Easy Czerny Etudes for Beginners (piano)

Introduction

Carl Czerny was an Austrian pianist, teacher, and composer of Czech origin who lived from 1791 to 1857. Over his lifetime, he wrote many works for the piano (over a 1000) and many of these are widely used today by students learning to play the piano. I myself played many of his compositions in the past and remember really enjoying them. Now as a teacher, I find teaching them to my students just as enjoyable, not to mention useful in developing their piano technique and helping them grow as pianists. In this article, I have gathered six of (what I think are) his best etudes for beginning piano students. All of these etudes are also featured in the RCM (Royal Conservatory) curriculum for piano students. Enjoy!

#1. Etude in C Major, op. 261, no. 3

QUICK FACTS
  • Key: C Major
  • Time: 3/8
  • Tempo: Allegro (fast)
  • Ability Level: RCM Level 2 – beginner
  • Technical focus: even touch and sustained bass notes
  • My personal rating: 5/5 (love it!)

WHAT STUDENTS MIGHT FIND DIFFICULT:

  • The tempo.  Allegro is not an easy tempo for beginners and lots of slow practice is required to make the piece sound well at this tempo.

  • Sustained bass note. The LH rhythm here requires us to hold a bass note with finger 5 while playing two other notes on top. Students should practice LH by itself plenty of times in order to get the hang of this rhythm.

#2. Etude in F Major, op. 777, no. 22

QUICK FACTS
  • Key: F Major
  • Time: 3/4
  • Tempo: Allegro (fast)
  • Ability Level: RCM Level 3 – high beginner
  • Technical focus: grace notes
  • My personal rating: 5/5 (love it!)

WHAT STUDENTS MIGHT FIND DIFFICULT:

  • The tempo.  Allegro is not an easy tempo for beginners and lots of slow practice is required to make the piece sound well at this tempo.

  • Grace notes. For the majority of beginning students, this will likely be the first time they encounter grace notes in music. This is a great opportunity to learn what they are and practice playing them.

#3. Etude in D Minor, op. 261, no. 53

QUICK FACTS
  • Key: D Minor
  • Time: 4/4
  • Tempo: Allegro (fast)
  • Ability Level: RCM Level 3 – high beginner
  • Technical focus: broken chords divided between hands
  • My personal rating: 4/5 (very nice)

WHAT STUDENTS MIGHT FIND DIFFICULT:

  • The tempo.  Allegro is not an easy tempo for beginners and lots of slow practice is required to make the piece sound well at this tempo.

  • LH RH Timing. The trick here is to make each chord sound as if it’s being played by one hand, even though in reality it’s broken up between two hands. This will require good timing so that the hands can transition seamlessly from one to another.

#4. Etude in C Major, op. 261, no. 81

QUICK FACTS
  • Key: C Major
  • Time: 2/4
  • Tempo: Allegro (fast)
  • Ability Level: RCM Level 3 – high beginner
  • Technical focus: arpeggios divided between hands, hand crossing
  • My personal rating: 5/5 (love it!)

WHAT STUDENTS MIGHT FIND DIFFICULT:

  • The tempo.  Allegro is not an easy tempo for beginners and lots of slow practice is required to make the piece sound well at this tempo.

  • Hand crossing. For beginning piano students, this might their first introduction to the crossing of hands, which might be awkward at first. However, it’s very important skill to develop for more advanced pieces in the future.

#5. Etude in E Major, op. 139, no. 66

QUICK FACTS
  • Key: E Major
  • Time: 4/4
  • Tempo: Lento cantabile (slow, in a singing style)
  • Ability Level: RCM Level 4 – high beginner
  • Technical focus: LH broken chords with held notes 
  • My personal rating: 5/5 (love it!)

WHAT STUDENTS MIGHT FIND DIFFICULT:

  • The key. The four sharps in the key signature might be a bit of a challenge for beginning piano students.

  • LH rhythm. The alberti bass-like rhythm in LH involves playing eighth notes over a sustained half note. This might be a bit tricky at first, as it requires fingers to work independently from one another. Practicing LH by itself is very advisable here.

#6. Etude in G Major, op. 823, no. 53

QUICK FACTS
  • Key: G Major
  • Time: 3/8
  • Tempo: Vivace (lively)
  • Ability Level: RCM Level 4 – high beginner
  • Technical focus: LH broken chords & RH grace notes 
  • My personal rating: 5/5 (love it!)

WHAT STUDENTS MIGHT FIND DIFFICULT:

  • The tempo. The indicated tempo of Vivace (156-176 bpm) will likely be the main challenge here, as students will require a lot of precision and good hand coordination to play the piece well at this speed. Make sure to emphasize slow practice and gradual speed increase.

  • Grace notes. For many beginning students, this may be the first time they encounter bass notes. Here is a good opportunity to practice their correct execution.

  • LH part. The sixteenth-note alberti bass in LH, combined with the vivace tempo, has to be played evenly and with correct emphasis of the strong beat. Students might want to practice the LH alone for a while to get this rhythm just right.

* Want to get the most out of your practicing? Take a look at our “5 Best Practice Tips for Music Students”

* Wondering if your child is gifted in music? Take a look at: “6 Signs Your Child Is Musically Gifted”

* Learn everything you need to know about RCM exams with our  “RCM Exams: Your Complete Guide”