How to Play “Piano Man” by Billy Joel

Lisa Witt  /  Pop/Rock  /  UPDATED Jan 12, 2023

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If there is one song that EVERY piano player should know, it’s Piano Man! Even if you hate the song, it’s a good idea to know how to play it. If you ever sit down at a piano in front of people, there’s a good chance someone will ask you to play it. They’ll be happy to sing it, but you’ll have to play.

Download the lead sheet >>

Billy Joel wrote this song as a semi-autobiographical story of his time as a piano player in a bar in L.A and it is the song that really put him on the map as an artist.

In this lesson, I break down the different sections of this song and teach you how to play them with both hands. We also have a free downloadable lead sheet, so you can practice and eventually memorize the song. You’ll BE the Piano Man (or Woman) in no time!

What’s In This Lesson

The song begins with a bit of a wild and crazy intro riff.  For simplicity’s sake, I’ve not included this riff for this version of the lesson but you will see it in the downloadable notation in case you want to give it a try yourself. This lesson begins with the main piano man theme – the part of the song that everyone recognizes and loves to love or hate!  If you can learn just the first three lines of the song you’ve done most of the work and the rest will feel like a breeze.

My advice, take it slow. Work in small sections and feel free to modify what I’m showing you to best suit your own needs. Most importantly, smile and have fun!!

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for more than 20 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. Learn more about Lisa.

Go from absolute beginner to playing
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