Row Row Row Your Boat is a great easy piano piece for young piano beginners. You’ll often find it in First Piano Lesson tutor books. The familiar tune is easy to pick up, the hands are in the beginner’s five finger position, and it’s a good one for introducing the left hand and bass clef. Beginners five finger position means that you don’t have to shift hand position throughout the song.
Even if you don’t read music it’s easy to play this tune using the guide below. Start off with both hands together positioned with both thumbs sharing middle C. Then, follow the finger numbers shown below. Your hands will then be placed over the correct notes.
If you are completely new to the piano, check out my First Piano Lessons eBook which introduces the basics of the piano for beginners.
Easy Piano step-by-step: Row Row Row Your Boat
Row, row, row your boat,
LH notes: G – G – G – A – B
LH fingers: 4 – 4 – 4 – 3 – 2
Gen -tly down the stream,
LH notes: B – A – B – C – RH notes: D
LH fingers: 2 – 3 – 2 – 1 – RH fingers: 2
Mer-ri-ly, mer-ri-ly, mer-ri-ly, mer-ri-ly,
RH notes: G – G – G D – D – D LH notes: B – B D – D – D
RH fingers: 5 – 5 – 5 2 – 2 – 2 LH fingers: 2 – 2 – 2 4 – 4 – 4
Life is but a dream
RH fingers: D – C LH: B – A – G
RH: 2 – 1 LH: 2 – 3 – 4
How to Teach Row Row Row Your Boat
The steps below will teach beginners how to play the Row Row Row Your Boat melody across two hands.
- Look at the sheet music together. Sing the song and ask the child to point to the notes as you sing them.
- Start with both thumbs (1s) on middle C. Tell the child that they need to move their hands from this position.
- To prepare, explore the notes that the child will be playing. Ask the child to play and name the notes C, D, E, F, G with the right hand. These will be fingers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 both up, and back down again.
- Then do the same with the left hand going downwards. They might find this more difficult at first. This will go C, B, A, G, F with left hand 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 fingering and back up again to middle C.
- Looking at the easy piano sheet music, ask the child to identify the notes of the first 4 bars. Then invite them to play the notes, making sure they are using the correct fingering.
- With the next 4 bars, point out that the last note D on the word ‘stream’ is played by the finger 2 of the Right Hand. Explain that you must have that finger ready, and be prepared to play it so that there is no gap or break in the tune.
- Now identify the notes of the ‘Merrilys’. These are played first by the right hand and then with the left. Again emphasise the importance of thinking ahead to prepare so that the fingers are ready to play without hesitation.
- Prepare the last 4 bars in the same way, again pointing out that the phrase starts in the Right Hand and moves down to the Left Hand.
- Once all the notes have been worked out phrase by phrase in this way, explain that it is best to play the song slowly and smoothly, so that you can play without any gaps or hesitations.
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