Will arranging a song in piano increase my overall arrangement ability ?

Is arranging in piano some what of basic ? or essential or fundamental for arranging in orchestra or any other genre with multi instruments ?

Like what could you learn from just arranging your music in piano ?

How would arranging in piano increase my overall arrangement ability ?

  • I would argue that arranging anything for anything will generally increase your skills.
    – Thomas
    Dec 18, 2019 at 21:04

4 Answers 4


Is arranging in piano some what of basic ? or essential or fundamental for arranging in orchestra or any other genre with multi instruments?

Do you mean on piano, or for piano? Basic keyboard skills are required of all music majors at university (or at least it was a degree requirement in my day) so yes I would argue that being able to arrange a song for piano reduction is somewhat of a "basic or essential or fundamental" skill that all musicians should possess. Piano is very linear and visual, which is why it's a great first instrument for young beginners. Arranging on a keyboard (on piano) can help you to see melodic and harmonic intervals in a way otherwise not possible on (for example) a trumpet or clarinet.

Like what could you learn from just arranging your music in piano?

Again, do you mean on or for piano? My first paragraph may answer this. I'll add that once you reach the intermediate level of piano lessons, you learn different bass techniques, and chord inversions. These are necessary knowledge for any good composer/arranger.

How would arranging in piano increase my overall arrangement ability?

I believe it depends on you and on your understanding of how piano music works, and how piano players think. If you approach piano with a guitar mentality, it will sound like a guitarist's attempt to play keys. Much like when a pianist who doesn't understand guitar tries to play guitar on their keyboard with a VST/plugin.

The point I'm trying to make is that if you are using the keyboard to visualize your music in a new way, then yes it will definitely help you to see those intervals mapped out in front of you. However if you are writing for a piano player to perform your work, then you must first study other piano arrangements to try and grasp the perspective of the performer.

  • The only instrument I know how to play and have is piano. But my dream isn't being a pianist or composing solo piano pieces. I don't know anything about arranging a orchestra or other genre right now, so I thought maybe arranging for piano first, might help me arranging other type of music. Dec 18, 2019 at 13:11

Yes, any arranging will develop your arranging skills. An arranger needs to be able to write idiomatically for all instruments, including piano.

But your question is unclear. Are you asking about making a piano arrangement as a first step towards an orchestral version? Maybe a piano version will be useful to the future performers. But forcing the resources of an orchestra into what can be played by two hands can be a backwards step. If you're writing for orchestra, think orchestrally from the outset.

  • I would argue that making a piano reduction of an orchestral piece requires a considerable amount of musical wisdom as well. How do you rearrange a piece played by hundreds or even thousands of musicians, played on a huge variety of instruments, to a version that can be played with two hands only without losing any crucial musical character?
    – Divide1918
    Dec 18, 2019 at 14:51

It will help you to increase your knowledge of handling the harmony, melody, train your ear, thinking and reading key-assignments, reading different clefs, finding a good bass line and also writing the notes.

But the you will know only about 20 percent of the work you have to do arranging for orchestra and instrumentation. My experience (writing for brass band) is: When I have an arrangement for piano it takes me at least twice as time for arranging the piece for a whole orchestra or band.


Arranging for orchestra is far different than arranging for piano. Piano is pure harmony with no consideration as to how that part will be articulated on the actual instrument. Each instrument has its own technical difficulty and limitations. First do the arrangement for piano and then migrate that to the specific instrument parts. Take these individual parts and show them to highly skilled musicians on each instrument. They will give you valuable feedback as to the "playability" of the arrangement.

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