Starting to play the piano as a child is an amazing way to boost creativity, emotional intelligence and a range of other benefits. An added bonus of getting started on the piano early is that it gives kids a skill they can pick up later, one they will always be thankful for.
Like anyone else, the best way to get children playing is with the songs they love, and that goes beyond nursery rhymes. Here is a list of easy piano songs for kids, with suggestions for younger children and older kids who might be already getting into movies and computer games.
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
This nursery rhyme has soothed children in English-speaking countries to sleep for more than a century. The melody based is the French melody "Ah! vous dirai-je, maman" that even Mozart took his hand at arranging, but it's one of the easiest to play - just the white notes, and you can play it with a single finger.
The Muffin Man
Do you know the muffin man who lives in Drury Lane? Drury Lane is in London, so the muffins in this 18th Century rhyme are English muffins, not the sweeter cupcake-like American type. And if you're Dutch, the rhyme is a little more fishy: mussels are substituted for muffins.
Before it became a popular song for children, this old sea shanty was used to accompany tasks on ship, and the melody dates back to the 1700s. Depending on the version, the "drunken sailor" in question is either sobered-up or punished for being drunk, but either way the earworm melody remains.
The Wheels on the Bus
If you've ever been on a boring bus trip, you've probably sung endless rounds of this song. It's an infectious melody, so if you have someone in the family learning it, be prepared to hear it over and over. Round and round, all day long...
Old MacDonald Had a Farm
This is wonderful for animal-loving kids to roll through all the animals they know, from cows with a moo-moo here and a moo-moo there, to cats with a meow-meow... and so on. There are also translations in countless languages over the same classic melody.
Row, row, row your Boat
This children's song is special because it's a "round" for up to four children (or adults) to sing together. The first person starts alone, then the second joins on the second line, the third on the third line and so on. The melodies overlap to create a lovely choral sound.
Itsy Bitsy Spider
This cute song about the adventures of a tiny spider going up, down then up the spout of a faucet is usually accompanied by hand gestures that mimic the movement of the little arachnid. So you can get other kids involved, or play along yourself.
This traditional French nursery rhyme is another round, so you can get family members of any age involved. The original lyrics are about a sleeping priest who needs to wake up and ring the bells for the morning - ding dang dong.
When the Saints Go Marching In
This rousing spiritual song was originally a hymn, but it's been brought to wider audiences in jazz versions by legends like Louis Armstrong. You can also add in a call-and-response, singing back "Oh when the saints" every time it appears.
Film and Games
The Pink Panther - Henry Mancini
The theme from the 1963 comedy spy film has a cheeky, upbeat feel to it. Originally played on saxophone, the piano version is a great easy introduction to jazz piano, with Mancini's use of chromaticism and jazz scales.
The opening music to the 90s Pokémon TV series has since become synonymous with the franchise in general, and picked up popularity again since Pokémon Go was released. Like the rest of these, it's ideal for any Pokémon loving child or the nostalgic 90s kid in you.
If you need a little extra help with keeping a child motivated while learning, read our tips and tricks article on the subject. We hope that this has given you some inspiration and that you're ready for your home to be full of the sound of music from little fingers.
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