Looking to sharpen your accordion-playing skills? Tired of playing the same scale exercises and drills repeatedly? Ready to try your hand at a few easy songs?
If you’re a beginner, it’s recommended that you make the process of practice more enjoyable by picking up some of your favorite songs.
In this guide, we look at an array of easy accordion songs for beginners – classical, pop, rock, funk, R&B, and more.
“Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye feat. Kimbra
Song year: 2011
From lover to stranger. Gotye’s “Somebody That I Use to Know” explores these unsettling and uncomfortable feelings in graphic detail. But all I’ve got to say to the narrator is “Get out of there!”
I know “Somebody That I Used to Know” best for the Walk off the Earth version, which I prefer (it’s always cool watching five people playing the guitar).
Either way, the song layers together several simple parts, which you can learn individually or mix. Accordion player Lucy Riddett, seen in the video above, found the song easy enough to play on accordion, glockenspiel, and tambourine simultaneously.
“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
Song year: 1984
Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen must have been on to the fact that he was writing a timeless classic with “Hallelujah.” He dedicated considerable time and energy to the lyrics, drafting about 150 verses in the process.
“Hallelujah” has more than a few teachable moments, though. The way the melody ascends and descends and responds to the chord progression is something I would love every student to pay attention to.
“Ode to Joy” by Ludwig van Beethoven
Song year: 1786
A bit of classical music never hurt anyone. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” is a song most if not all musicians study at some point. Its melody has essentially weaved itself into the very fabric of culture.
As a beginner, it’s best to keep it simple, focusing on learning the melody first and foremost. As the video above demonstrates, though, you can advance to more sophisticated versions with practice. To be fair, that is true of most tunes.
“Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” by Doris Day
Song year: 1956
Doris Day’s “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” is well recognized across the world. The song originally appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Man Who Knew Too Much. Day would go on to sing it in various TV and film appearances.
Although the title phrase sounds vaguely Spanish, it was quite possibly an unnatural word-for-word translation and it’s not a proper Spanish phrase. While it’s been associated with fatalistic philosophy, I don’t think that’s the song’s point. I think of it as being like Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
Anyway, its 3/4 time signature plays very nicely on the accordion.
“Viva La Vida” by Coldplay
Song year: 2008
Apparently most popular Coldplay songs are easy to play on most instruments, but is anyone surprised by that?
The great thing about “Viva La Vida” is its rhythmic pattern, which is something every student should learn. It can be a useful pattern in other situations, and of course, it can be adapted to suit your purposes as well. If you want to be able to write your songs, take note.
The melody to “Viva La Vida” sounds especially cheerful on an accordion.
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
Song year: 1987
It may appear an unexpected choice for the accordion, but that’s what makes it fun! Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” remains a staple in rock band repertoire to this day. And its “finger exercise” inspired intro will certainly give your right hand a good workout as well.
From students who eventually want to play in rock bands to those who just like the song, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” offers just enough challenge to be a great song for beginners to tackle.
“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
Song year: 1969
The gentle sunshine of The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” translates nicely over to the accordion. While it’s recommended that you practice all songs at a slower tempo, “Here Comes the Sun” already features a moderate tempo that gives you more time to adjust your fingerings as you’re performing it.
Beatles songs are excellent for music education because the band laid the foundation for pop music as we know it today. Guaranteed the skills you learn here will transfer nicely over to other songs.
“The Scientist” by Coldplay
Song year: 2002
“The Scientist” is one of Coldplay’s more emotionally evocative breakup tunes, and the music fits the message to a tee.
The song sounds great on the accordion, though to be honest most songs do! If you’re a Coldplay fan this would be a good one to try. You should have a lot of fun learning it.
“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
Song year: 1983
Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” is beyond iconic. Jackson’s deliberate move toward a darker sound on Thriller paid off in spades. The song is a product of its time, but it was unmistakably one of the best (if not the best) in the genre.
Many songs on Thriller took a less is more approach, and that’s evident in “Billie Jean” too. The main thing driving the song is the bassline as synthesizer and guitar layers come and go.
The video above demonstrates a fun interpretation of the song featuring four layered parts – percussion, bass, rhythm, and melody / lead. You may not be able to play a more complex version like that right away, but you should be able to pick up individual parts relatively quickly.
“Superman (It’s Not Easy)” by Five for Fighting
Song year: 2001
The piano-driven balladry of “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” captivated an early 2000s listening audience. Its pop appeal is quite immediate, and doubtless, Five for Fighting’s falsetto vocals had something to do with it too.
The song features a chord progression piano players find very easy. And that means it shouldn’t prove too much trouble on the accordion either. For any student looking to decode how to play modern pop songs, this song will teach you some of the ins and outs.
“Let It Be” by The Beatles
Song year: 1970
For keyboard instruments, The Beatles’ “Let It Be” is considered one of their easier songs to play. Its gentle tempo might have something to do with that. It’s also mostly white keys in the right hand, which can make life easier, especially if you want to improvise in any capacity.
“Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” by Train
Song year: 2001
Many would consider the piano-driven “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” a gem of the early 2000s. The song features a simple construction, but the songwriting is on point. Have a listen to the lyrics and decide for yourself.
For your right hand, it’s all white keys, which is one of the things that makes “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” a beginner-friendly tune.
“Clocks” by Coldplay
Song year: 2003
Coldplay’s “Clocks” has got that adventurous, “gliding through dimensions” kind of vibe to it, doesn’t it? Some even consider it one of the best songs of the early 2000s. Vocalist Chris Martin said the song’s main riff was inspired by the English progressive rock outfit Muse.
What gives the song its trademark sound is a mode of the major scale known as the Mixolydian scale. While it might be a little early to delve too deep into music theory as a beginner, the song is great for being introduced to the concept.
“Imagine” by John Lennon
Song year: 1971
Can you imagine? Well, many people could because John Lennon’s “Imagine” endures to this day. While you may not agree with its idealist philosophy, we’ve all thought about what it would be like to live in a better world.
This song is considered very easy to play on the piano, and not that every song that’s easy on the piano is also easy on the accordion, but in most cases, it gets you about halfway there.
“Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon
Song year: 1978
Sweet home Ala… Oh wait, this isn’t Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s Warren Zevon! Yep. There’s some similarity to the “Werewolves of London” chord progression as well as its rhythmic pattern, so maybe you could use “Werewolves of London” as a jumping-off point to learn “Sweet Home Alabama” too.
Either way, this is a fun song to learn and it’s highly recommended for beginners.
“Home Sweet Home” by Mötley Crüe
Song year: 1985
Mötley Crüe isn’t exactly a piano band, you know? But they weren’t afraid to take some risks, and power ballads were in vogue around the time “Home Sweet Home” was written.
The song is a very teachable moment for anyone learning the accordion, piano, or keyboard-based instruments. In addition to simple triad shapes, you’ll learn how to arpeggiate, play double stops, and more.
Learning these techniques and applying them elsewhere will add spice to your playing, guaranteed. Generally, you will deepen your learning by taking concepts and techniques and making them your own.
“Yesterday” by The Beatles
Song year: 1965
The Beatles’ “Yesterday” is largely considered an easy song to learn.
The entire Beatles catalog is an important bit of music history, but when it comes to “Yesterday,” there are over 2,200 known cover versions in existence, making it one of the most covered songs of all time.
The Lennon-McCartney team struck gold again with a sad song about breakups (though it is effectively a McCartney tune, as the melody came to him in his dreams – or so the story goes). Breakup songs can do very well on the charts. Noted.
“Endless Love” by Diana Ross feat. Lionel Richie
Song year: 1981
Listen closely to the melody of this song, and you might just notice some similarities to The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” Didn’t I say that The Beatles set the foundation for pop music to come? It’s everywhere if you start listening.
“Endless Love” will have an endless association with one of the best comedy films of all time, Happy Gilmore. And as far as romantic duets are concerned, there are few more iconic.
“I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz
Song year: 2008
Get out your straw hat, sunglasses, and flip-flops, because we’re about to head to the beach for a relaxing day in the sun.
Jason Mraz’ “I’m Yours” gives you instant island vacation vibes, and while the comparison to “similar” artists like Jack Johnson was inevitable, I’ve always felt that Mraz had more depth to him, especially as a singer.
Anyway, if you know anyone who plays ukulele, “I’m Yours” could be a fun song to jam out with them too.
“Mamma Mia” by ABBA
Song year: 1975
I don’t think most accordion teachers would disagree with adding a bit of ABBA to your repertoire. “Mamma Mia” has got a fun ominous intro riff and a hooky chorus too.
“You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt
Song year: 2004
Is there a term for being Blunt trolled? Like Rickrolling? Bluntrolling! I just made that up, but I think it could stick. Spread it around. Share with your friends.
James Blunt’s teary, rainy-day declaration of “You’re Beautiful” is relatable, no doubt, and at the same time, very much a self-caricature at this point.
From the mystery of the repeating opening line “My life is brilliant” to the shirtless music video, it was either all carefully engineered, or just a lucky fluke (it was probably engineered).
Either way, “You’re Beautiful” is a good beginner-oriented song for accordion and keyboard instruments. So, it’s got that going for it.
“Another One Rides the Bus” by “Weird Al” Yankovic
Song year: 1983
“Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Another One Rides the Bus,” of course, is a parody of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” Whichever version you choose to learn, the essence remains the same, though Al’s version features the accordion and is much goofier.
The way Al plays it, the song mostly revolves around single-note riffs, which makes it perfect for a beginner to attempt. With any luck, you’ll be able to self-accompany and sing the vocals too. It’s fun!
“Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison
Song year: 1964
Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” is a mid-60s power pop classic. The iconic opening riff is something every musician should study, as there are so many other riffs like it in rock and roll history. Learning this riff will open doors to others.
You can play the main riff in the left hand as demonstrated in the video, but you can also learn the riff in the right hand and even play it together as octaves. If you listen carefully to the original, you’ll hear multiple instruments playing it in unison too.
Easy Accordion Songs For Beginners, Final Thoughts
In addition to songs covered here, there are plenty of traditional and novelty accordion favorites, more “Weird Al” Yankovic tunes, pop songs, and others, to explore. As you continue to improve on your instrument, it would be well worth checking out most if not all of these.
We hope you had fun and don’t forget to keep practicing. It may take some effort to learn your favorite songs but it’s worth the trouble. Happy trails!