You're at a party, or at home with friends. There's a piano in the room, and somebody says "hey, don't you play...?" The pressure is on. You don't want to be that person who sits down and plays Chopsticks. You could attempt Claire De Lune. After all, you've been practicing, but you're not comfortable enough with that second section to play it in front of a group of people.
Plus, this isn't the right atmosphere, your friends don't want to sit through a recital. They want to get involved. One of the many wonderful things about the piano is that it can be a social, communal instrument. To help you, here are six songs of varying difficulty that are guaranteed to get people singing along whether at a party, or a street piano.
They are all classics, in an order that makes up a rough performance "set list" if you like, and easily recognisable so you don't have to tell them what it is by singing. Just start playing, and they'll be yelling out in seconds.
1. Let It Be - Beatles
It's hard to choose just one Beatles song. Everybody knows Yesterday, but it's too melancholy for a party. Hey Jude is a festival-scale crowd pleaser, but the singalong part doesn't come until the end. Let It Be, with the chanting three-lyric chorus is the one. Like most songs on the flowkey app you have a few options for different versions, so you can learn a simple chord accompaniment, or add in the flourishes of the vocals. Either will get them going just fine.
2. Imagine - John Lennon
It may be cheating to choose Lennon too, but the song regularly voted in the top 3 songs of all time starts with possibly the most recognizable chord movement of the past century, so this would be an incomplete list without it. The added bonus is it gives your audience a chance to practice their "woo-hoo-oooo" falsetto after the first chorus.
3. Your Song - Elton John
This is one for showing off your skills in the introduction, or just playing the simple version and getting them singing. It takes a little time to get to the chorus, but when you get there and everyone is belting out "I hope you don't mind" at the top of their lungs, you'll see that it was totally worth it. A tip if you still want to get to the chorus faster: skip the second verse. Nobody will notice...
4. No Woman No Cry - Bob Marley
This is the necessary arms around the shoulders swaying moment, a pleasant change of pace if you want it, without sending anyone to sleep. Plus, if you're worried that people might not know the verse, it works just fine if you only play the chorus. Everybody knows the chorus.
5. Don't Stop Believing - Journey
One of the invincible songs that gets anybody of any age chanting from the first line, then keeps stepping up until the end. A few tips:
Tip 1: If you're worried about attention wandering, don't play the musical bridge sections. Do it if you think your audience might sing the guitar solos, because gives the perfect excuse for some air guitar.
Tip 2: When you reach the end of the first chorus people might go straight into yelling the “Don't stop believin'” outro. If they do, just go with it. Your audience is impatient for the huge ending, so let them lead and finish it there. After all, how could you get any bigger? Funny you should ask, because your last song is...
6. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
Not only is it a masterpiece, but it is the ultimate singalong. Warning: it's long, and tough to play, especially the "bismillah!" middle section, so it will take some practice. But if you put the time, then it's totally worth it, even just a simplified version.
The beauty of the ever-changing structure means that it never gets boring, so your audience will keep singing going right until the end. Get it right and "That Time We All Sang Bohemian Rhapsody" will live on as a special moment in the memory of everyone who was there.
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