Ode to Joy is one of Beethoven's most recognized and beloved melodies. Perhaps your student's older brother has played it on his trumpet in school band, or perhaps he has heard it sung in church as "Joyful, Joyful, we adore thee..." Here are several versions of simple, free kids sheet music for beginning piano players which can be dressed up with chords.
It is just possible your student has heard the song sung by a quartet at the end of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. However it may be, if they have heard this most famous of Beethoven's songs before, they will want to play it themselves!
This is probably how they will want to play it:
Beethoven's Ode to Joy with Left Hand
And eventually, beginners will play it like that. But at first, I simplify the melody so they can concentrate on reading the notes:
Free Beethoven printable piano music easiest version
With only minimal fingering, kids read this song just like "Snakes," except I warn them that there are some skips hiding in some of the measures. We go looking for the skips (or thirds), and circle them with a colored pen.
This free kids' sheet music is a simplified version of Beethoven's actual rhythm. (But they may play it with the dotted rhythm anyway, if they have ever heard it before!)
Another change I have made is to turn the melody up at the end of line 3 instead of down, in order to contain the melody within one hand. That way,we can add chords in a few weeks or months when the melody is very strong.
With chords, Ode to Joy can be dressed up for a duet, or returned to later when they have gained more skill and their hands are more independent.
Free kids' sheet music Ode to Joy with chord symbols
When should you start adding chords? As I said, not until the melody is well in hand.
I've had kids play the chord accompaniment different ways in this piece, but always starting it as a duet with them on the melody and me on the chords -- BIG chords.
It's good for them to feel the majesty of this piece and to learn to feel comfortable with all the sounds happening while they strive to keep the melody going rhythmically. (If they get too lost and confused initially, then I drop the fancy accompaniment and just play along with them, doubling their part.)
This is the kind of accompaniment I might make - FOR ME, THE TEACHER!
Then we switch places, and I have them try C and G open chords all the way through, striking the chord on beat 1 only. Changing chords may be a little slow at first, but this student will have been playing the C, F, and G chords of the 12-Bar-Blues for at least a few weeks or months by now.
Then we do something fun. I point out to them that they can change from C to G and back to C again without even looking at their hand, if they "sneak" through the g key, using it as a landmark."Close your eyes and try it," I tell them, and now it becomes a challenge. They love a challenge!
Then we go through the whole piece, with me on the melody and them on the chords, left handonly, swapping back and forth from C to G to C. Line 3 is a lot of work, moving twice a measure. Watch out where there are 2 C chords in a row! Then line 4 is just like line 2.
Finally, we make one last change... after the energy of line 3, it doesn't seem right to settle back down to just one chord a measure, so we put four chords in each measure of line 4 -- what a difference! I ask them if they can feel the difference, and they can indeed!
It may be some time before they can put this vigorous left hand together with the right hand melody, but that's okay...in the meantime, you have a great duet, and they are learning chord basics.
Do you have a funny story about this music, or does it remind you of something you'd like to share with other readers? Do you have a question? We'd love to hear it!
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Naming the Notes
I think personally that all the notes should be named with the letter e.g. GGGEEEDDD Dana: I leave that up to the discretion of the individual …
Why Don't You Put Names Over the Notes?
You should put the notes names above the notes. It would be sooo much easier for learning children. Thanks! Dana: Hi, Zhanna, If I did that, …
I need help!
I really want to learn piano is there any way I can do it online? Dana: I suggest you have a look at You Can Play Piano.com , the suggestions …
Why should we not write the letters in?
Some of the time beginners will struggle to play the notes. Why should we not write the letters in English or write the English letters under the notes …
Question - Do You Have the Letters for the Pieces?
I have a question. Do you have the letters for the pieces. I would like to teach my little brother how to play the piano and the letters would be the easiest …
This site was great it helped me get lots of sheet music for the summer while I'm off of piano lessons :) Thank You soooo much!!!!
Thank You for Age-Appropriate Sheetmusic
I just wanted to say what a relief it is to find a resource that isn't smothered with baby pictures. I have older beginners learning at the moment and …
Please Could You Put the Names on the Notes?
Please could you put it like: EEFGGFED As I can understand that! ;) Dana: Hi, Anonymous. I see that you have already figured out the beginning …
Thank-you! I was happy to find your downloads...
I was getting lost on the internet looking for some very simple beginner stuff when I found your amazing site. My son is 8 and says he wants to learn …