Most Popular First Songs to Learn on Instruments

Learning to play a musical instrument is an endeavor that promises a lifetime of joy and self-expression. But where do you start? After choosing an instrument, finding an instructor, and learning some technique, it quickly becomes time to pick repertoire, or songs, to play on your new instrument. Choosing the best “first songs” can prove to be a daunting task, but if you are taking lessons (and hopefully you are!), your music teacher will guide you in the process. They will have the experience of you as an individual and of music as a whole to recommend the pieces that are best suited to you.

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Starting with beginner-friendly songs is crucial for several reasons. The ideal first song should build a solid foundation, helping the learner grasp fundamental techniques and concepts, without becoming too overwhelming. Accessible songs provide a sense of early achievement and boost motivation and confidence, which is vital for sustained progress. Moreover, beginner-friendly songs are less complex, allowing students to focus on honing their skills and gradually advancing to more challenging pieces as they grow as musicians. This approach ensures a smoother and more enjoyable learning experience, making it easier for beginners to stay committed to their new instrument.

What Songs Should a Beginner Sing?

The best beginner-friendly songs for singers to learn will depend on the individual’s vocal range and personal preferences, so it’s important to choose songs that you enjoy and feel comfortable singing. Many novice singers are mistaken about their vocal range and type, so it is crucial to work with a vocal instructor to learn about your voice and how to use it appropriately if you really want to excel as a singer. You will also likely have a favorite genre, whether it’s musical theater, classical, pop, rock, or jazz. 

Here is an example of some popular tunes and why they’re worth considering as your first song to learn:

  • “As it Was” by Harry Styles – This song’s moderate vocal range and straightforward melody make it an easy and popular choice for beginners.
  • “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift – A beginner-friendly tune due to its catchy and repetitive chorus, making it fun and accessible for novice singers.
  • “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus – Cyrus’s recent hit offers a relatively simple melody, relaxed tempo, and undemanding range, making it a great first song for vocal learners.
  • “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri – This beautiful ballad features a slow tempo and an emotional melody, ideal for beginners who want to practice expression and control.
  • “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers – Beginners interested in rock will benefit from Mr. Brightside’s melodic and catchy chorus that’s easy to reproduce.
  • “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers – Known for its uplifting message, this classic song has a repetitive melody that’s great for beginners of all ages.
  • “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music – This classic musical number features a clear and predictable melody, making it a delightful choice for beginners to sing.
  • “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Misérables – One of the best songs for novice singers due to its gentle melody and use of dynamics, an opportunity to practice vocal control and expression.
  • “Autumn Leaves” (Jazz Standard) – Jazz can be quite difficult to sing, but the melody of “Autumn Leaves” is accessible for beginners, offering a chance to explore different vocal styles.
  • “The Sunny Side of the Street” (Jazz Standard) – Another jazz standard with a catchy and upbeat melody that beginners can enjoy singing.
  • “Let it Be” by The Beatles – “Let It Be” features a comforting and memorable melody with a manageable vocal range that’s perfect for beginners who enjoy classic rock.

What Song Should I Learn to Play First on Guitar?

Man with Tablet and Guitar

Beginner guitarists will benefit from songs with memorable hooks, easy strumming patterns, and repetitive, basic chord progressions. Some chords are easier than others, so your guitar instructor will be able to help you find songs that are in easy keys. Just as with singers, personal preferences and genre are important. 

Here are some great starter songs for guitar beginners:

  • “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley – One of Marley’s most popular songs, it uses just three simple chords (A, D, and E) and has a catchy, repetitive melody.
  • “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan – This classic tune is comprised of beginner chords G, D, Am, and C and features a basic strumming pattern.
  • “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day – Green Day employs just a few basic chords (G, Cadd9, D) in their 1997 hit, along with an easy picking pattern.
  • “Love Me Do” by The Beatles – This evergreen Beatles tune features a uncomplicated riff and uses the chords G, C, and D.
  • “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz – A popular choice among guitar learners, this love song uses the chords G, D, Em, and C, and it has a cheerful, catchy melody.
  • “Stay with Me” by Sam Smith – A heartfelt ballad that predominantly uses the chords Am, F, C, and G. It’s known for its emotive vocals and simple chord progression.
  • “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King – A timeless classic with a straightforward chord progression (C, Am, F, G) and a beautiful, memorable melody. It’s a must-learn for any beginner guitarist.
  • “Die Young” by Kesha – This pop hit uses the chords C, G, Am, and F in a catchy and upbeat arrangement. It’s relatively easy to play and even to sing along to.
  • “Times Like These” by Foo Fighters – Students into harder rock shouldn’t pass up “Times Like These,” which uses the chords C, G, Am, and F and features a driving rhythm. 
  • “Shivers” by Ed Sheeran – A catchy pop song featuring just four chords, Bm, G, D, and A, throughout.

Beginners should focus on proper finger placement and strumming techniques while they learn their first song, and music lessons from a great guitar instructor are the best way to ensure bad habits are kept at bay.

What Song Should I Learn to Play First on Piano?

young man playing a white piano

Novice piano players should look for songs with clear melodies, slower tempos, and limited hand coordination challenges when deciding on a first song. Fortunately, there is a wealth of beginner sheet music for piano players available on the market and the internet in all genres. There are even easy arrangements of timeless classical pieces such as Beethoven’s “Für Elise.” Particularly in the popular music genres, there are a few common levels of piano sheet music one can look for, such as “Big Note Piano,” which is the easiest and is an excellent starting place. 

Regardless of the arrangement, here are some simple piano songs for new learners of all ages and interests:

  • “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” – This nursery rhyme is one of the most simple songs to play on piano because of its elementary melody, repetitive pattern, and basic rhythm, making it easy for younger beginners to grasp hands-together coordination.
  • “Let It Go” (from Disney’s Frozen) – Popular songs like this can motivate beginners to practice. Look for a simplified version designed for novice players.
  • “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri – This contemporary ballad has a beautiful and easy-to-follow melody that can be appealing to beginner pianists who want to play a modern song.
  • “Do-Re-Mi” (from The Sound of Music) – This Broadway classic not only helps beginners practice the major scale but is also familiar and fun to sing along with.
  • “Minuet in G” by Johann Sebastian Bach – A charming composition that’s perfect for beginners. It’s often one of the first classical pieces taught to piano students.
  • “Für Elise” by Ludwig van Beethoven – While the full version is more challenging, the opening section is well-suited for beginners and is extremely popular.
  • “The Can-Can” by Jacques Offenbach – This lively and recognizable piece offers an opportunity for beginners to practice a fun and spirited melody with a major scale included.
  • “Imagine” by John Lennon – This iconic tune features simple chords and a repetitive piano riff that makes it an excellent choice for beginners.
  • “Someone Like You” by Adele – Adele’s heartfelt ballad features easy broken chords and a memorable melody.
  • “Golden Hour” by JVKE – A very popular choice among piano learners, look for a big note or easy version of this piano-heavy hit.

Your piano instructor will be able to point you to the best beginner songs for piano and help you decide on the ideal fit for you as an individual. They may encourage you to try a particular arrangement of a specific song first, based on your personal learning curve, your age, and your interests. 

What Song Should I Play First on Violin?

Violin lesson with female teacher

When learning to play the violin, it’s important for beginners to start with songs that are straightforward, melodic, and easy to grasp. 

Here is a list of some of the best beginner violin songs for practice:

  • “Mary Had a Little Lamb” – A classic nursery rhyme with a simple melody, often used as one of the first songs for young violin beginners.
  • “Ode to Joy” (from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony) – Beethoven’s famous tune features an easy rhythm and recognizable sound that provides an excellent introduction to classical music for beginners.
  • “Amazing Grace” – This hymn has a beautiful and easy-to-grasp melody that’s suitable for violin beginners.
  • “Scarborough Fair” – The traditional English ballad has a lovely, melodic quality in a well-paced tempo that is well-suited for beginners.
  • “Oh! Susanna” – A classic, upbeat American folk song with an accessible melody that’s fun to play.
  • “Game of Thrones” Theme by Ramin Djawadi – Simple and repetitive, this wildly popular theme song is a great choice for beginner violinists who want to practice their skills without having to worry about too many complex changes through the song.
  • “He’s a Pirate” from “Pirates of the Caribbean” by Klaus Badelt – Another great soundtrack composition, this fun and recognizable piece is known for its ease on the violin, as it is played on all the open strings.  
  • “Greensleeves” (Traditional) – There are so many accessible arrangements of this traditional English love song, which features a relaxed and memorable verse and chorus structure that repeats throughout. 
  • “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen – One of the most covered songs of all time, “Hallelujah” is a great starter song for new violinists who enjoy popular music.
  • “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day – Another great pop/rock song with a particularly nice melody that fares well on the violin without much ado.
  • “William Tell Overture” by Gioachino Rossini – You may not recognize the title, but you’ll definitely know the tune to this great classical piece that is among the most popular pieces for beginner violinists.

As with all instruments, it’s important for violinists to work with an instructor to learn about and work on good technique, such as bowing and intonation. Music lessons will prepare students for repertoire by introducing technical concepts and exercises that are designed to form up good playing habits from the start.

What Song Should I Play First on Drums?

Young drummer student

For beginner drummers, it’s essential to start with songs that are relatively simple in terms of rhythm and don’t involve complex drum patterns. 

Here are some easy songs to learn on drums:

  • “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes – This song features a no-nonsense and iconic drum beat that’s great for beginners to practice.
  • “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson – The drum pattern in “Billie Jean” is repetitive and offers a good introduction to syncopation.
  • “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – With a catchy and accessible groove, this song is ideal for beginners looking to work on their timing.
  • “With or Without You” by U2 – A simple yet effective drum pattern makes this song a great choice for beginner drummers.
  • “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen – Known for its catchy bass line, this song’s drum part is relatively easy to pick up.
  • “We Will Rock You” by Queen – The stomping and clapping rhythm in this song is an excellent introduction to percussive elements.
  • “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish – This modern masterpiece features a direct and infectious drum beat that’s suitable for beginners.
  • “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles – A clear-cut and catchy beat makes this song an excellent choice for beginners.
  • “Dynamite” by BTS – With its upbeat and danceable rhythm, this K-pop hit is a fun addition for beginner drummers to practice.
  • “T.N.T” by AC/DC – AC/DC has many songs with super straightforward beats, and “T.N.T.” is a great example, with its driving and energetic drum pattern that’s perfect for beginners looking to rock out.
  • “Enter Sandman” by Metallica – One of the most popular songs for beginner drummers, “Enter Sandman” features an iconic drum intro and unpretentious rhythm, for drummers wanting a taste of metal.

Make Music and Have Fun

Get ready to rock with these beginner-friendly songs! Whether you’re picking up a guitar, tickling the ivories, or discovering your voice, these popular tunes will have you jamming in no time. With Forbes Music Company by your side, learning has never been so much fun. Learn more about your musical possibilities with Forbes Music Company today.

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