If you’re looking for calm, music can often be the best medicine. From the dream-like melodies of Claude Debussy to the quiet dignity of Franz Schubert, there are plenty of classic piano pieces that can help to still the mind and soothe the soul. They're great to listen to when you want to unwind, but learning to play these songs yourself can also help you explore your own creative and musical sides.
At flowkey, we offer hundreds of relaxing and beautiful songs to learn through our app. To help you get started, we've selected ten of our favorites, at all levels of difficulty. So whether you’re a beginner just getting started, or a serious pianist looking to stretch your ability, dive in, start playing and, most importantly, relax.
Playing With Emotion
One of the great benefits of music is the ability to wordlessly communicate emotion. By experimenting with the sustain pedal, rhythm and speed changes, dynamics and volume modulation by how firmly or lightly you press the keys, you can highlight or even create certain emotions by the way you play. The interpretation of these songs is up to you to decide. Don’t be afraid to try something new or different.
1. Frédéric Chopin – Nocturne No. 2 in Eb, Op. 9
Inspired by the night
Frédéric Chopin's 21 nocturnes are some of the legendary composer's most beloved compositions. This particular beauty (along with others available on flowkey) is the epitome of romanticism and was written specifically to elicit strong emotions.
Because "Nocturne No. 2 in Eb, Op. 9" has a repeating structure, with the melody growing more complex each iteration, this is an excellent song to explore variation in emotion within the same piece. This dreamy sound is enough to hypnotize anyone within earshot, whether it's you at the piano keys or your loved ones nearby.
2. Eric Satie – Gymnopédie No. 1
Used to great emotional effect in the hit Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit, Gymnopedie No. 1 is an excellent choice for beginners that does not compromise emotional intensity.
The slow melody and relatively simple harmony in flowkey's arrangement for beginners allows new players the opportunity to create a strong mood without a lot of rhetorical flash or finger speed. The amount of space within and between the notes also means there's enough room for every player to add their own interpretation and emotions.
3. Georg Friedrich Händel – Sarabande – Suite No. 4 in Dm, HWV 437
A slow, elegant dance
"Suite No. 4 in Dm, HWV 437", originally composed for the harpsichord, might feel more appropriate for a funeral rather than a dance. But up close listen, a slow dance full of melancholy and mourning does appear— tempered with a distinct sense of hope.
If bittersweet had a theme song, this would be it. The careful melody and the often repetitive left hand make this suitable song for intermediate learners. Because the hands are often working at different times, this is a great song to work on switching between hands within the same song.
4. Clara Schumann – Ballade No. 4 in Dm, Op. 6
The ballet on 88 keys
Originally thought of as simply a virtuoso pianist and the wife of composer Robert Schumann, Clara Schuman has recently begun to be rediscovered as an excellent composer in her own right, especially for the piano. This advanced piece, aching with drama, lyricism, and movement is a great choice for developed players to practice stretching the poignancy in their playing by modulating speed and tempo.
Beginners may also find certain passages offer interesting yet manageable challenges. Start playing to take yourself to a beautiful ballet at home on your keyboard with this exceptional composition.
5. Ludwig van Beethoven – Adagio Cantabile | Sonata Pathétique
A beloved radio theme song
Sonata Pathetique was the theme song for what is likely the most listened to radio show about classical music of all time, Adventures In Good Music. The second movement of Beethoven’s 8th piano sonata, “Adagio Cantabile” means “Slowly, in a singing style” which offers some clues to its emotional effect and how it might be interpreted on piano.
The version of "Adagio Cantabile – Sonata Pathétique" available on flowkey is aimed at advanced players, but that shouldn't stop less experienced players from taking their chances. Start with the subtle opening section, which offers an excellent starting point for practicing to play with both hands.
6. Franz Liszt - Liebestraum No. 3
A classic radio theme song
This song, based on a love-poem by German poet Ferdinand Freiligrath, is available on flowkey in beginner, intermediate, and pro levels— showcasing its great range for players at all stages of learning.
The beginner version's leisurely pace makes it a smart choice for newer players. And because flowkey offers two more advanced arrangements, players can grow with the song as they advance, practicing finger dexterity in increasing difficulties. Just as volume and intensity increase throughout this song like a passionate love story, so, too, can your experience as a player.
7. Claude Debussy – Clair de Lune
The classic of calmness
What is there to say about "Clair de Lune" that hasn’t already been said? The rippling classic of piano repertoire is a dream on the keyboard, a gently rippling stream of emotion, a poem of raindrops on the keys. Written in 9/8 time, this is a good choice for those looking to explore relatively unusual time signatures.
The composer’s note has the song marked “Adante tres expressif”, or in English, A moderately slow tempo played very expressively— leaving lots of room for the interpreter at the keys to add their own feelings and emotions.
8. Robert Schumann – Dreaming | Kinderszenen
Dream scenes of a child
Husband to composer Clara Schumann mentioned above, Robert Schubert’s "Dreaming" is part of the composer’s “scenes from childhood” suite. This piece has a calming and delicate quality as if not to wake a beautiful young sleeper and to encourage pleasant slumbering fantasies.
Though the flowkey arrangement may be challenging for less experienced players, "Dreaming" is a good choice when you’re looking to practice playing softly, regardless of your level. Hitting the keys slowly and with care is essential here, as if not to wake a little one.
9. Amy Beach – Scottish Legend
Amy Beach was the first American woman to have a symphony performed and published. One of the most respected composers of the turn of the century, she was also an indelible pianist, and this is one of her finest and most delicate compositions.
In many ways inspired by the folk music of the British Isles, this piece showcases an interplay between major and minor modes and players may find a technical challenge with the chords— but it’s worth it. This song of the old country is both wistful and heavenly.
10. Franz Schubert – Ave Maria
The sound of hope
There are few songs in all of musical history that convey an unshakable feeling of hope, love, and salvation better than Schubers’s "Ave Maria". Originally written to illustrate a section of the long Scottish poem The Lady of the Lake, the composition has become closely associated with the Roman Catholic prayer of the same name.
Our version combines both the vocal and piano accompaniments, so the song remains true to its origins. The melody is unmistakable and can be played in many levels of difficulty, always rising toward hope and quiet optimism.
Learn Piano With flowkey
We hope you’ve been able to find some soothing vibes in the songs above. With flowkey, you can learn all of these songs and more, many in a range of difficulties from beginner to professional. Whether you’re looking for tranquility or excitement, serenity or exhilaration, we can help you learn the songs you love and help you discover new favorites.
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