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Some people are so musically gifted that they don’t need many lessons to learn how to play an instrument. Paul McCartney is one of these gifted musicians and plays several instruments efficiently, including the guitar and the piano. While the former Beatle can play the piano at a high level, he says he never gravitated toward piano lessons as a kid. 

Paul McCartney grew up with a piano in his home

Paul McCartney plays the piano at the Liverpool Sound concert in 2008
Paul McCartney | MJ Kim/MPL Communications Ltd via Getty Images

Paul McCartney was born and raised in Liverpool, England, just as all the other Beatles were. He grew up in a working-class family of four, where his dad worked as a salesman while his mother was a midwife. He always had a passion for music, and his home had a piano. In an interview with Wired, McCartney says his dad knew how to play the piano but refused to teach him. 

“When I was a kid, we had a piano in the house,” McCartney shared. “My dad played it. I’ve read stuff that lots of people in those days, all over the world really, had pianos in their houses. It was like having a computer these days. Everyone’s got one. That was a way people entertain themselves because there wasn’t much other entertainment, going back like before TV. So, yeah, we had a piano in the house, and I used to just noodle on it, and I asked my dad to teach me, but he wouldn’t.”

McCartney never stuck with piano lessons as a kid

While Paul McCartney can play the piano fairly well now, he had his own unique way of learning. His dad didn’t teach him, and he never became interested in the lessons because the music didn’t sit right with him. So, he eventually taught himself by sticking with a few chords. 

“[My dad] said, ‘You’ve got to get proper lessons,’” McCartney explained. “So, I took proper lessons and couldn’t really get on with it because the music I was hearing in my head…I couldn’t do that. Now, you know, I think kids learning, continue. I don’t want to tell you not to, but I couldn’t just ever get with it. I kind of learned myself. I just picked out chords on the piano. That would have been when I was about 14 or so.” 

McCartney played the piano in many songs with The Beatles


Paul McCartney Says He Didn’t ‘Really Mean’ 1 Line in His John Lennon Tribute ‘Here Today’

McCartney’s piano-playing skills can be heard in many songs by The Beatles, including “Let it Be,” “Lady Madonna,” “Hey Jude,” “Hello, Goodbye,” and “A Day in the Life.” He has also utilized the piano in many songs from his solo career. One of his most impressive piano showcases can be heard in “Martha, My Dear,” which he discussed in Barry Miles’ book Many Years from Now

“When I taught myself piano, I liked to see how far I could go, and this started life almost as a piece you’d learn as a piano lesson,” McCartney said. “It’s quite hard for me to play, it’s a two-handed thing, like a little set piece. In fact, I remember one or two people being surprised that I’d played it because it’s slightly above my level or competence really, but I wrote it as that, something a bit more complex for me to play. Then while I was blocking out words – you just mouth out sounds and some things come – I found the words ‘Martha my dear.’”