The Easiest Chopin Pieces (And the most difficult)

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In today’s episode of PianoTV, I want to discuss the easiest Chopin pieces, and the ones to avoid until you’re very skilled. So much of Chopin’s music is extremely difficult, and even his easiest pieces are at an intermediate-early advanced level.

If you’ve been wanting to learn Chopin but don’t know where to start, this should be helpful to you. This is where I start my students off with Chopin as well, so I’ve test-driven these pieces in real life.

I’ll be using the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) for when I refer to “grades” – ABRSM is similar, it just doesn’t go as high.

Chopin song categories

I think the easiest way to do this is break his compositions into genre categories, like so:

Preludes
Waltzes
Polonaises
Mazurkas
Nocturnes
Etudes
Ballades
Other

And talk about which are the easiest Chopin pieces in each of those categories, and which ones are best avoided until you’ve got mad skillz.

Easiest Chopin Pieces: Start from the beginning

If you’re not sure if you’re at a late-intermediate level (and therefore ready for Chopin), start with one of his easiest pieces (which we’ll talk about below), and see if it’s a huge struggle. If it is, give yourself some time before returning to it and try again. Most students need an absolute minimum of 3 years experience before attempting these.

Chopin’s Preludes

The preludes seem very approachable because they’re all pretty short – most of them are about a page in length. Some of them truly are approachable – others are a complete nightmare.

The easiest preludes are:

Prelude in C minor (op. 28 no. 20) – gr. 6 RCM
Prelude in E minor (op. 28 no. 4) – gr. 7 RCM
Prelude in B minor (op. 28 no. 6) – gr. 8 RCM

Beyond that, there are quite a few preludes that are approachable at a grade 9-10 level, but some go even beyond that (in my opinion), like the Eb major prelude, op. 28 no. 19.

Chopin’s Waltzes

One of the first Chopin pieces I teach my students is his Waltz in A minor, since it’s very well-known, it’s very approachable, and has some fancy show-off parts too.

Beyond that, his waltzes really aren’t easy. Some of the best ones, like his op. 64 waltzes, are around a grade 9 level, but Chopin is so nuanced that it’s really only a good idea to try those once you’ve been acquainted with his style.

Chopin’s easiest waltzes:

Waltz in A minor, op. posth. B 150 – grade 6 RCM
Waltz in A flat major, op. 69 no. 1 “L’adieu” – grade 8 RCM
Waltz in B minor, op. 69, no. 2 – grade 8 RCM

Wait for later: Grande Valse Brilliante, op. 18. Since this tune is so catchy, people sometimes think it isn’t very challenging – it’s definitely one of his most difficult waltzes (ARCT level), so consider yourself warned.

Chopin’s Polonaises

With the exception of a few Polonaises (which I’ll show you below), most of Chopin’s Polonaises are very advanced, beyond the waltzes. There are many that are at a grade 10 level and beyond. His easiest ones were all published posthumously (after he died), so that’s something to consider as well.

Chopin’s easiest Polonaises:

Polonaise in B flat major, op. posth. B3 – Grade 7 RCM
Polonaise in G minor, op. posth. B1 – Grade 7 RCM
Polonaise in A flat major, op. posth. B5 – Grade 8 RCM

Chopin’s Mazurkas

None of Chopin’s Mazurkas are particularly easy – you’d be better off starting with the easier preludes and waltzes first. But once you’ve got a few Chopin pieces under your belt, here are a few good ones to try:

Mazurka in A minor, op 68 posth. no 2 – grade 8 RCM
Mazurka in A minor, op 7 no 2 – grade 8 RCM
Mazurka in G minor, op 67 posth. no 2 – grade 8 RCM

Overall, his Mazurkas are mid-range pieces – early advanced to advanced, most between a grade 8-10 level.

Chopin’s Nocturnes

Chopin’s nocturnes are almost entirely out of reach until you’re at an early advanced level. They range in difficulty from grade 9 – ARCT (which is basically the highest level). There is one nocturne you can attempt if you’ve had success with some of the previous Chopin suggestions, though:

Nocturne in G minor, op 15 no 3 – grade 8 RCM

Beyond that, save the nocturnes for later.

That concludes our list of the easiest Chopin pieces (They’re all listed together at the end of this post as well). Now we turn to the categories that you don’t even want to look at funny unless you’re quite advanced.

Chopin’s Etudes

Nope, don’t even bother. With the exception of one etude at a grade 10 level (the one in F minor, no. 2), all of them are ARCT level. These are up there with some of the most difficult piano repertoire of all time. Save these pieces for dreams and later goals.

Chopin’s Ballades

The ballades are just as challenging as the etudes, at an ARCT level. They’re beautiful and amazing, but out of reach to all but the very advanced players.

Chopin’s Other Songs

Some very famous Chopin pieces include his Fantaisie-Impromptu and his Scherzos, all of which are extremely difficult (at an ARCT level). Like the Ballades and Etudes, save these ones for when you’re a master.

The Five Easiest Chopin Pieces

So now that we’ve looked at Chopin’s main categories, let’s look at the top 5 easiest of all of them. We’ll go in order from easiest to hardest.

  1. Prelude in C minor, op. 28 no. 20 – grade 6 RCM

Part of what makes this song easiest is that it’s only half a page long, and extremely slow. It might be more difficult if you have small hands, since there are constant big chords and octaves in both hands.

  1. Waltz in A minor, op. posth. B150 – grade 6 RCM

The chord patterns in this waltz are very doable at an intermediate level. The hardest part about this tune is the wide melody leaps, and the frills and trills. It’s got lots of repetition which is helpful.

  1. Prelude in E minor, op. 28, no. 4 – grade 7 RCM

If you’re comfortable with chords, this one isn’t too hard. I’ve always found this one pretty easy to sight read, especially with the right hand being so sparse. There’s a challenging section in the middle, but with this one the biggest challenge lies in conveying a mood and keeping the dynamics moving (so it doesn’t sound flat).

  1. Polonaise in G minor, op. posth. B1 – grade 7 RCM

Both polonaises are very similar in difficulty – I find this one just slightly easier. There are some very fast arpeggios and lots of light movement which make this one challenging.

  1. Polonaise in B flat major, op. posth. B3 – grade 7 RCM

This one is very similar to the Gm polonaise in difficulty, but this one has fast LH rocking octaves and more movement, which is why I consider it slightly harder.

Easiest chopin pieces (top 13)

Now I’ll give you a complete list of the easiest Chopin pieces we talked about (beyond the top 5). I’ll make this list available on the blog post if you want to reference it.

Prelude in C minor (op. 28 no. 20) – gr. 6 RCM
Waltz in A minor, op. posth. B 150 – grade 6 RCM
Prelude in E minor (op. 28 no. 4) – gr. 7 RCM
Polonaise in G minor, op. posth. B1 – Grade 7 RCM
Polonaise in B flat major, op. posth. B3 – Grade 7 RCM
Prelude in B minor (op. 28 no. 6) – gr. 8 RCM
Waltz in A flat major, op. 69 no. 1 “L’adieu” – grade 8 RCM
Waltz in B minor, op. 69, no. 2 – grade 8 RCM
Polonaise in A flat major, op. posth. B5 – Grade 8 RCM
Mazurka in A minor, op 68 posth. no 2 – grade 8 RCM
Mazurka in A minor, op 7 no 2 – grade 8 RCM
Mazurka in G minor, op 67 posth. no 2 – grade 8 RCM
Nocturne in G minor, op 15 no 3 – grade 8 RCM

Conclusionvcover0166

And those, my friends, are the easiest Chopin pieces. Don’t despair if you find even the easiest among them quite difficult – if you haven’t been playing piano for long, you might want to save these ones for later. There are a lot of nuances in these pieces that make them very difficult for beginners.

But don’t be afraid to try them, either! Chopin is a blast to play.

xo,
Allysia

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Allysia has been teaching piano in Canada for nearly a decade, and has her Grade 10 RCM certificate. She especially enjoys nerding out to music history and theory. When she’s not making videos or teaching, she’s reading, writing, and jamming in a rock band.