Waltzing Matilda
Free Sheet Music & Guitar Tabs


"Waltzing Matilda" is a very popular song in my studio. Guitar players love it, singers love it, piano players love it.

At my recent Spring recital, I had to deny one student the privilege of playing this song, because two others had already spoken for it! (A fiddle and guitar duo, and a pianist who had made an arrangement with broken chords.)

This famous Australian song has a beautiful melody, but odd (to non-natives) lyrics. ?

Jumbuck?  Billabong?  What in the world!



Waltzing Matilda lead sheet



Here is what the Waltzing Matilda lead sheet looks like (scroll down the page for the free download link):


The smoothest fingering I have found for the right hand in Waltzing Matilda for beginners is to lift the thumb off the lowest note (beat 1) of measure 3 and place the thumb on the next note, 4 steps higher. (That would take place on the word "Un-der".)

This isn't a standard kind of fingering, but it works for a young player. The pedal can smooth it out!

The rest of the fingering is pretty intuitive, but if you wish for much greater detail on the piano fingering, check out this page with several beginner versions of this song.

After students have conquered the melody -- sometimes it will be at the same lesson -- we start the chords.

For pianists, Weeks 1 and 2 will likely be just simple open chords.

For beginning guitar players, they will be happiest - initially - with simple strumming.

Guitar tabs for Waltzing Matilda



Here is what the guitar tabs for Waltzing Matilda look like (scroll down the page for the free download link):


Like The Water is Wide, Waltzing Matilda uses most of the chords in its "chord family group". 

It is therefore not just a really beautiful song, but a good chord training song, both for pianists and for guitar players.  What chords go together?

Eventually, you want the answer to this question to be second nature for your musical students.

So far, I have resisted writing out left hand chords for pianists, because part of what I want my piano players to learn is how to take chord symbols in a Fake book or lead sheet, and make up their own arrangements.

This song lends itself to a walking bass, and pretty right hand harmony such as thirds. 

Waltzing Matilda sheet music lead sheet


Download Waltzing Matilda lead sheet in Key of C 

Download it in the key of D 


Below is the same melody, but with free guitar tabs:

Waltzing Matilda guitar tabs


Waltzing Matilda guitar tablature


Download free guitar tabs in the key of C 

Download free guitar tablature in the key of D 

After students have the rhythm and chord changes well in hand, it is time to make the accompaniment more interesting!

For guitar, try different fingerpicking patterns, such as Thumb, index, middle, ring, with an alternating thumb (use primary and secondary strings for the bass of the chord), or get a little fancier with Thumb, index, middle & ring together, back to index. Repeat.

For piano, try different kinds of broken chords, and even some right-hand harmony.

This is a good opportunity to discuss and try chord inversions and slash chords. 

What is a slash chord? Here is a C slash chord: C/G, which means a C chord with a G note in the bass instead of C.  See the second line of music below.

Here is an example of what you and your student could try: 

Waltzing Matilda chords

I would treat this left hand part as a duet at first, because the chord inversions may not be intuitive for your piano students unless they have mastered their scales and chords with inversions

Help them to SEE those slash chords, and try to figure out where the ROOT of the chord is.  (Hint: it is always up at the top of the interval of a 4th.)

I know your students -- vocal, piano, and guitar -- will love this free popular sheet music!

More Folk & Traditional Songs

Ae Fond Kiss - not strictly a folk melody, but it is old - and very lovely!

Ash Grove - an elegant melody that sounds more classical than folk, the lyrics are old-fashioned and poignant

Cat Came Back (for early singers) - a fun and silly song that can be pared down to JUST 5 NOTES for kids who have trouble matching pitch, there is much repetition in the melody (good for finding pitches)

Colorado Trail - a genuine cowboy song, just one verse, surprisingly lovely

Down by the Salley Gardens - this pretty song from England is a setting for a poem by William Butler Yeats about trying to hurry love

Erie Canal - a vigorous minor melody that kids like, with lots of repeating phrases

Green Bushes - a fast, light, pretty melody that speaks of false-hearted love, and feels very "English" in both lyrics and chord progressions

Grenadier and the Lady - Number One with me!  So beautiful, somewhat sad. Lots of opportunities for expressive singing.

Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier - Lovely.  Important for breath control and learning to mold a phrase.

Lavender's Blue, a pretty song that is VERY simple to sing!  Perfect for young girls.

Loch Lomond, the most famous song of all from Scotland.  Still beautiful.

Mari's Wedding - lots of energy in this Scottish tune, which sounds great with guitar and fiddle backup

The Minstrel Boy - though rather difficult with its long phrases, this Irish song about the love for one's country is very moving and beautiful

Molly Bawn - So sad, but so IRRESISTIBLE.  Lovely and evocative, and requiring good air support, it is educational as well as being satisfying to the musical soul.

Muss i denn or Abschied (Wooden Heart) - from Germany by way of Elvis, an adorable folk tune!

Once I Had a Sweetheart - another sad, pretty, and image-arousing song, once sung by Joan Baez

Parting Glass - There are many versions of this GREAT Irish melody.  Download mine free, then check out others!

Scarborough Fair - an old favorite from England, still lovely

She Moved Through the Fair - a strange, shifting melody, with almost creepy lyrics that will haunt you

Shenandoah - So pretty, and genuinely American.  Long phrases, good breath control practice.

Skye Boat Song - a singable old Scottish song with a great tune about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie after the Battle of Culloden

Spanish Ladies - a minor key sea chanty that swings energetically along - boys like singing it too!

The Spanish Lady - Upbeat and energetic, this song is fun to perform with a group.

Star of the County Down - LOTS of fun to sing and play!  An excellent ensemble piece.

Waltzing Matilda - an unusually pretty melody from Australia; you know this one!  Very popular with kids.

The Water is Wide - a very pretty song about disappointed love.  You might have sung this one in high school!

White, Orange and Green - though not widely known, this charming melody about fighting for the right to carry the flag of Ireland has stirring lyrics and soaring phrases. A favorite of my vocal & guitar students.




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