Songs by the Beatles for beginning pianists
Although the Beatles were primarily a guitar band, piano played an important part in their music from the beginning. Aside from their proficiency on their instruments of choice, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney all contributed piano to the band’s recorded music over their lifespan. Producer George Martin, keyboard virtuoso Billy Preston, and session great Nicky Hopkins also contributed piano licks at different times during the band’s run. In addition, many of the band’s songs were written on the piano.
The list of songs presented here are admittedly subjective; almost any Beatles song can be arranged in a simple piano style. Numerous books and online sources with simple Beatles piano tunes exist to prove this point. These songs were chosen because of their relative simplicity and because most of them featured piano on the original recordings.
Let It Be
After a period of growing complexity in their music, the Fabs went back to basics for the GET BACK sessions, which eventually became the film and movie LET IT BE. Although the sessions were fraught with tension (George Harrison left the group during the sessions and had to be begged to return), much of the music that came out of them were fantastic. Arguably the best song on the album is the title track which starts off with a lovely piano intro from Paul. It is still a staple at every McCartney concert.
A standout track from RUBBER SOUL, “Michelle” is McCartney at his wistful, romantic best. Although the recording does not feature piano, the song is easy to play on the keys because of its simple melody and slow tempo.
One of the most loved Beatles songs, this single ran over seven minutes (the first number one song to do so). Much like “Let it Be,” the song was composed and played on piano by Paul. Various instruments come in as the song progresses, and the “Na-Na” coda lasts for over half the song. But at its heart, this is a piano piece, pure and simple. A few years after this song’s release, John Lennon would have his own solo hit, “Imagine,” which had a very similar tempo and feel.
In My Life
One of John’s very best songs, it is also one of the finest love songs ever written. Found on both the US and UK versions of RUBBER SOUL, the song takes a wistful look at the past and blesses the current love of the singer. The melody and chord progressions on this one are very simple, making this elegant love song fairly easy to master.
Yellow Submarine and Octopus’s Garden
We can’t forget good old Ringo. He was (and is) an accomplished drummer and piano player. His fun and unique voice is often overlooked in comparison to the vocals of the other three, but he has a rich baritone voice that served him quite well on these novelty songs. The first one, written by Paul, is one of the simplest songs in the Beatles catalog. It is a good starting point for learning Beatles songs on piano. The second one was written by Starr himself (footage of him singing and playing an early version of the song on piano can be seen in the LET IT BE film). This charming song is also quite easy to learn, especially compared with most of the other songs on ABBEY ROAD.
One of the charms of the music of the Beatles is how fun the songs are to play. All four members understood elegance in composition and performance. Consider this article a springboard, and find your own favorites!