How To Play the Intro to “Ophelia” by The Lumineers: YouTube Tutorial

Accompanying Blog Post For Video: “How to play ‘OPHELIA’ by The Lumineers on the piano


Folk music is really fun to play on the piano. With the emergence of bands like The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons, and more like them, folk and folk rock was put into the pop main stream for a time, and that gave us a bunch of great new material done in this older style. I chose to teach “Ophelia” for a few reasons:


1. Great, EASY Examples of “Ties”

Ties are a device we use to connect notes and add their duration values. In other words, if you want a one-beat-note (quarter note) to hold for 1.5 beats, you tie it to a 1/2 beat note (an 8th note). You could also write that as a dotted quarter note, but not all combined notes have their own new symbol, so getting familiar with ties in general will benefit you for a long time.

The right hand melody in this arrangement uses a basic tie to join measures 1 and 2 over the bar line. And it’s the same in mm5-6: the D note on beat 4 of the first measure is connected (tied) to a half note in the next. Nothing too syncopated or quick, so it’s good practice for just focusing on ties. The left hand also has a very basic tie: The F chord is held for 8 full counts (two whole-note chords tied together).


2. Octave Hand-Position Changes in the Right Hand

We typically stay in one main hand position for a section of a song at the Intermediate level, but this arrangement has a few octave leaps that go back and forth throughout this section. In measure 9 we jump from a D with out thumb to the D an octave higher with our 5th finger, only to jump back down in m12 and back up again in m13. A great practice for stretching that right hand position and not getting too comfortable in one spot on the piano.


If you love using your favorite songs to learn the piano, check out ‘OPHELIA’ 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.

– Phil

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.


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