Somewhere Over The Rainbow Piano Tutorial

Lisa Witt  /  Song Tutorials / Feb 19

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Somewhere Over the Rainbow is a timeless classic, and a must-know for any piano player.

We’ve put together a beautiful arrangement for you to learn today. Some of the chords might look intimidating, but I’m going to walk you through them step-by-step, and it’s all going to make sense in the end!

Download the full score here.
Download the simplified lead-sheet here.

over the rainbow sheet

Even if you find yourself staring at the sheet music wondering if it’s beyond your skill level, you’ll be amazed at how beautifully you can play with just a little time and patience.

(And I’ll give you some tips to simplify things along the way 🤫)

Your History Lesson 👩🏼‍🏫

First things first!
over the rainbow album

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (actually just “Over the Rainbow“) was originally written for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and is sung by actress Judy Garland. It’s a slow, thoughtful ballad composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg. It won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Original Song, becoming Garland’s signature song.

The inspiration for the piece was of a little girl who wanted to get away from a dry, colorless place and had never seen anything colorful in her life except the rainbow.

The Recording Industry Association of America ranked it number one on their Songs of the Century list, and The American Film Institute named it “Best Movie Song” on the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs list.

Getting Over The Rainbow 🌈

Today we’re playing in the key of D, so that’s two sharps: F#, and C# —but there are plenty of accidentals (sharps, flats, and naturals) to watch out for, so be mindful!

The left hand intervals in this song are beautiful, but if you want to simplify things, you can just play the notes that match the chords above the treble clef. That being said– the prettiest, and jazziest moments in the song are when you make the most of the bass clef.

If you’re having trouble, make sure to practice both hands separately before putting them together.

over the rainbow 2

🎹📝 Take note: Once you reach the end of the first eight bars, loop back to the beginning and play through a second time, but be ready to skip to the second ending, making a jump from measure 7 to measure 9

Work through this song in small sections and you’ll find it eventually all comes together. You can also watch for patterns in the sheet music to simplify your sight reading:

over the rainbow patterns

If you’re having trouble switching between some chords, try jumping back and forth between them a few times to better recall them using muscle memory. 💪

For this tutorial, I go through things rather quickly, but remember that with the power of technology you can pause, go back, skip forward, and play in slow-mo. Pianote members can even take advantage of our ‘Practice Along’ feature, where you can loop sections, bring up the virtual keyboard, and slow things down as you see fit.

In Review 🎹

This is such a beautiful song to perform, but I feel it will require some extra attention to get comfortable with. Remember to spend time with each hand individually (one more than the other if necessary!) and don’t be afraid to ‘tell a story’! There is a lot of individuality you might find in the time you spend with this piece. Try experimenting with dynamics, and bringing the emotion in and out.

Think about what the song might mean to you, and bring that into your performance.

over the rainbow 5

Happy practicing! 💐💐💐

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 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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