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Carol Of The Bells

Lisa Witt  /  Christmas Songs / Dec 17

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“Carol Of The Bells” is the MOST requested song I’ve had this Christmas.

It can be quite difficult and complicated to play, but we have a simplified arrangement today so everybody can learn and enjoy this beautiful classic.

Normally we provide lead sheets, but this piece comes with a full score.

That’s because I think it’s important to see what the hands are doing in relation to each other. They have different roles and parts, so I’m excited for you to practice and play them together.

Needless to say, it’s also a fantastic way to practice and improve your hand independence!

The main theme

This is the iconic “Carol Of The Bells” riff. As soon as you start playing it people will know what’s happening.

Carol Of The Bells main riff

It’s very simple (only 4 notes) and it repeats a LOT. You’ll be wanting the left hand to come in soon after you start because it could get a little boring otherwise 😉

Adding in the left hand

Things start simply enough here, just single notes each measure in a walking down pattern.

It gets more complicated when we start playing thirds in the left hand. Watch your fingering here, as having the correct fingering can make the difference between this being easy to play, or quite difficult.

Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas

This can be an intimidating part of the score because there are suddenly lots of sharps appearing.

Carol Of The Bells merry merry Christmas

You might be thinking, “I thought we were in C major! Why are there all these sharps?”

But don’t worry!! I find that changing the way you think about this part can make it a LOT easier to play.

Instead of worrying about all the sharps, I like to think of it as the beginning of an E major scale. All you’re doing is playing the first 5 notes of an E major scale, and then the rest of the notes are all white notes.

And once you play it once, it just repeats. That’s what’s so great about this carol, it’s very repetitive which makes it easy to learn.

A final note about dynamics

Dynamics are, in my opinion, the BEST thing you can practice to make you sound like a great piano player instead of just a good one.

What do I mean by that? 

I’m talking about the changes in volume and expression in the piece. You’ll notice in this score there are some parts of the song that are supposed to be played softly. They are marked with a p (piano).

The parts that are meant to be played loud are marked with an f (forte).

And there are some crescendos and decrescendos as well. Once you can play the song through with the correct notes, try paying attention to the dynamic changes.

It will make the song sound completely different.

For more on dynamics, you can find another lesson here.

I hope you enjoy “Carol Of The Bells”. It’s a classic tune and if you learn it then everyone will know…

“Christmas is here!”


Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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