The Ukrainian Bell Carol (also called Carol of the Bells, or Hark How the Bells) is incredibly popular and beautiful. This free sheet music will encourage your beginning piano students to make it sparkle with energy.
Though it is very beautiful and flashy, it is surprisingly easy. This ever-popular Christmas song, though originally a choral piece, is a great favorite at my studio. All my students learn it eventually.
Listen to this beautiful version by pianist George Winston:
Many first-year students can learn this piece (particularly older students), as long as they have the coordination to master the four-note figure which the right hand repeats over and over again. ("TAH, tee-tee Tah, TAH, tee-tee Tah.")
When introducing it, I always give them just the right hand motif the first week, because it is tricky! A great many of them come back the next week playing four equal quarter notes (sounding like the beginning of the "Dies irae -- Day of Wrath!" not "Hark, how the bells!"), and wondering why all the spark seems to have gone out of the song.
Try this: whether the RH is playing the figure "c, b-c, a", (or the LH as in the very beginner versions), the execution of that tricky figure repeated over and over again is facilitated by a DROP of the hand onto the keys on each beat 1. HARK how the bells, SWEET sil-ver bells, ALL seem to say, THROW cares a-way...
I have written an easier version of the Carol of the Bells more suitable for real beginners, using the Middle C notes with which they should be familiar.
Though not having the flash and sparkle of this longer version, the beauty of the music still comes through and seems to satisfy kids at the beginning level, and they work at it happily.
But a student who is past Level 1 will probably be able to play this song in just a few days, learning the essentials all in one lesson. Just today I showed one of my Level 2 students this piece, and it was a snap for him.
Before we even touched the piano keys, we looked through page 1 to see what was happening, then tapped the right hand ostinato rhythm on the fallboard while I pointed at the left hand melody notes, tapping them with the left hand and singing the melody.
The same version, but with "helper notes" (letters in some of the keys) can be found at my page "Note-Naming Worksheets."
A harder, fancier version, is found in FJH's In Recital with Christmas Favorites Book 3. That Gm arrangement incorporates more themes from Ukrainian Bell Carol than my simple version above.
(In the FJH book there are 13 carols in all, including a -- thankfully -- shortened version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," "Up on the Housetop," an unusually pretty arrangement of "O Christmas Tree," an easy but sweet "I Saw Three Ships," a mysterious "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," and duet arrangements of "Pat-a-Pan" and "Good King Wenceslaus".)
Hark How the Bells is easily learned by rote; I'm not saying not to have them read the notes! But your kids will be able to PLAY this piece long before they can READ it, and long before they meet treble C,D and E in their Faber Piano Adventure books, not to mention f# and g#, which the song uses on page 2.
And another video -- the Straight No Chaser Men's Group:
This is an absolutely wonderful site! As a voice and piano teacher looking for enrichment material for beginners, I have found your collections to be comprehensive and purposeful. It is clear that you are a wonderful musician and educator. Thank you!
I just wanted to tell you that I have found your website EXTREMELY helpful! I have a young group of children that I have started a youth choir with and I was searching for music ideas and I came across your website. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
I just purchased O Holy Night to use as a duet for Christmas Eve Mass. Thank you so much for this simple, easy to read version as my vocalists are not professional and this music won't be quite so intimidating as other arrangements I have. Your expertise is much appreciated!! Merry Christmas!
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Can I Print This?
Is it okay to print this? Dana: Yes, I have put this sheet music here for people to use, so you are free to print it out.
George Winston's Version of Carol of the Bells - Can I Get It from You?
Could you email me the George Winston version of the song? Dana: No, I can't. That would be copyright theft. You see, G. Winston arranged …