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What music genres can pianists play?

By Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Music > Piano > Piano Playing 101: Music Genres

Le piano is a universal (and magic) instrument.

We say this because the piano is everywhere, and is played and appreciated all over the world. In addition, almost all the songs in the global repertoire of music – no matter the genre, origins or sound – can be transcribed for the piano!

But we have to ask the following question: in today’s digital age of the Internet and music 2.0can we still adapt all music styles to the piano? Read on and you’ll see that the question is not as simple as you think …

Why can you play (almost) everything on the piano?

As we said above, the piano is a universal instrument. This is one of the reasons that we advise piano for children who want to learn music! “Mary had a little Lamb” anyone?

Piano improvisation skills improvement The piano is the Swiss Army Knife of all musical instruments.

As they get older and start primary school and high school, the flute becomes more popular. Then again, it’s much more difficult to transport a piano from your house to your piano lesson! (To avoid carrying your instrument, why not find a private piano teacher or piano course on Superprof to teach you at your home?)

According to specialists, the piano is still the most played instrument as well as the one that will help you develop all the necessary skills for any music practice! It’s much easier to go on to play a range of instruments once you’ve mastered the piano (and with it music theory, solfege, how to read sheet music, etc). It’s also the instrument that is optimal both for children’s “musical awakening” and to “refresh” an adult’s taste for music.

Because piano is a bit like the football of music…

You fervent rugby fans might not be pleased with this idea, but it is true, alas…

Wherever you go and whatever you play, the round ball (not that curved rugby ball!) is central to most sports. This idea of a “universal sport” is also applicable to music. Styles and fads may come and go, but values remain the same.

And this is how we’d describe the piano, as a stable value. This is because it’s a musical instrument that’s accessible to everyone (even small children discovering music with a toy keyboard). Wherever you are from and wherever you may go, you’ll find pianos, people who are or want to learn to play the piano, and of course, piano virtuosos.

Whether you practice on the piano or keyboard, those black keys remain a constant, and will ensure that you can play a song on the piano from most music genres. The piano is made for most of your favorite melodies so learn to play piano today!

The piano has its own codes and culture 

Within the vast family and world of music, the piano stands out. As such, it’s a bit like the Vatican, separated from the rest of Rome.

The history of the piano is marked by richness and a range of genres and developments. With time, the piano became an independent musical entity, no longer lost in the orchestral mass like the brass instruments or percussion instruments. (well there’s also the harp…)

The only instrument with the same attraction and almost mythic popularity is the guitar. In fact, these are the two most played instruments in the world.

valuable lessons piano classes Before he composed his first sonata, Johann Sebastian Bach was a gifted pianist…

What’s more, weren’t most of the greatest music composers pianists to begin with? Revealing tidbit… what are the tunes by your favorite composers?

What are the iconic music styles on the piano?

But we are curious to know if all the musical genres in the world can be played on the piano. Before discussing the genres that we’re unsure of, we’ll start with the ones that can be undoubtedly played by all amateurs of the keyboard – whether you are more jazz piano or classical piano!

Classical Music

It’s obviously the “noble art” of piano playing, and an almost obligatory passage for all pianists. Classical piano is THE piano style par excellence.

A musical quartet A bit of classical music anyone?

A few years ago (even decades back), piano training was based solely on classical music. Today there are still “old-school” piano teachers who work according to this method. But with today’s passion for anything “vintage,” we’re sure that classical piano will remain an important reference. And who knows, perhaps it will come back to being central in every piano lesson?

Who is your favorite classical musician?

20th-century Pop and Variety Music

The advantage to playing variety music is that it is easily adaptable to the piano, as well as most pianists’ levels. Learning the piano in these musical genres also allows the student to diversify his or her piano playing skills.

In our day and age, there is so much music coming out every day – especially the case because of downloading platforms on the Internet. All this offers a range of choice for the pianist. With variety music, you can keep the spirit of the original music, all while adding your personal touch, in a way that your playing level will allow.

One more thing to note: pop and variety music composers are known and appreciated throughout the world. Ever heard of Elton John? John and others are universal music references, and rightly so.

Film and television soundtracks

Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, this musical style has become central to many cultures. This makes its composers (such as John Williams, composer for Star Wars) true music legends.

Nine times out of ten, music writing and composition of music destined for the movies or television is done on the piano. So for this genre also, the piano is the instrument of reference. What are your favorite film scores?

What music styles are less piano “worthy”

While we are 100% sure that the music genres we mentioned above can be played on the piano, the following styles are questionable. What do you think: possible or impossible?

You might see that the old saying, “where there’s a will there’s a way,” is not always necessarily true!

Rap and R&B: taboo for the piano?

You know the music we’re talking about, the kind you just can’t imagine being played on the piano.

But you have to know one thing. Most rappers and R&B singers are music lovers, with a wide knowledge of music and music culture. They often share and use the same musical references to create their own original sounds as musicians of other genres.

Is jazz piano your thing, à la McCoy Tyner? Well rap comes from jazz…

Also, one common root of rap and R&B is jazz. Jazz piano is almost as established in music conservatories as classical piano is. If you are a fan of improvisation in music, this is the style for you!

So, contrary to what you might have thought, the piano is definitely not incompatible to rap and R&B. You can play piano and rap if you like!

Electro: does it have melody or is it only noise?

When it appeared in the 1970s, electronic music was considered by some to be “anti-music,” practiced by “non-musicians” who were more comfortable on a computer than a real instrument. And yet…

Today it’s completely possible to adapt a piece of electronic music to the piano. You can play songs in electro music on the piano! You should note that a piece of electro music possesses the same musical structure as that of classical. Piano notes are so versatile… Do you know how to read sheet music? Learn to read it now to understand the different between the middle C and quarter notes!

Local club DJs often compose their music on the piano!

So it is a “piano worthy” music style! In fact, most DJs do compose their music with real or virtual piano keyboards (like David Guetta for one).

Marginal music styles: are they the exception for pianos?

There are musical styles that are not adaptable to piano playing. And with reason! These genres are more about noise, and that incessant “boom-boom,” than music. And “boom-boom” on the piano just doesn’t work very well…

We’re talking about genres like hard-tech, trans, and minimal techno, among others. These are very difficult for pianists to adapt piano music or a scale to (in contrast to house music).

Even with all the determination and desire in the world, solid piano training and advanced knowledge of sight reading, major scales, piano pieces, and whatever else you can do, it is simply impossible.

So can you play everything on the piano?

As with every good experiment, there is an exception that confirms the rule! So to the question, “can one learn to play all musical styles on the piano,” the answer is no. But we really had to look hard to find styles that are almost impossible to play on the keyboard. We can confidently say that musicians can explore 90% or even 95% of the global musical universe on the piano.

And as we were researching, we realized that the piano is a hugely rich instrument to learn to play. There are so many benefits for learning how to play the piano. Jazz piano, classical piano, variety, rock, tango… different styles affect the content of one’s piano instruction.

And no matter the music genre or level, you’ll need to practice playing your piano in order to become more advanced. It’s better to work intensely for 30 minutes at your keyboard rather than one hour without concentrating. And to achieve optimal concentration, organize work sessions of at least 30 minutes. This is the minimum to have you’ll need to soak up what you are working on, whether it’s an octave, arpeggio, chord progression or a concerto!

From private lessons to the conservatory, online piano courses to piano training in a music school, the choice for education is vast. This is especially true in today’s digital age, where it’s easy to find tutorials and free online classes to learn to play the piano.

We at Superprof think it’s a fantastic idea to enroll in beginner piano lessons to play correctly. The piano teacher is also there to answer students’ questions, about doubts, lack of motivation, or anything! He or she should be teaching all aspects of piano playing, including:

  • Posture work to learn proper posture
  • Solfège training, how to read piano notes
  • Practicing songs on a piano keyboard
  • Piano scales, chord progressions, octaves and arpeggios
  • Reading music and music theory

Soon you’ll figure out what to do with your left hand on those piano keys. After your piano lesson, you’ll be able to achieve your music dreams, whether you want to play like Mozart or Little Richard!

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