Now that we’ve hit December, it’s time to start rolling out the Christmas music! I love Christmas music, and this is one of my favorite parts of the teaching year. Somehow I haven’t gotten sick of Jingle Bells through all these years of teaching because I just get so excited.
Today’s video is Away in a Manger sheet music, with 2 versions. One is just right hand and chords – this could be called the simple version. I would also like to call it the improv version, since it gives you room to invent your own LH part while using the chords as a template. The second version is a full piano version – it’s a little more challenging, with a lot of movement in the left hand and voicing in the right.
I’m giving two versions because we’re all at different levels, and have different interests. Some of us would be happy with just the right hand and chords – it certainly is easier to read. And some of us would rather just read a sheet of music instead of inventing it and filling in the blanks.
Away in a Manger Sheet Music – Basic Chord Version
In this version, the only notes you have to read are in the right hand, and if you’re familiar with the tune of Away in a Manger, this shouldn’t be too big of a challenge.
Above the right hand notes are our chord symbols. There are 3 different chord types in this song – major, minor, and 7ths. If you missed the last video on chords, definitely check it out if you’re not quite sure how to figure these chords out.
If a chord just looks like “F” or “Bb”, that means it’s a major chord.
It it’s followed by a lower-case m, such as “Dm”, then it’s a minor chord.
If it’s the letter name with a 7, as in C7, that means it’s a 7th chord.
You have many options when playing this arrangement of Away in a Manger. You could play the right hand notes, and then play the chords solid-style, maybe pressing one chord per bar. You could transform the chords into a broken chord pattern. You could expand the left hand part by playing arpeggios.
You could also fiddle around with adding harmony notes in the right hand. As we talked about in a previous video about harmonizing a melody, thirds and sixths are usually the safest choices for melody harmony. For example, you could play the right hand built in mostly thirds. Remember, when you’re harmonizing a melody it’s usually a good idea to add the harmony note underneath the melody note.
In general, I think it’s a good idea to start by playing solid chords to get a feel for the tune, and then start upping the ante as you get comfortable with it.
Away in a Manger sheet music – Full Version
For the full version, we’ve still got the chord names written up top, but the bass clef is all filled out, and we’ve got some right hand harmony notes filled in.
The left hand is written as a broken arpeggio pattern. The right hand harmony is almost entirely comprised of 3rds with a few occasional exceptions where the sound of a third wouldn’t be appropriate. Check out the video to hear it on the piano!
One thing to be mindful of when you play this arrangement is to keep your right hand and left hand as legato as possible, even though you’ll be using the pedal. What sometimes happens is this sort of staccato playing, while using the pedal to cover up the gaps in the sound. But you’ll find it sounds much nicer, much less hollow, when the notes are played legato from the get-go – then the pedal adds a nice blending, without being a crutch.
I hope you enjoy this Away in a Manger sheet music! Have fun. 🙂