Ariana Grande claims she can “play a little bit of piano”. Her discography includes several piano-driven songs, but it’s unclear how skilled she is with this instrument since it’s rarely integrated into her live performances.
Grande’s Musical Background
Ariana Grande fell in love with music at a young age and joined the Fort Lauderdale Children’s Theater. She starred in their versions of beloved musicals The Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast, and Annie, where she played the titular role.
At the age of eight, she performed a moving rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” while on a cruise ship vacation with her family. Gloria Estefan happened to be there and encouraged her to keep singing after being impressed by her talent.
Ariana followed her advice and performed with various orchestras while dreaming of recording her own R&B album. In 2008, she got her breakout role in Broadway musical 13, which opened many doors for the young singer and led to her casting on the Nickelodeon series Victorious.
Despite her love for music, the Grammy-winning artist didn’t get formal training in her youth and mostly relied on her powerful voice.
“Music just kind of happened, I never really trained for anything. I played French horn for a few years, that’s where I learned a lot about sheet music and theory. I play a little bit of piano by ear but it’s mostly just singing, which I never was trained in,” Grande told Complex.
The “7 Rings” singer has a four-octave soprano vocal range, which is a true rarity in mainstream pop music. While still starring on Victorious, Grande decided she wanted to pursue a solo music career and hired vocal coach Eric Vetro, who also worked with Camila Cabello and Katy Perry.
Her career has been on the upward spiral ever since Victorious wrapped up, and she dropped several chart-topping singles – but was she ever required to perfect her piano skills?
Grande’s Piano-Driven Songs
As Ariana Grande said it herself, she can play the piano but isn’t exactly an expert. There are several clips on YouTube showing her play this instrument, but her skills are pretty basic and she mostly uses it as a prop.
In one of her old tweets from 2011, Grande admitted she’s “mainly a singer” and only plays “a little bit of” of piano and guitar. Not being a skilled instrumentalist didn’t stop her from recording several songs that sound amazing when played on the piano.
Grande’s debut album Yours Truly even featured a song titled “Piano” which kicks off with the lines, “I could write a song with my new piano / I could sing about how love is a losing battle.” She never released it as a single, but MTV sang praises to this track and called it “a stunning, sparkling platform for Ariana’s ridiculous octave range and pop-radio sensibility.”
Ariana Grande was more prone to recording heartfelt ballads in the early days of her career, and she gave us several with her first two albums. “Almost Is Never Enough” and “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart” come to mind, but only her most passionate fans still remember them.
The beat of her songs became much faster over the years, but some of them are still popular with aspiring piano players. “Dangerous Woman” is the most notable example, but the piano sequences were recorded by the songwriter Johan Carlsson and not Ariana Grande.
She also performed several piano-driven covers of other artists, including Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” during The Honeymoon Tour in 2015. Once again, she didn’t play any instruments but managed to impress the audience by bringing out David Foster to join her on the piano.