This holiday season, you can easily create a memorable experience for all by gathering around the piano (either in-person or online) and playing some well-known Christmas songs to help bring everyone together in the holiday spirit.
For any beginner, the piano can seem like an intimidating instrument, but it is one of the best instruments to start with, and learning any number of Christmas carols to play is going to be a hit at any holiday gathering.
An important thing for beginners to notice with these piano songs is that many of the verses and chorus parts are repetitive, so if you learn one part, soon you will be able to play the whole piece. Plus, Christmas piano sheet music can be much easier to read when you are familiar with the tune.
Here is a list of classic, easy Christmas songs that you can learn on the piano to have everyone singing along and joining in the magic of the season. For many of the songs listed, you can even find simple, free sheet music or piano arrangements online to help you learn to play as well.
Always a holiday favorite, “Jingle Bells” is also one of the most well-known holiday tunes since it is a very old, traditional song. What makes it an easy piano piece is the fact that the chorus part is very repetitive, so you play the same note time and time again in a rhythm before even changing notes.
People love to point out the idea that “Jingle Bells” isn’t exactly a Christmas song, since it has to do with riding a sleigh in the snow, which isn’t necessarily about the holiday. But snow and Christmas often go hand in hand, so tradition has made it a holiday tune.
Another aspect that makes this a favorite at holiday get-togethers is the line of laughing all the way – it’s a guaranteed way to see smiles on those gathered around. It also can help to have some actual jingle bells somewhere nearby to chime in.
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS
Another classic, upbeat holiday song, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” is a great one because the lyrics are simple, with a chorus that repeats the same line three times over, so there is no doubt you will have people singing when you start playing this simple tune. This piano song is also a great way to help bring in the new year – as most can agree that we’d love to put 2020 behind us.
JOY TO THE WORLD
Issac Watts developed these lyrics based on the Psalms from the Bible, and to date, this is one of the most published Christmas hymns in North America. The musical arrangement for this tune was put together by Lowell Mason, an accomplished composer, in 1848.
The piano for this can be slightly more challenging when adding the left hand and giving this tune a fuller, richer sound. But again, the verses and chorus are very repetitive and it does follow a simple pattern. And this is a more upbeat and joyful hymn that will bring a smile to many faces.
A well-known hymn sure to be played by many on Christmas Eve, this can be a really great song for the piano that helps beginners to learn how to use the pedal, pushing down or picking up their feet on the long phrases, since it is a very legato piece. The tune itself utilizes all white keys, making it easy to play as well.
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER
Perfect for a sing-along, this holiday song is always popular, and hit the number one spot in the Billboard charts back in 1949 on the week of Christmas. Starting as a fictional story, it was turned into a song, and it is still very popular today.
When learning this song on the piano, the rhythm will be the most difficult part of the piece, because it changes from the introduction to the verses, and then again for the bridge part in “Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say…” But this will always be a big hit with the children!
DECK THE HALLS
Everyone loves the “Fa la la la la” part of these lyrics since they are easy to remember. The 1st, 2nd, and 4th lines are played the exact same as well, only the 3rd line of each verse actually is slightly different. So once that simple, catchy hook is nailed down, you pretty much know the entire song, so it’s a good one to have in your back pocket.
AWAY IN A MANGER
This song is so simple to play, most people can add playing the song with both the right and left hand, which always gives a more complex and full sound. What makes this so easy to play is that the song only uses eight notes in total on the right hand.
THE FIRST NOEL
Like Away in a Manger, The First Noel is a song that you can practice on the piano utilizing both the right hand and the left hand. The left holds out the bass notes while the right plays the melody. Even so, you won’t need a lot of practice with this simple holiday favorite, and it is a delightful piece to keep within your repertoire.
FROSTY THE SNOWMAN
Frosty is another favorite for children, and a fun story to tell within a song. The melody can be a little bit tricky, so it is a good one to practice slowly until you have nailed down the sequence.
O HOLY NIGHT
The piano chord structure is at the heart of this timeless Christmas classic. Once you have that down you can play this moving song with ease. Inversions and harmonics make this hymn a truly beautiful song.
JOLLY OLD ST. NICHOLAS
Since this Christmas song only utilizes a few notes, this is a perfect song to learn to play on the piano for the holidays. Dynamics can be learned well through this tune about Santa Claus, playing both quietly and louder in certain areas to give the music some more depth.
DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?
The echoing part of this holiday piece is what can help train both hands, having the left hand repeat what the right hand is doing, in sequence. Practicing this call and response can help really train those fine motor skills on the piano.
WHAT CHILD IS THIS?
This is identical to the well-known violin instrumental known as “Greensleeves”, utilizing the same notes and pattern.
LET IT SNOW
Jazz it up! This easy jazz tune is a holiday favorite, even though like Jingle Bells, this song doesn’t actually mention Christmas at all, but it has been regarded as such due to its winter theme. The piano aspect is great for practicing holding half notes for the bass line (left hand) as well as eighth notes in the treble clef (right hand).
HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS
This gorgeous melody has been well-known in the version by crooner Frank Sinatra but has also dazzled many in the movie Meet Me In St. Louis when Judy Garland’s character sings it to her sister. This easy piano song will get you familiar with playing intervals, octaves, and 7ths, which will really require the use of extending those fingers!
There are numerous songbooks that have many easy Christmas songs, and there are plenty of other famous holiday songs that have not been included within this list that you can still pluck out an easy melody for.
After you’ve mastered this current list, a few other popular Christmas songs you can learn might include:
- Winter Wonderland
- Up On The Housetop
- The Twelve Days of Christmas
- Go Tell It On The Mountain
- Little Drummer Boy
- Carol of the Bells
- Hark The Herald Angels Sing
- White Christmas
- God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
- O Christmas Tree
Find your favorite Christmas tune in a songbook, and see how easy it can be to learn the melody on the piano with some sheet music (or even better, with a piano teacher). Then you can easily showcase that piano solo at any and all holiday festivities this year. Happy playing!