Printable Piano Music 
What Do You Do With a Drunken - or Grumpy - Sailor!

What a great sound this driving sea chanty has!  You'll find several arrangements on this page. (Find arrangements for guitar over on this page.)

An updated long arrangement:

Sea chanty song

And the same version, all alphanotes:

Sea shanty

Page 2

sailor song Drunken Sailor

With lettered notes:

Notes with letter names song

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

This is the late elementary long version with the usual lyrics, full of sound and fury.

The surging energy created by the LH of this easy piano sheet music keeps it driving till the very end.

Fingering is the key

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).

Play it with your eyes closed

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.

Change dynamics

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!

Rep 4: Right hand over left hand

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.

Lead sheets

An easy-to-read LEAD SHEET that shows exactly when the chords happen:

Lead sheet for early piano students of What Do You Do With a Grumpy Sailor

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

This style of sheet is proving to be extremely useful with DISTANCE TEACHING - that is, needing to teach my students remotely by computer.

I hold my music up to the computer camera, and say, "What's the first note?"  When they give the right answer, I say, "What finger is on that note?"  That makes them search.  It is always AMAZING to me how blind students can be to fingering notations!

After they have correctly identified the finger ("Five"),  I say, "Okay.  Now put that finger 5 on the "A" key."  Then we are off and running.

With a couple of lyric changes

I've re-done the lyrics for some of the versions on this page...  just one word is changed in verse one: "drunken" is now "grumpy."  

And in verse two, the grumpy sailor is thrown in the brig until he's "cheerful" - or, in the newest version, the lead sheet, the grumpy sailor is put in the SUNSHINE till he's happy!   Now I can offer this great piece to younger kids without apologizing to their parents...

The full piece with bass clef

New lyrics - What Do You Do with a GRUMPY Sailor? for kids, on piano
Long version of "Drunken Sailor," renamed "What Do You Do with a GRUMPY Sailor"

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

This free printable piano music might be your student's favorite for a long time!  

Here is what verse two looks like as a LEAD SHEET.  It is so much like verse one, that students pick it up quickly, if they know verse one.  The chord symbols are just like verse one - but drop the left hand down an octave.

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

This page 2 is actually a separate PDF file... because it is "in process"!  I'm going to repeat this approach for verses three - five.

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.

Shared-hands melody

Below are 4 variations of an easy Middle C arrangement, 3 with a bit of harmony.  First, a basic Middle C arrangement:

Easiest arrangement of What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Add some harmony

Next, a harmonized "Grumpy Sailor" song.

What Do You Do With a GRUMPY Sailor

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

With lettered notes

And now the usual lyrics, plus some lettered notes:

Easy arrangement of What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor with a simple harmony

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

This one has a very easy left hand

A version with just one change in left hand

Now here is an easier version of Drunken Sailor & Grumpy Sailor with fewer chord changes:

Easy piano song What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor

The links to Grumpy Sailor:

Download the new easy-to-read lead sheet with a few helper notes & chords, just page one

Download lead sheet page two with a few helper notes, just page two

Download late elementary long arrangement of "GRUMPY Sailor" song

Download What Do You Do with a GRUMPY SAILOR easy Middle C version with a bit of harmony

Download easiest Middle C version of Drunken Sailor sea chanty with NO HARMONY

Download easy Middle C version of What Do You Do with a DRUNKEN Sailor with left hand harmony and lettered notes

The links for What Do You Do with a DRUNKEN Sailor,  elementary piano arrangements:

Printable piano music for long, more difficult arrangement What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor 

Same late elementary version, but with all lettered note heads

Easy short arrangement Drunken Sailor with easy left hand chords

The link for the same arrangement, with the politer words:

Download easy GRUMPY Sailor music

Why not include all the lyrics?

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.

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Dannielle, Australia:
I was wondering if it was at all possible to gain permission from you to use some of the pieces of music on this website for my students performing at an Eisteddod in Australia? I have found this website most helpful to my teaching and the students seem to enjoy this music. Would you mind if they played some of these pieces in a public setting?
Hi, Dannielle, Absolutely you may use my pieces in public! Thanks for asking (but no need). Best wishes for a fun performance.

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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!

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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.