Although some claim rock is losing its mainstream popularity, there is no doubt that some rock songs will remain immortal. And there are too many reasons for that. They’re full of energy, they have great melodies and chord progressions, the warmth of analog recording equipment, and so on. In this article, we’ll be looking specifically at the best rock songs with piano incorporated into them.
We’ve also included the official music video of each song so you can easily listen to them and find your favorites. If you’re a piano player, you can find a lot of great tutorials on YouTube showing exactly how to play each of these songs. Slowing down the video and looping specific parts of it really helps to have a productive practice session. You can even find some Google Chrome extensions to loop different sections on YouTube videos. If you know the lyrics you can sing along while playing. And if you don’t, learn the lyrics! Enough talking, let’s get into the list!
Here Are the Best Piano Rock Songs of All Time
1. Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
Journey released Don’t Stop Believin’ in 1981 as the second single from their seventh album, Escape. Don’t Stop Believin’ was described by Mike DeGagne of AllMusic as a “perfect rock song” and an “anthem” with “one of the best opening keyboard riffs in rock.” It is the 20th century’s best-selling digital single, with over 7 million copies sold in the United States. The song reached number 9 position in the USA on the Billboard Hot 100 (1981) and number 6 in the United Kingdom (2009, after being performed on The X Factor on the 1st of November that year). It has an unusual structure having the only chorus at the end without repetitions.
The rhythm is very important in the intro part. If you decide to learn and play this song, your right-hand will play straight quarter notes like a metronome but some of the notes from the bass melody at your left-hand comes in-between those quarter notes. Slow down the video, clap the bass melody on your knees while counting. But instead of counting quarter notes, count eighth notes such as “One-and, Two-and, Three-and, Four-and”. Try to understand the positions of in-between notes. Then do the opposite; clap eighth notes and sing or play the left-hand bass melody. It will take time in the beginning but you will get used to it. Try not to lose the rhythmic feel when you skip to the verse.
2. Let It Be by The Beatles
“Let It Be” was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon and released in 1970 as the title track of the Beatles’ album “Let It Be”. At the time the song helped The Beatles to win the record having the number-one hits for seven years in a row. They shared this achievement with Elvis Presley! Linda McCartney’s voice is used for backing vocals in the single version of the song. The song was sung by Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr during her memorial service in 1998.
If you decide to learn to play this song, try to focus on the chords at the beginning. If you can sing or have a singer around, you can play these chords throughout the song instead of playing the melody on the right hand. The left-hand serves as the bass and rhythm so try to be on time with your left hand. You can even use a metronome to practice timing.
3. Fool in the Rain by Led Zeppelin
“Fool in the Rain” was the last single released in the US before Led Zeppelin formally disbanded in 1980. It is the third song on the 1979 album “In Through the Out Door”. Although the album was not regarded with the same praise as Led Zeppelin’s previous albums, “Fool in the Rain” still managed to garner positive reception. It reached number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980. However, “Fool in the Rain” was never performed live by Led Zeppelin as a band.
There’s a Latin sound to the song. The main section is 12/8 meters; an unusual polyrhythmic groove is used in this section, with six beats per measure played by the piano and bass and four beats per measure played by the melody (and parts of the drum kit). The effect is that, against the swing of the melody and drum kit, most instruments seem to play quarter-note triplets. This is easily one of the best piano rock songs of all time.
4. Everything I Do by Bryan Adams
This is one of the most successful singles of all time with sales of over 15 million copies. “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” reached number one in 30 countries and won a Grammy for “Best Song Written Specifically For A Motion Picture Or For Television” in 1992. It was written specifically for the film “Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves” (1991) starring Kevin Costner. Film composer Michael Kamen came up initially with this song, Bryan Adams added break, the ending, and arranged the song with producer Mutt Lange. They had it written in about an hour.
The left-hand part of this particular piano arrangement is really beautiful. It is almost like playing a Chopin nocturne. So you can learn hands separately. But also divide the piece into small pieces and practice them until you master each section. Especially with this style of arpeggios on the left hand, with every chord change, you should use the sustain pedal to tie each note. You should also count or use a metronome to stay in the beat.
5. Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley
“Jailhouse Rock” was one of the many hit songs of Elvis Presley. It was released in 1957 on a 45 rpm single, which reached the top of the charts in the U.S. and the top 10 in many other nations. The Grammy Hall of Fame, the American Film Institute, and others recognized the song. It was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It was also performed by Elvis Presley in the movie of the same name. Originally, the film was named Ghost of a Chance, but ultimately got its name from this song when it became obvious that it would be a success after recording.
Don’t forget to count during the intro. Try to stay in the beat while playing. The left-hand part is a classic rock and roll piano accompaniment. Spend some time on it; first, learn the correct notes. You will see that it repeats the same pattern in different positions. After you master the notes, start practicing with a metronome and of course, start slow and increase the tempo when you feel comfortable. Only add the right-hand melody when you can play the left hand without thinking about it.
6. Hey Jude by The Beatles
Paul McCartney originally wrote this song to console Julian, the son of John Lennon, who was 5 years old when his parents (John and Cynthia) were divorced. That’s why “Hey Jules” was the first title. The title was changed by McCartney to “Hey Jude” because he felt it would sound better. It was released in 1968 and quickly became a number one hit across many countries. It became the year’s top-selling song in the UK, the US, Australia, and Canada. Julian Lennon didn’t know this song had been written for him until he became a teenager. In 1996 he paid £25,000 for the recording notes to “Hey Jude” at an auction.
This piano version of Hey Jude is quite simple to learn. Your left-hand plays chord voicings using just two keys at a time. And the right-hand is playing the well-known melody. You can try singing or humming; it will keep you in the beat while playing. If you are good at singing, you can search for a karaoke tutorial that uses both hands for chords and bass instead of playing the melody with your right hand. Try to be very rhythmic in the second part of the song. You can use a metronome while practicing.
7. Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen
“Don’t Stop Me Now” was written by Freddie Mercury in 1978 for their album “Jazz”. The song is also included in the band’s 1981 Greatest Hits compilation album, and as part of Queen’s 40th-anniversary celebrations in June 2011. In the four decades since its publication, the song has risen in popularity in films, advertisements, and television shows. Brian May told Mojo that Freddie struggled with the lyrics because it was a time in his life when he was “taking lots of drugs and having sex with lots of men”.
Like most of the Queen songs, this one is structured with different sections. You can divide the song into pieces and practice them separately in this manner. Because although it starts simple, the harmony and melodies get more complicated and it is very easy to get lost inside the song. If you know the lyrics you can sing to it, it will keep you on track. Or you can try humming too. Using your voice while practicing an instrument is very crucial to flex your brain. You can learn the left-hand bass melody first if you can sing the main melody.
8. Tiny Dancer by Elton John
“Tiny Dancer” was ranked No. 397 on the 2010 list of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Elton John released Tiny Dancer as a single in 1972 and included it in his fourth album, “Madman Across the Water”. The lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin and he was inspired by his first visit to the US in 1970. He tried to capture the spirit of California. “Tiny Dancer” was popularized in the film “Almost Famous” which tells a story about a rock band from the 1970s.
The main thing you should pay attention to is the right hand because the right hand is doing most of the hardest stuff and the left end is that cycling between two different voicings. You can break the intro up into two parts as it is easier to learn. The same melody repeats itself with a slightly different ending in the second half. You can use a metronome or clap on your knee while practicing the right hand.
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9. Piano Man by Billy Joel
“Piano Man” is actually based on Joel’s real-life experiences as a lounge musician in Los Angeles between years 72 & 73. It was released in 1973 in his album of the same name. And it became his first major hit and his signature song. According to Joel, “Piano Man was not a hit record. It was a turntable hit. In other words, it didn’t sell through, but this is back in the early ’70s. In those days they still had FM progressive radio. Disc jockeys could spin whatever they wanted.”
First, learn the left-hand chords while counting out loud. But you have to be careful about the time signature of “Piano Man”. Instead of the common four-four rhythm, it’s 6/8 so you can count it as a waltz; one-two-three. The right hand is playing the vocal melody as usual. After learning the song try to sing the main melody and play the chords with your right hand. Now since your left hand is empty, you can play the root note or the lowest note of each chord on your left hand a few octaves lower. You just made your own accompaniment arrangement!
10. Every Breath You Take by The Police
“Every Breath You Take” was released in the 1983 album Synchronicity by the Police. Written by Sting, the song was the biggest US and UK hit of 1983 topping the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for eight weeks (the band’s only No. 1 hit on that chart), and for four weeks, the UK Singles Chart. For nine weeks, it also topped the Billboard Top Tracks graph. It was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year, Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and Record of the Year, winning in the first two categories “Every Breath You Take” is the Police’s and Sting’s signature song, and in 2010 was estimated to generate between a quarter and a third of Sting’s music publishing income.
First of all, don’t play fast! The arpeggio on the right hand is not an easy task. And it gets more complicated after the verse because then you need to play the main vocal melody and the arpeggio together. Of course, it is not the original arrangement so you can alter or skip some of the notes. If you spend enough time on the intro, you will get used to the feeling of the song. You can also practice the vocal melody separately without the arpeggio. Then you can decide where you will add the arpeggio.
11. Numb by Linkin Park
Numb was the closing track from their second studio album, Meteora. Released in 2003 it became one of Linkin Park’s most well-known and critically acclaimed songs. “Numb” topped the Billboard Alternative Songs chart for 12 weeks. This song was later combined with Jay-Z’s song “Encore” and released under the title “Numb/Encore” included on the album “Collision Course” (2004). That version won the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. The song reflects the feelings of a kid whose parents try to make him fulfill the dreams they failed to realize in their lives. A kid is under constant pressure because the parents want him to be perfect.
If you have practiced the other songs on this list, then this one shouldn’t feel so hard. As always you can create different practice sections by dividing the piece into sections or by separating the hands. If it feels so easy, you can add a lower octave to your left hand. Especially in the chorus, it will sound stronger. Again if it still feels easy you can add a higher octave to your right hand so both your hands will be playing in octaves. It’s not an easy task to do but this technique is very common in classical piano music. Numb is certainly one of the best piano rock songs of all time.
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12. It’s My Life by Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi released “It’s My Life” as the lead single from their seventh studio album, Crush. With its release in 2000, it introduced the band to a younger generation. It is, perhaps, their most well-known hit after their glam-metal days of the ‘80s. The song peaked at number one in Austria, Flanders, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Switzerland while charting within the top 10 across several other countries. The line “Like Frankie said, ‘I did it my way.'” is a reference to Frank Sinatra who was somewhat influential for Jon Bon Jovi. He once said, “Sinatra made 16 movies and toured ’til he was 80. This is my role model.”
The piano arrangement is pretty easy to play. You can use a metronome to stay in the beat during rests at the intro. You can practice both hands separately if needed. If you are familiar with the song you can sing to it. It will help to improve the independence of the hands. You can add octaves to make it bigger. You can also play with the dynamics to make it more interesting.
13. Always by Bon Jovi
“Always” was released as a single from Bon Jovi’s 1994 greatest hits album Cross Road and went on to become one of their best-selling singles, with a million copies sold in the US and more than 3 million worldwide. It reached number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was an international hit in many countries. “Always” was written for the 1993 film “Romeo Is Bleeding”. According to Bon Jovi’s “100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong” collection, he didn’t like the film and didn’t let the right to include it: the song never appeared in the soundtrack or the film.
This one may sound complicated but with the right practice, you will learn the song in no time! You should pay attention to your right hand since it includes not only the main melody but also the chords of the song. Left-hand plays the bass melody as usual. So you can practice both hands separately if it feels too hard to follow. In fact, to make it simpler you can first play the main melody without the chords. It won’t be too difficult if you know the vocal melody.
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14. Love Of My Life by Queen
The sentimental ballad “Love Of My Life” was written by Freddie Mercury for Queen’s 1975 album “A Night At The Opera”. Instantly, the song became a favorite of fans and was performed at almost every Queen concert. Often, Mercury would stop singing and encourage the crowd to carry the tune on. This song was written by Mercury on the piano and guitar first. Brian May added some guitar sequences afterward. Mercury was inspired by Mary Austin with whom he had a long-term relationship.
The arrangement here is pretty simple but not easy. Since this is a Queen song, you should expect too many different chords. It makes it a little harder to follow and memorize the song. But if you divide the song into sections and practice each section with enough time on it, you will see the improvement. You should use a metronome, especially for the intro. Also, don’t forget to slow down to practice fast chord changes.
15. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Guns N’ Roses
“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” was originally written by Bob Dylan for the soundtrack to the 1973 film “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid”. Todd Crew, a friend of the band and Jetboy member, heard Guns N’ Roses rehearsing Bob Dylan’s song and advised to use it in their repertoire since it fitted their image. They played it once live and it did well. When Crew overdosed on heroin soon after that, the band added this song to their setlist in memory of him. Guns N ‘Roses began performing the song at their concerts in 1987. The same year a live version of the song was released. In 1990, they recorded and released a studio version for the soundtrack of the movie “Days of Thunder”. Then this version was slightly modified for the 1991 album Use Your Illusion II. The release topped the charts of many countries.
Spend some time on the intro before going to verse. Your right hand should be very rhythmic. You can use a metronome while practicing. Start with a slow and steady tempo and gradually increase it. Then add the left-hand melody. During the verse and chorus, practice both hands separately because the left hand is also playing chords from time to time. And right hand is playing the main melody and the arpeggio from the intro. So you can think of the arrangement consisting of 4 different instruments; bass, chords, arpeggios, and the melody. Focus on each one of them.
16. My Immortal by Evanescence
The first recording of “My Immortal” was made for Evanescence’s self-titled EP in 1998. That version featured Amy Lee’s vocals accompanied by a piano and slightly different lyrics. The song wasn’t included on EP eventually. There are several versions of this song on different releases: “Origin” album, “Mystary” EP, “Fallen” album, and single (the band version). It reached number seven position on Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold in the USA, and platinum in Australia. It received a nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 47th Grammy Awards in 2005.
Start playing soft or musically speaking “piano”. You can use the sustain pedal, especially at the intro. But don’t forget to clean the pedal whenever the bass note changes. Otherwise, it will create a terrible cluster. After the intro, it gets easier. Right-hand plays the vocal melody as usual. If you already know the lyrics you can sing or you can try humming while playing. It will help you to stay in the beat. Don’t rush, it is a slow track so play with a calm feeling. This is easily one of the best rock songs with piano.
17. Breakfast In America by Supertramp
“Breakfast In America” was a top-ten hit in the UK and a live version of the song reached No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100. Supertramp released the song in their 1979 album of the same name. The lyrics tell of a person who has never been to the United States and dreams about it. It was credited to Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson together but there has been some contradiction about it. During a reunion tour without Hodgson, Supertramp performed the song, Hodgson told reporters that Davies initially “hated” the song and that he believed Davies did not play at all on the recording.
This is a classic piano accompaniment for rock music. The left hand is playing the bass and the right hand is playing the chords rhythmically. As usual, practice both hands separately and use a metronome. Start slow then increase the tempo slightly. Pay attention to the 8th notes on your right hand.
18. New Born by Muse
Muse released “New Born” in 2001 as the second single from their second studio album “Origin of Symmetry”. The song quickly proved to be a commercial success, peaking at number 12 on the UK Singles Chart. The lead singer Matthew Bellamy has said: “It’s about a semi-fear of the evolution of technology, and how in reality it’s destroying all humanity. My fear is that we can’t control it because it’s moving faster than we are, so the song’s setting is in the future where the body is no longer important and everyone’s plugged into a network. The opening line is ‘link it to the world’, so it’s connecting yourself on a worldwide scale and being born into another reality.”
Rhythm is the key to this song. You should create a very strong foundation to keep it clean. To do that you will need a metronome that is set to a really slow tempo. You can always increase it after you master each section but if you start with a fast tempo all the mistakes will stay on your muscle memory. Use the sustain pedal with each chord change. Pay attention to your left hand for the rest of the song because it plays not only the chords but also the main vocal melody at the same time.
19. Strangelove by Depeche Mode
“Strangelove” was released in 1987 by Depeche Mode as the lead single from their sixth studio album, “Music for the Masses”. It reached number 16 on the UK Singles Chart, number two in West Germany and in South Africa, and the top 10 in several other countries, including Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland. In the U.S. it reached number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100. The original version was a fast-paced pop track but it didn’t seem to fit with Music for the Masses’ darker style, so Daniel Miller produced a slower version that became the album version.
Start with the intro, if it feels complicated you don’t have to play the left-hand bass in octaves. Just play the roots until you can play both hands flawlessly. You can tap or count, it will improve your timing as well. After the intro, your right hand will be playing both chords and the main melody at the same time. So it would be wise to practice them separately too.
20. Funeral for a Friend by Elton John
Elton John released “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” as the opening track on his double album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. The first section, “Funeral for a Friend” is an instrumental composed by John as he thinks about what kind of music he wants at his funeral. “Love Lies Bleeding” follows this first half. In an interview, Elton John said the two songs were not written as one piece, but fit together since “Funeral for a Friend” ends in the key of A, and “Love Lies Bleeding” opens in A, and the two were played as one elongated piece when recorded.
The song was received well by critics. AllMusic’s Donald Guarisco later called “Funeral for a Friend” “a stunning instrumental” with “a powerful fusion of classical and rock elements, where a gentle, lyrical motif is developed and energized until it builds into a powerhouse full of emotion and bombast.” Although the song was too long for a single release, over 11 minutes long, it got significant airplay on FM stations. Billboard magazine listed this song as number two in the list of Elton John’s best songs as picked by critics.
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21. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd released “Sweet Home Alabama” in 1974 on their second album, Second Helping. It was written as an answer to the songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama” by Neil Young, who wrote them about the racism and slavery in the South. And Neil Young performed the song at a memorial to the three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd which died in a plane crash in 1977.
Although none of the three writers of the song were from Alabama; Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington were both born in Jacksonville, Florida, while Ed King was from Glendale, California. It reached number 8 on the US chart in 1974 and was the band’s second hit single. The hit led to two TV rock show offers, which the band turned down. Since then “Sweet Home Alabama” has become kind of an anthem for the state of Alabama and is frequently played there during sporting events.
22. The Great Gig in the Sky by Pink Floyd
One of the most iconic songs in the 1973 album “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd was probably “The Great Gig in the Sky”. It features beautiful music by Richard Wright and amazing non-lexical vocals by Clare Torry. The song appeared in a number of movies and TV shows and was covered by many bands and artists.
The original version began life as a Richard Wright chord progression on an organ accompanied by spoken-word samples from the Bible. Then they changed the lead instrument to a piano with recordings of NASA astronauts’ communications. Unsatisfied with the result, the band decided to have a female singer over the music just a couple of weeks before the album was supposed to be finished. Clare Torry came in and had just three takes. The final version was assembled from all these three takes.
23. Echoes by Pink Floyd
“Echoes” was written by all four members of Pink Floyd in 1970. It was released in their 1971 album “Meddle”. It has a running time of 23:31 containing several extended instrumental passages, largely ambient sound effects, and musical improvisation and it comprises the entire second side of the vinyl and cassette recordings. In the band’s film Live at Pompeii, the composition was originally assembled from separate fragments then it was later split into two parts to serve as both the opening and closing numbers.
“Echoes” begins with a “ping sound” that came out as a result of an experiment very early in the “Meddle” sessions, produced by amplifying a grand piano played by Richard Wright, and sending the signal through a Leslie speaker and a Binson Echorec unit. The seagull sound of the song was created by a mistake with David Gilmour’s guitar set-up. Richard Wright explained, “One of the roadies had plugged his wah-wah pedal in back to front, which created this huge wall of feedback. He played around with that and created this beautiful sound.”
24. Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin
The next four songs on this list don’t actually have a piano in the official song, but they are still a ton of fun to play on the piano. “Stairway To Heaven” is often regarded as the most popular rock song of all time. However, it wasn’t a chart hit because it was never released as a single. Led Zeppelin released the song in 1971in their fourth studio album. “Stairway to Heaven” was voted number three in 2000 by VH1 on its list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs, and was placed at number 31 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Band’s guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant composed the song together. Robert Plant’s own explanation of the lyrics was that it “was some cynical aside about a woman getting everything she wanted all the time without giving back any thought or consideration.”
You should start by practicing the left hand first. And don’t forget to divide the intro itself into sections so you can master each part before going to the next. Since your left hand will be quite busy during the whole song, you should spend enough time on it to build a good foundation. You can use the sustain pedal to connect each note but this time you should clean it with every note change in your right hand. Don’t forget to use a metronome because the rhythmic structure is also crucial in this song.
25. Hotel California
Eagles released Hotel California as the title track from their album of the same name in 1977. The song is considered the band’s most popular recording, and its long guitar coda was voted the best guitar solo of all time by ‘Guitarist’ readers in 1998. Don Henley described the song as: “It’s our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles. It’s basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about.”.
The intro starts with the beautiful chords of Hotel California. Pay attention to your left hand, it may seem easy but the rhythmic feeling of the song is supplied by the left hand throughout the song. In the beginning, it just plays the roots of the chords but when the verse comes, it is playing full chords. They are the same chords as at the beginning. So you can use the intro for the verse part if you can sing the main melody. And if you add some rhythm variations it will sound much richer.
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26. Losing My Religion
“Losing My Religion” was released as the first single from R.E.M.’s 1991 album “Out of Time”. It won the Grammy award for “Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal”. Also, the music video for this song won a Grammy for “Best Short-Form Music Video”. The song became R.E.M.’s highest-charting hit in the United States, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and expanding the group’s popularity beyond its original fanbase. The main riff on this came from guitarist Peter Buck practicing how to play mandolin which he’d just bought and tried. R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills said about this track, “It’s a five-minute song with a mandolin and no chorus.”
The arrangement is pretty simple and easy to follow. Practice the intro enough times before going to the verse. You can add a lower octave to your left hand to make it bigger. Don’t rush, you can tap with your foot to stay on the beat. The rest of the song is not that challenging. Slow down the video if necessary.
AC/DC released “Thunderstruck” as the lead single on their 1990 album “The Razors Edge”. It peaked at number 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. Angus Young explained, ”Lyrically, it was really just a case of finding a good title. We came up with this thunder thing, based on our favorite childhood toy ThunderStreak, and it seemed to have a good ring to it. AC/DC = Power. That’s the basic idea.” AC/DC charged $500.000 for the use of this song in the 1999 film “Varsity Blues”. This was one of the largest deals of its kind.
The intro might sound too fast and difficult but take a deep breath and set your metronome to a slow bpm. You can use both your hands to play the riff. Your left hand will be playing the same B note repeatedly while your right-hand plays the other two notes. You will see it’s not that difficult but the hardest part is to make it sound like a clock while playing fast. And to do that you should do the opposite; practice slow. Start really slow and then increase the speed a little bit once your fingers are warmed up.
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