The Erie Canal Song

The Erie Canal Song, with the easiest approach to a lead sheet for young beginners! Still popular after all these years,  there are a number of ways to present this song to your student:

  • free piano sheets online, 
  • an easy 5-finger arrangement for beginning readers, 
  • lead sheets in two keys, & plus a new one with a few lettered notes & chord symbols
  • tabs for your students who play guitar music.

A repetitious & strong melody

Easy lead sheet with lettered notes for piano

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

I love tunes that repeat portions, for beginners.  Here, line 1 is repeated in line 2 and line 4.

A chord symbol marks EACH occurrence

Ordinarily, a chord symbol is placed only at the beginning of its use, but I have found that students gain accuracy with the chords almost instantly when they understand that they are to strike it every time it appears.

Try single bass notes instead of triads

A single bass note works very well in Erie Canal.  The descending line is fun to play, and somewhat intuitive. 

One of my young students mastered the notes and the hand coordination inside of the first lesson with this piece.  That was because we focused on the piece, spending extra time with it - I'm learning that with some of my students, this is an excellent strategy.  

Erie Canal sheet music for piano, Middle C arrangement

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Here is the same beginner piano arrangement as above, but with a few "helper" notes - letters inside the notes:

Erie Canal for beginner piano, with a few lettered notes in the music

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

the Erie Canal song with made-easy notes for piano

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

These music note drawings - piano music with letters - are obviously about helping with reading music notes for beginners.  If this isn't your cup of tea, look farther down the page!

Easy tabs for guitar players - lots of open strings

Easy guitar tabs for Erie Canal song

VERY FUN - and not too hard for your guitar beginners

Erie Canal for beginner guitar

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

This melody is fun and pretty easy - it uses lots of open strings, and fingers 1 and 3... nice guitar music notes for beginners.  There's just a bit of high "A" on page 2, needing fret 5 - good practice for stretching a little outside of position 1.

The shift from Am to Dm chords is challenging for beginners, but good practice for them.

Piano solos

Here are a couple versions for early intermediate/ late elementary piano, with a fun descending bass line:

Free! download notes for Erie Canal for elementary piano

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

If your students like the first page of the canal boat song, then it's a good bet that they'll want the whole thing.  

It requires another change of hand position.  Here's what those pages look like, in the key of Dm ( the short version, above, is in Am):

Easy piano notes for late elementary piano, Erie Canal sheet music
Erie Canal easy piano notes for late elementary piano

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

I've put no fingering on page 2 of these arrangements.  Sometimes I just keep a pencil handy and work out fingering on an as-needed basis.

And now, here are a couple lead sheets, with Erie Canal lyrics of three verses:

Easy chords songs in Am & Dm, Erie Canal song
easy chords songs for all instruments, Erie Canal

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

"Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal" was written in 1905 by Thomas S. Allen  This song is also known as "Low Bridge, Everybody Down," "The Erie Canal Song," and the way I sang it as a kid, "Fifteen MILES on the Erie Canal."

I had NO idea what the song was about.  But here is a very fun video, with still shots of old canals and mules with action added somehow, that demonstrates just what this song is about!


The new Dm lead sheet for beginners, with a few alphanotes:



Download the newest lead sheet, shown at the top of the page




The links for the Middle C piano arrangements:



Download The Erie Canal Song in Middle C position, for shared hands



Download the alphanotes "helper" version of the Middle C arrangement



The links for the easy piano sheet music:



Download the Erie Canal Song with made-easy lettered notes, short



Download free Erie Canal sheet music for beginner piano, also with lettered notes, LONG



The links for the guitar tabs:



Download tabs and play guitar music for Erie Canal



The links for the harder versions:



Free! download notes for Erie Canal music for late elementary piano in Am, short



Free! download notes for elementary version of Erie Canal music in Dm, short



Alphanotes helper version for Dm elementary version of the Erie Canal song



The links to the long versions of Erie Canal:



Download easy piano sheet music LONG, with 2 pages in the key of Am



Download easy piano sheet music Erie Canal two pages in the key of Dm



The links for the lead sheets:



Download free lead sheet in Am



Free lead sheet in Dm



Give your students the joy of learning Beethoven's famous Für Elise in an easy-to-read format... every note from the ORIGINAL piece is here  in this beautiful new setting



More 5-finger songs at Music-for-Music-Teachers:

Cat Came Back (easiest version) - with fun-to-sing lyrics, many verses!


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


When the Saints Go Marching In - with several arrangements!








Interested in songs from the Bible for your students or church?  Check out my other website, SingTheBibleStory.com!

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.

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.