The Chopsticks Song: The Piano Piece We've All Played Monday October 24 2022, 11:30 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
The Chopsticks Song: The Piano Piece We've All Played

The Song "Chopsticks"


I may be over-exaggerating when I say that we've all played this piece, but if you're reading this article, you likely have. It's one of the most popular songs to learn when you first attempt to play the piano. You didn't even have to play it entirely right, but you probably attempted it.

Why is it that everyone throughout the last couple of centuries never seemed to forget about this piece? Why does it continue to dominate the music world, especially when it comes to piano lessons for young students getting in front of the instrument for the first time?

The first reason is that it's an amazing little piece of music. It's catchy, upbeat, bubbly, and a song that can get anyone excited about the art of music. And it is so exciting because of the second reason that it's so popular; it's pretty simple to play!

You can sit behind a piano as a pro musician or a music novice, and with a few tries, you will be able to play this song pretty well. That feeling of success when playing an instrument and actually sounding good at it when you're a novice is a feeling you won't forget. 

History Behind The Chopsticks Song


One thing that doesn't get talked about enough is the fact that the composer for this piece was a 16-year-old schoolgirl from England! This bubbly and simplistic hit piano waltz was the creation of a very talented one-hit wonder by the name of Euphemia Allen.

With the help of her music publisher brother, she was able to publish her first and only music work under the pen name Arthur de Lulli in 1877. As you can imagine, she didn't have hopes of her music going very far under the name of a female composer. 

Even though the song is not your typical waltz, it is one of the most widely-known ones of all time. Most waltz songs are in the time signature of 3/4 with three beats per measure, but this unique waltz is in 6/8 times with six beats per measure.

How To Play Chopsticks


Euphemia Allen had some very interesting instructions included in her song publication that encouraged the pianist to try a new way of playing. She intended for the player to literally "chop" each note, with each hand verticle, all fingers together, and facing each other. 

Keep in mind, she was a bubble little school girl, so I'm not at all surprised by the goofy idea of playing that way. It's a fun idea to teach young kids that are attempting the piano for the first time. The original title she had in mind was "The Celebrated Chop Waltz". 

Many confuse the name "Chopsticks" as a song derived from the food utensil, and that hasn't stopped piano players across the world from playing the song with literal chopsticks for fun. 

Uses Of The Song In Pop Culture


The song has been used and remade thousands of times since its publishing, including the three popular variations that composers César Cui, Anatoly Lyadov, Borodin, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Nikolai Shcherbachov created under the project "Paraphrases".

It was featured in many popular TV shows and movies, including The Best Years of Our Lives, Rhapsody Rabbit, I Love Lucy, Doctor Who, Lisztomania, The Jetsons, and The Seven Year Itch.

The popular movie Big (1988) featured Chopsticks in the second half of this classic clip that I will always remember from my childhood, although this movie came out a few years before I was born. 

Related Piano Songs Many People Have Learned


As you can see from the clip above, the first song featured, called "Heart And Soul", was another well-known beginner piece that many pianists cite as one of the first songs they ever learned how to play. It was another very catchy and simple song to play, although the feeling it gave wasn't as waltz-y and gave off more feelings of love than excitement. 

Another popular, albeit more challenging, piano piece for beginners to take a stab at, is Fur Elise by Beethoven. With this song, many beginner pianists (including me) attempted to learn the beginning, and may be able to play a few notes, but never made it to the point of being able to perform it. 

Two other popular songs I often came across in my piano studies and with keyboards that had beginner songs built-in to them are The Entertainer by Scott Joplin and Pachabel's Canon. These were also a bit harder for newbies, but I was able to get through many parts of them successfully. 



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Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!

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