The classical piano can blend in during an orchestra or be the centerpiece, as in the case of a piano concerto. Famous composers such as Beethoven, Bach, Diabelli, and Mozart started creating these incredible piano pieces from the late 1770s to the early 1800s, popularizing this type of music.
Learning the classical piano used to be an expensive affair because you'd have to pay a tutor and buy numerous sheet music books as you advanced. The internet has made learning how to play the piano easier, as you can quickly find video and audio tutorials while learning from the comfort of your home.
This article is the ultimate guide for anyone interested in learning how to play the classical piano. You will find tips and tricks for playing and useful resources to help you find beginner classical piano sheet music.
What Is Classical Music?
There are four categories of classical music that are based on the different eras of music. These include the baroque, classical, romantic, and contemporary periods. Knowing these eras will help you understand the sheets you're studying and note key differences based on the period.
The baroque era spanned from 1600 up to 1750 and used the harpsichord instead of the piano as its primary keyboard. During this time, notable composers like Johann Bach, George Handel, and Domenico Scarlatti became famous.
Baroque uses counterpoint as its signature technique. With counterpoint, multiple melodies blend to support each other. This was purposeful music, like using baroque for a church or a funeral service.
The classical era starts where baroque stops and ends in 1820. This era is where composers such as Mozart, Hadyn, and Beethoven come in. Beethoven, however, changed tactics mid-career, and his later works sounded more romantic.
Classical music is very expressive, where each phrase can have a crescendo and a diminuendo, even if it's not implied in the sheet. Classical music contains two or four-bar phrases with conflicting loud and soft sections. In classical music, we have sonatas, sonatinas, and rondos.
The concerto includes a piano soloist accompanied by a small orchestra with the piano as the main show. The performance consists of contrasting fast-slow-fast movements, and you can clearly distinguish between the soloist and the rest of the orchestra throughout the performance.
The solo piano has several distinctions, including the etude, prelude, nocturne, waltz, ballade, and scherzo.
The piano sonata is for a solo piano performance that encompasses three to four movements, with the first movement always in sonata form.
The trio includes the piano as the centerpiece and two other accompanying instruments. The most common instrument combination involves the cello, piano, and violin.
A quintet involves the piano and four additional instruments and notable compositions, like Schubert's "Trout" Quintet.
This era ran from 1820 up to 1900, and was considered an emotional era with composers such as Frederic Chopin. Franz Schubert and Franz Liszt created music you can waltz to. This music is mostly freestyle, with composers pushing logical musical boundaries and harmonic standards.
This is the current musical era we are in, and notable contemporary composers include Aaron Copland, Dmitri Kabalevsky, and George Gershwin. This era encourages boundless creativity, including mashups like jazz tones in contemporary music.
Learning the Classical Piano
Learning the classical piano isn't difficult as long as you know your scales and chords. It’s also important to read the required styles and techniques before beginning your learning journey.
Many successful pianists didn't have to go through the long process of finding a tutor. Self-teaching is efficient, especially because of the online resources available. Even if a piano teacher is tutoring you, improving your skills through practice will undoubtedly help you.
Stages of Learning the Classical Piano
The first stage in learning how to play the classical piano is reading sheet music. To play the classical piano well, you need to understand the composer's intent. The only way to do this is to read the music sheet by the composer and understand how to play it properly.
Classical pianists use music sheet books containing composers' works, new and old compositions, and famous or lesser known songs. These books essentially make you one with the artist who composed the song, and you can play it as intended.
The next step is learning how to play the songs efficiently. Sometimes you'll find a simple melody that requires a complex playing technique. These compositions occasionally require fast fingerwork, especially in categories such as sonatas that include short scales going up and down.
You can measure a pianist's experience in two ways: a sheet's technical difficulty and how complex the music is. Pianists can either be beginners, intermediate, or advanced.
Easiest Classical Piano Pieces for Beginners
Beethoven's Fur Elise
Unconfirmed sources state that Beethoven wrote this piece for Elise, his student. Fur Elise is relatively easy to understand, even for beginner pianists. The full version can be pretty complicated, but shorter, manageable versions are available for beginners to learn.
Mozart's Sonata Facile (No. 16)
Even though Mozart is famous, his work is relatively easy for beginners. This classical piano piece has no semi-quavers, enabling beginner and intermediate pianists to maneuver through the keys. The problem comes in during the tricky scale exercise.
Burgmuller's Le Candeur
Le Candeur is one of 25 easy and progressive studies by Johann Burgmuller. With this collection, you can practice your scales, chords, jump, and more. This piece will also help you improve your hand-eye coordination.
Petzold's Minuet in G-Major
Christian Petzold's Minuet comes from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach of 1725. The piece has 32 measures and starts at a high tempo that goes slower, making it easy for novice pianists to follow along.
Challenges of Learning the Classical Piano
Learning the classical piano can be challenging because you have to understand the structures that make up the genre. The techniques are diverse, and it will take you a few years to become a professional pianist.
5 Best Sites for Classical Piano Sheet Music
8 Notes contain free classical piano sheet music for beginners, including the original and the accessible version of Beethoven's Fur Elise, Mozart's classical pieces for beginners, and Schubert's work. You can also find sheet music for different genres, various artists, and other instruments like the guitar.
Although you aren't a music teacher, this website is ideal because it describes classical piano students' lessons at every level. This way, you can put a different meaning to being self-taught, as you'll be both a teacher and student.
Making Music Fun is a website that contains a library of more than 600 original works for many genres, including Christmas carols, classic pop/rock songs, and classical music. You can print free high-quality classical music sheets for all pianist levels. The sheets contain piano solos from Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and other classical piano pieces.
Kids who want to learn how to play the piano can do so free of charge through the website. Your entire family can also learn to play the piano for $18 every month.
The Online Piano Coach divides sheet music into six levels of difficulty. The first level is the early elementary level, and the last is the late intermediate level. You can download these sheets as pdf documents that you can print to make them easy to play.
You can find the baroque period repertoire, music sheets divided into the classical period, and music from the romantic period. The site also contains the Big Book of Beginner's Piano Classics with 83 popular pieces in easy piano arrangements. You can also download the 100 Easy Piano Classics Book with the world's most beloved masterpieces.
Music Notes is an excellent resource for beginner musicians for all music varieties, including classical, classic rock, broadway, and more. You can find classical piano music sheets from a diverse range of artists, although you'll have to pay a small fee for the sheets.
Learning to play the piano can be a long process that requires pianists to understand their strengths and what they're passionate about. You can start your learning journey today and discover the techniques you need to play the piano like a professional.
Playing the classical piano is even easier because you can find many free, high-quality musical sheets from websites. Anyone with a classical piano can learn how to play it, given that they find the right resources to help them.
Learning won't be immediate, and may take hours of practice to get you to where you want to go. With the right resources, you will graduate through the levels of pianist experience. This guide should be an eye-opener into everything a beginner needs to learn and where they can find beginner classical piano sheet music.