Yankee Doodle
for Beginning Piano Players

Yankee Doodle is a familiar song with a strong beat -- that's the kind of song most fun to play for beginning piano students.

Here is free sheet music for Yankee Doodle, and lots of ideas for stretching your students' understanding of what chords are all about!  (Scroll down the page for the free downloadable PDF link):

Yankee Doodle for beginner piano

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

This funny old video, below, has the Yankee Doodle lyrics and a great male singer bringing them to life! Wait for the introduction to be done - it's worth it: 


After they play through the melody, you can turn it into a duet by adding simple chords. With you, the piano teacher, on the bottom part (or secondo) and them on the top part, play through together like this: 

How to add chords to Yankee Doodle on the piano

Then try it, still as a teacher/student duet, like this -- much more energy in the music! (The bass staff shows the left and right hands playing open chords an octave apart.) 

Piano Chord patterns for Yankee Doodle duet

Then switch parts: let them be the Secondo or chord part! 

First, have them play, with LH only, C chords all the way through the song -- though the song really needs an F chord as well as the G chord, it will sound just fine to a young musician with C chords only!

To help them keep time, try using a conducting gesture -- a downward movement like a bouncing ball -- to compel a rhythmic response from them.

This is far more effective, I have found, than just counting aloud.

Physical movement from the teacher seems to propel their hands to move in time.

After a week or more of playing C chords only while you play the melody, have them play -- again, left hand only -- the F and G chords also, as 4-beat chords.

Yankee Doodle with chord symbols

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Last of all -- this is the most fun -- demonstrate how to play "Left, Right, L, R," with each of the chords. 

Show them the page with chord and slash symbols (or just write on their original sheet... I write all over my students' music, usually with colored pens).

As for players, the slash symbols make it very plain how many times to play the chords.

They will love playing in this rhythmic fashion with big arm movements, and it is an easy kind of duet for beginners to play together: all chords for one piano player (no note-reading necessary) -- and all melody for the other.

I have put no fingering into this piece. After a discussion about "skips" and "steps" (a talk you need to have again and again), they may not need any fingering at all.

Here is another Yankee Doodle video - same singer as the one above, but with fun pictures (unfortunately there are tiny skips in the sound from time to time): 

Have fun with Yankee Doodle! 





The links for the music PDFs:


Download free sheet music Yankee Doodle for beginners


Download Yankee Doodle with chord symbols 








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Comments

Do you have a funny story about this music, or does it remind you of something you'd like to share with other readers? Do you have a question? I'd love to hear it!

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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.

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and 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.