How to Play Russian Folk Music on the Piano

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A beginner’s guide to playing Russian folk music on the piano.


Russian folk music is a rich and varied tradition that has been passed down through the generations. The music is often very emotional and can be quite challenging to play on the piano. However, with a little practice, you can develop the skills necessary to bring this beautiful music to life.

There are a few things to keep in mind when playing Russian folk music on the piano. First, it is important to learn how to read Russian sheet music. While this may seem daunting at first, there are a number of online resources that can help you get started. Once you have a basic understanding of how to read the music, you will be able to better understand the nuances of the pieces you are playing.

In addition, it is important to listen to as much Russian folk music as possible. This will help you get a feel for the rhythm and flow of the pieces. You may even want to purchase a recording of traditional Russian folk songs so that you can play along and get a better sense of how the music should sound.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with your own interpretation of the pieces you are playing. Russian folk music is very flexible and open to personal interpretation. As you become more familiar with the genre, you will likely find your own unique way of expressing yourself through the music.

What You Need

In order to play Russian folk music on the piano, you will need a few things. First, you will need a good piano. Russian pianos are often thought of as being among the best in the world, so if you can find a good Russian piano, that would be ideal. Second, you will need some sheet music. There are many different sources for Russian folk music sheet music, so you should be able to find something that suits your needs. Finally, you will need a good understanding of Russian folk music theory. This is not absolutely essential, but it will certainly make playing the music easier and more enjoyable.

Step One: Research

Before you can sit down at the piano and play Russian folk music, you need to do some research. This means finding out what type of music is considered Russian folk music, and what type of piano playing style is used to perform it. If you’re not already familiar with the sound of Russian folk music, take some time to listen to some recordings before you start trying to play it yourself. Once you have a good understanding of what you’re working with, you can start learning how to play it.

Step Two: Choose a Song

Now that you have an understanding of piano notes and basic chords, you can begin to play Russian folk songs. If you are a beginner, try choosing a song with simple chords and a slow tempo. As you become more comfortable with the piano, you can try playing faster-paced songs with more complicated chords.

One of the most popular Russian folk songs is “Kalinka.” This song is perfect for beginners because it uses only two chords—A minor and D7. The lyrics of “Kalinka” are also very simple, so you will be able to follow along easily as you play. If you are looking for a challenge, try “Tachanka,” which is a faster-paced song that uses a variety of chords.

Once you have chosen a song, take some time to familiarize yourself with the melody. You can do this by singing the melody out loud or by playing it on a different instrument. Once you have the melody memorized, you can begin to work on adding chords.

Step Three: Find the Notes

Now that you know the chords, it’s time to start playing the song. To do this, you’ll need to find the notes on the piano that correspond to each chord.

The first chord is C major, which consists of the notes C, E, and G. The easiest way to find these notes is to play the C major triad (C-E-G) in root position.

To find the next chord, D minor, look for the D note on the piano and play the D minor triad (D-F-A) in root position.

Continue this pattern for the remaining chords in the song: E7 (E-G#-B-D), A minor (A-C-E), and G major (G-B-D).

Step Four: Play the Song

Now that you have the sheet music in front of you, it’s time to start playing the song. Use the tips from steps one and two to help you play the song correctly. If you get stuck, go back and review the previous steps. With practice, you’ll be able to play Russian folk music on the piano like a pro!


We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to play Russian folk music on the piano! While it can be challenging to master this genre, it is ultimately very rewarding. With practice and patience, you’ll be playing like a pro in no time.

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