Whether you’re getting ready for the holiday season (or celebrating Christmas in July!), Hoffman Academy offers three free video tutorials for beginner and intermediate pianists to learn to play “Jingle Bells.” In this article, we’ll also share links to the free downloadable sheet music for each tutorial and tips and tricks for learning “Jingle Bells.”
Looking for the perfect Christmas sheet music collection for beginning piano players? Make merry music this holiday season with Hoffman Academy’s Christmas Favorites for Piano available in the Hoffman Academy Store (free download for Premium members)! Choose your level, Early Elementary (Units 1-4) or Elementary (Units 5-8).
Subscribe for updates, content & free resources!
Learn to Play “Jingle Bells” – Easy Tutorial – Melody Only
The chorus of “Jingle Bells” is a great first Christmas song for piano players. The melody of this song is played with only five notes, in other words, a pentascale. With a repetitive melody and rhythms, beginner pianists can quickly pick up this tune and have lots of opportunity to enjoy successful playing.
In this fun and short video tutorial, Mr. Hoffman introduces the rhythmic figure of the chorus, which is a great introduction to dotted eighth and sixteenth notes. You’ll master the right hand melody of “Jingle Bells” in 15 minutes with this fun tutorial.
Learn to Play “Jingle Bells” with two hands — Elementary Tutorial — Melody and Chords
Watch this video tutorial to learn the verse (or the “dashing through the snow” part) of “Jingle Bells” on piano. This arrangement is in 4/4 time and features simplified eighth note rhythms. This helps pianists graduate to playing with both hands and chords. The tutorial is 16 minutes long — with stopping and practicing, a beginner pianist could work through this video in under half an hour.
First, practice playing the melody with your right hand, then practice playing the melody alone with your left hand. After you’ve mastered playing with each hand on its own, put them together and practice playing the melody with both hands! Next, practice playing just the chords in your left hand. Now, play the melody again with the right hand while you play chords with the left hand.
What are the chords to “Jingle Bells?”
Hoffman Academy’s arrangement of “Jingle Bells” uses three chords, the C major chord, the F major chord, and the G7 chord. The most frequent chord in the chorus is C major, or the I chord. This chord is made up of the notes C-E-G on the piano and is played with fingers 531 in the left hand. At the words “Oh What Fun” in the chorus, the chord is F major made up of notes F-A-C. Here, it is played in the third inversion C-F-A — the pinky remains on C throughout. The third chord used in this arrangement is G7 — or B-F-G. Finger 5 moves to B, and 2 and 1 play F and G.
Learn to play Jazzy “Jingle Bells” — Intermediate Version
For intermediate pianists, our jazzy “Jingle Bells” arrangement and video tutorial offers a fun take on the holiday classic. You’ll add additional rhythms in the left hand and chords to the verses.
What key is “Jingle Bells” in?
“Jingle Bells” is commonly performed in C major, but can be played in any major key through the magic of transposition! All three of the tutorials above are in C major, and so is the sheet music that goes along with each tutorial.
Where can you get “Jingle Bells” piano sheet music?
It’s Jingle Bell time! Hoffman Academy’s arrangements in C major are available for download for free as a holiday gift. Here is a link to the free downloads for Early Elementary Jingle Bells, Elementary Jingle Bells, and Early Intermediate Jingle Bells. The piano sheet music is also available for download below each video tutorial lesson in the app.
The History of “Jingle Bells”
“Jingle Bells” was originally published in 1857 under the title “The One Horse Open Sleigh” by the prolific composer and organist James Lord Pierpont. Originally, this song was probably not intended to be a Christmas song, but rather as a Sunday school choir song to be sung at Thanksgiving. It caught on as a Christmas song during the 1860s and 70s and has been a staple of the holiday season ever since. Pierpont earned a place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame for this catchy creation.
Check out this Edison cylinder recording from 1898, in which the Edison Male Quartette sings “Jingle Bells!”
Note: Even if you are unfamiliar with the Edison cylinder (also called the phonograph), you may have heard of Thomas Edison! He created this invention, which was the earliest machine that was used to record and reproduce sound. Imagine how far this technology has come, from this invention created in just 1877 to our modern cell-phones, earbuds, computers, and internet!
Ready to find more fun holiday songs to play on the piano?
After you’ve learned Jingle Bells, you can look for other holiday favorites in Hoffman Academy’s extensive library of Christmas piano sheet music. Mr. Hoffman and the Hoffman Academy team has created video tutorials that teach how to play many seasonal favorites in about 15 minutes. On our Popular Songs page, you’ll find the tutorials for Up on the Housetop, Carol of the Bells, Let It Snow, Deck the Halls, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and more seasonal hits. For many of these songs, you can find sheet music in the Hoffman Academy Store. For popular songs, like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you can challenge yourself to learn the song by ear.