3 More FREE Carol Arrangements

Guest Post by Karen Marshall & David Blackwell

We are delighted to present this additional free digital download for piano teachers, comprising another three new Carol arrangements, and really hope it will be useful to you this Christmas time.

We hope the additional information below about each carol will also give some interesting facts for you to share with your student and the teaching content section will help you determine which students it will be most useful for.

Very best wishes, Karen Marshall and David Blackwell


Coventry carol

pdf-logo   Coventry Carol  [PDF Download]

Background information

In the Middle Ages, mystery plays were performed in the streets of cities and towns as a way of telling bible stories to local people. Often they included songs, and this carol was sung as part of a mystery play acted each year in Coventry telling the Christmas story.

Christ’s birth was a joyful event, so why is this carol so sad? Well, Matthew’s Gospel tells of one particular grim event: Herod, King of the Jews at the time of Christ’s birth, was told by the Wise Men that a new King of the Jews had been born. To preserve his status as King, he ordered the massacre of all male children under the age of two, and this carol is a sad lament sung to the doomed children. Of course, because Christ was born in a stable he escaped – Herod did not think a king would be born amongst sheep and cattle!

Arrangement and teaching content

This arrangement alternates the tune between the hands, starting in the right and switching to the left for bars 5-7, with the same switch in the second half.

Pitched around ABRSM prep test level (or at the end of the first tutor book), this piece includes the pedagogical content of the sharp accidental, putting right-hand second finger over the thumb and simple hands together work.

Rocking carol

pdf-logo   Rocking Carol  [PDF Download]

Background information

This rather lovely lullaby carol was first published in 1920 in Czechoslovakia, from where it made its way into the Oxford Book of Carols, published in 1928.

The shape of the tune, and the repetition of the words ‘we will rock you’ do much to suggest the gentle rocking of a cradle. Formally, it seems to have an extra bar in the first phrase, but this is a rather charming addition that perhaps goes back to its origin as a folk carol.

Arrangement and teaching content

Our arrangement presents the tune simply shared between the hands, but we’ve chosen B flat major, which gives plenty of practice of reading B and E flats. Keep the transition between the hands as smooth as possible.

Although in one hand position, there are some useful stretches to be made and practice of playing D above middle C as a ledger-line note in the bass clef.

Despite the simplicity of the tune, a warm, rich harmony is possible by way of accompaniment, and this is the essence of the gentle duet part. Pupils should play an octave higher when playing as a duet, where their tune can shine and ‘sing’ in its own space.

O Christmas Tree

pdf-logo   O Christmas Tree  [PDF Download]

Background information

This German carol began life as a folksong from the 16thcentury, with words about a fir-tree (‘Tannenbaum’ in German, and the modern carol begins ‘O Tannenbaum’ in German).

The text was updated by a Leipzig school teacher in 1824, who reinterpreted the tree as a Christmas tree. This was at a time when the Christmas tree was growing in popularity in Germany – Prince Albert introduced the tree to England after his marriage to Queen Victoria, where it quickly caught on.

Although evergreen symbols pre-date Christianity, the church cannily absorbed them, and they became a symbol of the renewal of life in the depths of winter that Christ himself represents. ‘The holly and the ivy’ is another example.

It’s rather nice to celebrate the unchanging leaves of the tree as we decorate our homes at Christmas and, if we wish, add in a deeper symbolism too.

Arrangement and teaching content

This arrangement has melody and all the harmony required comfortably under the fingers of the pupil.

The form of the tune is AABA, so pupils can quickly learn this, as all the A sections are the same. The tune dips down to the left hand for the third line, where neat right-hand fingers are needed for the chords above. The piece is useful for developing two-note chord control and also playing the D above middle C notated as a ledger-line note in the bass clef.


All images and downloads included in this post are copyright Collins Music, shared with the kind permission of HarperCollins Publishers.


MORE Christmas Cracker Content

Celebrate Get Set! Piano Christmas Crackers on Pianodao:

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a pianist, writer and teacher based in Milton Keynes UK, where he runs Keyquest Music - his successful independent music education business, private teaching practice and creative outlet.

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