How to play “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran on piano

“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran is one of my favorite songs to play in the Playground Sessions collection! Something about the groove and the left hand chord shapes. Ed Sheeran surprised me with this one, since his usual style up to that point was more of an acoustic guitar, singer-songwriter vibe. But ‘Shape of You’ came out of the gate with a specific kind of rhythm usually found in upbeat latin music or, more recently, pop club tracks. Pitbull, Justin Bieber, Drake, and many more have used this pattern in their beats (learn more about what I call the ‘3-3-2’ rhythmic grouping in my video lesson).

Needless to say, when the guys at the Playground offices asked if I wanted to arrange this song I jumped at the opportunity! Here are a few specific musical reasons why:

Repetitive syncopations

This is a fantastic song for practicing different rhythms between the hands. They often don’t play at the same time, but there is still a pattern to the rhythmic differences. The left hand pattern I mentioned above (3-3-2) acts as both a syncopated rhythmic device and an anchor. When we can get a difficult rhythmic pattern “under our fingers” (practiced enough to become muscle memory), and that pattern repeats, it can be just as easy to play and put on “auto pilot” as a much simpler rhythmic passage. Of course, in order to get it to that point, it may require a lot more practice at slow speeds!

Chords built over time

One of the great things about the Advanced arrangement of this song (which is the one featured in the YouTube video teaching the chorus) is that even though the chord progression is very repetitive, the voices build over time. We start with a single note pattern, but later into the verse, we play 2-note chords, or “dyads.” Finally, when we’ve built up momentum to the chorus, we’re playing full triads.

Left hand support of the melody

Instead of playing only chords in the left hand however, we also see some doubling of the melody. And, at times, the hands take turns completing a melodic phrase.

Now it’s your turn to play “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran on piano

If you love using your favorite songs to learn the piano, come check out “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran at the Playground Sessions YouTube channel.

If you like what you see you can download our app to learn the rest of this song with our interactive sheet music.

Subscribe to Playground’s YouTube channel for more song lesson videos.
Download the Playground Sessions piano learning app for full interactive learning.
Thinking about learning piano? Read our complete guide on how to play piano.

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