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Some songs are defined by their piano riffs– catchy, iconic melodies that you’ll get stuck in your head for days no matter what you try.

Today’s lesson is about having some fun at the piano and learning the iconic piano intros to some of these classics…

So you can amaze your friends and wow your loved ones.

“Because every piano player should know these songs!”

The Entertainer 🍦

I can hear the ice cream truck already!

“The Entertainer” is a classic piano rag from over 100 years ago, written by Scott Joplin. It was originally sold in the 1910s as piano rolls that would play on old player pianos.

And the song was ranked #10 by the Recording Industry Association of America on its “Songs of the Century” list.

So you should really add it to your repertoire.

Or at least the intro!

🔥🎹 Hot Tip: With a lot of ragtime music, the challenge can be the jumps on the left hand. Practice the left hand separately slowly working up your speed.

Chariots Of Fire 🏃‍♂️

I can’t think of a more iconic or epic piano riff than the intro to “Chariots of Fire”.

“Chariots of Fire” is the true story of two British runners in the 1924 Olympics. The theme (simply named “Titles”) was written and recorded by composer Vangelis.

He wrote it for the soundtrack of the 1981 film and won the Academy Award for Best Original Score.

Since then, countless slow-motion sequences and Hollywood productions have used this iconic intro.

🔥🎹 Hot Tip: Make sure to hold down the sustain pedal for that extra epic-ness.

Next up:

A Thousand Miles 🛣

This song **is** the piano song!

It’s so cool, and it’s so pretty— and I’m gonna show you how to play it!

Originally titled “Interlude”, “A Thousand Miles” is the debut single written and recorded by singer Vanessa Carlton. Her signature song, it became Carlton’s break-through hit and one of the most popular songs of 2002.

And it was nominated for three Grammy Awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist.

Now it might take some practice, but it’s well worth it!

🔥🎹 Hot Tip: If you’re having trouble bridging the gap between octaves, I’ve got some tips for you on playing with smaller hands

Last, but not least:

Für Elise 🎼

We couldn’t put a list of iconic piano intros together without this one!

Did you know, as one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions, it was years after his death that Für Elise was discovered and made popular? Sitting in a drawer for 4 decades, it was in 1867 that a musicologist named Ludwig Nohl found the piece of music and published it.

This might be one of the most iconic pieces of piano music in the world, and it’s not too difficult to play for beginners.

🔥🎹 Hot Tip: The left hand patterns are made up of simple chord arpeggios. Be mindful of the progression and this will help you map your mind to the keys.

***

Hundreds of piano songs are waiting to be discovered, and this is just a small selection of what could have made this list.

These songs all have reasons why they became iconic piano intros or “Hollywood moments” with their haunting and catchy melodies– so forgive me if you find yourself humming or singing these throughout the day…

It just means you should be running to your piano to play them!

Be sure to check out my breakdown on ‘Famous Rap Riffs’ if you’re looking for some more memorable pieces to sink your teeth into, and happy practicing!


Lisa Witt

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 18 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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