Once again, it’s holiday season! Another year has flown by and hopefully you’ve been practicing the piano and increasing your sight reading skills and the number of songs you can play. Now is one of the best times to set about learning new Christmas songs on the piano. Even if you are a complete beginner, Christmas piano songs are some of the easiest to learn. Start by learning Jingle Bells as that is the easiest of all. If you’re a bit more experienced, you can try out “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” or “Silent Night”. You already know these songs so well that learning them is quick and easy.
How to start playing Christmas songs on piano
If you have already started your piano journey and are making good headway, you can continue your journey by learning Christmas piano songs. There is value in learning any new song, and especially if it is in a style you haven’t played before, or involves techniques that are new to you. If you haven’t played with chords before, it’s an invaluable skill to learn, whatever style of piano you like you play.
If you are a complete beginner on the piano, you can learn how to play Christmas songs on the piano with letters. Let’s take a look at how to play Christmas songs on the piano with “The Christmas Course”.
One of the easiest Christmas piano songs for beginners to learn is “Jingle Bells”. Begin with this to gain confidence and then try another song.
The song “Jingle Bells” was published in 1857 under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh”. The writer, James Pierpont, is said to have written it to be sung by a Sunday school choir. Although it had no connection to the Christmas season initially, it became linked to the festive season between 1860 and 1870. The earliest known recording was made on an Edison Record and can be heard. This is surely one of the jolliest and most Christmassy songs!
In this simple arrangement the right hand plays the melody and the left hand plays a single bass clef note for each measure. Christmas songs piano sheet music is often some of the easiest sheet music to read. Have a look at the “Jingle Bells” piano sheet.
Listen to the song!
Enjoy listening to the song and sing along with the lyrics.
Now try playing this Christmas piano song! To play the right hand notes, just place your thumb on middle C. The left hand little finger goes on the low C.
Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer
The second song in The Christmas Course is “Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer”
This song is a little more advanced than Jingle Bells but as with any song, if you know it really well it won’t be too hard to learn. It’s another one of those Christmas songs on piano for beginners and a jolly foot-tapping tune that is one of the best known.
The song was written by Johnny Marks. He took the story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer from the story (which happened to be written by his brother-in-law Robert L. May), and made it into a song. It was recorded in 1949 and became the very first number one hit of the 1950’s. Interestingly, seventy years later it entered the charts again in December 2018!
Listen to the song!
Have a listen to the wonderful recording by Bing Crosby for a real Christmas sensation!
Before you begin, take a moment to notice the third note, “A” in the right hand as you listen to the melody. Since there’s a tie, the note is held over from the second note, rather than played twice. If this is something new to you, learn about tied notes first.
Santa Claus is coming to town
Jolly old Santa Claus is coming to town! This is a another great Christmas piano song to get feet tapping and people singing along with! This arrangement is for slightly more experienced players, but even if you are fairly new to playing piano, give it a go hands separately first and then try putting the hands together.
Listen to the song!
Have fun singing along with Santa Claus is Coming to Town!
Because the left hand stays in one position, this isn’t too hard to play. The right hand has a hand position change. When you’re learning any song, play through each hand separately first and then, taking one measure at a time, slowly put them together, keeping your eyes on the sheet music as much as you can.
Intermediate level players will enjoy playing “Silent Night”. This beautiful traditional Christmas song for piano is a favorite for many and invokes the peacefulness of Christmas day. This is one of the best piano Christmas songs ever!
The words were written by Joseph Mohr in 1818, this familiar Christmas Carol was first performed in St Nicholas Parish Church in a small Austrian town. That Christmas eve, finding the organ out of action, Franz Xaver Gruber hastily composed the music as it could be accompanied by guitar.
Listen to the song!
Enjoy this beautiful rendition of Silent Night by Michael Bublé.
The left hand has a steady beat while the right hand has a dotted rhythm. If you haven’t played a steady beat against a dotted rhythm before, it can take a few goes to get it right. Remember, the second note in the left hand plays alone and the second note in the right hand also plays alone, right after. Use your knowledge of how the song goes to help you and try the lesson.
In measure five both hands have to change position. Practice this slowly, moving both hands into their new positions at the same time.
There are so many popular Christmas songs and many are very easy for beginner to early intermediate players. Want more songs to learn? Get the best piano sheet music to expand your repertoire and use one of the best piano apps!
Author of this blog post:
Georgina St George has been playing piano most of her life. She has a thriving piano school on the south coast of England. She loves to infuse her students with her passion for music, composing and performing. Her music has been featured on over 100 TV shows and her musicals have been performed in New York and London’s West End.