how to play classical music. Many classical musicians start with one of the most common musical instruments in the world: The piano.

Take a look at the Frederick Symphony Orchestra’s playlist of the best pieces for beginning pianists:

  • Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune. The title of this song translates to “moonlight” from French. Many instructors say that the key to perfecting this slow composition is to hold the notes long enough in order to capture the peacefulness of this piece.

  • Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria. This must-know classical piece is a beginner’s staple. Ave Maria is a beautiful classical composition that’s perfect for any occasion, from weddings to funerals.

  • Frédéric Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor, Op. 28, No. 4. This pensive minor classical piece has a simple melody in the right hand with basic chords on the left hand, making it one of the easiest (and most recognizable) pieces of classical music for beginner pianists.

  • Jacques Offenbach’s Can-Can. More formally known as the Infernal Galop of Offenbach’s operetta, Orpheus in the Underworld, the can-can song is detectable to anyone who’s heard it. The feel-good, high-energy composition is great for beginning musicians.

  • Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D. This eight-chord progression of this classical piece is easy for many beginning musicians to master. While it was originally meant for strings, Canon in D can easily be played by a pianist.  

  • Johann Sebastian Bach’s Minuet in G. It’s easy to find different arrangements for this classical selection because it’s a hugely popular piece. A good rule of thumb is to use the existing 2- and 4-measure links as a visual guide while you practice, according to True Piano Lessons, an online piano-playing resource.

    Once you perfect those links at least three times, increase the tempo using a metronome. 

  • Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fur Elise. This is in every beginner musician’s repertoire, no matter which musical instrument is played. As one of the most memorable selections on a piano, Fur Elise is easily learned by playing with one hand at a time. Move onto using both hands simultaneously when you feel comfortable, using the left hand for simplified bass roots and the right hand for the melody.
  • Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. This classical composition consists of rolling chords and a beautiful overarching melody. Moonlight Sonata, the 14th piece in this opus, is the ideal piece to practice voicing, a technique in which a pianist makes the melody “sing” above all other aspects of the composition.

    You can find the rest of the German composer's sonatas in the Frederick Symphony Orchestra’s most popular blog post, A Complete List of Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas.

  • Beethoven’s Ode To Joy. If you’re a pianist, this is often one of the first songs that your instructor will teach you to play. This is because this classical composition has a simple rhythm, melody, and finger placement.

  • Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  The iconic musical composition from The Nutcracker is a great piece for practicing staccatos, a form of musical articulation in which a note of shortened duration is separated from the note that may follow by silence.

Whether you dive into Beethoven’s trio of easy songs or challenge yourself by tackling Debussy’s Moonlight, learning how to play classical music is a great skill to hone. For more information about our upcoming classical concerts and local musician advice, click on the button below to subscribe to our blog:

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Topics: Instruments, Beethoven, classical music, piano sonatas