10 sad songs every piano beginner should learn

Music often described as “sad” can be the most compelling, the most comforting, and the most enjoyable for all listeners. There are countless sad songs that utilize a piano in the instrumentation. The dynamic and harmonic range of the piano gives the pianists the avenue to express a variety of emotions. In turn, this allows a tuned in listener to experience those emotions in a similar light.

Sadness is an emotion that is effectively conveyed through the piano. The delicacy of its harmony and dynamics can bring forth a tangible feeling of sadness. Sad piano music listeners and performers can use the energy of the music to feel: Nostalgia, Grief, and Empathy.

Sad songs and piano — a perfect match

Playing sad piano music can be therapeutic. As a beginner, you likely have the desire to accomplish the emotional expression that some of your favorite sad songs accomplish. The question is, where do you start? How can you effectively convey emotion at a beginner level?

Luckily, I have created this list of 10 Sad Piano Songs that are relatively easy for beginners to tackle and begin to develop their ability to express emotion on their instrument. Let’s get started!

1. Yesterday by The Beatles

This is one of the timeless ballads of the mid 20th century. A song about losing a lover, heartbreak, and the feeling of longing for better times with a romantic partner. This song effortlessly presents feelings of sadness. The instrumentation is just an acoustic guitar and string accompaniment. The song translates to piano well, and can be played with ease for beginners.

Yesterday by The Beatles sheet music

2. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day

This is a song about memories, bringing forward the feeling of nostalgia. Similar to Yesterday, the instrumentation is an acoustic guitar and some string accompaniment. It is simple, straightforward, and translates to piano well.

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day sheet music

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3. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan

This tune is a folk-rock classic. A song about coming to the end of the road, and moving on. It is simple, and like the other selections, is mainly an acoustic guitar driven song- which translates to piano well!

Knockin on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan sheet music

4. Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers

The title alone presents sadness. Bill Withers sings about his woman leaving, and missing his counterpart. The song is sad but the tempo gives it a “moving forward” sound. The piano part perfectly coincides with Withers’ acoustic guitar, to create a groovy, yet melancholy sound.

Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers sheet music

5. Imagine by John Lennon

This song might not seem as sad, but rather hopeful. Right from the iconic piano intro, the listener is brought to the feelings of hope at the forefront of this song. The sadness comes from the lyrics, Lennon singing about what is wrong in the world. But the hopefulness reveals itself in the simple, yet sophisticated piano riff. I recommend all pianists learn this 1970’s classic!

Imagine by John Lennon sheet music

6. Let it Be by The Beatles

This sophisticated tune by McCartney captures a certain feeling of solitude. In the key of C major, it is a simple but convincing piano piece. It is built around delicate chords and melody. It works well with a band, or as a solo piano piece. It is an excellent song for beginners to work on developing their chord shapes, using the white keys.

Let it Be by The Beatles sheet music

7. All of Me by John Legend

This is a beautiful ballad that is filled with feelings of love, loneliness, and longing. The piano part perfectly accompanies Legend’s emotional vocal performance. This is an excellent choice for a beginner to learn, especially for that special someone. An excellent choice for Valentine’s Day.

All of Me by John Legend sheet music

8. Stay With Me by Sam Smith

The title says it all. A song about longing for a lover to stick by your side. The lyrics challenge loneliness. The piano perfectly accompanies the soft spoken vocal part. The vocals are heard in light of vulnerability. The piano intro will help a beginner improve their chordal skills and movement effectively.

Stay With Me by Sam Smith sheet music

9. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

This guitar ballad is timeless. It builds slowly, and once again presents feelings of longing and nostalgia. This song translated to the piano, actually can make it sound even more sad, delicate, and melancholy. It is in the key of G major, which is an excellent key for beginner players.

Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd sheet music

10. Creep by Radiohead

This 90s rock power anthem conveys sadness, but the original recording has a loud, heavy, exorbitant edge to it. When this tune is translated to piano, it is less angsty, and more sad and introspective. The whole tune is built around 4 chords, which will make it a great easy sad piece for a beginner to tackle.

Creep by Radiohead sheet music

Ready to learn some sad piano songs?

Sad music is compelling, comforting, and expressive. The piano is the perfect instrument for conveying this emotion in an effective manner. To improve your emotional expression, try to learn the songs above and other songs in similar light. Keep in mind the lyrics of the songs, and try to play the piano as if you were speaking these vulnerable words. You will be able to improve your playing and your expression simultaneously!

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