Today I want to share my 10 favorite early intermediate piano solos that my students love to learn and love to perform. These pieces make excellent recital pieces because they sound great, but aren’t too challenging for students just a few years into their piano study.
Many of these pieces are based on repetitive patterns that set the student up for success. And, they’re really satisfying to play.
Stars and Wind by Catherine Rollin
Stars and Wind by Catherine Rollin has a beautiful ethereal sound. There are 2 distinct sections of music that each represent the stars and the wind. The A section, or “stars” is based on simple arpeggiated and broken triads. It’s played high on the piano has a sparkly, but mysterious sound. The B section, or “wind” uses a simple 5-finger pattern in each hand that moves up the piano by octaves. The same pattern shifts around to several different starting keys throughout this section.
This is definitely a piece that looks difficult on the page, but once students catch on to the patterns, it easily flows with continuity.
Fur Elise, Arranged by Jennifer Linn
Fur Elise is such a highly requested piece, especially in the early years of learning piano when the real deal is pretty far out of reach. There are tons of just ok and not-so-great arrangements of this piece out there. This arrangement my Jennifer Linn is my go-to for students who are eager to jump in to this beloved Beethoven piece.
This arrangement of Fur Elise is simplified to include only the most familiar sections of music. The right hand stays fairly true to the original form, but the left hand is simplified in some places to make it more accessible, especially for smaller hands.
Wild Horses by Martha Mier
Wild Horses by Martha Mier is upbeat and exciting to play. It pretty much stays in a 5-finger position, so it’s great for smaller hands. There are some neat sequencing patterns that are easy to catch on to. This piece is great for students who want to play something fast and showy.
Chill Part 1 and Chill Part 2 by Will Baily
Chill Part 1 and Chill Part 2 are the grand finale of the first Way Cool Keyboarding by Debra Perez and Will Baily. I use this book with most of my later beginners and adults and I’ve never had a student who didn’t love learning Chill as they finished up the book. Chill Part 1 and Chill Part 2 can each stand alone as a solo, but they can also be played simultaneously as a piano duo.
Chill features the very common 1-5-8 pattern in the left hand and it helps students get really comfortable moving their left hand in that octave position to various starting points.
Both versions of Chill have beautiful flowing melodies and use just the right range of notes to help students create a really full and satisfying sound.
Castles Burning by Will Baily
Castles Burning can be found on willbailypianotunes.com. This site is a great resource for piano teachers and piano learners. For just $30, you can access Will’s full library of piano sheet music. There are tons of gems in there!
Castles Burning is one of my favorite pieces to teach students who have recently learned Chill. It has a similar left hand pattern as Chill with a surprise flat harmony. The right hand a haunting melodic pattern that students can easily pick up on.
Great Smoky Mountains by David Carr Glover
Great Smoky Mountains by David Carr Glover has a big, broad, majestic sound. It’s another piece that might look intimidating on the page, but students easily find the patterns in the chords and arpeggios that run up and down the piano. I’ve never had a student not love this piece!
Dennison Depot Blues by Robert vandall
Dennison Depot Blues by Robert Vandall is a fun little blues piece full of swing rhythms and the typical blues patterns that you’d expect to find in this style. In this 3-page piece, each page intensifies a bit compared to the previous page to create a really dramatic ending.
This is a great solo for piano students who are interested in playing more jazzy and blues styles.
Monarch Mountain by kevin costley
Monarch Mountain by Kevin Costley has lyrical repeating patterns in the right hand with a moving bass line to add harmonic interest in the left hand. There are several patterns that will repeat as they climb higher on the piano.
Monarch Mountain combines subdued melodic moments with more dramatic arpeggiations. My students who enjoy that dreamy, lyrical music always do well with this piece.
Summer’s Nocturne by Catherine Rollin
Summer’s Nocturne by Catherine Rollin features a really beautiful, flowing melody in the right hand and arpeggiated chords in the left hand. The right hand melody has a lot of scale-like patterns that are somewhat like a sequence. The B section, which is faster with broken chords in 16th notes, creates a nice contrast to the mellow A section. This is another winner for students who love playing beautiful, flowing music.
Winter Winds by Chrissy Ricker
Winter Winds by Chrissy Ricker was a more recent discovery for me. It’s from Piano Pronto and another perfect option for students who love arpeggiated, flowing music. This piece includes many repeating, broken intervals split between the right and left hands as an introduction and coda. A beautiful melody sings out through most of the piece.
What are you favorite early intermediate solos for piano students? Tell us about it in a comment below!