How to Play Greensleeves on the Piano

"Greensleeves" is a Christmas song, also known as "What Child is This." There are different lyrics for each version, but the melody stays the same. Learning to play this traditional English piece requires a basic understanding of the piano and the ability to read music. If you can read music and know what the keys of the piano are in relation to note names, you should have no problem learning to play "Greensleeves."

Step 1 Begin by learning how to count half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes, as these are used extensively in the music for "Greensleeves." If you know the "Greensleeves" melody well, you can skip this step and just follow the notes on the score. The bass and treble clef parts should be played hands together. You can tell when to play the bass notes by their position on the score. The notes in the bass clef will line up with the notes in the treble clef.

Step 2 Identify middle C on the piano and learn the white notes of the piano. There are sets of two and three black keys that alternate throughout the piano. C always is to the left of the set of two black keys. Middle C is the C that is closest to the middle of the piano. The black notes of the piano are C# and D# in the group of two black keys, and F#, G#, and A# on the set of three black keys. "Greensleeves" will require the use of F# and G#, so pay careful attention to these notes.

Step 3 Teach yourself the names of the notes on the treble clef staff. The notes of the treble clef starting with the first line are E - F - G - A - B - C - D - E - F. Notes move from line to space in alphabetical order. The first pitch of "Greensleeves" is an A above middle C.

Step 4 Learn the names of the notes on the bass clef staff. The notes from bottom to top are G - B - D - E - F - G - A. The first note on the bass clef staff in "Greensleeves" is an A below middle C.

Step 5 Practice the right-hand (treble) piano part first. Practice it until you are able to play it with no mistakes. "Greensleeves" has a pretty simply melody, so you may find that it only takes a few tries to learn the melody. Use a separate finger for each note. The fingers should be set up so that each note of "Greensleeves" uses a different finger. Avoid crawling with your fingers on the piano. "Greensleeves" is too simple to require crawling.

Step 6 Learn the left-hand (bass) piano part next. Practice it until you can play it without looking at the piano. This part should also aim for as little movement as necessary. "Greensleeves" is a simple song and with a little effort, you can determine what fingers will work best for you to play the piece. As a general rule, use the pinky to play the lowest note.

Step 7 Play "Greensleeves" with hands together. Go slowly at first and gradually increase the speed as you gain familiarity with the piece. Pay careful attention to your fingers. Use the same fingers that you initially used when learning the piece.

Fingering is the most important aspect of playing "Greensleeves" effectively. Find a consistent fingering and use it each time you play the piece.


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