Here’s everything you need to know to play Forbidden City, a beautiful, melancholy piece by Will Baily on the piano. This song comes from Will’s website, You can find tons of other great songs by Will there!

Here’s what Forbidden City sounds like:

As you can hear, this is a beautiful, flowing song. It has a mysterious and melancholy melody. Even though it is not complicated, there is a beautiful depth to the sound. If you have minimal piano knowledge, you can probably figure it out. (Will ranks it as a level 1 on his website.) If you’re more advanced at the piano, you’ll still enjoy playing along with the audio file to practice your technique.

Here’s what you need to get started:

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  • Download and print the sheet music here
  • Forbidden City Audio Files: Slow, Med and Fast

    (You can download the files here: SLOW, MED, FAST)

  • You’ll need a piano or a good keyboard to play this song on. If you don’t have one, this is the best keyboard for getting started on the piano.


(If you’re already comfortable reading music and playing with both hands, find some suggestions for more experienced players at the bottom of this post.)

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You will need some basic music skills to play this song. Knowledge of note reading, finger numbers and rhythm is necessary.

Forbidden City will be played with your hands starting in a C minor position. Watch the video below to see how to get set up.


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Let’s learn the left hand first.

Practice playing your left hand along with the audio file. It’s ok to start with the slowest tempo (speed). Don’t expect to be able to play it perfectly or as quickly as you would like on the first try.

When you’re ready, go ahead and try the right hand. Don’t worry about playing along with the music just yet. Practicing slowly and aiming for accuracy is the goal right now.

Approach the Right Hand part line by line. Don’t move on to the next line until you feel confident with the current line. Isolate sections that seem tricky or that give you problems.

Once you feel comfortable, try playing your Right Hand along with the slow audio file.

Here are some tips for playing along with the music:

  • Do your best to keep up with the music. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but consider it a success if you are able to follow along with the music the whole time and play most or some of the notes.
  • It’s definitely ok and normal to stop playing and and watch the music pass by! This is a good way to learn.
  • As you play, say either finger numbers or note names. I suggest practicing both ways. Pick one way to start and once you feel confident with that version, switch to the other.
  • Take your music away from the piano and “air play” your notes on any surface. This will train your hands what to do without the pressure of playing the correct keys. Do this both with and without the audio file.

As you’re ready, go ahead and try to play both hands together. Don’t rush! Take your time thinking through what each hand should be doing. As you practice this, it will become easier and easier. Soon, you’ll be ready to play both hands along with your audio file!


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Take note that some of the lines are the same. In music, it is common to label sections of music with letters of the alphabet. Let’s call the first line the A section. You’ll notice that the second line is the same, so it is also A. The third line is completely different, so we’ll label that as the B section. The fourth line starts out the same as the third, but it ends differently, so we’ll call that B1. The final line is exactly the same as the fourth line, so it can also be called B1.

Breaking the music down into smaller sections will help expedite your learning. You will discover that there is much less to learn when this way. To summarize, here’s the form of Forbidden City:

  • Line 1 – A
  • Line 2 – A
  • Line 3 – B
  • Line 4 – B1
  • Line 5 – B1

Notice that at the end of the 4th line, there is a repeat sign (The 2 dots at the end of the line). That tells us to go back to the beginning and play the whole song again. Then when you approach the repeat sign the second time, continue on the the last line to end the song.


For More Experienced Students:

[stextbox id=’info’ ccolor=’000000′ bgcolor=’ceeaf2′]If you’re already confident reading music, enjoy playing this simple melody, but focus your attention on how you play each the notes. Balance your sound so that your Right Hand melody sings out over your Left Hand accompanying notes. On each line of the Right Hand, let the volume of the melody subtly peak at a high point in the middle of the line and then let it fall at the end of the line. Play with a smooth legato touch, connecting one note to the next.[/stextbox]

How did you do? I’d love to hear how your practicing is going. Join Piano With Megan on Facebook where you can learn more, ask questions and participate in a fun music learning community!












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