Winter Wonderland: Mastering Christmas Songs on the Piano and Keyboard


How to play Winter Wonderland on the piano and keyboard - mastering Christmas songs

Check out our complete series on mastering Christmas songs on Piano and Keyboard.

Click on any of the music scores to view/print higher resolution versions

This guide will show you how to play simple arrangements of “Winter Wonderland”, offering free downloadable PDF and PNG image files, as well as providing audio and MIDI versions for you to download and listen to.

It uses standard musical notation. See our how to read music article if you want to learn to read this common type of printed sheet music.

Contents

Introduction

Here, Winter Wonderland is written and played in the key of C Major, and has a 4/4 time signature.

We’ve found C major to be a comfortable key for most people to sing, and it plays without many accidentals (sharps and flats) so it’s quite easy for a beginning pianist to learn.

It’s the same key used on Dean Martin’s version of the song. Michael Bublé transposes his version to C# major (a semitone higher). It’s also sung in other keys – you’ll have to transpose the music (or use the transpose key on your keyboard or digital piano) to get those keys.

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Main Melody

This well-known Christmas song is made from four distinct phrases, with the first two and last one being very similar to one another, with the third distinct ‘bridge’.

The first eight bars feature the first phrase. The second eight bars feature the same phrase repeated.

The next eight bars are quite different, while the final eight bars replicate the second phrase.

The melody notes you need to play are:

G G | G G G | E G G G | G G G | F G G |
B B B A A | G G G F | E E E E D D D D |

C G G | G G G | E G G G | G G G | F G G |
B B B A A | G G G F | E E E E D D D D | C |

B B G# G# C# C# A A | G# E | B B G# G# C# C# A A |
G# | D D B B E E C C | B G G | B B B B A A A A |

G G G | G G G | E G G G | G G G | F G G |
B B B A A | G G G F | E E E E D D D D | C |

Each vertical bar symbol represents a measure (or bar) line.

Of course this doesn’t convey any note timing, which we come on to with the following sheet music.

Here’s the complete melody written out:

Winter Wonderland melody score

Download this as a PDF file

The musical notation may look a little strange to you if you’re not used to seeing triplets. Although the piece of music is written in 4/4, each beat is broken up into thirds. Another way of thinking of it is that each bar has 12 distinct, regular ‘pulses’ or beats in it.

In reality, there’s nothing much to worry about here, particularly if you know what the song sounds like. In each beat that’s made up of a triplet, you generally have a note that lasts for two-thirds of the beat followed by a note that lasts the remaining one-third (like the pair of notes in bar one or the last beat of bars 2,3 and 4).

Bars with tied notes such as bars 3, 5 and 6 might look confusing. If it boggles your mind and you want to get it completely right, try playing the song much slower than normal and count 12 beats in every bar.

If you do this, a triplet takes up three beats (with the split of notes as described above); a quarter note (crotchet) also takes three beats on its own; a half note (minim) takes six beats on its own; a dotted half note takes nine beats on its own, and so on.

Look at the beginning of bar 3. You should be able to work out how long that last note in the first triplet tied to the next half note lasts — 7 beats.

Or in bar 5, where the three Gs are tied together for a total of 9 beats.

When all is said and done, remember that the printed manuscript is only there as a guide. As you get used to the piece, you can play it with your own chosen swing and timing nuances (and indeed you should).

Listen to the basic melody by playing one of the following MP3 audio files:

Here’s the melody track on its own:

Download MP3 | Download MIDI

Here’s the melody track with a metronome click track. A high click signifies the first beat of each measure/bar:

Download MP3

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Single Note Bass Line

Below is a simple bass line for the song using just one note at a time. It uses four quarter notes (crotchets) per bar to provide a basic rhythm to the song. Be sure to play these notes steadily and regularly.

Many of the intervals between first and second notes in each bar are an octave, with some perfect fourth and perfect fifths.

Here’s the printed music, split over two pages:

Winter Wonderland Bassline Score part 1

Winter Wonderland Bassline Score part 2

Download this as a PDF file

And here’s what it sounds like:

Download MP3 | Download MIDI

Here it is with a metronome backing.

Download MP3

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Adding right hand chords

In the final version of Winter Wonderland, I’ve added two- and three-note chords to the right hand.

Generally there’s a chord to play on the first beat of each bar, except in cases such as bar 8 where two chords (the first on beat 1 and the second on beat 3) make for a better harmony.

Try to hold the lower one or two notes of the chord while you play the melody over the top. Using the sustain pedal will really help smooth the sound out.

Here’s the printed music, split over two pages:

Winter Wonderland with chords score part 1

Continued below...

Winter Wonderland with chords score part 2

Download this as a PDF file

And here’s what it sounds like:

Download MP3 | Download MIDI

Here’s a version with the metronome:

Download MP3

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Winter Wonderland Lead Sheet

A lead sheet simply shows the melody line written out (on the treble clef) plus the significant chords required to play the song.

We’ve used very simple chords, based on the simple accompaniments written out above. Notice you only need C, G, Am, E, Em and D to play a chord accompaniment for the whole piece.

You can get by just fine playing the chords in root position (that is, with all the chord notes played in the same order as they appear in their related scale – for example C major chord in root position is C at the bottom, followed by E and then G above) – but as you progress you may find putting in some chord inversions makes for more a interesting accompaniment and is easier to play.

For example, you could move from a C major to a G major chord simply by shifting your whole hand up from the C major (C, E, G) to G major (G, B, D).

Alternatively, you could play the root of C major and the first inversion of G major. (To play the first inversion of a three-note major (or minor) chord (known as a triad) you put the middle note at the bottom, the root note at the top, and the top note in between – G major root (G B D) become G major first inversion (B D G))

Or you could move from the C major root to the second inversion of G major. (The second inversion puts the top note at the bottom, the root note in the middle, and the middle note at the top – G major root (G B D) becomes G major second inversion (D G B))

You could even go from the second inversion of C major to the root of G major:

Try it with other chords as well and see how it alters the sound of the accompaniment, and how easy it is to play.

In the “Adding right hand chords” section above, you can see how chord inversions are used in conjunction with the melody notes.

Here’s the lead sheet, over two pages. The following are PNG files you can download:

Winter Wonderland lead sheet page 1

Winter Wonderland lead sheet page 2

Download this as a PDF file

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Lead Sheet With More Colourful Chords

We deliberately kept the chords simple for the basic version of Winter Wonderland.

Below is another version of the lead sheet with more ‘colourful’ chords. There are still only a few chords you need to consider (with inversions if you wish). In this case they are C, G7, Dm/G, G, Aaug7, E, Esus4, Dm and A. That’s nine chords, but if you look more closely you can see they’re really just variations of C, G, D, E and A.

Winter Wonderland lead sheet color chords page 1

Winter Wonderland lead sheet color chords page 2

Download this as a PDF file

What are those chords?

Here they are shown on the stave in root position:

C major (C)

G dominant 7th (G7)

D minor over G (Dm/G)

G major (G)

A augmented (A+)

E major (E)

E sustained 4th (Esus4)

D minor (Dm)

A major (A)

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Winter Wonderland Colourful Chords Full Score Example

Below is a full music manuscript for Winter Wonderland giving you an example of how you might play the more ‘colourful’ chords in an arrangement.

Winter Wonderland full manuscript color chords page 1

Winter Wonderland full manuscript color chords page 2

Winter Wonderland full manuscript color chords page 3

Winter Wonderland full manuscript color chords page 4

Download this as a PDF file

Here’s how it sounds:

Download MP3 | Download MIDI

Here’s how it sounds with a metronome accompaniment.

Download MP3

We hope you found this guide useful. Feel free to leave comments below if you have any questions or suggestions.

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Check out our complete series on mastering Christmas songs on Piano and Keyboard.