This free printable piano music might be your student's favorite for a long time! The surging energy created by the LH of this easy piano sheet music keeps it driving till the very end. Here are two different arrangements of What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor (the easiest version is at the page bottom).
What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor is a sea shanty: a sailors' song sung to the rhythm of their working. (Also known as shantey, chantey, or chanty.) Like most songs of folk origin, you'll find many variants of it. This version is the one I know.
Lots of repetition - but be careful of the fingering
The LH is easy open chords, the same pattern every verse. The RH, too, is almost unchanging from verse to verse, but each repetition has a bit of a twist, or a register change that gives it a fresh feeling. I have found that the fingering needs to be insisted on from the very first (especially with aural learners).
Turn practice into a game
A good way to make sure this happens is to set a goal for them: by next week, be able to play the melody of part 1 --no LH-- with their eyes closed! As soon as I announce this challenge, they try to accomplish it right then -- and some do it! This goal is much more fun to work at than "Have this memorized by next lesson," and it also improves their tactile relationship with the melody.
Dynamics change for contrast
On repetition 3, both hands jump up high. This is a good opportunity for contrast -- a pianissimo moment in the midst of all the commotion!
A new skill - Right hand crosses over the left hand
On page 2, the RH crosses over the LH down to the bass clef -- I hope that's clear enough in the music. The LH stays just where it was, but appears temporarily in the top staff. Then at the last repetition, the hands must fly apart quickly as RH goes right again, and LH drops deep into the bass.
A version with no change in left hand
Now here is an even easier version of Drunken Sailor:
What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor lyrics
I did not include all the lyrics for this printable piano music. If you watch the Irish Rovers' Youtube video of What Will We Do with a Drunken Sailor, you can see that some of the lyrics are the kind of words you might not want to be explaining to your small music students!
The speed will come
Remember what I said about the energy driving this piece? Once the hand coordination is developed in this sea shanty, your students will be flying along... and the pounding might become a bit of an issue for their parents! (Then it will be time to talk about refinement and musicality, if you haven't already.) This song is VERY fun.
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!
Kim in Washington:
My son is hooked...I've been introducing piano to my son on and off for a year or so, but he's not had much interest. Then I gave him "Monsters Everywhere". He loved playing it with the organ sound on our piano. He memorized it that week and I'm printing off the other Halloween songs to keep him going. I love the detailed instructions on teaching since he is my first student! Thanks so much.
That is so neat that your son has experienced the magic and mystery of music through this little song. That is so exciting to me. Thanks for writing, Kim!
Thank you for the free downloads! I'm a private teacher and I teach piano and beginner voice as well. :) I've been running my studio for about a year and I've come across the same issue; I don't want my students to have to purchase an entire supplemental book for only a couple of songs. So thank you for this site...some great downloads!!
A thousand thanks for your beginning piano and guitar songs. I've already printed several for my children, including the Pretty Little Horses TAB and Carol of the Bells for piano. What a wonderful resource!
Thank you. Just wanted to say I found your website by mistake but what a blessing it has been. I am a missionary wife living in Spain (for many, many years) and I teach piano to Spanish children and adults. I have the barrier of very few usable things in Spanish, and can so identify with the need to write things suitable for the student...
Helpful Piano Sites
EyeEarRevolution (a blog)
Martha Beth's Piano Site
Piano Music for Boys (Teach Piano Today)
Piano Adventures Forum
Susan Paradis Teacher Resources
... I watched your video "Wondrous Love" with your eight gals - Magnificent! So refreshing to see good harmonies sung a capella these days; it seems to be rare!
Carrie,Voice and Piano Teacher:
This site is FABULOUS. For all the reasons you explain on the site itself--this is exactly what piano teachers need! (I still need to go look at the vocal music). Wow. THANK YOU SO MUCH!
You are awesome. Thank you. I'm a voice and piano teacher and to have so many pieces in one place- for many different levels- is a Godsend. Thank you for the time and effort you have put in to make this so easily available to all of us stressed music teachers!!!