Starting any new long-term task can be intimidating, and learning an instrument is no exception. It’s a whole new world of unknowns, from fingering positions to repertoire, technique, expression, and much more. It’s always nice to find familiarity in something unknown, and one of the best ways to do that in learning piano is to learn songs you already know and love.
So in this article, I’m going to provide you with what I believe are the best Disney songs for piano players to learn, so that you can better hone your piano playing skills while having fun playing songs you already know and enjoy.
Let It Go from Frozen
If you’re a parent to anyone under twelve, I’m sure you’ve heard this song enough times that you could sing it in your sleep. That will actually help you in this case! Although it has a complicated chord progression, “Let It Go” is actually pretty simple to play in the piano with the right guidance.
The left hand only uses two or three fingers at a time on long, sustained chords, which gives you plenty of time to plan your left hand’s next move and focus on the right hand, which is a little more difficult.
The right hand plays the “melody” of the piano (not the melody of the singing itself, which is important to note); the rhythm can be a little difficult to get used to, but with the right fingering patterns and practice, it’ll be pretty easy to learn!
I also think this would be a sweet project for a parent and child (or older and younger sibling), especially if one of the two hasn’t advanced to playing with both hands very well or at all. The more advanced player could play the right hand while the less experienced player plays the left hand. It’s great practice for younger kids to “play something two-handed” and it’s a cute project!
Beauty and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast
This one is a bit trickier. There are a lot more moving notes in both hands than in “Let It Go,” but it’s still an absolute classic. There are a few easier alternatives, so we’ll look at those. The left hand isn’t particularly difficult, but it does move around a bit. It does make up for this by only having the pianist use one finger most of the time, though there are a couple of “chords.”
The right hand moves around a lot more, but it’s the melody. It’s always easier to learn how to play something you already know, and this is no exception. I think it’s an excellent option if you’re solid on basic rhythm and fingering exercises and are looking for something a little more challenging.
I personally love that most tutorials and reduced versions keep the soul of the song while making it significantly easier to play (you can learn more about piano reduction here). This is also a great song if you want to start working on things like expression and dynamics—the lilting melody and steady bass allows a few opportunities for dynamic changes to help you practice, if you’re looking to level up!
Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas
This song is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it is worth it in the end. It’s an absolutely beautiful song, and the piano version is no exception. I will say it’s significantly more challenging than most Disney songs on piano (especially after they’ve been reduced) because it has several moving parts that don’t really stop.
What this means is that in a lot of songs, especially for beginners, there are pauses for you to regroup and make sure you’re on the right track, or there are sequences of long-held notes to let you mentally prepare for the next ones, but there’s none of that here.
It’s a double-edged sword—while it makes the piano piece stunning, it’s also a lot more difficult than what an amateur may be used to. That’s why I’d say that if you’re a true novice, it might not be for you, but if you’re looking for a challenge, go for it!
My advice would be to learn one hand at a time just enough to play through it and then immediately start learning it hands together. It may be tempting to master one hand before moving onto the next, but you’ll actually create some bad habits in your brain, and it’ll be more difficult to play the song hands-together later on.
How Far I’ll Go from Moana
Although Moana is one of the relatively newer Disney movies, its soundtrack is nothing to scoff at. Lin Manuel-Miranda is known for his upbeat, intensely musical pieces, and “How Far I’ll Go” is no exception, especially on the piano. There are different difficulties you can look for if you’re not sure what your ability level is, but I promise most will be simple enough to learn with enough practice.
The left hand’s bass is similar to that of “Let It Go” in that it’s made up mostly of sustained notes (only one or two at a time). This gives you plenty of time to focus on the right hand. The right hand is a lot trickier—it jumps around quite a bit—but the good thing is that the melody doesn’t move around too much. What I mean is that the melody is going to stay within just a few notes, like this:
All the notes you play, or at least most of them, will be somewhere in here. This ensures that you don’t have to jump too far away from the last note you played, and it’s easy to get back on track if you slip up, which makes it a lot easier to learn.
We Don’t Talk About Bruno from Encanto
Last, but certainly not least (especially if current trends have anything to say) is “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from the recent movie Encanto. This intense song not only communicates a significant amount of backstory for the movie—it also highlights almost every character as an individual with their attitudes and personal stories.
Highly influenced by Latin American musical styles, combined with modern American hip-hop, it’s fun in all the right ways and so exciting to play!
Depending on the level you choose, it’s definitely a challenging piece, but it’s well worth it to learn. Individually, the hands aren’t very hard to learn. The right hand is a little bit challenging with all the syncopation, but the left hand uses a lot of single sustained notes, which we’ve said are very nice for beginners. The real challenge—and it’s a big one—comes with putting the hands together.
The very nature of syncopation is that it’s off the beat. Beginners are still learning how to keep the beat, let alone play in time off the beat, so this is going to be a big hurdle to pass, especially when the other hand it is playing on the beat.
It can be confusing in the theoretical for a lot of beginners and learning to play it is no joke—I’ve been playing on and off for several years and it still gets me sometimes. Here’s a link that explains a little more about what syncopation is: Syncopation – Music Theory Academy.
Still, it’s definitely a song permanently ingrained in modern online culture—for a while, you couldn’t open ANY social media app without hearing it—and it’s a truly fun song! It may be a challenge piece, but with enough intentional practice and the right arrangement, you can absolutely learn it.
Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list, but these are some of the best Disney songs for piano in my opinion. I think each one brings something unique and educational. Beauty and the Beast teaches you sensitivity to the piano while We Don’t Talk About Bruno teaches you just the right amount of force.
Colors of the Wind teaches you agility, while Let It Go focuses more on the solid foundation of the bass. No matter which you choose to learn, familiarity is definitely an island in an ocean sometimes, and Disney songs are a great way to make a challenge worthwhile!
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