5 Intermediate Piano Pieces for Adults (by living composers!)
One of the biggest challenges faced by intermediate-level adult pianists is finding repertoire that's both accessible and sophisticated. Easier pieces—frequently written for children—can lack depth, and the challenging music adults long to play can feel frustratingly out of reach. Add in complications such as small hands, mobility issues, or limited practice time, and the search becomes even more difficult.
These five pieces by living composers are ones I know well. They’re short and sophisticated. They contain no reaches larger than an octave. They’ve all been recorded and can be listened to on streaming services or YouTube. They all have a tune and a beat. They’re gems that, once learned, can be enjoyed for a lifetime.
Children’s Song No. 4
Composer: Chick Corea (b. 1941)
From: Children’s Songs, 20 pieces for keyboard
Description: Corea is best known for his jazz works, but this collection is one that he wrote to convey the spirit of the child. “Children’s Song No. 4”, with its repeated left hand pattern and haunting right hand melody, is hypnotically beautiful and has the benefit of sounding much more challenging than it is.
Composer: Arvo Pärt (b. 1935)
Publisher: Universal Edition
Description: This haunting piece is justifiably one of Pärt’s most famous. It’s empty, haunting, and almost more a celebration of silence than the few notes written in this spare score. Performing this piece requires the pianist to settle into stillness, accept the beauty in simplicity, and play the space around the notes more than the notes themselves.
Composer: Dave Deason (b. 1945)
From: Postcards for Piano
Description: The evocative title describes the piece well. “Gossamer Moon” is atmospheric, free, and a one-page example of modern notation (no bar lines, no time signature, lots and lots of pedal) that pianists can tailor to their own interpretation. It’s the natural choice for pianists who want to co-create a piece with the composer.
Composer: Philip Glass (b. 1937)
From: Metamorphosis 1-5
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Description: Philip Glass is one of the best-known Minimalist composers and “Metamorphosis 1” is one of his better-known piano pieces. With a repeated LH pattern and RH melody, this piece’s hypnotic evolution through chord changes is a crowd-pleaser that’s deeply satisfying to play.
Composer: David von Kampen (b. 1986)
From: 12 Very Short Pieces for Solo Piano
Description: Looking for a jazz piece that is accessible, short, and sophisticated? “My Tree” is just one of twelve perfect jewel-box pieces in this collection. This is grown-up real jazz, not typical student fare. It’s perfect for the player who wants an authentic jazz sound but isn’t advanced enough to play transcriptions.