When The Saints Go Marching In is a good song choice for young pianists as it’s great for boosting confidence. This very easy version is in C major and is perfect for little hands. The simple repetitive five finger melody makes it easy to memorise and in this arrangement both hands play the tune in unison, so it is a good way to introduce playing both hands together.
Most children will know this famous tune well and whilst this isn’t so good for practicing sight reading, it’s a real motivator and does encourage lots of practice. It’s a simple song that sounds impressive and they will be so encouraged and excited to show everyone how they can play it off by heart with both hands together!
If you are new to the piano, check out my First Piano Lesson ebook which introduces the basics of the piano for beginners.
How to teach When The Saints Go Marching In on the piano
- First sing the song and clap the rhythm. Hopefully the child will recognise it, but if not it won’t take long to learn this catchy tune. If you have a tambourine or some sticks, the child will enjoy tapping along to the rhythm.
- Sing the song again, but this time ask the child to point at the notes as you sing while you follow the printed melody line with a finger.
- In this version, the rhythm is slightly altered from the traditional tune. The first two repeated phrases are shortened, and there are 4 beats of rests to count each time. This is good practice and keeps the children on their toes, making it a bit different from the original version. To add a twist, they can do 4 claps on the rests to emphasise the beats and make it more fun!
- At the piano, start by placing the right hand thumb (1) on middle C and the rest of the fingers curved over the corresponding notes above. They are now correctly placed to play the tune.
- Pointing to the notes of the first bar, ask the child to play the first phrase and then to identify the names of the notes as they play them. This is difficult at first, but as the tune repeats it will get easier.
Practice A Phrase At A Time
- Make sure the child understands about the rests. Explain that they are just as important as the notes.
- Encourage them to play the minims (half notes) in bar 6 – 8 and again in the last phrase with a smooth unbroken legato line.
- Work in this way bar by bar, making sure that they play the correct notes and rhythm.
- Don’t let them rush. Explain that it is better to play it slowly and correctly than fast with lots of mistakes.
- Only attempt the left hand when the child can play the right hand without any problems. Explain that the left hand will be in a new position, one octave lower with finger 5 on the C below middle C.
- Spend a little time getting used to this new position on the keyboard. Ask them to name the notes as they play the fingers from 5 -1 and back down again.
- Point out that although the tune is exactly the same, the fingering is different.
- Work out the left hand bar by bar as before.
- Only attempt to play both hands together once they can play each hand separately with ease.
- When they are ready, start very slowly and only attempt 2 bars at a time. Because the tune is so repetitive, they are thrilled to find it easier than they thought it would be!
For more easy piano sheet music, check out:
- Happy Birthday Easy Piano Sheet Music
- Mary Had a Little Lamb Easy Piano Sheet Music
- Frere Jacques Easy Piano Sheet Music
- Easy Incy Wincy Spider Piano Sheet Music
- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Easy Sheet Music
If you enjoyed this post, check out my First Piano Lesson eBook and musical lesson plans which are full of musical games and activities to make music lessons fun!