How to play piano like Billy Joel

Do you want to know how to play piano like Billy Joel?

The typical answer might be to learn his songs and copy his style.

But that won’t get you playing like Billy Joel. You might have fun doing that, and yes, it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

However…. To really play like Billy Joel, you’ll need to become interested in some of the same music that the Piano Man himself is interested in. And in fact, it’s a perhaps surprisingly wide array of music and it’s made Billy Joel into the musician he is today.

For instance, one of the biggest influences on Mr. Joel has been early ragtime and stride piano. Not only has he composed a piece titled “Root Beer Rag,” but the lively rhythms of this style permeate much of his playing, even when he’s accompanying himself singing rock and pop songs.

Billy recently gave us a big taste of this side of his playing while he was recently riding his motorcycle and saw a piano abandoned by the side of the street. He pulled over and began to “tickle the ivories” with an old song in genuine stride piano style.

Check it out – he sounds right out of the roaring 1920s!

Billy Joel Plays discarded piano on Long Island street

Going further, take out a book of ragtime piano music and some old pop standards from the 1920s and give it a try yourself. Not only will you be on your way to sounding more like Billy Joel, you’re guaranteed to have a great time along the way!

Another way to sound like Billy Joel is to develop true fluency as an improviser. If you haven’t yet started my Rock Piano for Beginner’s Workout Challenge on YouTube, here’s the first session. Some pianists have already reported improving more in a month than they have in years.

Day One: 31-Day Rock Piano for Beginners Workout Challenge!

I enjoy Billy Joel’s music and can imitate him very well when I need to. Yet I’ve never studied his music in depth. Instead, I’ve been influenced by music of the same music as he’s been influenced by, and I’ve developed improvisational fluency in the same way as he has. That’s the way to truly develop your musical individuality and also appreciate a wonderful pianist like him.

Have fun with these videos, and “let the music flow!”


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