Accompanying Blog Post For Video: “How to play ‘CLOSER’ by The Chainsmokers on the piano”
What a catchy song! When this dropped, you couldn’t go 15 minutes in your every-day life without hearing this… And it was so popular on YouTube, I just had to teach it! But I didn’t just arrange and teach it because of its popularity; there are specific musical elements of this song that I believe make it a great learning tool for intermediate players. Here are a few of them:
1. Small Right Hand Position, but Varied Patterns in the Melody
The right hand basically plays 3 notes for the melody in the chorus. That’s super easy, right? Easy means we will be playing this song quickly, which means instant gratification, and that’s always a good thing when learning music or how to play an instrument. We like to see progress and that motivates us to keep pushing. But sometimes easy can also mean we get bored, or that we fall into autopilot when playing through music. But the great thing about this easy chorus melody in this song is that it keeps us guessing on the pattern that we’ll play those 3 notes.
As soon as you think you’ve got the pattern down and you can predict the next measure accordingly, it gets switched up on you! The beginning starts with the following pattern: Bb, C, Ab, Bb. And that pattern repeats three times in a row, so your fingers and brain will get used to playing them in that order. But the pattern changes on the next phrase…
We also get locked into a pattern rhythmically… All 8th notes. But as soon as we get comfortable there, the rhythms also change! that quarter note in measure 3 of the chorus sneaks up on us and feels like a stop sign on our road trip through this section. Again, a great tool for keeping your eyes on the page and not falling into auto pilot.
2. Syncopated Left Hand Chord Rhythms
Even though we’re in 4/4, we’re not simply playing half note chords to divide the measures in half symmetrically. What’s great about the rhythm of the left hand chords is that we play on downbeats of every new measure for a strong sense of the pulse, but instead of playing on the next strong beat — beat 3 — we delay it by an 8th beat and play it on the ‘and’ of 3. The ear and the hand are going to want us to play on beat 3, so it’s great practice working through this song.
This one is also SUPER FUN to play in the Playground Sessions app because the backing track is so spot on! Our music producers had a ton of fun recreating this track so that when you play along in the app it sounds just like the real thing.
If you love using your favorite songs to learn the piano, check out ‘CLOSER’ at the Playground Sessions YouTube channel. If you like what you see you can download the app to learn the rest with our interactive sheet music.
For more blog posts by Playground Teacher Phil Anderson, click here.
Subscribe to Playground’s YouTube channel for more song lesson video.
Download the Playground Sessions APP for full interactive learning.