Free Piano Sheet Music PDF for Beginners
Boil'em Cabbage Down, Parts 1 & 2

This free piano sheet music PDF for beginners has a popular history as a fiddle & guitar tune.  Listen to Part 1:

Yes, that was just 15 seconds long.  Klaire & Klay weren't ready to play Part 2, when we recorded this short duet.

You may have heard this sister and brother team before, in a video of Shortnin' Bread they did one day during lessons.

Part 1: the main melody

Boil'em Cabbage Down fiddle song, arranged for beginner piano

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Oh my goodness, this looks like a PLAIN melody.  The same notes over and over, and not even any lyrics to grab ahold of!

Doesn't matter - this little piece is FUN.

Now with Part 2, it makes a rambunctious, easy duet for beginning piano.

Turns out, all this time, I just had Part 1 posted.  So now with Part 2, twice the fun!

Part 2: a little bit of harmony!

Boil'em Cabbage Down song part 2

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Part 2 is not part of the recording by Klay & Klaire.  I'll have to make a new one - this part is CHARMING.

No fingering

I tend to make suggestions about the fingering with this little song, but when kids get moving really fast with Boil'em Cabbage, they may just not be able to employ every finger!

Because I have put helper notes with letters in there, students will have NO PROBLEM figuring out where they are, right?  Hahahahaha.  Not so fast.  Songs that jump around are disorienting, no matter how obvious you, the teacher, think the notes may be. (That's one reason I have switched method books recently, to an old favorite, the John Thompson "Modern Course for Piano".)

Many students will read "C & E" in measure 29, and proceed to play MIDDLE C & E, despite the obvious fact that these notes are way higher up the "ladder" of the staff.

Measure 23 poses the only exception to the parallel thirds... an opportunity to count intervals!  It is, of course, an "upside-down" G chord.

How you usually encounter this little song:

Have a listen to a fabulous fiddle rendition - the actual melody doesn't start until 1:22 into the video:

It's a lead sheet - but the chords are for a partner

Though this piece can function as a solo, it's way more fun and satisfying as a duet.  But don't start your student with the melody...

Focus on the chords first

This is one of those songs where open chords give us the kind of sound we want.  They also provide a "bounce" effect!

Wait a week or so before assigning the melody.  In the meantime, play it as a duet until they start to pick up, by ear, the way the tune goes.  I've written it so that the counting is EASY for a beginner, but of course, it has to go fast - perhaps faster than you both can count "ONE-TWO, one-one, ONE-TWO, one-one"!

What IS an open chord?

Instead of forming triads (tri = three, like triangle, tripod, tricycle, I like to tell students), we use plain 2-note chords.

Thus, a C chord would be formed with fingers 1 and 5 on c and g (for the right hand), or fingers 5 and 1 on c and g (for the left hand).  My students learn to do this open chord right along with their earliest scales.

I'm giving this song the same treatment as Star of the County Down, where the left-right, left-right open chords of the secondo part impart great ENERGY. 

And excitement!  I was so surprised to hear a little boy shout, "This is fun!" after multiple repetitions of the chord pattern (while I played the simple melody).  Haha - he even liked the chords as a "solo".  His enthusiasm made me decide to try the same piece with other beginners, and they like it too.

The meaning of the forward slashes

Boil'em Cabbage Down chord symbols

As you might expect, the slash marks are just rhythm indications for the chords.  Kids will grasp this right away, especially if you point at each slash with pen, pencil, or finger as you move along.

(The 2-page arrangement has no slash marks, but should be accompanied in just the same manner.)

Start with one hand only

The pattern is the same for each chord - 4 strikes - until the last line, then it is 2 quick strikes each for the C & G penultimate chords.

sheet music for piano

(Please do have a look at the page Star of the County Down for sheet music examples of how to do the chords here in Boil'em Cabbage Down.)

Ideas for presenting Boil'em Cabbage Down

My suggestions for teaching this song:

  1. Play it through yourself, with melody and accompanying chords, as fast as you can.
  2. Then, demonstrate to them JUST THE CHORDS, with your free hand pointing to the chord symbols as you play.
  3. Invite them to try the chords ( with one hand only - it doesn't matter which hand!) - play the chords with them.
  4. Repeat, but this time play the MELODY as they play the chords.
  5. Now show them how the chords look if you split them between the two hands: Left-right, left-right, left-right, left-right.  BUT DON'T TELL THEM what you're doing.  Ask them, "What's different?  Can you tell?"
  6. Invite them to try.  They will LOVE it.
  7. Play the melody as they play the chords.
  8. Finally, give them a try at the melody.  See how much they can figure out on their own.

No fingering

I decided not to suggest any fingering in this piece.  That worked well, because some of my students benefitted from the extra power of a reinforced finger 3 - like a doughnut shape.  Their hand can take on the speed and power of a drumstick.  See the little song "Dipping Donuts" for an explanation of this hand shape.

BUT - "donuts" is too gentle of a term for the power they need in Boilem' Cabbage Down.  In this song, we call the finger shape "The Pecking Chicken"!  Show them your flexible wrist as you play the "PECK, peck-peck, PECK, peck-peck," rhythm.

I think you will have fun with this little duet!

The link for the sheet music:

Free piano sheet music PDF for beginners Boil'em Cabbage Down

Download 2-page version of Boil'em Cabbage Down

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Boil'em Cabbage Down - only 4 notes, and lots of repeated notes, with energy!

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Erie Canal - Part I has only 5 notes, but is a satisfying introduction to this song

Fuzzy Wuzzy - cute and short!

Go Tell Aunt Rhody

God is So Good - a sweet melody with sweet words

Jingle Bells - every child knows this one

Mary Had a Little Lamb - a song with many uses!

Ode to Joy, the famous tune by Beethoven

Pizza Please (Hot Cross Buns) - 3 notes, arranged for each hand

Sharks (3 notes, for left hand) - this is like the Jaws theme song

Snake Charmer - with fun lyrics and a mysterious minor melody

Tarantelle - the spider dance, with silly lyrics about tarantulas

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of, and a newer site,

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.

You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.