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Teaching Myself Piano Using Video Game Music

Ever since I was a little kid I always wanted to learn how to play piano, but one on one lessons and recitals scared me. In short, I had regretted my decision of never learning how to play the piano. Sure I knew all the notes on the keyboard (that’s a start, right?) but I didn’t know how to put two hands together and make something pretty.

I spent all my elementary through high school years singing in the choir and playing the tenor saxophone. Music always been something I have loved and came quite naturally to me. But still, I never knew how to play the piano.

I would listen to all these beautifully done songs and always go, “Man I wish I could do that.”

Then it dawned on mewhy don’t I just do it?

But how was I going to do that? I couldn’t afford the music lessons, and even if I could I probably couldn’t afford them through all the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Then on top of that, it was time consuming. I am extremely busy with all my projects and I just didn’t think I could commit to the time of having a weekly scheduled piano lesson. There would be traffic, hoping to find the right teacher that was open the same time I was available.

Finally I decided that I would just force myself to learn. Perhaps it would be the hard way, not the best way, and in the end I could be playing the piano all wrong…

I went out and bought a mid-priced keyboard. I wanted an electric keyboard that resembled the sound of a real piano.

When I got the keyboard, I was instantly hooked.

Where have you been all my life?” I wondered.

I bought books that had songs in it I knew I loved, songs that I had been obsessed with and knew every note in my heart. I have never been the best at reading music, which is sort of a downfall, but once I learn a song I have it in me forever.

The other struggle I had was I did not know bass clef until I bought the piano. That took forever for me to learn. I would sit in front of the piano with my sheet music, and recite, “All cows eat grass,” over and over to remember what note was what.

The first song I became comfortable with was, “Aerith’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VII. Once I felt like I half ways mastered that I moved onto the song, “To Zanarkand” from Final Fantasy X. Now I admit, I have been stuck on this song for several months.  Luckily, since I am in love with these songs, it hasn’t bothered me that I have probably played them 200 hundred times.


(To Zanarkand from Final Fantasy X.  This song induces instant tears.  This is the original score, and not me playing)

I could hardly get past the first page without sounding like a train wreck. But I was determined. I have always loved the songs, both have always moved me in such ways most songs are unable to achieve. I had to learn them. I just…had to.

I can finally get through most of the song, “To Zanarkand” without issues, but I realize I am missing several chord notes in some parts. I probably would do best to learn from a teacher who could teach me proper style of playing.

I enjoy just playing little riffs from The Legend of Zelda, like “Saria’s Theme” or the opening title screen song from “Final Fantasy XIII”. 

Zelda Ocarina of Time screenshot

I may never be real good at the piano, but after not quite a year of playing I have really advanced. After I master “To Zanarkand” I would love to learn, “Fisherman’s Horizon” from FF8 or the main theme from Mario.

I know this list of songs I have so far are heavy into Final Fantasy, but there are a lot of great songs to pick from. What can I say, I am a Nobuo Uemastu fan. Once I get better, hopefully I can open up my selection better.

I really feel like the great music from video games is what inspired me the most to learn to play the piano. Some people don’t even pay attention to the music, or even realize that video games have been a source of some of thegreatest pieces of music ever created. As a fellow gamer, I am sure you can understand how much of an impact music can make in a video game.

I have such a love and appreciation for music in video games. Though my piano playing attempts may never even remotely do it justice, at least I can say it has inspired me to come as far as I have.

Final Thoughts: My dream song to play is “Fisherman’s Horizon” from Final Fantasy 8.  What can you play, or wish you could play?  Someday, maybe I’ll upload something on YouTube.


(“Fisherman’s Horizon” from Final Fantasy 8.  Minute 1:23 on here turns me into a sobbing mess.) 

Note: This post of mine originally appeared on my gaming website, GO Critic, a website I ran from 2012 – 2013.  As of 2014, GO Critic has since expired.