The Christmas Song

Lisa Witt  /  Christmas Songs / Dec 20

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“The Christmas Song” is one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time, and it’s one of the most popular.

But a warning!

It’s NOT the easiest song to play. If you’re a complete beginner this might be a little too much.


This song uses lots of 7th chords, chord inversions and chords that are OUTSIDE the key signature (non-diatonic chords). If you’re not comfortable with those yet I’d recommend practicing them first 🙂

You can do that right here. We have a fantastic lesson explaining 7th chords right here. And if you need a lesson on chord inversions you can find that here as well.

So if you’re feeling brave and ready to learn “The Christmas Song”, let’s go!

The hardest part about this song

Is just HOW MANY chords and chord changes there are. Take a look at the opening line to see what I mean:

The Christmas Song Line 1

Every measure has two chords in it. That means you’ll be changing to a new chord every two beats. And some of those transitions are easier than others.

So really take the time to map out where you’re going, and practice some of the more difficult changes a few times.

Things get crazy in line two

Remember I mentioned that this song has lots of chords that are OUTSIDE the key signature (C)? Well, we see that best in line two:

The Christmas Song Line 2

Everything is great until we hit that B chord! But don’t worry, none of these chords are difficult on their own. I find it helps to stop, take a step back and figure out each chord separately.

A B chord has the notes B-D#-F#. As long as you play those in any order it will sound good.

An E chord has E-G#-B. Already you can see it shares a common note with the B chord before it.

Now moving to Bb is interesting. But remember, just break down the chord. A Bb chord has the notes Bb-D-F. The melody line has a Bb on top, so I find it nice to add the D and F below to play the chord in 1st inversion.

As long as you do this throughout the song those weird chords are so scary anymore.

You can be as complicated or simple as you like

“The Christmas Song” sounds beautiful with all the 7ths and inversions, but it also sounds lovely if you play the basic chords in root position.

It doesn’t HAVE to be a very hard song to play.

Remember, take it slow, figure out what you’ll be playing before you play it, and have fun.

And of course, Merry Christmas to you.

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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