The nation's top piano tunes they wish they could play 

1 Oct 2023

Trinity College London has unveiled the results of a comprehensive nationwide study*, coinciding with the anticipation surrounding the upcoming BRIT Awards. The study sheds light on Britain's most beloved piano tunes that people wish they could play.  

According to the findings, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody reigns supreme as the nation's favourite, with an impressive 32% of respondents naming it their top pick. Following closely behind are Elton John's Your Song and John Lennon's Imagine, each capturing 24% of the votes. The Beatles' timeless classic Let It Be and Adele's soul-stirring ballad Someone Like You tie for fourth place at 19%. 

Delving deeper into the musical landscape, the study reveals a diverse array of favourites spanning various genres and eras. Noteworthy mentions include Oasis's Don’t Look Back in Anger and Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, each garnering 15% of the vote. And it’s not just modern songs to make the list of top 30 piano tunes, classical pieces including Spring from The Four Seasons by Vivaldi (12%), Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven (11%), Dance of the Little Swans from Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky (11%) and Land of Hope and Glory by Edward Elgar (six percent), feature alongside David Guetta and Sia’s pop classic, Titanium (eight percent) and Dr Dre’s hip hop anthem, Still D.R.E (seven percent). 

Dr. Francesca Christmas, Director of Music at Trinity College London, remarks on the significance of the findings, noting the piano's remarkable ability to bridge different genres and historical periods. With British artists prominently featured in the top 20 list, the study offers a glimpse into the nation's rich musical heritage and diverse cultural influences. 

Beyond mere listening (four in ten (42%) admitting they love listening and playing music, spending as many as 15 hours a week listening to music), the study also reflects a growing interest in musical education, which rings true against Trinity College London seeing a staggering 60% increase in piano enrolments since the onset of the pandemic.  

Despite the challenges posed by changing priorities and time constraints, the allure of music continues to inspire individuals of all ages to pursue their musical passions as online learning, digital examinations, private tuition and music centres make learning music more convenient and accessible. 

With over two thousand people participating in the study, the findings underscore the enduring appeal of music in our lives. As the nation eagerly awaits the BRIT Awards weekend, Trinity College London looks forward to celebrating the magic of music and the artists who bring it to life. 

Dr Francesca Christmas said: "The range of pieces, spanning from Vivaldi's classical Spring to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, showcases the piano's extraordinary capacity to bridge different genres and historical periods. This collection highlights the instrument's versatility and its ability to produce captivating music that resonates with a diverse audience across various ages and backgrounds.

“As a leading examination board, we recognise the need to offer a range of methods for people to learn and develop a love of music. We understand that the pieces people want to learn to play are not just tunes; they are narratives that evoke emotions and memories. This is why people are drawn to these songs. Playing them on the piano is a beautiful, immersive experience that transcends mere listening.

"Over half of the songs in the top 20 are performed by British artists. And with the BRIT Awards taking place this weekend, perhaps we'll see even more British performers on our future lists in the years to come." 

The top forty best piano we’d love to be able to play, according to Brits 

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen – 32%
  2. Your Song, Elton John – 24%
  3. Imagine, John Lennon – 24%
  4. Let It Be, The Beatles – 19%
  5. Someone Like You, Adele – 19%
  6. Can’t Help Falling in Love, Elvis Presley – 16%
  7. With or Without You, U2 – 15%
  8. Don’t Look Back in Anger, Oasis – 15%
  9. Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin – 15%
  10. All of Me, John Legend – 15%
  11. Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush – 14%
  12. Thinking Of You, Ed Sheeran – 14%
  13. My Heart Will Go On, Celine Dion - 13%
  14. Clocks, Coldplay – 13%
  15. Piano Man, Billy Joel – 13%
  16. Kiss From A Rose, Seal – 12%
  17. Spring from The Four Seasons, Vivaldi – 12%
  18. I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Marvin Gaye – 12%
  19. Rule The World, Take That – 12%
  20. Mad World, Tears For Fears – 11%
  21. Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison – 11%
  22. Moonlight Sonata, Beethoven – 11%
  23. Dance of the Little Swans from Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky – 11%
  24. With A Little Help From My Friends, Joe Cocker – 10%
  25. Fallin’, Alicia Keys – 10%
  26. I Don’t Like Mondays, The Boomtown Rats – 10%
  27. Happy, Pharrell Williams – 9%
  28. Clair de Lune, Debussy – 9%
  29. Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin – 9%
  30. Piano Concerto, Mozart – 8%
  31. Titanium, David Guetta ft. Sia – 8%
  32. Allegro from Symphony No. 5, Beethoven – 8%
  33. Nocturne in E Flat Major (Op.9, No.2), Chopin – 7%
  34. Read All About it, Pt III, Emelie Sande – 7%
  35. Jupiter from The Planets, Holst – 7%
  36. Still D.R.E, Dr Dre – 7%
  37. Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, John Williams – 7%
  38. Love You, Justin Bieber – 6%
  39. Just The Two Of Us, Bill Withers – 6%
  40. Land of Hope and Glory, Edward Elgar – 6%

Research findings 

  • Over 2,000 Brits took part in the study that revealed four in ten (42 percent) admitting they love listening and playing music, spending as many as 15 hours a week listening to tunes. 
  • Pop (31 percent), rock (20 percent), R’n’B (nine percent), Indie (eight percent) and soul (six percent) are the nation's favourite genres of music. 
  • Despite 92 percent admitting that people who can play an instrument are cool, just one in ten (12 percent) Brits currently play a musical instrument.
  • A further one in three (36 percent) would love to learn, while 33 percent did learn to play one when they were younger but gave up. 
  • Changing priorities (46 percent), not enough time to practise (32 percent), not having the patience to practise enough (31 percent) and taking too much time to learn (21 percent) are the main reasons for giving up.
  • Over half (53 percent) say they would love to learn to play the piano, while 47 percent would like to be able to pick up a guitar and play a tune. Drums (21 percent), saxophone (14 percent), violin (10 percent) and harp (six percent) also make the list of the instruments Brits would love to play.
  • Two thirds (60 percent) of parents say they would love their child to learn an instrument, with piano (60 percent) the favoured instrument. 
  • It’s no surprise that 95 percent of the nation think that the piano is one of the most enjoyable instruments to listen to. 
  • Of the one in four (23 percent) that don’t want their child to learn to play an instrument, 21 percent don’t have the money, with a further 20 percent preferring peace and quiet. 18 percent don’t have the patience. 
  • The findings also showed that eight in ten (83 percent) agree that modern technology and AI would make learning an instrument easier with a further 79 percent believing that patience and persistence is the key. 53 percent believe that anyone can learn a musical instrument with the right help.
  • 98 percent agree that learning a musical instrument can help improve brain function, with a further 97 percent believing that playing a musical instrument can give lasting benefits, something that would encourage 85 percent to play an instrument.

* Research of 2,000 Britons was commissioned by Trinity College London and was conducted by Perspectus Global in November 2023. 


Keep in touch

Make sure you don’t miss the latest news from Trinity College London. Sign up for email updates about your subject area.

Back to top