Easy Marimba Songs For Beginners

Whether you’re a little intimidated to try classical pieces right now, or you’re a beginner looking to hone your technique, learning easy, popular songs is a great way to grow your skills as a marimba player.

In this guide, we’ll look at several easy marimba songs for beginners.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

Song year: 1975

Queen’s rock opera / progressive rock of “Bohemian Rhapsody” paved the way for many artists and songs to come. The song was even selected as one of “the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” by Rolling Stone.

The song was developed as a joke, which might explain why it played well in comedy films like Wayne’s World.

As the video above demonstrates, you may require four players to cover all the parts in the song. But you can learn one part at a time, even if you’re the only one playing it. It’s a long song, but it’s a worthwhile one.

“Hey Jude” by The Beatles

Song year: 1968

As the story goes, after John Lennon and his wife Cynthia separated, Paul McCartney began work on “Hey Jules,” and later “Hey Jude” to comfort their son Julian.

The original was a seven-minute epic and although many of us associate longer tunes with the 60s and 70s, the success of “Hey Jude” was revolutionary and ahead of the curve.

Every player should aspire to be able to add some Beatles to their repertoire, and “Hey Jude” is easy enough for a beginner to pick up.

“Oye Como Va” by Tito Puente

Song year: 1962

Santana was the one to bring “Oye Como Va” to the masses, but it was originally written and recorded by Tito Puente.

No matter which version you favor, the song is now a semi-permanent fixture in popular culture.

Thanks to its emphasis on rhythm, it makes for a great piece to learn on percussion instruments in general, including, of course, the marimba.

Beginner marimba technique

“We Will Rock You” by Queen

Song year: 1977

Revolving around the “stomp-stomp-clap-rest” rhythmic motif and a cappella vocals, Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is one of the greatest songs of all time. On the radio in the late 70s, “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You” were often played back-to-back, a phenomenon still observable today.

As the video demonstrates, there are some opportunities to get creative with the performance of “We Will Rock You” as a marimbaist.  And most importantly, it’s more than reasonable for a beginner to navigate.

“Yesterday” by The Beatles

Song year: 1965

As one of the most covered songs in music history, The Beatles’ “Yesterday” holds a special place in the minds of the listening public, as well as artists and musicians, alike.

The video above features a relatively unique arrangement, and probably not one a beginner will want to tackle off the bat. As with most things, though, learning the melody should not prove an uphill battle.

Plus, the warm tone of a marimba is perfectly complementary to this classic.

“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes

Song year: 2003

The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” became somewhat of a modern garage band classic. It’s not a hard song on guitar, and it just so happens that what is easy to play on one instrument is often easy to play on another.

The “less is more” approach demonstrated in the song didn’t exactly scream mainstream success, even before its release. But today it has been widely accepted as a sports arena anthem.

Have fun! Songs aren’t always as easy as this one.

“Theme from Mission: Impossible” by Lalo Schifrin

Song year: 1967

“Theme from Mission: Impossible” is likely the most recognizable spy song of all time. After originally appearing in the Mission: Impossible TV series, the song continues to penetrate media in every dimension, including TV, film, and video games.

It’s a little unusual for a song to be written in the 5/4 time signature and “Theme from Mission: Impossible” should be considered one of the top songs in the category.

There is much one can pick up from this song in terms of melody, harmony, and rhythm, and it’s well worth the effort because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that hard to play.

“Bad Habits” by Ed Sheeran

Song year: 2021

Critics panned Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits” for sounding a little too much like The Weeknd and Bronski Beat. Funny, I guess they never heard “Shape Of You,” because I feel like “Bad Habits” might be coming from that vantage point.

Despite criticism, the song did quite all right. It was released in place of slower, sadder acoustic songs as Sheeran didn’t feel that’s what the world needed upon the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in England in early 2021.

The dance-pop of “Bad Habits” isn’t too hard to master on the marimba. The only thing to watch out for is the rapid-fire melody, especially in the chorus.

Learning the marimba

“James Bond Theme” by Monty Norman

Song year: 1962

Speaking of famous spy themes, you certainly can’t ignore Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme.” The composition borrows heavily from jazz, big band, and even surf music, and as with most spy music, it uses plenty of chromatics to convey a sense of suspense.

The song demonstrates plenty of sophistication harmonically, but most of the parts, taken in isolation, are easy to play.

“James Bond Theme” should prove a ton of fun to pick and play.

“Peaches” by Justin Bieber ft. Daniel Caesar, Giveon

Song year: 2021

The concept for “Peaches” came together when Justin Bieber was hanging out with Shawn Mendes and Andrew Watt, at Watt’s house. Having jammed out a beat and some chords, the song was further refined and developed by a team of people.

The laid-back hit is mostly about Bieber, Caesar, and Giveon’s successful relationships.

The song is about as simplistic as it sounds, and it’s a good one for beginners to groove on.

“Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish

Song year: 2019

“Bad Guy” may be Billie Eilish’s fifth single off When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? but today it’s practically the song she’s best remembered for.

The song follows the female empowerment movement modern female pop artists have become known for, and in “Bad Guy” Eilish asserts her dominance over an alleged “bad guy.”

Subject matter notwithstanding, the song is easily replicated on the marimba.

Marimba practice online

“Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd

Song year: 2019

The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” went on to become one of the longest-charting songs of all time by a solo artist.

Among the ranks of songwriters and producers who worked on this release, you will find the legendary Max Martin’s name, which likely played no small part in its overall success. Honestly, it has become a fast-established formula for The Weeknd.

Its synth riffs and melodies alike are not that hard to transfer over to the marimba.

“The Scientist” by Coldplay

Song year: 2002

Coldplay’s “The Scientist” was a critical and commercial success. The piano ballad was written by lead singer Chris Martin on an out-of-tune piano after he had listened to George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass.

He was originally working on Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity” when inspiration struck, and Martin arrived at the chord sequence heard in “The Scientist.”

The song’s slower tempo certainly helps with learning it.

“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson

Song year: 1983

One of Michael Jackson’s most important albums is Thriller, and one of the most important songs from the album is none other than “Billie Jean.”

As with most if not all tunes on Thriller, “Billie Jean” was developed to the point of being possibly a little overwrought, but the results speak for themselves – practically every aspect of the song is iconic, including the music video, which is among the top 100 all-time global music videos.

Every marimbist should benefit from studying “Billie Jean.”

“Stand by Me” by Ben E. King

Song year: 1961

Singer-songwriter Ben E. King had a strong foundation in church music. He’d had thoughts of updating Charles Albert Tindley’s hymn, “Stand by Me,” though he hadn’t thought to record it himself.

After the Drifters passed on his new rendition, King would end up recording it himself after he was asked if he had any more songs at a 1960 recording session.

The result, of course, is a near-timeless hit, with an unforgettable bassline.

Marimba step by step

“Viva la Vida” by Coldplay

Song year: 2008

Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” won not one but two Grammy Awards. The song explores the contrast between the need for government, law, and regulation on one side, and the meaninglessness of it in light of the fact that people are emotional creatures and will one day pass on.

The upbeat “Viva la Vida” would go on to become a critical and commercial success. Its rhythmic patterns and melodies alike are well worth studying on the marimba.

“Beat It” by Michael Jackson

Song year: 1983

Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” features an essential rock guitar riff played by Steve Lukather. The guitar solo, of course, was played by none other than the incomparable Eddie Van Halen.

Its brilliance is sometimes easy to overlook when you’ve heard the song dozens if not hundreds of times, but it’s a work of genius through and through.

It’s not too much of a hassle to play on the marimba either.

“Come as You Are” by Nirvana

Song year: 1992

“Come as You Are” is considered one of “the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” by Rolling Stone. After the unexpected success of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the band and management debated what song to release next. Ultimately, management persuaded Cobain to prioritize the release of “Come as You Are.”

Cobain is sometimes considered one-of-a-kind, but like any artist, he had his share of influences as well. Have a listen to Killing Joke’s “Eighties.” You’ll probably notice some similarities between “Come as You Are” and it.

For beginners, it’s another very easy song to take on.

Marimba student exercises

“Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol

Song year: 2006

In the alternative rock scene, Snow Patrol was nearly matchless in 2006 with “Chasing Cars” taking over the airwaves.

The slow, sentimental ballad had everyone wishing their significant other would lay with them and just forget the world.

The song’s gentle melody lends itself beautifully to marimba.

Easy Marimba Songs, Final Thoughts

The above songs should keep you busy for a while, especially if you decide to learn all the parts (not just the melodies). We wish you all the best on your marimba journey.

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