Can You Learn Piano Without Sheet Music?

Wondering if you can learning piano without sheet music? The main way most people learn to play piano is to read music and reproduce music. But it doesn't have to be the only way. 

Here are two other ways you can learn to play piano without sheet music - one is quite quick and both are possible. 

2 Ways You Can Learn Piano Without Sheet Music

There are two main ways you can go if you want to start playing but aren't interested in reading music at this point. 

  1. Learn To Play Piano Chords
  2. Learn to Play By Ear

Video: How To Learn Piano Without Having to Read Music

Learning To Play By Piano Chords

The way I would recommend you learn piano if you don't want to read music, is to learn piano chords. 

When you learn to play chords, you get a chord and lyric sheet (if it's a song with words) like:

Perfect Chord Sheet, Ed Sheeran

Can't Help Falling In Love Chord Sheet, Elvis

Once you get past the guitar part (the tabs), you'll see chord names above the lyrics. These chords let you know that you need to play the notes that are in that chord - and you can also add in melody or whatever else you think sounds good. And then you change what you're playing at the next chord listed. 

What playing chords basically boils down to is instead of given written music to play, you are given a chord which has specific notes to play

Chord Explanation Quote

You can then play these notes however you want to in whichever style you want. 

It's a much faster way to learn to play piano because you are working with a few notes directly on the piano and playing them how you like. This is quite different than reproducing something exactly as written by someone else. 

Interested In Learning More About Chords?

If playing chords appeals to you or you're ready to learn more about it, sign up for a free copy of the Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet below

This will give you a huge list of piano chords. If you're a true beginner, this is fine. You will get some basic learn piano emails from me there - or you can get the free Beginners Guide if you are just getting yourself set up to learn piano. (This helps you pick your direction and learn the basics.)

I teach an online course on chords which teaches everything you need to know to play them and you'll hear about that if you get either of the guides - just choose the one best suited to you.

Piano Chords Course Banner

Free Download:

Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet

Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet

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    Learn To Play Piano By Ear

    Another way you can learn to play piano without sheet music is to learn to play by ear. 

    Learning to play piano by ear basically means you listen and then try to play what you hear. 

    Playing By Ear is a Skill Not A Talent

    A common misconception here is that playing any instrument by ear comes from those who are just gifted. And that's just not true. 

    This doesn't come easily to some, but it is something you can learn.

    If you are:

    • musical
    • can hear the difference between notes
    • can sing in tune

    This is a possibility for you. 

    This would work better than chords for you if you're trying to replicate songs you hear, note by note. For example, songs from a movie (there's one from Twilight that is still very popular). 

    You can also learn chords by ear but having an understanding of music and keys is much more helpful with chords. 

    I have written more on learning piano by ear here.


    Can you learn to play piano without sheet music?



    Learn to play piano chords. 

    Lear to play by ear. 

    Download Piano Chord Cheat Sheet

    FAQ for Playing Piano Without Sheet Music

    1. Is it possible to play piano without sheet music?

    Yes, it's certainly possible to play piano without sheet music. Many pianists learn to play by ear, improvise, or use chord charts, lead sheets, or other forms of notation.

    2. What does it mean to play piano by ear?

    Playing piano by ear means being able to hear a piece of music and reproduce it on the piano without needing to read sheet music. This skill can be developed through ear training exercises and practice.

    3. What are chord charts and how can they help me play without sheet music?

    Chord charts provide a simplified form of musical notation that indicates the chords to be played but not the specific notes. They're commonly used in pop, jazz, and folk music and can be a great tool for playing without sheet music.

    4. How can I learn to play piano by ear?

    To learn to play by ear, start by practicing listening to music more actively. Try to identify melodies, chords, and rhythms by ear. You can also use ear training apps or software to practice recognizing intervals, chords, and scales.

    5. What is a lead sheet?

    A lead sheet is a type of musical notation that includes the melody, lyrics, and chord symbols of a song but not the specific arrangement of notes that make up the accompaniment. Lead sheets are often used in jazz and pop music.

    6. Can I play classical music without sheet music?

    While classical music often requires the detailed notation found in sheet music, it's possible to play simpler classical pieces by ear or from memory once you're familiar with them. I would generally say that you do need to read music to play classical pieces.Answer

    7. Is it important to memorize music?

    Memorizing music can be beneficial as it allows you to focus more on your technique and interpretation rather than reading the notes. However, it's not necessary for all types of playing, especially for those who play in styles that involve improvisation or reading from lead sheets or chord charts.

    8. How can I improve my musical memory

    You can improve your musical memory by practicing regularly, breaking the piece down into small sections, understanding the structure of the music, and making a mental map of the piece. Active listening and ear training can also enhance your musical memory.

    9. Do I need to know music theory to play piano without sheet music?

    Understanding basic music theory can be very helpful when playing without sheet music as it provides a framework for understanding chords, scales, and musical structure. However, many people are able to play by ear or improvise without a deep understanding of music theory.

    10. What are some good songs to try to learn without sheet music?

    Good songs to learn without sheet music are ones with a simple melody and chord structure. Many pop songs fit this criteria. Examples might include "Let It Be" by The Beatles, "Imagine" by John Lennon, or "Someone Like You" by Adele. Choose a song you enjoy and are familiar with to start.

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