Christmas songs and carols are some of the most infectious music, no matter the time of year.
They are guaranteed crowd-pleasers because they have instantly recognizable melodies and tell fun stories.
Knowing a few pieces of Christmas music on the piano is a handy skill to bring out at your next holiday gathering.
The sooner you start learning, the more options you will have to play at your Christmas get-together or recital.
Easy Christmas Piano Songs for Beginners
Holiday songs are great for people just starting on the piano for several reasons. Most people are extremely familiar with the melodies and tunes of Christmas song classics.
Many Christmas songs also repeat verses and choruses throughout a song just like other easy piano songs. You may only need to learn a few critical parts to be able to accompany a rousing family sing-along.
We are confident that you will find a song on this list to suit your current skillset. Some songs will help you impress your guests with a rendition of Christmas classics, and others will let you challenge yourself to grow on the piano.
Try picking up one or two at a time. You can move on to more after you master a couple. Eventually, you will be able to sing along as you play.
1. We Wish You A Merry Christmas
If you only have time to learn one Christmas song this year, make sure that song is “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” This song is perhaps the easiest Christmas carol to master without a lot of practice.
The song has a simple structure of verse then chorus, which repeats over and over. You can quickly master the basic notes of both the verse and chorus. Your friends and family will also enjoy singing along to the easy-to-remember lyrics.
2. Jingle Bells
“Jingle Bells,” while not specifically a Christmas song, is a popular and familiar carol played around Christmastime. It has a well-known melody and lyrics that people cannot help singing to when they hear it. It was actually composed in 1857 around Thanksgiving. It is one of the best-known American songs in the world, including both Christmas and non-Christmas songs.
“Jingle Bells” offers an easy start for a piano player because it has a repetitive chorus. The main issue you might have playing this song is keeping time. Try imagining real bells playing the rhythm with you or use a metronome during practice.
3. Frosty the Snowman
“Frosty the Snowman” is a popular Christmas song for children because they love singing along with the story. Because the story unfolds throughout the song, anyone can follow along.
This song has a more complicated melody, which requires careful practice. You should try moving through one phrase at a time so that you fully understand the melody. After mastering the melody, you can simply repeat most of what you learned to complete the entire song.
4. Silent Night
“Silent Night” was composed in 1818 in a small Austrian town. This Christmas song was actually declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. This designation honors its popularity and widespread translation into languages around the world.
On the piano, this song is played using only the white keys. You can spend a short time learning this carol before mastering it. Take advantage of the slow, legato nature of this melody to practice different piano techniques. Once you are comfortable with the notes and melody, you can try using the piano pedals to elongate notes for added musicality.
5. Deck the Halls
If you need a bombastic song to capture the festive nature of the holiday season, try “Deck the Halls.” Because it is a popular song for caroling, you will have plenty of help to maintain the timing of the rhythm.
This Christmas carol has a fast pace but features repetitive notes and a manageable key. The catchy “fa la la” sequence comes back at the end of each phrase. Only the 3rd line of every verse is slightly different, so you only need to change a few notes each time.
6. Joy to the World
Like “Silent Night,” this song has a long history. “Joy to the World” takes its inspiration from a Psalm and the book of Genesis in the Bible. With its familiar tune, it has risen to claim the title of the most-published Christmas hymn in North America. It is a bright and happy Christmas carol to help get you in the mood for the season.
Similar to other Christmas carols, “Joy to the World” has repetitive verses and a chorus with a simple pattern. If you master the basics of this song as a beginner on the piano, you can attempt to work in the left hand. Adding the left hand is more of a challenge, but you will create a richer sound as a result. There are only four chords to learn, and you can even work on making the song your own by playing around with them.
7. The 12 Days of Christmas
This old English Christmas carol may have French origins. As a cumulative song, each verse gets built right on top of the last one. Learn to play “The 12 Days of Christmas” confidently, and you will have an easy song to pull together some friends for impromptu caroling.
“The 12 Days of Christmas” can be an intimidating Christmas song for a beginner piano player because people worry about the many verses. The song progresses from a short section to one long, extended verse. However, you should feel confident going into learning this song. It only uses three main chords and is quite memorable once you master each section.
8. Jolly Old Saint. Nicholas
Many attributions have been given for the lyrics to this famous Christmas song from the late 19th century. “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” has a recognizable melody that is fun for children and adults to sing along to.
With only a few notes, this song can be mastered with barely any practice. After memorizing the song front and back, it is possible to add your own flair, too. You can practice playing each verse from piano (softly) to forte (loudly) to add some interest to this simple song. Playing the piano more softly or more loudly is a great start to understanding music dynamics.
9. Auld Lang Syne
While not technically a Christmas song, “Auld Land Syne” is famously played at the end of the year around Christmas. Many people love to use it to fondly say goodbye to the year as it closes. The lyrics and tune have their origins in a very old Scottish folk song.
“Auld Lang Syne” can be intimidating for beginner pianists because of the use of the sharp scale. But the melody of this song can be picked up easily with a little practice. The entire melody can be played using the five black keys on a piano.
10. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
No list of Christmas carols is complete without “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The character of Rudolph was first dreamed up for a 1939 story created by Robert L. May. This hit song has captured the hearts and minds of children for decades, thanks to the fantastic lyrics and charming tale.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a common choice for Christmas sing-alongs, so you will probably recognize the melody and rhythms. However, the rhythm does alter throughout the piece. You will need to practice the introduction and verses individually to be able to bring it all together. The ending bridge, which is the climax of the song, also switches up the rhythm and draws out the song.
11. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Sometimes referred to as “Tidings of Comfort and Joy,” this song is a traditional English carol for Christmastime. It can be traced back as far as the 16th century and features many variations. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is a somber Christmas song but a familiar and comforting option for many people.
The most challenging aspect of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is the addition of the chords with the left hand. Start out by mastering the melody with the right hand. You can easily work your way up to adding in the chords after working through the repetitive sections of the verses.
12. Away in a Manger
In Britain, “Away in a Manger” is one of the top Christmas carols played every holiday season. Although it has been linked to the German religious reformer Martin Luther, it is more likely that “Away in a Manger” was composed in America. There are several variants in the lyrics and melody, but all of them keep a simple tune.
You can play “Away in a Manger” with ease on a piano. This song uses a combination of eighth notes, quarter notes, and half notes in a steady, simple tune. You also only need your right hand to play all eight notes that make up this song.
13. Do You Hear What I Hear?
“Do You Hear What I Hear?” is one of the most famous call-and-response songs played around Christmastime. Once you master this song, you can truly impress your guests. The end result sounds more complicated than it actually is due to the use of both hands in tandem.
Instead of a complicated bounce between one hand to the other, this song starts with the right hand playing a basic, memorable melody. The piano player uses their left hand to echo the notes of the right hand.
14. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
With two famous singers immortalizing this Christmas song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is another crowd pleaser for your holiday recital or party. Judy Garland famously sang it in Meet Me in St. Louis and Frank Sinatra later recorded a well-regarded version in the 1940s.
This song offers a few more challenges than some of the more repetitive Christmas carols on this list. However, it offers a piano player the chance to practice different octaves, 7ths, and more intervals. It is a fun song to learn and slow enough for someone just starting out jumping and stretching their fingers on the keys.
15. Walking in a Winter Wonderland
For another Christmas song that is not overtly marked by religion or the holiday, try “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” This song has a lot of jazz influences and is a favorite tune to accompany snowy weather.
It is okay to feel uneasy about the jazzy nature of this song. You might be unsure about getting the jaunty feel of the notes down right, but you can start easy by learning the melody. After you master the notes and rhythm of the melody, you can work on adding in chords with your left hand. This is a familiar tune to work on jazz syncopation for piano. Syncopation is the emphasis on certain beats to create a bouncier rhythm.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.