Learning to play the piano can have many benefits. It’s a lot of work, yes, but the rewards are worth it! Piano music is timeless and it can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of age or skill level. Playing the piano is also proven to improve fine motor skills, spatial reasoning, verbal memory, and more!
Clair de Lune
One popular piece of piano music is Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune. It was written in 1888-1890 and premiered in Paris by March 26, 1890, with soprano Emma Bardac. The piece starts quite simply at a slow tempo. The first section is the primary melody, as you can see in the Clair de Lune sheet music, which gradually progresses into more complex harmonies and more notes. The first section ends on a perfect cadence and then the second section begins. The second section is like a mirror image of the first one, but with inverted harmonies and an entirely new melody. This part is often referred to as the “moonlight” theme because it seems fit for a scene at night.
After this point, the piece goes back to the original melody from before, except now with even more complex harmonies and rhythms. While Clair de Lune was originally written as part of Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque (which also includes such pieces as Arabesque No. 1 and Passepied), it has since been transcribed into many versions for other instruments including violin, cello, and even guitar!
Another popular piano piece is Beethoven’s, Für Elise. It was written in 1810 and there are many different theories as to who Elise might have been: a pupil of Beethoven’s, a woman he loved, or simply an imaginary person. There also used to be two other versions of the song before it became what we know today: one was played much faster and one had different accompaniment chords. The melody starts quite simply with just 2 notes. The rest of the music gradually progresses into more complex harmonies and melodies as it goes on for almost 4 minutes long. Overall, the piece sounds very romantic and calming!
Chopin Nocturne Opus 9 No. 2
Chopin’s Nocturne Opus 9 No.2 is a wonderful piece to play, and it also has an interesting history behind the composition itself! Chopin originally wrote this piece for piano solo around 1831-1832, but he later made an orchestral version (opus 15) which was premiered in 1836. The original version of Nocturne Opus 9 No.2 was then published posthumously sometime after Chopin died in 1849. It has since become one of the most popular pieces of all time, especially for beginner pianists learning to play more complex pieces!
The structure is similar to that of Clair de Lune where there are two sections with inverted melodies and harmonies. The melody is simple and sweet, but it’s surrounded by rather complicated chords. Overall the piece sounds romantic and calming just like Clair de Lune, so it makes for a great addition to your repertoire!
La Valse D’amélie, Yann Tiersen
La Valse D’amélie is a beautiful piece from the film Amélie. It’s from 2001 and it was composed by Yann Tiersen, who also did the music for other movies such as Headhunters (2011) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). The structure of this piece is rather unique. It starts with only 4 chords which can be played together to make a circle of fifths, where the C chord goes to G, then back to C again. Then there is a long pause before going into an entirely new section containing all kinds of harmonies and melodies! This piece sounds very exciting and whimsical! What’s interesting about it is that “Valse” actually translates to “waltz” in English. Even though this is not a waltz, it still very much sounds like one without even a dance beat!
Chopin Nocturne Opus 9 No.4
Just as Chopin wrote a nocturne with the same key signature as his famous Nocturne Opus 9 No.2, he also wrote another one that shares the same key signature as the other two but has a different tonality! This piece starts slowly and has a calm feeling about it until it gradually progresses into more complex harmonies later on. The melody is rather simple compared to Clair de Lune or Für Elise but this makes it easier to play at first glance! However, Chopin’s Nocturne Opus 9 No.4 is still a challenging piece to play because the harmonies are very complex and there are many accidentals involved in this nocturne, which means it can be hard to read at times.
Nocturne in E flat major, Frédéric Chopin
Nocturne Opus 9 No.3, also known as the “Raindrop” nocturne because of its opening four notes sounds very sad and solemn at first with three flats in the key signature! This is because it starts on a minor chord instead of a major chord like many other piano pieces do. The tempo marking is lento which means that this piece should be played slowly and solemnly, however, Chopin’s Nocturne Opus 9 No.3 still has some challenging parts to play. The structure of this piece is very similar to Nocturne Opus 9 No.2 but slower throughout the whole song so it doesn’t sound as interesting or exciting!
Moonlight Sonata, 3rd Movement, Beethoven
The Moonlight Sonata is one of the most famous piano pieces of all time with its three movements written by Ludwig van Beethoven. The first movement is very energetic and lively while the second is rather sad and melancholic. The third movement gently combines both emotions to create a calm feeling! This piece can be challenging because it has many accidentals in it making some parts hard to read. This makes it an excellent piece for practicing your technique because you’ll be able to learn how to play difficult sections slowly without mistakes or hesitation!
There are many benefits to learning how to play the piano! Learning about classical music such as Clair de Lune or Für Elise will improve your literacy and knowledge of musical notation while playing Chopin Nocturnes will help you gain more dexterity and become familiar with different key signatures. Not only that, but all of these pieces sound beautiful and calming so they’ll surely help you relax after a long day at work!